Monday, 2 January 2017
"The Return of Doctor Mysterio" by Steven Moffat, directed by Ed Bazalgette. Spoilers after the cut.
Actually I think what made this the best Christmas Special in years was the fact that it barely mentioned Christmas - crowbarring it in year after year surely leaves writers short of ideas, although just why it seems to have been decided that only the showrunner can write them is another mystery. Anyway with him leaving the show soon Steven Moffat has obviously decided to play around with another of his childhood favourites and mixes Doctor Who with comic books - specifically Superman, although the costume is more Nightwing. Much more DC than Marvel, anyway.
In some ways "The Return of Doctor Mysterio" is a bit all over the place - Matt Lucas has some funny lines but doesn't feel essential (interesting to see how keeping him around in the upcoming series works out) and the actual alien plot is McGuffintastic. Of course that's because Moffat has focused most on Justin Chatwin and Charity Wakefield as Grant and Lucy, rightly so because that's where the heart of the story is - I liked the opening's way of explaining how a comics-style superhero works in the Whoniverse, and the story was a nice distillation of the Superman/Lois Lane story. I also liked little nods to comic books, especially when, in the split-screen scene, Grant's elbow ended up in the neighbouring screen, just like comics artists will draw outside of the panel at times, great little detail from Ed Bazalgette.
Peter Capaldi not quite taking a back seat but letting someone else take the spotlight also suits his increasingly good version of the Doctor, after his too-aggressive performance in his first season he's really been pulling it together. Of course it's typical that just as he's really living up to his potential he'll be leaving along with Moffat - but then the fact that Chris Chibnall is taking over the show is like the very definition of "this is why we can't have nice things."