Doctor Mysterio (AKA Doctor Who) Returns for Christmas

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Doctor Who Christmas Special 2016 – The Return of Doctor Mysterio

  • Written by Steven Moffat
  • Directed by Ed Bazalgette


  • Peter Capaldi – The Doctor
  • Matt Lucas - Nardole
  • Justin Chatwin – Grant Gordon / The Ghost
  • Charity Wakefield – Lucy Fletcher
  • Adetomiwa Edun – Mr Brock
  • Aleksandar Jovanovic – Dr Sim
  • Logan Hoffman – Young Grant
  • Daniel Lorente – Teen Grant
  • Sandra Teles – Reporter
  • Tanroh Ishida – Operator
  • Vaughn Johseph – Soldier

Quick Synopsis:  24 year ago, The Doctor meets a boy named Grant and accidentally gives him superpowers.  The Doctor returns to Earth and finds Grant continues to be a superhero named The Ghost.  The Ghost and The Doctor team up to stop an alien invasion. 

Commentary:  On it’s own, I actually liked The Return of Doctor Mysterio a lot.  One thing I love about Doctor Who is that each show can be very different.  Pirates, dinosaurs in space, western stories, and on and on.  No other show can do that.  So having the Doctor meet up with an American Superhero makes a ton of sense in the context of the show.  This episode was a great play on superhero origin stories, and Grant and Lucy are characters I hope we see again.  Plus there was a lot of nice subtle in-jokes, like a reference to Seigel and Shuster.  Even the name of the episode is an in-joke, as Doctor Mysterio is what the Doctor is called in Mexico.

BUT, we haven’t had any Doctor Who in a year, and we are still several months away from Season 10.  In that context, I would have liked a little more of the Doctor.  He sort of played a side role here, and that does make for a good Doctor Who story in the middle of the season, but I really needed more of a Capaldi fix.

I also thought the villains were incredibly generic, and their plan was a bit over the top.  We have the ability to blow up New York…and we are going to use that power to terrify world leaders to come hide in our bunkers and then take over their brains?  We have had some crazy plots in Doctor Who before, but this one was more outlandish than usual.

All that said, I still enjoyed the episode.  There were a lot of fun moments, and it was a lot more accessible to new viewers who might have dropped in to check it out than last year's episode.  Grant and Lucy’s love story was sweet.  Though I guess you can kind of argue that Grant was a bit creepy/stalkerish in some ways. But that kind of is the norm in the superhero romance story, so it was genre appropriate if nothing else. 

I know a lot of people were down on Nardole returning, but I have to admit, I like the character.  Matt Lucas is very fun in the role, and he makes a great foil for the Doctor.  Too often, we get a companion who is amazing smart, beautiful, and perfect at everything.  Nardole is good natured, but a bit of a clown, so it creates a new dynamic.  I would never want him as the only companion for an entire season, but in small doses, he works for me.

Final thoughts: Definitely the most accessible Christmas Special that Moffat has done for Doctor Who.  A strong episode by itself, but as a long timer Doctor Who fan, this felt more like a middle of the season episode than a special.  

4.0 / 5.0