Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Doctor Who Review: The Return of Doctor Mysterio

 Doctor Who Review: The Return of Doctor Mysterio

I haven't written a TV episode review in some time, so I thought I'd dust off my reviewing skills and dive in once more with a very short critique.  

The Return of Doctor Mysterio was, on the whole, much better than I'd thought it would be. First off, it wasn't one of those "I hate Christmas!" holiday specials that Moffat seemed to enjoy writing in recent years. In fact, other than a brief allusion to the Doctor possibly being Santa Claus in the opening act, there was nothing Christmasy about the story. That's a good thing, in my opinion. It's best to stay away from a subject you don't like as a writer, especially with Steven Moffat's hang ups.

The tone of the tale was upbeat and positive throughout, and we were introduced to a pair of very likeable characters in Grant and Lucy. New York as a location was fine, although it could have been written to take place in any large city, really. Why not Chicago or Denver or Cleveland or St. Louis next time? It's nice to get out of London and the British Isles occasionally, but there are other cities in the U.S. besides New York, you know?

The evil aliens who are invading Earth this time around were very cool. Zipper heads? Replaceable brains? Aliens substituting themselves for government leaders and getting away with it at the people's expense? I find it a plausible enough premise after our recent election, so I'm all in for this sort of monster-of-the-week.

I wasn't too sure about Matt Lucas' character of Nardole in the script at first. (When did he join the Doctor and how?) But since he didn't detract from the action or the growing romance of Grant and Lucy, and brought about some genuinely funny moments, I was okay with his addition. 

The whole "superhero comes to life" humor and sub-plot was very entertaining. Who doesn't want to see "Clark Kent" woo "Lois Lane"? Who doesn't like watching a little boy fly about the skies of Manhattan in his pajamas? It was a storyline that younger family members could understand, follow and enjoy as well as us old-timers. The special effects and costuming were all superb as usual, and I loved seeing Peter wear a more classic Jon Pertwee-styled outfit with a velvet jacket minus the hoodie. Very dashing!

I hope the upcoming series keeps this episode's upbeat and positive focus, avoids the "teenage soap opera angst" of the Clara years (yawn!) and stays with emphasizing the Doctor's good traits of being hopeful and helpful to mankind. The moody, sometimes mean-spirited, Doctor didn't work well for me in the past season. I greatly prefer Peter Calpaldi's Tom Baker-like performance in The Return of Doctor Mysterio. No more endless crying over lost girlfriends--the classic era's dictum of "No hanky-panky in the TARDIS" worked much better for character and story development.

We need to see a return of strong  and intelligent female companions such as Leela, Sarah Jane, Liz Shaw and Donna Noble. It would be nice to actually like the Doctor's companions instead of cringing over them as we've done in recent years, so perhaps Grant and Lucy can make a reprise later on in the season? Nardole might even grow on me given time and decent writing.

My British husband, who gave up on Doctor Who after viewing the "Mary Poppins Master" (Missy) episodes, dared to watch this show. The verdict? He said he enjoyed it. Considering he has watched Doctor Who since the William Hartnell era, that's a good sign it has improved in quality.

What do you think of The Return of Doctor Mysterio?


A J said...

I liked it! The recent series left me so disappointed in the franchise I stopped watching. Since I've been a fan of DW from Hartnel's time as the First Doctor you can imagine how drastic that decision was. However, if the story lines have improved along with the overall tone of the show, I'll begin watching it again.

Cindy A. Matthews said...

Yes, my fingers are crossed that this holiday special is a sign that things with the Beeb have turned around... That we'll actually see more family-friendly and enjoyable Doctor Who tales and not soap opera trash. Peter Capaldi is a great actor and certainly deserves a decent script.

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