It's only been one year (well, in our time) since the last, uplifting Doctor Who Christmas special — "The Doctor, The Widow and The Wardrobe" — and with the tragic death of the Ponds still weighing heavy on the Doctor's soul, we knew we were in for much different outing than the one that ended in human tears of joy. It was a great episode — filled with comedy, heart, fun familiar faces, much-welcome Doctor-isms, and a kick-ass twist — but of course, the biggest news this Christmas was the introduction of the new companion, Clara (Jenna-Louise Coleman).
Kudos to Steven Moffat for bringing Coleman onboard for "Asylum of the Daleks," as her performance in that episode was so scene-stealing that it probably softened the brutal impact of Amy and Rory's unfairly cruel fate. I loved the Ponds, but I'm ready to usher in the Age of Clara — though it was pretty sweet that a major focal point of this episode was a pond, eh?
Clara's first adventure has me immediately drawn to the character. She's already displayed the bravery of Amy and Rose without the cynicism of the former and the occasional helplessness of the later (Aside: Rose Tyler is my favorite companion, ever. Don't bite me.), as well as the heartwarming empathy of Donna Noble. She's plucky, bright, and undeniably bombshell — I mean, Karen Gillan was gorgeous too, but it will be interesting to see how Matt Smith does with a companion-slash-sort-of-romantic-interest. I mean, she checked out his ass!
A lot of people lambasted the Tennant/Tyler romance, but I personally loved it. Smith certainly doesn't have Tennant's classicly handsome looks, and he's always seemed a bit more "alien" (in a good way!) than his predecessor, so I'm ready to see him stretch his Who-chops by taking on a human sort-of-romance. But I digress. On to the (very funny!) show!
There were three other major introductions tonight — we saw a revamped opening credits sequence (complete with the Doctor's face, channeling the old series), met the newly renovated TARDIS, and (begrudgingly) faced the new and not at all improved Doctor, who had been in a state of grumpy mourning for some time. "He prefers isolation to the possibility of pain's return," the Silurian Madame Vastra explained to Clara.
Vastra, her human wife Jenny, and the Sontaran Commander Strax (who should just be in every episode, ever, because he's goddamn hilarious) had gathered to do the Doctor's job for him while he watched the world from above, refusing to interfere in its affairs. That is, of course, until Clara uttered the magic word: pond.
What is the pond, you ask? Why, of course it's a frozen one, that contains the soul of the former caretaker for the children of Captain Latmier. It couldn't be a Christmas special without some typical holiday fare, so this year's villain, naturally, was snow. Not just any snow — evil, intelligent snow voiced by Sir Ian McKellan.
This snow was fostered by the sinister Dr. Simeon, the proprietor of "The Great Intelligence Company," and it was being investigated by the Doctor's cohorts while he moped in the TARDIS. He went out for an evening stroll one night, and voilà — out popped barmaid Clara and an evil snowman, both at the same time. Their future as Doctor and companion was seemingly written in the stars, as after he dodged her and her questions, Vastra made it clear that this wasn't the first time that they had met.
The Doctor had been using creepy worm-things to erase her memory after each meeting, but it wasn't going to work this time — she managed to stay hot on his trail, and when they met again, a bunch of snowmen (who really channeled the titular villain from the 1996 horror classic Jack Frost, which should never be confused for the Michael Keaton movie of the same name) popped up. The Doctor realized that they were doing so because Clara's imagination willed it, so when she imagined them turning to water, to water they turned. The Doctor was a grump, but he wasn't cruel — he wouldn't delete her memory if it meant rendering her helpless to the snowmen's attacks.
Of course, this meant that Clara would secretly follow him to his new-and-improved invisible TARDIS in the sky. (Aside: WOW did they change things up in there.
And I love how her first words were "it's smaller on the outside.") She didn't get past the front door, but it was certainly enough to keep the lady interested. And when she woke up the next morning and went off to her day job — new caretaker for the children of Captain Latmier — we learned that Latmier's daughter, Francesca, had been having nightmares about the dead lady in the pond. Sir Ian McKellan had earlier said that the drowned woman and the dreaming child would bring about the snow-tack, and Clara already knew that imagination could make things real (she had seen Nightmare on Elm Street), so she wisely set off in search of the Doctor.
Which leads us to the aforementioned magic word: Vastra and Jenny administered their alien version of a lie-detector test, which consisted of asking Clara a bunch of questions and demanding a one-word answer. When she summed up her current problem with the word "pond" the Silurian's face lit up — she knew that that would be enough to snap the Doctor out of his funk.
He jumped out of the TARDIS and into Simeon's lair, where he discovered the giant snow globe housing Sir Ian McKellan's "The Intelligence." He then ran over to Latmier's house, where the old, cranky caretaker had risen from the pond, made completely out of ice. If the snow blowing in the air via Dr. Simeon's machine melded with the ice-lady, then an intelligent ice-army would be born, signaling the end of humanity as we know it. Dun dun dun.
Here's where things got really cool: It was fun, but a bit confusing, when Coleman was introduced as Oswin Oswald — a completely different person from the future — in "Asylum."
And throughout the episode, it was clear that their personalities were similar. When she accompanied the Doctor to the TARDIS to regroup, and asked if it had a kitchen for soufflés (the dish that Oswin kept dream-making throughout her episode), it became clear — we were dealing with a version of the same lady, here. So it wasn't a huge deal (for us, not the Doctor or her adopted family) when the ice lady showed up and pushed Clara to her imminent death. Clara/Oswin — she's our new Rory! But more on that later.
So, the Doctor saved the world. He realized that snow doesn't talk, dummy, so "The Intelligence" was just the sad child that Dr. Simeon once was. As a child Simeon spoke hateful, lonely words to his snowman, and this somehow resulted in a parasitic snow that fed off of this deranged man's ideas. So when Simeon was bit by the gross worm and lost decades of ideas, the snow was defeated.
...OR SO HE THOUGHT. Ian McKellan's voice came back and — like a mad scientist — was all, "Muahaha, you were wrong, now I control him," etc. etc. Then Dr. Simeon rose from the ground like Frankenstein's monster, now filled with the spirit of Ian McKellan. "Winter is coming!" he proclaimed, in what has to be a shout-out to Coleman's real-life-boyfriend's show, Game of Thrones. (Yup, Clara is dating Robb Stark. Let that one sink in, ladies.)
But winter didn't come, this time — instead, the snow turned to rain. Well, not rain — tears. "The only force on Earth that could drown the snow — a whole family crying on Christmas Eve," the Doctor proclaimed. This meant, of course, that Clara was officially dying. Before she left this Earth, she uttered one phrase into the Doctor's ear: "Run, you clever boy. And remember." We've heard that one before. So a relatively happy Christmas for the Doctor, but a tragic one for the Latmiers.
The family mourned at the grave of Clara — or, more specifically, at the grave of Clara Oswin Oswald. A "ding" went off in the Doctor's head — kind of like the "ding" that sounds when a soufflé is finished cooking. It was the same girl! The Doctor joyfully departed the sad funeral to find his new companion — who, as we learned, lives in the present day. Clara 3.0 appeared by her past self's gravesite, as the TARDIS left to find her...
To be continued. Wow. I personally felt that this was the best Doctor Who Christmas special, ever. Your thoughts, human scum? (Can't help it, love that Strax.)
Follow Shaunna on Twitter @HWShaunna
[PHOTO CREDIT: Adrian Rogers/BBC America]
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The Writers Guild of America, west and East announced nominations for outstanding achievement in writing for the screen, television and radio during the 2003 season.
Nominees in the original category went to independent art-house films, including Gurinder Chadha, Paul Mayeda Berges and Guljit Bindra for Fox Searchlight's Bend It Like Beckham; Steven Knight for Miramax's Dirty Pretty Things; and Tom McCarthy for Miramax's The Station Agent.
Nominees for the adapted category went mostly high-profile releases, including Anthony Minghella for Miramax's Cold Mountain; Frances Walsh & Philippa Boyens & Peter Jackson for New Line's The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King; and Gary Ross for Universal's Seabiscuit.
WGA noms are closely tracked as an indicator of Academy Awards sentiment. Guild winners in the original screenplay category have matched Oscar choices in 11 years over the past 21 while the WGA adapted screenplay award has matched with the Oscar winner in 14 years during the same period.
The films eligible for Writers Guild Awards were released in the year 2003 under the jurisdiction of Writers Guild of America, East and west and affiliate guilds in Australia, Canada, French Canada, Great Britain, Ireland, and New Zealand.
In television, the nominated scripts were originally broadcast between December 1, 2002, and November 30, 2003.
The winners will be announced Saturday, February 21, 2004, at the 56th Annual Writers Guild Awards ceremonies on both coasts.
The Writers Guild of America, west ceremonies will be held in Los Angeles at the Century Plaza Hotel, and the Writers Guild of America, East ceremonies will be held in New York at The Pierre Hotel.
BEND IT LIKE BECKHAM, Written by Gurinder Chadha and Paul Mayeda Berges and Guljit Bindra, Fox Searchlight Pictures
DIRTY PRETTY THINGS, Written by Steven Knight, Miramax Films
IN AMERICA, Written by Jim Sheridan & Naomi Sheridan & Kirsten Sheridan, Fox Searchlight Pictures
LOST IN TRANSLATION, Written by Sofia Coppola, Focus Features
THE STATION AGENT, Written by Tom McCarthy, Miramax Films
AMERICAN SPLENDOR, Written by Robert Pulcini & Shari Springer Berman, Based on the Comic Book Series by Harvey Pekar and the Novel by Harvey Pekar and Joyce Brabner, HBO Films/Fine Line Features
COLD MOUNTAIN, Screenplay by Anthony Minghella, Based on the Novel by Charles Frazier, Miramax Films
THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE RETURN OF THE KING, Screenplay by Fran Walsh & Philippa Boyens & Peter Jackson, Based on the Novel by J.R.R. Tolkien, New Line Cinema
MYSTIC RIVER, Screenplay by Brian Helgeland, Based on the Novel by Dennis Lehane, Warner Bros. Pictures
SEABISCUIT, Screenplay by Gary Ross, Based on the Book by Laura Hillenbrand, Universal Pictures
Episodic Drama --any length--one airing time
"ABOMINATION (Law & Order: SVU), Written by Michele Fazekas & Tara Butters; NBC
"BOUNTY (Law & Order), Written by Michael S. Chernuchin; NBC
"DISASTER RELIEF (The West Wing), Teleplay by Alexa Junge, Story by Alexa Junge & Lauren Schmidt; NBC
"LOSS (Law & Order: SVU), Written by Michele Fazekas & Tara Butters; NBC
"PILOT (The O.C.), Written by Josh Schwartz; Fox
"7:00 P.M. -- 8:00 P.M. (24), Written by Evan Katz; Fox
Episodic Comedy--any length--one airing time
"DAY CARE" (Malcolm in the Middle), Written by Gary Murphy & Neil Thompson; Fox
"MALCOLM FILMS REESE" (Malcolm in the Middle), Written by Dan Kopelman; Fox
"NO SEX, PLEASE, WE'RE SKITTISH" (Frasier), Written by Bob Daily; NBC
"A WOMAN'S RIGHT TO SHOES" (Sex and the City), Written by Jenny Bicks; HBO
Original Long Form--over one hour--one or two parts, one or two airing times
AND STARRING PANCHO VILLA AS HIMSELF, Written by Larry Gelbart; HBO
Episode 1, "BEYOND THE SKY" and Episode 2, "JACOB AND JESSE" (Taken), Written by Leslie Bohem; USA
CAESAR, Written by Peter Pruce and Craig Warner; TNT
WILDER DAYS, Written by Jeff Stockwell; TNT
Adapted Long Form--over one hour--one or two parts, one or two airing times
NORMAL, Teleplay by Jane Anderson, Based on the play Looking for Normal by Jane Anderson; HBO
OUT OF THE ASHES, Teleplay by Anne Meredith, Based on the book I Was a Doctor in Auschwitz by Dr. Gisella Perl; Showtime
RUDY: THE RUDY GIULIANI STORY, Written by Stanley Weiser, Based on the book Rudy! by Wayne Barrett; USA
THE STRANGER BESIDE ME, Teleplay by Matthew McDuffie and Matthew Tabak, Based on the book by Ann Rule; USA
Animation--any length--one airing time
"THE DAD WHO KNEW TOO LITTLE" (The Simpsons), Written by Matt Selman; Fox
"MOE BABY BLUES" (The Simpsons), Written by J. Stewart Burns; Fox
MY MOTHER THE CARJACKER" (The Simpsons), Written by Michael Price; Fox
"REBORN TO BE WILD" (King of the Hill), Written by Tony Gama-Lobo & Rebecca May; Fox
"RESCUE JET FUSION" (The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius), Written by Steven Banks; Nickelodeon
"THE STING" (Futurama), Written by Patric M. Verrone; Fox
Comedy/Variety--Music, Awards, Tributes -- Specials -- any length
THE KENNEDY CENTER HONORS, Written by George Stevens, Jr., Sara Lukinson and David Leaf; CBS
THE 75TH ANNUAL ACADEMY AWARDS, Written by Hal Kanter, Rita Cash, Buz Kohan, Special Material Written by Steve Martin, Beth Armogida, Dave Barry, Dave Boone, Andy Breckman, Jon Macks, Rita Rudner, Bruce Vilanch; ABC
Comedy/Variety--(including talk) Series
LATE NIGHT WITH CONAN O'BRIEN, Written by Mike Sweeney, Chris Albers, Jose Arroyo, Andy Blitz, Kevin Dorff, Jonathan Glaser, Michael Gordon, Brian Kiley, Michael Koman, Brian McCann, Guy Nicolucci, Conan O'Brien, Andrew Secunda, Allison Silverman, Robert Smigel, Brian Stack, Andrew Weinberg; NBC
MAD TV, Writing supervised by Scott King, Written by Dick Blasucci, Lauren Dombrowski, Bryan Adams, Bruce McCoy, Michael Hitchcock, Steven Cragg, Chris Cluess, John Crane, Jennifer Joyce, Tami Sagher, David Salzman, Richard Talarico, Jim Wise, Kal Clarke, Sultan Pepper, Bill Kelley, Maiya Williams, Dino Stamatopoulos, Rick Najera, Brooks McBeth, Jason Kordelos, Michael McDonald, Stephnie Weir; FOX
PENN & TELLER: BULLSHIT!, Written by Penn Jillette, Teller, David Wechter, John McLaughlin; Showtime
REAL TIME WITH BILL MAHER, Written by Billy Martin, Scott Carter, David Feldman, Brian Jacobsmeyer, Jay Jaroch, Chris Kelly, Bill Maher, Ned Rice, Paul F. Tompkins; HBO
ALL MY CHILDREN, Written by Agnes Nixon, Megan McTavish, Gordon Rayfield, Anna Theresa Cascio, Frederick Johnson, Jeff Beldner, Janet Iacobuzio, Lisa Connor, Addie Walsh, Victor Miller, Mimi Leahey, Bettina F. Bradbury, John PiRoman, Karen Lewis, Amanda Robb, Rebecca Taylor, Christina Covino, David A. Levinson; ABC
ONE LIFE TO LIVE, Written by Josh Griffith, Michael Malone, Shelly Altman, Lorraine Broderick, Richard Backus, Ron Carlivati, Anna Theresa Cascio, David Colson, Leslie Nipkow, Michelle Poteet Lisanti, Becky Cole, James Fryman, Katherine Schock, Ginger Redmon, Daniel Griffin; ABC
"DON'T LOOK BACK" (Out There), Written by Willie Reale and Mark Palmer; PBS
FULL COURT MIRACLE, Written by Joel Silverman and Joel Kauffmann & Donald C. Yost; Disney Channel
I WAS A TEENAGE FAUST, Written by Thom Eberhardt; Showtime
THE MALDONADO MIRACLE, Teleplay by Paul W. Cooper, Based upon the novel "The Maldonado Miracle" by Theodore Taylor; Showtime
Documentary - Current Events
"TRUTH, WAR AND CONSEQUENCES" (Frontline), Written by Martin Smith; PBS
"THE WAR BEHIND CLOSED DOORS" (Frontline), Written by Michael J. Kirk; PBS
Documentary - Other Than Current Events
BECOMING AMERICAN: THE CHINESE EXPERIENCE--BETWEEN TWO WORLDS (PART 2), Written by Thomas Lennon & Mi Ling Tsui and Bill Moyers; PBS
"CYBER WAR!" (Frontline), Written by Michael J. Kirk; PBS
"THE ELEGANT UNIVERSE: THE STRING'S THE THING" (Nova), Written by Joseph McMaster; PBS
"THE ELEGANT UNIVERSE: WELCOME TO THE 11TH DIMENSION" (Nova), Written by Julia Cort & Joseph McMaster, PBS
"THE MURDER OF EMMETT TILL" (The American Experience), Written by Marcia Smith, PBS
"SEABISCUIT" (The American Experience), Written by Michelle Ferrari; PBS
News - Regularly Scheduled, Bulletin or Breaking Report
"PASSING OF MUSIC LEGENDS" (CBS News Sunday Morning), Written by Robert Mank;
"CBS SHOWDOWN WITH SADDAM" (CBS News), Written by John Craig Wilson; CBS
News - Analysis, Feature, or Commentary
"BAPTISM BY FIRE" (60 Minutes), Written by Barbara Dury & Morley Safer; CBS
"WALL STREET" (NOW with Bill Moyers), Written by Michael Winship & Bill Moyers; PBS
AUTISM: SHADES OF GRAY, Written by Julia Kathan; ABC News Radio
AFTERNOON DRIVE, Written by Bill Spadaro; 1010 WINS Radio
WORLD NEWS THIS WEEK, Written by Stuart H. Chamberlain, Jr.; ABC News Radio
News--Analysis, Feature or Commentary
REMEMBERING ED BLISS, Written by Mike Silverstein; ABC News Radio
THE ROAD TO LAUGHTER: A TRIBUTE TO BOB HOPE, Written by Steven Gosset; CBS Radio Network
On-Air Promotion (Radio or Television)
BUFFY/ENTERPRISE, Written by Eric Jacobson; CBS/UPN