The Snowmen is the best Christmas Special since Steven Moffat took over, without a doubt. And, for such a complex and busy event, it keeps confusing exposition monologues or wispy godlike prophecy right out of the equation. It is many things and all of them work. Here's how:
Firstly, it's a rip-roaring adventure story. A classic Base Under Siege tale that managed to pull the Doctor from a grief-induced retirement and into a Christmassy yet Chilling alien invasion story. Details and motive are brushed over to make room for scary monsters and creepy villains.
It has humour and jeopardy but never veers too far into slapstick or unbelievable doom. We meet new friends and old friends and there's even a little nod to an enemy of old that most won't know but fans can pat themselves on the back for knowing. Moffat knows his audience, too - we get the best returning characters, Sherlock Holmes references and enough wink-wink innuendo to keep Tumblr bubbling.
Secondly, this is an introduction to our new companion. And it's done well. There's no big drama, no prophecy or centre-of-the-universeness (yet). Just a capable, intelligent girl who catches the Doctor's eye by asking the right questions and having the same thirst for rule-breaking. Clara Oswin Oswald (for that is the name on her gravestone) is set to be great fun! I just wish I had the first clue as to what she's all about! I wouldn't expect this all cleared up in 8 episodes this year if I were you. As we have been told, this gets more complicated before it gets clearer.
And then, shrouding all this, The Snowmen is a Christmas Special! Big names, snowy Victoriana, action, sadness, a bit of heart-string-tugging emotion and lots of snarling Doctor Who Monsters made this something special. And on top of a cracker of an episode, a new companion, a new mystery, an old villain, a star-studded cast and THAT trailer, we also got a new TARDIS interior (lovely!) and a brand new title sequence and theme arrangement (including a blink and you'll miss it face in the titles). Christmas afternoon telly at its best and 100 times more enjoyable than the too-clever-and-too-busy effort we were given last year. Great fun. Not just a lovely Christmas special ep, but a pretty decent episode full stop!
So, what of our new girl? Well, she's fabulous. And we met two of her... Which means we've not met "Clara Oswin Oswald" three times in all and she STILL hasn't joined as companion! Her story promises to be one hell of a mystery. I hope Moffat knows what he's doing. I suppose only time will tell! I'm excited. That 7b trailer has me bouncing impatiently on my chair. I think I'm most intrigued about the episode featuring our heroes on an aeroplane! Not long to wait now. Another few months... And the wait for Christmas wasn't too bad, was it? Was it? It was, wasn't it. Bugger.