Doctor Who is going through a change, with a new companion and of course the end of the Moffat era. Right now though this is Christmas day, and we have Doctor Who: The Return of Doctor Mysterio. Can Doctor Who do a super hero story that isn’t drowned in pure cheese?
Doctor Who (Peter Capaldi) has to save New York, this time with the aid of The Ghost (Justin Chatwin). With the return of Nardole (Matt Lucas) to aid in the task, can The Doctor save the city? and will the investigative journalist Lucy Fletcher (Charity Wakefield) work out the identity of The Ghost? Will that even matter?
The thing about The Return of Doctor Mysterio is that it taps into the heart of what comic book fans love. For all those people who know Lois Lane will find out the identity of Superman, and Spider-Man will find his true love, this is where The Return of Doctor Mysterio sits. Even if it feels strange in a Doctor Who episode
In many ways, this episode of Doctor Who owes a lot to The Watchmen for its style. We see the origin of a superhero, and we see a stereotypical story provided for him. It almost takes a cynical mind to see what this episode is trying to prove, but there is a meaning here, and this is why it works. What we saw in previews of the episode was a rather cheesy introduction to The Ghost, but when you watch the episode and understand who he is, especially what caused him to become who he is, this is what is important. There is a danger to New York (and the world) and this character must stop it. Thankfully though, we have Doctor Who to help him out.
While this story of the superhero and The Doctor is interesting, there are a few things that do fall flat. One of these things is sadly Matt Lucas as Nardole. While it is nice to see this character return, and Matt Lucas does provide a good performance, there really is no need for him. There may be times he “saves” the Doctor, but this feels like a Mary Sue type scenario where a character is shoe horned in to just be there. It may be a useless character, but at least Matt Lucas gives it his all and plays a good part.
Doctor Who is going through many changes right now, and The Return of Doctor Mysterio does highlight many of these issues. The return of Nardole is of course to add a “companion” to the story for The Doctor, even though he is not needed. We even see a trailer for the next series which didn’t exactly fill me with confidence with how the show will go. This of course won’t stop me from watching it though.
Thankfully, Doctor Who: The Return of Doctor Mysterio was a surprisingly entertaining show. It taps into many of the elements we expect from a superhero story, and subvert them in a way that is comparable with The Watchmen. In the end we may not have a story that reaches the epic nature of Alan Moore’s classic, but a Doctor Who Christmas Special that entertains and manages to escape the cheesiness that the episode could have easily become.
There may have been a shark swimming around this episode of Doctor Who... Thankfully though it ends up being an entertaining story where the Doctor is not the only hero to save the day.