Episode 236

Good Smugness

Christmas, 1892: The Doctor has retired from saving the universe after a disastrous mid-series finale earlier in the year. He is cheered up somewhat by his encounter with a feisty young barmaid, who is intrigued enough to follow the Doctor home, only to learn a valuable and ultimately fatal lesson about the importance of railings. Richard E Grant is here too, as usual, delivering his lines through heroically clenched teeth. It’s The Snowmen.

We refer to Clara several times as a Manic Pixie Dream Girl — a quirky female character whose main purpose in the narrative is to pull the male hero out of an emotional funk. The phrase itself was coined by a critic called Nathan Rabin, who has since said that he regretted ever coming up with the term.

Saul Metzstein, who directed this episode and several other successful Doctor Who episodes in Series 7, would go on to work as second unit director on the disastrous 2017 flop The Snowman, now best known for its terrible marketing campaign and for the fact that its protagonist was a character called Harry Hole (Michael Fassbender).

By 2013, Richard E Grant had twice played non-canon Doctors: He was the Ninth Doctor of Paul Cornell’s animated webcast Scream of the Shalka, which launched a whole new version of Doctor Who in 2003 in a parallel universe nearly adjacent to this one. He also played the Tenth Doctor (aka the Quite Handsome Doctor) in Steven Moffat’s first ever Doctor Who story The Curse of Fatal Death, broadcast as part of Red Nose Day in 1999. You can watch it here, and you should.

And our last trope for the day is fridging, which means killing a female character solely for the effect it has on the male hero. I can’t think how this one came up.

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Nathan is on Twitter as @nathanbottomley, Simon is @simonmoore72, and Todd is @ToddBeilby. The Flight Through Entirety theme was arranged by Cameron Lam. You can follow the podcast on Twitter at @FTEpodcast.

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And more

You can find Jodie into Terror, our flashcast on the Whittaker Era of Doctor Who, at jodieintoterror.com, at @JodieIntoTerror on Twitter, on Apple Podcasts, and wherever podcasts can be found. We’ll be recording our final episode some time in October.

Our James Bond commentary podcast is called Bondfinger, and you can find that at bondfinger.com, at @bondfingercast on Twitter, on Apple Podcasts, and everywhere else as well.

We can also be heard on the Blakes 7 podcast Maximum Power, which will be returning later this year with its coverage of Series B.

And finally, there’s our Star Trek commentary podcast, Untitled Star Trek Project, featuring Nathan and friend-of-the-podcast Joe Ford. In our most recent episode, we head back to the 1990s to see how Chief O’Brien is getting on, in The Wounded.

Episode 236: Good Smugness · Download · Open in new window

ChristmasSeries 7The Eleventh Doctor