Monday, 26 December 2016

Doctor Who 10.X: The Return of Doctor Mysterio

Nardole looks as out of place on this poster as he does in
the whole bloody episode.
Doctor Who has been away from our screen for an entire calendar year, and we really needed something to bring the series back into the public consciousness. While the episode certainly tried to do this, you wouldn't know from the rest of it - the publicity for this episode was a damp squib. The trailers were badly edited, the premise looked ridiculous and most of my Doctor Who loving friends were completely meh about the whole thing. Which is a damn shame, because I actually enjoyed this episode. Its remarkably fun spirit, owed to superhero movies and general, also comes down to the fact that the superhero story is just a cover for a well-acted rom-com.
      The plot surrounds the flailing relationship between Lucy (Charity Wakefield) and Grant (Justin Chatwin, who had a bit part in Lost), the secret of course being that the latter was accidentally made a superhero by The Doctor has a child. The two's secret-identity relationship has been ripped straight from the Christopher Reeve superhero movies, with a love triangle between Lucy, Grant and Grant's alter-ego, Ghost. Despite the hackneyed ideas behind them, they are the most interesting part of the episode, with the actual threat of the piece being either confusing or boring or both. The bad guys are aliens who want to take over the world. They make lines in people's heads and replace their brains, and want to gather the world's leaders together by blowing up New York and pretending to be a safeguard against alien invasion. I immediately remembered the Aliens of London two-parter, except that had a lot more political satire and didn't just re-use a random special effect from the episode before.
     Grant could have come across as a bit creepy, and I'm sure many people thought he did, but for me I think he hit the balance perfectly and came across as genuinely charming in a kind of" "Andrew Garfield Spiderman" kinda way. Charity Wakefield was also wonderful as Lucy, who I hope will get more roles from this. I wish we'd have just focused on them rather than having this external alien story, because it brought nothing new and was actively dull at times. It didn't help that despite bringing aliens in from last year's Christmas special, no mention was made of them being in both, leading me to simply believe that Moffat had reused a special effect, something which is not particularly unlikely.
This sums up the Moffat era perfectly.. Why use fucking pockets
when you could store a loaded weapon inside your fucking head.
     Peter Capaldi was fantastic in this episode, which makes it all the more irritating that we see the return of Nardole (Matt Lucas) from last year's Christmas special. Quite like one of John Nathan Turner's mad whims, Moffat has decided that we all loved Nardole, so Nardole will be in this episode, and every episode of Series 10. The levels of wtf involved in this decision are baffling - there was no great love for Lucas' character, and he doesn't really add anything to this episode beyond very, very light comic relief that Capaldi could likely have provided himself. The main thing he seems to provide uniquely is an info-dump near the end about River Song, revealing that Capaldi spent 24 years with her before sending her to the Library. Seeing as I want River Song to go away, and go away now, this did nothing to endear the character to me, and seeing him in the rest of Moffat's finale season is going to be a chore.
     The Return of Doctor Mysterio pleasantly surprised me, but that felt very too little too late. You can make a bloody brilliant episode and it'll still fail to get the ratings if the publicity surrounding it is as lacklustre as was here. A few choices - the editing of the trailer, the general lack of advertising and the total lack of hype - meant that the return of The Doctor to our screens occured with a whimper rather than a bang. Capaldi doesn't deserve this level of apathy, this corporate assassination, and I often worry that his entire tenure is going to be draped with the same brush as Colin Baker's - a brash Doctor beset by decreasing ratings, pushed up against ITV rivals and absent publicity.

Merry Christmas.

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