Monday, 26 December 2016

Doctor Who: The Return of Doctor Mysterio

"Brains with minds of their own? No one will believe that. This is America."

From the very beginning- a joyful pastiche of the comic strip intros to the Marvel Cinematic Universe Movies- to the equally joyful ending, this was one of the very best Christmas specials and perfectly pitched for early evening on Christmas Day when everyone is a bit sozzled. Ironically, though, the fact that this was my best Christmas Day ever (I have a 22 month old little girl, and every moment was truly magical) means I didn't open the bottle of wine I have just consumed until she had gone to bed. So this review comes early.

At last Doctor Who does superheroes. What took it so long? Much of this film riffs on the romance between Superman and Lois Lane in the first Superman film, and the referencing of superhero life is joyful; I love the Doctor's deconstruction of Spider-Man's origin, and the joke about Clark Kent being Superman. We even get a reference to "Miss Siegel and Miss Schuster". It's amazing, in retrospect, that Doctor Who has taken so long to do the genre. Here it truly embraces it, and Steven Moffat's background in romantic comedy serves him well in handling the beautiful love story between Grant and Lucy.

The unnamed baddies are the same ones from The Husbands of River Song but still unnamed; curious. I suspect we will see them again. The Doctor, it seems, resurrected Nardole (Matt Lucas works surprisingly well as a companion) because of his upset over losing River; the 24 year date is explicitly paralleled with the 24 years of Grant having his powers. Grant and Lucy are brilliant characters, incidentally. Asa father I love the message that real men look after children, and of course Lucy's usage of Mr. Huffle is beyond cool.

This episode rules. We get proper use of the superhero genre. We get evil brains in jars, even if they're more The Keys of Marinus than The Brain of Morbius. We get an episode of truly entertaining fun for all the family rather than the more intricate episodes that, much as I may love them, don't appeal to the kids. It's a appropriate tale for Christmas and it's right that the seasonal references are perfunctory.

This is Moffat's best Christmas special, easily. And the teaser for the upcoming Season 36- for inc narrated, by the already engaging Bill) looks fantastic. As far as I'm concerned 2016 can just go away (Brexit and Trump can both just do one) but this is at least a positive ending to a horrible year.

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