“He is not your salvation, nor your protector”
In its kid-friendly, old-fashioned ways, Doctor Who has long had a tradition of producing holiday or Christmas-themed episodes to air every December 25th. I would be remiss to not include one of them, off-format and lackluster though they often are. This season seven entry is among the better ones. It leans heavily into a controversial tone that Moffat introduced – an Americanized gloominess and serialization that eventually got to be too much. But here it was warranted. After one of the showrunner’s clumsiest missteps, the capricious Eleven had just lost the series’ most beloved companions and become a self-loathing recluse for centuries while temporally stuck in Victorian London. This began a trend toward a moral gray area and muted visual style in contrast to DW’s typical optimism and bright flair.
The Snowmen also takes some liberties with the show’s timey-wimey twistiness, which Moffat began abusing. Furthermore, it introduces an on-again, off-again ensemble of sci-fi kooks who bump into the Doctor for the next few seasons. More importantly, this is the confounding first appearance of Clara (Jenna-Louise Coleman), one of the longer-running companions who takes on a variety of promising guises and who the writers never quite get the hang of. Underneath all the new flashiness, however, there is a serviceable story here of holiday cheer and redemption. The requisite youthful sappiness is very tolerable in this case, and the good vibes win out in the end, of course.