The Return of Doctor Mysterio presented me with a dilemma since there were no previews available for this episode, despite there having been so for last year’s Christmas special, so I figured either this one was beyond terrible (always a possibility with a Christmas episode), or there was something so life-changing within that the BBC didn’t trust any journalist not to spoil it (give us some credit!) – not all of us have brains as small as the contributors to The Independent or Huffington Post.
But then I figured the latter couldn’t be the case as when it came to the penultimate episode of David Tennant’s series with Catherine Tate, when he lost his arm and, in the finale, resolved this by utilising the power of the one he had stored away for safekeeping… the BBC sent out tapes missing that final scene so they couldn’t detail anything about the cliffhanger and send the internet into a frenzy.
Looking into the plot of this episode, it started with promise with a company called Harmony Shoal, run by the smug Mr Brock (Tomiwa Edun), with an evil-sounding German colleague, Dr Sim (Aleksandar Jovanovic) and a room full of ‘brains with a mind of their own’, but any potential this had was thrown away with a dire “let’s takeover the world” premise that was given five minutes of screen time to eek out while the rest was thrown away on tertiary characters – Grant (Justin Chatwin), a nanny by day and superhero ‘The Ghost’ by night, and investigative reporter Lucy Fletcher (Charity Wakefield).
Unfortunately, with the Doctor visiting Grant as a child at the start, the lad swallowing a gemstone which gave him the super powers, and an early reference to how Superman and Clark Kent are the same person, with the latter hiding behind a pair of glasses, this episode was saw Steven Moffat at his most lazy as he ripped off Superman’s basic situation wholesale. Thankfully, he will soon be leaving Doctor Who‘s shores, which I never thought I’d be glad to see happen when his guest-writing episodes were the best of Russell T Davies’ tenure, a man who twisted every storyline to fit his own personal agenda, which was fine when he brought us Queer As Folk, a great drama, but he was aching to cram as much of that as possible into Doctor Who and it really wasn’t the place for it.
Back to this episode, and Matt Lucas is back as Nardole, but for no apparent reason other than to give the Doctor a temporary companion before Bill (Pearl Mackie) fulfills that role in the next series (Moffat’s last, and presumably Capaldi’s, too), the bad guys open their heads to reveal storage compartments within, just like they did in The Husbands of River Song, and Lucy is clearly a rip-off of Lois Lane, since her real name is Lucy Lombard, so the LL is prevalent.
At one point, the Doctor creates a diversion by “flooding the downstairs with Pokemon” as if everyone’s still playing Pokemon Go, which they probably were when Steven Moffat wrote the episode, but that was a very short-lived phenomenon. You can’t even remember when it ground to a halt, can you? Well, all the youth were at it during the summer, but as soon as the weather turned as September came round, that was it.
Most baffling line of this episode came when Matt Lucas wanted to find “The little boys room”, but he wasn’t referring to the toilet… huh?
So, this episode gets a big fat zero out of ten because it’s a combination of a Superman rip-off, plus left-over ideas from last year’s Xmas special and… well, nothing else. I really can’t begin to imagine what the point of this episode was. Polyfilla would make better filler.
For those looking forward to the next series, the episode concluded with a teaser (below) which begins in the Spring, although no date has yet been set for it. It can’t be worse than tonight’s… although it still seems to have Lucas in it.
Individual episodes can be bought in HD and SD here.
Director: Ed Bazalgette
Producer: Peter Bennett
Writer: Steven Moffat
Music: Murray Gold
The Doctor: Peter Capaldi
Nardole: Matt Lucas
Grant Gordon/The Ghost: Justin Chatwin
Lucy Fletcher: Charity Wakefield
Mr Brock: Tomiwa Edun
Dr Sim: Aleksandar Jovanovic
Young Grant: Logan Hoffman
Teen Grant: Daniel Lorente
Reporter: Sandra Teles
Operator: Tanroh Ishida
Soldier: Vaughn Johseph
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.