Thursday, 29 December 2016

The Return of Doctor Mysterio - Reviewed

The first new episode of Doctor Who in 366 days, and it seems to have followed on directly from the last Christmas Special. The Doctor has had his last meeting with River Song - that 24 year night back at the Singing Towers of Delirium. As well as references to Song, Nardole is back. The Doctor put him back together again, for a bit of company, but he's acting as a kind of Jiminy Cricket as well.
To be honest, Nardole might as well not have been present. He didn't contribute greatly to the plot. Then again, neither did the Doctor when you think about it.
The story was really that of Grant and Lucy - or the Ghost and Lucy. Superheroes have been big business in recent years, what with the on-going Marvel movies, and the Superman / Batman series. Young Grant is a big fan of comic book superheroes - both Marvel and DC evident in his bedroom. For a change Christmas was purely incidental to the opening sequence, when the Doctor accidentally turned Grant into a superhero.
Now, Amy and Rory's departure was the least thought-through of any recent leaving. New York became a no-go area for the TARDIS due to the time anomalies created by the Weeping Angels. This was the reason given for the Doctor not retrieving his companions when they got sent back in time. However, all he had to do was park the ship a mile or two beyond the city limits, and Amy and Rory could have jumped on a bus and rejoined him.
The events of The Angels Take Manhattan were referenced in the opening sequence, as the Doctor is trying to cancel the anomalies out. That's when we first meet Grant, aged 8, and the Doctor unintentionally turns him into the Ghost. We also see that the Doctor has visited him occasionally to check on his progress.

Moffat had a whole plethora of superheroes to reference, but he elected to concentrate on Superman, and his relationship with plucky girl reporter Lois Lane. Did you spot the mention of Mr Brock's aides - Shuster and Siegal? They were the onlie begetters of Superman. And Harmony Shoals' New York office had a big spinning globe on the roof - just like the Daily Planet newspaper where Clark Kent and Lois Lane work. Like Lois, Lucy is a reporter, but Grant has grown up to become a nanny - and Moffat has a lot to say about how carers are superheroes in their own right.
The aliens are brain-creatures, who want to take over the bodies of the world's leaders as part of their colonisation attempt. It wasn't explicitly stated, but are these the same lot who appeared in the last Christmas Special? Or did Moffat just like the imagery of people opening up their heads. Their plan had a touch of the Slitheen about it, fitting, as their heads also zip open.
A sequel is obviously on the cards, as both principal villains - Brock and Dr Sim - got away at the end, though Sim switched to the body of a UNIT soldier. It's a pity that Sim swapped bodies, as Aleksander Jovanovic made for a great villain. The Bond producers should go knocking.

Matt Lucas may not have done much, but he did have some nice one-liners. I liked the idea that he had ruled the Byzantine Empire for a time en route to meeting up with the Doctor. Capaldi mainly rattled off funny remarks. I had to watch a second time last night just to catch them all.
The real stars, though, were Justin Chatwin and Charity Wakefield as Grant and Lucy. Moffat is no stranger to writing pure comedy, and the plot for this episode allowed for plenty of farce as Grant sought to keep his alter-ego hidden from Lucy. I've only ever seen Chatwin in one thing before - the War of the Worlds remake, where he's Tom Cruise's son.
Being a Christmas Special, the story was bright and breezy and generally sped along. The rooftop meal might have brought things to a halt, but it was full of humour. Not too sure about brain transplants and people opening their heads up at 6pm on Xmas Day, but they got away with it last year.
This year we already had half a new season in the can, so we got to see a preview of Series 10 at the end. The Dalek episode looks quite good, but apart from some funny looking robots and something lurking behind a tree there weren't any new monsters on show. Can't say I'm looking forward to the arrival of Bill that much. I wasn't impressed by the preview back in May. Her stupidity might just be a bit too annoying.

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