On Christmas Day, the BBC (and BBC America) released the latest Doctor Who holiday special, "The Snowmen." In Victorian England, the Doctor (Matt Smith) matches wits with the Great Intelligence, who is trying to use smart snow and ice to take over the world. Luckily, our hero has some help in the form of a very familiar voice who should not be there.
Normally, Doctor Who Christmas specials are nice, sweet, fluff pieces, not adding to major story arcs, just standing alone as a heart-warming story. "The Snowmen" chooses a different tack, picking up where "The Angels Take Manhattan" left off, and tying together plot threads, both old and new, to add to the series' major arcs.
As the hour begins, the Doctor is moping, dressed as Scrooge, around the streets of Victorian England. His outlandish personality has swung to a negative light, making his depression a deep one, indeed, robbed of any want to help others. This is a sad Doctor, an isolated Doctor, who isn't what the Doctor is supposed to be.
More than other recent actors, Smith lends an unstable and cartoonish quality to the role. While one may have a hard time imagining Tennant scouring the alleys quite so grumpily, it holds true to what Smith has built into the character. Amy always told him that he shouldn't be alone, and now we get a small taste of what he is like when he is, cold and uncaring, apart from the world, literally, as he lives in the TARDIS atop a cloud.
Yet, he has chosen Earth to brood on, which means he can't possibly want to be alone as much as he claims to.
Not that the Doctor is completely left to himself. His travels have earned him some loyalties, and he is protected by some familiar faces - Madame Vastra (Neve McIntosh), her wife, Jenny (Catrin Stewart), and Strax (Dan Starkey). This is an interesting trio, and it's not quite clear why they're the ones who have taken up this mission. But it's nice to see that the Doctor can't just hide away. He has made some friends who are going to make sure that he's OK. And they aren't the only ones.