The holiday season kicked off a little early last week in Manhattan with an early screening of the Doctor Who Christmas Special attended by The Eleventh Doctor himself, Matt Smith. At a press breakfast that preceded the screening, Smith was joined by showrunner and head writer Steven Moffat and actress Jenna-Louise Coleman (The Doctor's new companion on the series), as well as a pair of surprise guests from the upper echelon of geekery: Neil Gaiman and John Hodgman.
Surreal as it was to see Hodgman, Smith, and Gaiman having breakfast together in a corner of the room prior to the screening, the holiday episode contained some exciting moments of its own. We don't want to play spoiler, so in lieu of a traditional review, we've put together a 100% spoiler-free list of things you'll find in “The Snowmen,” this year's Doctor Who Christmas Special.
You'll see a side of the potato-headed, ultra-militaristic race of aliens that you haven't seen before in this year's Christmas Special, with a surprising dose of comedy from an unlikely source: a Sontaran. Not exactly known for their keen sense of humor, a Sontaran not only plays a big role in the episode, but he also provides many of the laughs to be found in “The Snowmen.” In fact, this particular Sontaran is one of the main reasons the 2012 Christmas Special is one of the funniest Doctor Who episodes of the modern series.
“The Snowmen” continues the time-honored tradition of bringing some fan-favorite characters from past episodes back into The Doctor's life for a new adventure. If you've seen the teaser for “The Snowmen” that debuted online recently, you already know who those characters are – but you can get another look at them by re-watching the 2011 episode “A Good Man Goes To War.”
Doctor Who has never been known for its team-ups, with The Doctor overcoming most obstacles via his own sheer cleverness. And while there's plenty of The Doctor being clever found in the episode, there's also quite a bit of universe-saving collaboration on the part of his colleagues. Much like “A Good Man Goes To War,” this special does a nice job of showing what can happen when The Doctor's allies unite for the common good.
A Different Doctor
Sure, it's the same actor playing The Doctor in “The Snowmen,” but as you'll see early on in the episode, the departure of his previous companions Amy and Rory has turned him into a very different sort of Time Lord. In many ways, “The Snowmen” is a story of rebirth for The Doctor, and gives us our first look at how this iteration of the famous Time Lord would react to flying solo.
The TARDIS Learning Some New Tricks
The TARDIS has been shown to have many abilities over the last 50 years, and while the features we get to see in “The Snowmen” aren't exactly new, they are a fresh change from what we're accustomed to seeing in the modern series. Fans of the old series will see some familiar tricks at work in the episode, but as is usually the case with the TARDIS, it always keeps you guessing.
Different on the Inside
The Doctor's companion isn't the only thing that's changing in the series, as “The Snowmen” gives fans their first look at the new interior design of the TARDIS. Apparently, The Doctor has been doing some remodeling since Amy and Rory departed, as there's quite a bit to see on the inside of the old blue box.
How's that for a cryptic hint? Yes, there will be death in “The Snowmen” – but whose death is the big question. Heck, there might even be multiple deaths in this episode. We're not spoiling it for you!
A Game Of Thrones
Okay, so there isn't actually a crossover with the popular George R.R. Martin fantasy franchise, but when you hear a particular line of dialogue repeated on several occasions during the episode, it's difficult not to ponder the possibilities. You'll know the line when you hear it, we're certain of it.
Everything Made Clear (Or Is It?)
You know all those questions that you and everyone else have been asking about Jenna-Louise Coleman's character? Well, this episode makes it clear that Moffat and the Doctor Who team have not only heard them being asked, but they're going to address them as only they can. We're not going to reveal how much of the answer you get in “The Snowmen,” but we will say that we left feeling confident that – at the very least – these are questions we should be asking.
So how's that for a preview, fellow Whovians? Just remember to tune in for the Doctor Who Christmas Special “The Snowmen” on December 25 at 9 PM Eastern on BBC America!