Thu, 5 January 2017
"The Return of Doctor Mysterio" is an episode of the British science fiction television series Doctor Who. First broadcast on BBC One on 25 December 2016, it is the twelfth Christmas special since the show's revival in 2005. It is written by Steven Moffat and directed by Ed Bazalgette. The episode stars Peter Capaldi as the Twelfth Doctor and Matt Lucas as Nardole, the latter reprising his role from the preceding episode, "The Husbands of River Song". The episode is set in New York City, and involves the Doctor and Nardole linking with journalist Lucy Fletcher (Charity Wakefield) and a superhero called The Ghost (Justin Chatwin) to combat brain-swapping aliens. The episode received generally positive reviews from critics. Contents [hide] 1 Plot 1.1 Continuity 1.2 Outside references 2 Promotion 3 Broadcast 3.1 Cinemas 4 Reception 4.1 Critical reception 5 Home media 6 References 7 External links Plot In New York City on Christmas Eve of 1992, an 8-year-old boy named Grant wakes to find the Doctor dangling outside the window of his family's apartment, and helps him come into his bedroom. Taking the boy to the rooftop, the Doctor reveals he accidentally set off a trap for a device he was building, and enlists him to help complete it. However Grant mistakenly swallows a wish-granting gemstone needed for the device, believing it to be medicine, effectively being granted his wish to be a superhero. Abandoning the device, the Doctor makes Grant promise to not use his new superpowers before he leaves. Returning to New York in 2016 with Nardole, whom he rebuilt from Hydroflax's body, the Doctor conducts an investigation into Harmony Shoals, a multinational research company, discovering a news reporter named Lucy Fletcher performing a similar investigation. The group discover that it is being secretly run by a group of living alien brains that transplant themselves into any living creature they need for their plans, killing the company's owner, Mr Brock, for his body. Tracked down by Dr Sims, an employee the brains already took over, the group suddenly are rescued by a masked superhero named the Ghost, who transports Lucy close to her home. Returning to her apartment before her, Ghost transforms back into Grant, who works for Lucy as a nanny, only to be shocked to find the Doctor and Nardole waiting for him, having tracked him down via the gemstone fused to him. When Lucy returns and sees the Time Lord, the Doctor reveals to her that the alien brains colonise planets by taking control of their prominent leaders, with Earth being their next target. Leaving Lucy to prepare for an interview with Grant's alter ego, the Doctor and Nardole track down the alien's ship in a low orbit and board it via the TARDIS. On board, they discover that the ship's reactor is in a critical state, and realise from Dr Sims that he intends to drop it on New York. Remembering an observation made by Nardole, the Doctor realises the city would be vaporised except for the Harmony Shoals building, and that the world leaders would take shelter in the company's other buildings within each capital city on the belief that Earth was under attack, effectively allowing the brains to take them over. After Dr Sims lets slip the ship is to be dropped at a designated time, the Doctor reprogrammes it to begin descending ahead of schedule. Attending his interview, Grant and Lucy become captured by the brains who intend to transplant themselves into Ghost's body. Breaking free and secretly returning as himself, Grant picks up a message from the Doctor requesting his help to stop the alien's ship from crashing into the city after being unable to change its course during its descent. Revealing himself as the Ghost to Lucy in stopping the ship on the rooftop, Grant finally manages to win her over and takes her in tow as he disposes of the ship, while the Doctor alerts UNIT, who subsequently shut down Harmony Shoals, unaware that the alien brain in Dr Sims has escaped within one of their soldiers. Back at Lucy's apartment, Grant informs the Doctor he will no longer use his powers, though as the Time Lord leaves, Lucy asks him why he is sad. Not giving a straight answer as he leaves, Nardole reveals he is still mourning the loss of River Song but will hopefully recover, leaving with the Doctor to aid him further. Continuity At the beginning of the episode, the Doctor is constructing a device to reverse the paradoxes created during his previous visit in "The Angels Take Manhattan". The Doctor mentions that he usually gets "an invasion" every Christmas, a reference to the different invasions of Earth taking place during most Doctor Who Christmas specials. The unnamed brain-swapping aliens last appeared in the 2015 Christmas special "The Husbands of River Song", where they were servants of King Hydroflax. Their main agent, Scratch, stated that they represented "the Shoal of the Winter Harmony." The Doctor tells Lucy that he works for Scotland Yard, which he also did in "The Woman Who Lived". Previously, the Tenth Doctor told the guests at Lady Eddison's manor he was a chief inspector from Scotland Yard in "The Unicorn and the Wasp, while the Eleventh Doctor told President Richard Nixon he was an undercover operative from Scotland Yard (code-named "The Doctor") in "The Impossible Astronaut". A movie theater across from Lucy's apartment features a film called The Mind of Evil, the name of a Third Doctor serial. Nardole mentions that the Doctor cut him out of Hydroflax's body, referring to off-screen events following the "The Husbands of River Song" where he was decapitated and his head was placed inside the artificially intelligent robotic body of King Hydroflax. When the Doctor complains that Grant promised him never to use his powers, Nardole brings up the Time Lord policy of never interfering with other peoples or cultures, first mentioned in the Second Doctor serial The War Games. When clearing out the headquarters of Harmony Shoal, a UNIT officer prepares to contact Osgood, referring to Petronella Osgood who previously appeared in "The Day of the Doctor", "Death in Heaven" and "The Zygon Invasion" / "The Zygon Inversion". Both the Doctor and Nardole refer to the final 24-year night the Doctor spent with River Song ("The Husbands of River Song") and her eventual death in the Library ("Forest of the Dead"). Outside references The character of "The Ghost" is a pastiche of the comic book superhero Superman, with several references to the character being made throughout the special: Superman's creators, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, are referenced when Mr Brock suggests to the gathered reports to direct further questions to ""Miss Shuster and Ms. Siegel". Grant has roughly the same standard powers of Superman, including flight, super-strength, super-speed, being bulletproof, and possessing X-ray vision, along with other unconventional powers. He gains his power from a stellar-powered object (a gemstone made from a star, in the episode), much as Superman gains his from Earth's yellow sun. The Harmony Shoals building in New York featured in the episode has a large globe on top of it, making it resemble the Daily Planet building, a major setting of Superman stories. Grant prefers being called "mild-mannered", as Superman's alter ego is often characterized. He also follows the same moral code as Superman when operating as the Ghost, and transforms in a similar fashion by tearing open his shirt to reveal his superhero costume underneath. The special features a number of elements that mimic those from Richard Donner's Superman: The Movie. One scene involves the Ghost voicing his hope that Lucy's close call at Harmony Shoal hasn't put her off journalism, paralleling the same scene in the film in which Superman hopes Lois is not put off from flying after he rescues her from falling out of a helicopter. Lucy also conducts a rooftop interview with the Ghost reminiscent of Lois' interview with Superman in the film. Lucy Fletcher is named after Lois Lane's sister Lucy. Her character is similar to Lois' in that she does not realize that her old high school friend and current nanny is the superhero Ghost. The initials "L.L." used by several characters of the Superman comics (Lois Lane, Lana Lang, Lex Luthor, Linda Lee) is used in Lucy's married name: Lucy Lombard. Several characters from Marvel Comics line the walls of the young Grant's bedroom. The Doctor questions Spider-Man's unusual origin of being bitten by a radioactive spider; he opines that radiation poisoning would be the likely result. A "Joe's Pizza" is shown within the city, which is where Peter Parker worked at briefly in the movie Spider-Man 2. The Doctor counsels Grant that "with great power comes great responsibility," an adage associated with Spider-Man. Batman is briefly referenced after the Ghost drops Lucy off at her apartment building. When the baby monitor he is carrying goes off, Lucy mistakes it for a signal device and asks if the Bat-Signal is now an app. The Doctor uses the viral mobile game Pokémon Go to create a distraction at Harmony Shoal's Tokyo headquarters. Promotion The episode was revealed and the first trailer was shown at the 2016 New York Comic Con on 7 October 2016. A preview clip was shown as part of the Children in Need broadcast on 18 November 2016. Broadcast Cinemas The episode will receive cinema screenings in Australia and New Zealand on 26 December 2016, in Canada on 26 and 28 December 2016, and in the United States on 27 and 29 December 2016. Reception The episode had an official rating of 7.83 million viewers in the UK, making it the 6th most watched show on Christmas Day 2016. The overnight rating was 5.68 million, a share of 27.1% of the total TV audience. The episode received an Appreciation Index score of 82. It also received 1.7 million viewers on BBCA, was BBC America's top telecast of the year across all key demographics, and was the most talked about Christmas day television program on Facebook and Twitter. Critical reception The Telegraph gave a positive review of five out of five stars and summarized that the episode was "a romp with a classic feel and cross-generational appeal". Andrew Billen writing in The Times gave the programme four stars out of a possible five. Billen said that Capaldi was at his warmest and that Nardole (Matt Lucas) "added panto brio to an already exuberant episode". The Guardian gave a positive review of The Return of Doctor Mysterio saying "Capaldi takes Manhattan!" ... "Cosmic baddies are inserting alien brains into world leaders’ heads in the Christmas special. It’s timely, top-of-the-tree fun – and Peter Capaldi and Matt Lucas are a pantomime treat". IGN said "“The Return of Doctor Mysterio” is a pretty lightweight entry in the Twelfth Doctor’s oeuvre, which considering the events of last season isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But the different elements of the episode don’t come together as smoothly as they could, and the emotional through line for the Doctor is treated mostly as an afterthought" but gave it 7/10. A.V. Club gave a mixed review saying that "Doctor Who takes a jolly detour to superhero goofiness".