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Christmas was hectic, which delayed my getting to see Doctor Who and Downton Abbey's Christmas specials until the 26th and 27th. I was asked for my reaction to "The Snowmen" on Tumblr and figured I'd put it here, too, as usual. Unfortunately, on Tumblr at least, I seem to be part of an extraordinarily small unenthusiastic minority. I wrote this in the first flush of having watched the episode, so it's a bit rougher and more informal than other reactions of mine, and the language is a teensy bit coarser (oops).

My first reaction was a gigantic sigh of contempt and annoyance. Moffat is getting really stale, and I just wish he would step down.

Watching this episode, I spotted a lot of the Moffat I don’t like. Clara and her profession concerning children (like River’s afterlife taking care of Library!Donna’s kids, Amy and the magical pregnancy of S6, Madge and her daughter and last year’s focus on womb power). Clara being ~different~ and ~special~ (taking the Doctor’s hand instead of him taking hers, “it’s smaller on the outside,” etc.; compare Amy being “special” and River’s… well, River being River). Clara having died twice and presumably being on her way to dying more in the future (hi, Rory!). The cheeky answer to the one-word test being “pond” (really? I wanted the answer to be “children,” as a callback to “very old, and very kind, and the very, very last” / only interfering if there are children crying in 5x02—a Moffat self-reference I could’ve lived with—but no). Moffat’s just getting so repetitive and self-referential, and I’m getting so tired of it. Plus, what was up with the continuity? The memory worm? The Doctor can erase your memory by touching you; ask Donna, for God’s sake!

I held out hope a while ago—a desperate, deluded hope—that Clara Oswin Oswald wouldn’t turn into another River. But she is, already. He’s started off her story with death, both times. He’s going to be following her through time, apparently, trying to figure out her mystery. And the kiss Clara initiated… I really wanted her and the Doctor to just be friends, but maybe that’s out the window, who knows. Moffat’s vacillated so much. First he said in an interview that the Doctor and River weren’t married, because the universe they got married in was erased, and then 7x05 hammered in the marriage like there was no tomorrow. So is the Doctor a cheater? God knows.

I just really hope the other writers besides Moffat whip this mess into shape. I don’t want some sort of zombie companion. I don’t want another super special companion. I just want someone normal. I want the Doctor to have a friend, like Donna. I want companions under Moffat to get endings that aren’t death. I want a companion, last of all, that will leave under two years after she comes on. I don't want her treated as badly as Amy and Rory were, in the end, with the Doctor's refusal to let go and move on. I can see her lasting for another full series beyond this, but for the love of God, Moffat needs to bring in someone new after that.

Overall, not impressed, and generally just annoyed. I really don’t want to quit this show. It means so much to me, and I do still love Matt Smith as Eleven. I just wish—God, do I wish—that Moffat wasn’t at the helm. I’m tired of stale plots and characters. I’m tired of a showrunner fucking with fans just because he thinks it’s funny and being an asshole because he can. This show needs new blood. It has since the debacle that was the Silence arc in Series 6. I’m just afraid we’re not going to get it for quite a while.

I also wasn't enthused with Downton Abbey for the most part. The only thing that really and truly matters to me on that show is Bates and Anna, but the ending of the Christmas special left me severely underwhelmed. My reaction, spoilers and all:

I guess I’m not sure how to feel, re: Matthew. I did remain unspoiled as to the specifics, but I knew about his exit since last night when an article came up confirming he’d be gone and that it was a decision that had been made before Series 3 started.

I guess I’m just a little underwhelmed at where this leaves us. As someone who was raised for the most part by a single mother after my father died when I was young, I think it’s great that Tom and Mary will both be single parents, but as a writer, I’m a bit annoyed at how repetitive it is. Did Matthew have to die, even if there is an heir now? I know Dan and Jessica each wanted to move on to better things, and Sybil’s demise I could see coming from how reduced her role was from last year’s Christmas special and on, but Matthew’s… it just feels so contrived, a big shocking ending (“shocking”) in contrast to that suspiciously low-key ending to 3x08. They could easily have had him travel for a time, even if the baby was a newborn, or somesuch. All that buildup for Matthew and Mary—and Bates and Matthew arriving at Downton being the two linchpin events of Series 1—for nothing?

Overall, I just wish his exit had been handled in a more dignified, artful way, I suppose, rather than building up Matthew as the savior of Downton and then ramming in all this dialogue about how Robert’s so thankful for him and Mary wants to be his for eternity and then bam, car accident, goodbye, thanks for playing. If this has to be the way it is, I’d like to see more of Mary and Tom bonding, at the very least, but I just wish we didn’t have to get this plot, essentially, twice in the span of only five episodes.

Well, rest in peace, Matthew. It’s a pity you survived WWI only to come to this.

So overall, Christmas specials of this year: not quite worth the wait, at least IMO. I'll hold out hope both can impress me again when I return; I look forward in particular, at least, to the standalone episodes of the remainder of Series 7 of DW, as I hated the arc/Moffat-written episodes in Series 6 and loved the standalones. Other writers might be able to make me like Clara. Moffat, unfortunately, didn't.

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