The Great Detective was a minisode broadcast as a prequel for The Snowmen, the Doctor Who 2012 Christmas special. It revealed how badly the Eleventh Doctor was hurt by the losses of Amy Pond and Rory Williams, resorting to absolute retirement from his travels in the TARDIS as a jaded inhabitant of the Victorian Era. It reintroduced the characters of Vastra, Jenny Flint and Strax, last seen in TV: A Good Man Goes to War, now identified as the Paternoster Gang and as such they become recurring characters in the franchise hereafter.
It was first broadcast as part of Doctor Who's BBC's Children in Need charity appeal, and was followed by a trailer for the Christmas special. Both were introduced by Matt Smith and Jenna-Louise Coleman.
Having learned of strange happenings, Madame Vastra, her maid Jenny Flint, and their Sontaran servant Strax meet with the Eleventh Doctor. However, he shows no interest in the cases they mention, informing them that he has since retired from investigating such matters.
- The Doctor - Matt Smith
- Strax - Dan Starkey
- Vastra - Neve McIntosh
- Jenny Flint - Catrin Stewart
- Narrator - Mark Gatiss
- Strax claims that he has "declared a war on the Moon."
- Vastra states there was a meteor shower of unexplained timing. She thinks it might be alien intervention.
- Jenny Flint suggests they investigate the drunken claims of Erasmus Pink that he would drill into the Earth.
- Unlike most minisodes, the episode has no opening credits, and as such writer Steven Moffat is uncredited. The episode also uses a unique typeface for presenting the episode title. It is the first televised Doctor Who story not to begin with a rendition of the theme music.
- Jenny's last name, Flint, is revealed in this minisode. In her introduction episode, A Good Man Goes to War, she was known only as Jenny.
- It was followed by a second prequel, Vastra Investigates, which was released online in mid-December 2012.
- This is the first Children in Need special since Children in Need 2011, 1 year earlier.
- This is the last televised story (not clearly branded as a prequel) in which the Doctor appears but Clara Oswald is not seen nor referenced in dialogue until TV: The Husbands of River Song in December 2015.
- Strax thinks there's life on the moon, such as "Moonites". However, it's later revealed that the moon is actually an egg that would hatch in 2045.
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Corn Street, Bristol, UK (filmed on 20 Aug 2012)
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- The Doctor is shown to be retired and living in the past. The Sixth Doctor had previously done this in PROSE: The Spindle of Necessity.
- Despite Jenny's assertion that the Moon is uninhabited, the Doctor once implied that there are species native to it. (TV: Dinosaurs on a Spaceship) Jenny's claim would later be proven wrong when the Twelfth Doctor, Clara Oswald and Courtney Woods paid a visit to the Moon in 2049. (TV: Kill the Moon)
- PROSE: The Dalek Generation (released 8 April 2013) ends with the Doctor growing weary of travel and is implied to be his last adventure before his retirement here.
- How Strax is alive after having been apparently killed off in TV: A Good Man Goes to War is left unexplained in both this minisode and the main The Snowmen. It is not until the web minisode The Battle of Demons Run: Two Days Later (a prequel to both this minisode and The Snowmen) that it is fully explained how Strax survived.
Home video releases
This mini-episode was released as part of The Complete Seventh Series on DVD and Blu Ray on September 24, 2013.
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- The Doctor Who Team (14 November 2012). The Doctor Returns for Children in Need. BBC - Blogs - Doctor Who. Retrieved on 18 November 2012.