TV Poor Doctor. Looking like a grown up Artful Dodger or a refugee from the BBC's adaptation of Bleak House, Eleventh looks none too happy here having apparently retired after the "death" of the Ponds. Unsurprisingly, this isn't the first time in his millennial history the Time Lord's wanted to seek the quiet life. In the 90s, various novelists established that he'd bought a house in Kent (notably seen in The Dying Days) for just such an eventuality, and the Sixth Doctor was seen in, Time & Time Again, an anniversary comics story about the Key to Time having solidly decided he just wants to be left alone with his fishing. Plus there was his side steps in The End of Time, though they were less about retiring and more about sowing his oats. Again.
This is pretty dour stuff for a Children in Need minisode, the slot which previously brought us the joys of The Five Doctors, Dimensions in Time, Born Again and Time Crash as well as innumerable trailers and the teaser to The Next Doctor. It's not a complete story exactly, functioning as a kind of bespoke trailer in the mode of the Trainspotting productions, a hint at upcoming attractions. Not having been watching the television when this went out I'm not sure how it fit into the run of the programmes. Certainly the buffers, with Matt and Jenna (the -Louise seems to be silent) must be designed to keep the atmosphere upbeat. They're funny too, with Matt in full Pat mode, and there's an obvious chemistry between them which should be dynamite in the actual programme.
If anything The Great Detective works as another back door pilot for a Vastra spin-off and presumably we'll all be clamouring for more after the Christmas episode goes out too. Isn't this just fun? These are great characters and it's lovely to see that Strax survived, unless this is set before A Good Man Goes To War which given Moffat's propensity for non-linear storytelling isn't entirely unlikely. Hopefully the Christmas episode and the resulting spin-off also enjoy a voice over from Mark Gatiss with a wavering Scottish accent as he recounts the Conan-Doyle stories which won't fit into Sherlock re-engineered with fantasy elements (some of them not really requiring much work).
Now, here's the trailer for the actual episode, The Snowman:
I'm still going with my theory that Oswin and Clara are two facets of the same character, scattered through time ala Scagra and the Key and that the Doctor will either accidentally keep meeting them or be motivated to gather them all up and make them whole. It would be nice for him to simply be travelling with her though in the typical mode. One of the problems of the last five, was that the jiggery-pokery required in each episode to explain why the Ponds are travelling with with that week.
But then, I've developed the opinion that they should have left properly at the end of The God Complex and everything else after that, with the possible exception of The Power of Three, was a creative team not wanting to let go some characters which had well and truly been finished with, not unlike Logan in Veronica Mars who hung around and around for three seasons despite his story having come to a natural end at the close of the first. We'll return to this subject some other time I expect.