Category Archives: Doctor Who Specials

The 12th Doctor – Doctor Who Specials – “The Return of Doctor Mysterio” – The Doctor’s Story is Good but the Romance is Terrible

return-of-doctor-mysterio

     I got to say, I’m looking forward to someone taking over Moffat’s reigns for “Doctor Who.” Moffat at the end of the day is a safe and average showrunner but great at individual episodes when someone else is running the show. The best episodes in the reboot were Moffat episodes but some of the worst episodes happened after he took over and proceed to ruin the 11th Doctor in many ways, as well as Clara. I could write a whole blog post on the matter but will wait and do a Moffat retrospect after he finishes up this Season, which will be his last season with “Doctor Who.”

       Steven Moffat was the writer of “The Return of Doctor Mysterio” with the director being Ed Bazalgette.

    The story involves the Doctor working on a device when he runs into young Grant, a child waiting for Santa who ends up eating a rare item that turns him into a Super Hero. Years later the Doctor returns and helps Grant deal with his double life and the threat of Shoal of the Winter Harmony.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros: The Cinematography – The cinematography is beautiful, “Doctor Who” continues to look the best it ever has ever looked.

The Action – The action, when it is there is rather clever and I liked the threat of the Shoal of Winter Harmony and how they were camp but still managed to hold threat.

Shoal of the Winter Harmony – These are an alien species of living brains that body snatch. These guys were fun and a nice addition to the Whoniverse. They even manage to infiltrate UNIT at the end, which could work but given how horribly The Great Intelligence was handled, I’m hoping they aren’t the big bad for this season.

Nardole – Nardole is great and awkward and Matt Lucas plays him beautifully. He calls the Doctor out but that is mostly because he gets social cues worse than the Doctor. He is also the connection to River, which is why the Doctor keeps him around, even though it helps as last episode was saying good-bye. Again, everything with the Doctor is the strongest part of this episode.

The Doctor – The Doctor is the best part of this story. He’s taken to bringing snacks on outings and is doing his best to stop the Shoal while dealing with the loss of River Song. His arc is making peace with the loss and accepting new beginnings. It is really well done as he is not nearly as mopy as 11 was after Amy and Rory died. Capaldi truly owns this role.

Remembering River – The core of the episode is the Doctor missing River after “The Husbands of River Song,” as it is after that episode she dies at the Library. This was the core of the plot that made it good and I wish this had actually been explored more, not through the weak Grant and Lucy romance.

Okay: Lucy – Lucy is the reporter who figures out what is going on with Shoal of the Harmony Winter and also the Doctor. She isn’t bad but she feels phoned in. She empathizes with the Doctor losing River but Nordale does it so much better. She or Grant should have been the only character, them both being around weakened both their plots.

The Ghost/Grant – This character is meant to be Superman (the flying, super strong, etc.) and Spider-Man (the awkward nerd) and he does that well, he also isn’t super memorable either and his core desire being romance just wasn’t strong enough to get me invested in the character. His double life plot just feel tacky and the backstory with Lucy just felt contrived.

The Cons: The Romance – The romance is just awful, it is awkward, feels tacked on and doesn’t feel real at all. All the best bits this episode are with the Doctor and the rest is forgettable or okay (the two main characters).

  This was an okay episode. I enjoyed it for the story where the Doctor drove the narrative but the hackneyed romance really brought this down. This is an episode that I’d recommend if you are a fan of Capaldi as he does have some great moments…but he is literally the only reason to watch this episode. The Super Hero stuff feels out of place mostly due to the romance and even though I liked the villains the romance took away from their threat. Again, see this if you are fan of the show but outside that, this is just an okay episode.

Final Score: 7 / 10

The 12th Doctor – Doctor Who Specials – “The Husbands of River Song” – The Pain in Endings

The Husbands of River Song

     “The Husbands of River Song” is a fun episode….and Kingston and Capaldi have great chemistry with one another, I really hope we get to see them in action together again after this. The episode isn’t great, but it was good and the ending definitely pulled at the heart strings.

     Douglas Mackinnon directed while Steven Moffat wrote the episode.

     The story involves the Doctor being pulled into saving River Song’s husband King Hydroflax. He soon learns it is all a setup to get the diamond out of the King’s head but things get more complicated as the King’s robotic body has a mind and agenda of it’s own and River doesn’t recognize the Doctor.

The Pros: The Premise – The premise is cool. I like that River doesn’t recognize the Doctor since she only knows past incarnations as far as we know and we know both her and the Doctor have had many spouses, so it is great seeing that explored. They are each forces of nature in their own right.

River Song’s Husbands – All of her husbands, like the Doctor’s wives are tools for bigger agendas and adventures. My favorite was Ramone and the King was alright. I wish we could have met Damsel.

River Song – River is in her element here and it is wonderful seeing her as the star of the show. We haven’t got this for a long time since so much of her prior arc with Smith’s Doctor was her being rescued. Here she doesn’t need that persay, it’s about the exploration of her relationship with the Doctor more than anything else and how she’s aware of how distant and alien he is as a Time Lord and has taken on his attributes in the relationships she forms.

The Doctor – The Doctor is called out in the end as we see just how similar he is to River. He has tons of wives across the Universe which River calls him out on. In the end we see what his philosophy is on love as his final words express how as someone who is Timeless he sees endings all around him, and knows that his and River’s relationship will end, he lived it in his 10th incarnation. He still gives hope though and gives her a fantastic date that he sets up over a long period of time when they go to eat at the Singing Towers and lets her know that they still have time left before the end.

Relationships and Endings – Relationships and endings are a major theme in this as we see River’s husbands meet their end via the Hydroflax robot and her manipulations and we are in the time period where all the Doctor’s earth marriages that we know about (Marilyn Monroe, the Queen, etc.) have all died as well. It’s fitting in a way capturing both of their Time Lord nature, but how even in that, Time Lords can’t escape time and the Doctor has become even more aware of that creating one of the best endings of an episode where River says all “Happily ever after” is is a little more time. I really hope that we see her again, and I’m glad Moffat is showing that this relationship has and will end as Time continues moving on.

Okay: King Hydroflax – He was a bit over the top and never felt like a threat, his robot suit did but the fact that he didn’t kill the people whose head’s he took made him feel like a little less of a threat, which I guess was the tone of the episode…still makes it so the villain isn’t a pro.

   I would recommend this episode. It isn’t the best of the Christmas Specials…that still goes to “A Christmas Carol” and “Last Christmas” but it is a good special and with it, I hope we see more of River in action again. She really is an awesome character and one of my favorite in the Whoniverse. This episode shows why. She is a force of nature like the Doctor who shapes the Universe to her agenda in degrees, even though both characters are still beholden to Time in the end, and with it the eventual ending of the relationship. For all things end and that doesn’t have to be bad. Mortality makes things sweet and gives strength to the time we have.

Final Score: 8.5 / 10

The 12th Doctor – Doctor Who Specials – “Last Christmas” – Letting Go of Dreams

DoctorWho_LastChristmas_DVD

    Besides “Waters of Mars” and “A Christmas Carol,” this is by far my favorite of the Doctor Who Specials and definitely the most character heavy of the Christmas Specials which is what gave it so much power. It wasn’t about the stories it took inspiration from, it was about the characters who inhabited the story, which is what made it so brilliant.

    “Last Christmas” was written by Steven Moffat and directed by Paul Wilmshurst.

SPOILERS ahead.

       The premise of the episode is a base under siege story. It begins with the Doctor picking up Clara from her home and taking her to the North Pole. It is there they work with the survivors of the base against the Dream Crabs who are killing 4 of the people on the base. When Santa comes to the rescue we soon learn that all is not as it appears to be and the Dream Crabs are more powerful than first realized.

The Pros: The Premise – The premise reminds me of “Inception” meets “Alien” or “John Carpenters The Thing” as the Dream Crabs have a creepy slimy design and so much of who they are is what you don’t see since by seeing and thinking about them is how they get power. They are a great enemy who I hope we see again. They raise the stakes and keep us guessing about what is real during the story, which makes the reveal of Clara telling the Doctor Danny is dead and the Doctor telling Clara he didn’t find Gallifrey all the more powerful. The base is haunting too, which makes the dream sequences all the more creepy.

The Humor -The best joke in the series is the Professor says the premise reminds him of the film “Alien.” The Doctor is horrified, “There’s a horror film called “Alien!” No wonder everyone keeps invading you.” Santa and the Elves relationship is great too as he has to put limits on how they praise and talk about him…at one point even giving a warning to stop.

The Survivors – Each of the survivors is living the life of who they wished they were. They are all scientists because of the shared dream and the movies one of them watched before the Dream Crab got her. One of them wakes up and finds she was in a wheel chair and younger than she was in the dream, the other was a teenager who was a woman in the dream and the final person who held them in her dream was alone and her mind had sought out others. It’s powerful and we see Clara needing the Doctor and Dream Danny to help get out of the Dream within a Dream as she wants to be with Danny so much. All of them are human and scarred in different ways. Michael Troughton, son of the 2nd Doctor also appeared in this episode as a professor, he isn’t given much to do but does a good job.

Dream Danny – Dream Danny is great in that he gives Clara the chance to grieve and have one last Christmas with the man she loves. It’s a great scene because it isn’t real and Danny isn’t coming back, it is there to help Clara heal and let go…which is what lends it power.

Clara – Clara is wonderful in this episode. She realizes they are still in the dream after they manage to wake up from one of the dreams and we realize how much she loves the Doctor. It is powerful in how she grieves for Danny and in how she helps the survivors escape the Dream Crabs. She sees the bigger picture and still functions as the Doctor’s conscience to some degree. At one point we get her good-bye where she is an old woman, until the Doctor is given another chance playing with the twist on what is real or not. I wish she had said good-bye. Her story as an old woman was awesome! She traveled and taught but Danny was her one love besides the Doctor. I really liked that. Well, I guess we’ll see if her last good-bye can compare to the last 2, which have been amazing.

Santa Claus – Nick Frost does a fantastic job as Santa, and his sarcastic elves actually end up adding some great humor. From hating being called Elves or other people being called humans…to other sarcastic quips. Santa is one who knows he is a dream and helps the others get out of the dream the Dream Crabs have them captured in because it is who he is.

The Doctor – Capaldi is amazing and I’m really glad he’s sticking around for at least 2 more seasons. He is the Doctor who speaks harsh truths. He recognizes some traumas never go away and that the person may never be okay, and he is able to connect with Santa since they are both immortals who are not quite human. We see how afraid he is of hurting Clara too and in the first ending doesn’t return to her for over 60 years. He’s afraid of disappointing her that he didn’t find Gallifrey and fears hurting her. Capaldi adds so much depth and sadness to the role, as well as excitement like when they make their escape from the Dream Crabs in Santa’s Sleigh which helps them to wake up. He is one of my favorite Doctors for sure, I just hope his next two seasons can keep up this quality and that we can avoid “Robot of Sherwood” and “The Forest of Night” type stories…given the rest of the season has explored him in great ways and been at least good if not great. This episode captured 12’s coldness, passion, fear of hurting others, empathy and showed just how much he cared about Clara, even if he was unable to let himself care about others for fear of losing them. This Doctor has learned and I can’t wait to see where else that growth takes him.

The Message – Even things like Santa that aren’t real can inspire us. It is in the dream that Santa saves the day and his existence is left up in the air at the end. He’s not overpowering but still is there as a support and the one thing binding all our characters together. This is the power of belief, and when that belief is positive it can in fact make a difference in the lives it touches…much like Santa Claus…or even the fairy tale like Doctor.

Okay: Clara’s Good-bye – Clara almost got her second Good-bye but the Doctor getting a second chance took away from what could have been the best of the companion exits. This could still work, but twice now a great chance for Clara to leave on great terms has been passed up to keep her around. That’s why this is okay and not a pro.

       I highly recommend this episode. Clara doesn’t have Danny come back and gets to say good-bye to him and chooses to live. This episode had consequences and almost the best companion exit of the series. I wish the Doctor had said good-bye to Clara when she was an old woman so he’d be forced to change and learn without her. She’s been a great addition this series but this is the second time she was given a great exit that was taken away. First with her and the Doctor lying to one another, and second with her as an old woman who had lived a full life. The Doctor got his second chance with her, which is great, but eventually he too will have to say good-bye. Major props to Nick Frost as well for playing a very human Santa Claus who was stern, real and compassionate. I really liked his character.

Final Score: 9.6 / 10. One of the best of the Doctor Who Specials. Merry Christmas all!