Series Seven continues the tradition in the Doctor Who universe of a stand-alone Christmas special coming between the two halves. In “The Snowmen,” it’s 1892 and the Doctor has gone into self-exile. The loss of his two previous companions, Amy (Karen Gillan) and Rory (Arthur Darvill), in the first half of the ser has pushed him over the edge. He is no longer the protector of the universe. Instead, he has resigned himself to the TARDIS high above the clouds. But the universe works in mysterious ways, and if his past is any precursor of what’s to come in his future, the world will once again need his help and a new companion to keep him grounded will appear. And her name is Clara Oswald (Jenna-Louise Coleman).
Clara is a governess for a wealthy family while moonlighting as a tavern wench. It appears that she accidently runs into The Doctor as he is passing by her tavern just as a snowman appears out of nowhere. What seems like just an odd yet harmless event suddenly turns dark as the two find themselves beset by a legion of snow creatures, yet they are quickly defeated as The Doctor assesses the snow has some psychic energy that connects with the emotions of the people around it. So in order to defeat them Clara has to simply wish them away.
But that’s not the end of the wintery threat as Dr. Simeon (Richard E. Grant) has a much stronger bond with the snow that he discovered when he was just a boy. He is set on eliminating the human race and giving his snow permanent form. But the only way to do that is to obtain some of the snow that has bonded with a human being, the former governess who froze in the estate’s pond a few years back.
The story itself is a little confusing and the ice creatures aren’t completely explained as to what they really are, but for the most part this is the audience’s first look into who the new companion is going to be, although she looks exactly like the young woman in “Asylum of the Daleks;” the reason why is explained in the Series Seven finale “The Name of the Doctor.” Clara is cute, spunky, full of life, and completely different than the previous companions. While she is confronting something completely unknown to her, she takes it in stride and exudes enthusiasm. With her cleverness and ability to reason, she is obviously someone who will give The Doctor a run for his money.
The Blu-ray is presented in High Definition 1080i/16:9 and a DTS-HD 5.1 audio. While the video is crisp, clear, and far superior to the television feed, the audio is never really tested and never shows what it can do above just being an average audio track.
The episode is certainly entertaining and it’s nice to see some of the other friends of The Doctor such as Vastra (Neve McIntosh), Jenny (Catrin Stewart), and Strax (Dan Starkey) play a larger role and have their characters more fully developed. But it’s difficult to understand why this particular episode needed to be released separately when on the same day Series Seven, Part Two was released as well. The few Bonus Features are fairly minimal and feel more like promos than real features, but if you’re a fan of the series, you’ll probably want to get it to complete your collection.