There’s no doubt that some fans of Doctor Who tuned in to The Return of Doctor Mysterio in the hope that it would be some kind of po-faced Resurrection of the Daleks style massacre story. But as I’ve said before, that’s never going to happen on Christmas Day…Eastenders has that covered after all.
That doesn’t stop them hoping though.
For me, I think it’s fair to expect something sentimental considering the day of broadcast. People like that. I like that.
But it doesn’t mean it can’t have substance, and that’s the main thing. To me, that’s what separates a story like ‘The Doctor, The Widow and The Wardrobe’ from ‘A Christmas Carol’.
So with that in mind, it’s now January 2nd and I’ve had a chance to watch this episode twice.
And here are my thoughts.
Doctor Who: The Return of Doctor Mysterio Review – What’s This One About?
It’s a love story with a toothless alien invasion thrown in to make it ‘Doctor Who-ish’.
Thoughts – The Tale of the Unnecessary Alien Invasion
Now as you know, I’ve reviewed every Doctor Who adventure and that amounts to hundreds of them. And if you’re a regular reader of this blog then you’ll know that I’ve made the point time and time again that
Aliens with heads that split opened. We haven’t seen them since the last episode…
Doctor Who doesn’t need to have aliens in every story. Aliens are not what Doctor Who is about; The Doctor travelling in the TARDIS is what it’s about.
And yet it’s clear that someone, somewhere believes that no matter what, there does has to be an alien influence to it.
What that means is you get a story like this, where the writer wants to present a send up of a Superman/Lois Lane style romance between two people who already live together. But he can’t just do that because there has to be a token alien invasion written in somewhere, even if it’s just to tick a box.
These ones were drab and unimaginative, even going as far as to lazily have the same pull-apart-skull gimmick as the aliens in the last story broadcast.
I thought the episode could have worked just as well without them, especially considering the set-up for the superhero was done perfectly well in the pre-credits section.
Leave It Grant, She’s Not Worth It
And it’s the romance where this episode shines.
I liked the idea of the nanny who is a superhero living with the woman he has a crush on. It’s mostly done well, and provided us with the sentiment and the substance. How Grant actually became a superhero was nicely explained too, and made perfect sense within the realms of the show.
But you’ll notice I said it was only ‘mostly’ well done, and that’s because there’s one major flaw in their relationship.
Lucy’s a bitch.
Based on the flashback, I think she’s always known that Grant has a thing for her, and yet when she met him and his best mate, she got off with the mate. Then once he’d left – and after Grant bizarrely decided to stick with her rather than him – she hires him to work in the home and then seems to insist upon him calling her Mrs Lombard.
Let’s bear in mind this is a woman in her early 30s demanding someone of the same age who she went to school with address her in the most formal manner possible. And she also talks down to him in a way that – were it a man talking to a woman – would be flagged up as misogynistic and condescending (“Don’t you worry your pretty little head about it”).
She’s an arsehole, just like John Wayne.
But if he loves her knowing that then it’s his bed and he can lie in it…
Has Anyone Ever Properly Thought Out X-Ray Specs?
Ok, so I’m straying slightly off point here, but it’s referenced a few times in the episode and I want to bring this up.
Grant, she’s just lied to your face about wearing that red dress; if the way she treats you day to day isn’t a warning sign, this must be!
Has nobody ever considered that X-Ray specs simply wouldn’t work in the way we’re supposed to think they would?
In fiction, we’re led to believe that these specs allow you to see people naked, rather as walking skeletons.
That’s fine, but surely if the specs only made clothing invisible, what you’d be left with would be people with weirdly packed-together organs held in place by invisible bras, underwear and other tight apparel. And how is that meant to be exciting?
Maybe I’m overthinking this, but someone has to!!
The Doctor and Nardol
Bearing in mind that this is actually a Doctor Who story, it’s important to take a moment to talk about the main cast, and as always Peter Capaldi is excellent. That there’s a rumour that he may be replaced in 2018 is a disgrace, because he’s clearly the best actor they’ve had in the part.
As for Matt Lucas, I thought he was good, and that doesn’t surprise me. Why? Because I wrongly assumed that as a comedienne, Catherine Tate would be rubbish and yet she’s the best companion the show has had since 1965. Nardol plays to Lucas’s strengths and he manages to work nicely in the background without stealing the spotlight away from anyone else.
- The cockpit of the alien ship looked a lot like the one from the prison ship in the second episode of Blake’s Seven. And if you didn’t think I was a bit geeky before, I’m sure you do now.
- It seemed a little bit odd that the Doctor and Lucy just watched Mr Brock being killed in that room and couldn’t be bothered intervening.
- Also, the scene where Brock is told all about the brains and their plans seemed like bad exposition. Why not just kill him the moment he enters the room?
- I’m hoping that brief mention at the end of the episode is now finally, finally an end to River Song.
- Setting the episode in New York made it feel a little bit unusual, but in a good way.
- The squeezy doll was sinister.
- Was I the only one to groan when the Daleks appeared in the Coming Soon trailer?
- And more to the point, was I the only one to laugh at the caption “See The Universe Anew” when there’s obviously yet another fucking Dalek story coming on in the near future?!?
Doctor Who: The Return of Doctor Mysterio Review
If we discount the alien invasion as irrelevant and the obvious character flaws that Lucy has, The Return of Doctor Mysterio ends up being a fun and humorous watch. I enjoyed it on Christmas Day and again when I watched it today.
It also moves at a brisk enough pace and never seems to drag.
No, it’s not going to go down in history as one of the all time greats, and isn’t even a contender for the best Christmas Day episode, but I liked it.
And I look forward to more new episodes soon, even if they do include the Daleks.