Doctor Who Christmas Special 2016 – “The Return of Doctor Mysterio”

I hope everyone reading this had an enjoyable Christmas yesterday. Mine was very pleasant, with everything going as it ought to – and it also featured the first new episode of Doctor Who since last Christmas, The Return of Doctor Mysterio.

  • Is that shot of Joe’s Pizza at the beginning a reference to Spider-Man 2?
  • And the Doctor gives another human child unnatural powers through alien technology. You’d think he’d be more careful after last series.
  • The Twelfth Doctor is still excellent: thinking he’s clever for noticing that Clark Kent and Superman are the same person, trying to apply realism to Spider-Man’s origin story, and delivering threats to the Harmony Shoal that the Tenth Doctor would be proud of. (On the subject of mercy: “It’s not a request, it’s an offer.”)
  • Matt Lucas’s Nardole is back, with the episode explaining why he’s no longer a head inside a giant robot just as I remembered to wonder about it. But really, he serves little purpose except to give the Doctor someone to talk to when he’s not with Grant and Lucy.
  • Quite a few elements in this episode felt more like the RTD era, from the big suspicious company that’s a front for an alien invasion, to the aliens staging a “fake” invasion like the Slitheen tried to do back in Series 1.
  • But really, the alien threat is a secondary plotline – there’s more focus on the romantic comedy playing out between Grant/The Ghost and Lucy. I didn’t mind this very much though: it uses classic superhero tropes in an amusing way, and having the hero’s secret identity working as a nanny for the love interest is certainly a new twist – just the love interest being a working mother isn’t something you often see in superhero stories.
  • I really enjoyed Justin Chatwin’s performance as Grant, particularly the cool heroic attitude – complete with one-liners – he puts on as the Ghost, which is surely deliberate given that he’s a comic book fan.
  • There do seem to be a great many threats requiring the intervention of a superhero in a short space of time here. And while the Ghost does appear on the news, you’d think there’d be an even bigger worldwide fuss about the existence of an actual superpowered being – or is everyone desensitised to this sort of thing, after the constant alien invasions, that time where nobody on earth could die, etc?
  • In the scene where Grant tries to reveal his identity to Lucy, but can’t get her to look at him, was anyone else reminded of Sherlock trying to surprise John in The Empty Hearse?
  • Yes, it’s terribly corny, but when Lucy tells Grant she’ll help him into his superhero costume, and then puts his glasses back on, I was mentally going “Awwww.”
  • It feels quite different for this episode to end with the Doctor defeating the villains without wiping them out. Guess that’ll come later – no second chances, after all.

Overall, this was a pleasant and amusing episode – appropriate for Christmas – though nothing truly special as Doctor Who stories go. Rating: 3.5/5.

And now to wait for Series 10 – though based on the trailer, I’m still not sure how much I’m going to like the new companion.


About velociraptor256

Hi, my name's Richard. I created this blog to talk about my interests - and I have quite a few of those. I love zoology in general, herpetology in particular (especially snakes!), writing (have won National Novel Writing Month nine times so far), reading, astronomy, palaeontology, and travel. Thank you for coming to my blog, and I hope you find something that interests you here!
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7 Responses to Doctor Who Christmas Special 2016 – “The Return of Doctor Mysterio”

  1. smilingldsgirl says:

    I recorded this on my dvr. Do you think this episode is a good place for people to start with Dr Who that have never seen it before?

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s certainly not a bad choice for that. There are a few references to past events but nothing that will leave you really bewildered.

      Liked by 1 person

    • It is difficult, especially with the continuity involved. The first episode of the revived series, “Rose” (where Christopher Eccleston is the Doctor and Billie Piper is his companion) is an obvious starting point – failing that, there are the opening episodes of Series 3 (Smith and Jones) and Series 4 (Partners in Crime) where David Tennant had become the Doctor and new companions took over. I wouldn’t recommend the Matt Smith era for beginners as the series arcs get very complicated.

      Peter Capaldi’s two seasons so far have also had some necessary continuity, but as I said, The Return of Doctor Mysterio is a good one-off for his Doctor. Plus he’s getting a new companion next series so that might work as a starting point.

      Let me know if you want me to explain anything!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Burrunjor says:

    Sad to say I thought that was dreadful. So tedious and boring. I didn’t even finish it (though I watched the trailer for series 10 later and you’re right Pearl looks AWFUL).

    Really to be honest I couldn’t care less about DW anymore. The last two series have been so mind meltingly awful for various reasons I’d have needed a story that made Genesis of the Daleks look like Death in Heaven to get me keen again.

    Bill looks like Rose 5.0 . “I’m a normal working class, sassy London girl who is bored of her every day life and wants to explore the universe.” YAWN.

    Glad you had a nice Christmas. I did too. Sad about George Michael though. Nice guy, great singer and a talent lost too soon.


    • I can understand why the approach of this episode wouldn’t appeal to some people. I really loved Series 9 but what I’ve seen of Bill so far is just irritating. I hope I’m proven wrong.

      Currently hoping that Carrie Fisher will be okay.


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