The Return of Doctor Mysterio was the 2016 Doctor Who Christmas special. It was the show's twelfth Christmas special since its revival, and the third Christmas special starring Peter Capaldi as the Twelfth Doctor. It saw the return of Nardole from the previous Christmas special, this time as the Doctor's companion.
Steven Moffat was hugely influenced by the comic books he loved as a child in writing this episode—particularly Clark Kent, Moffat's favourite superhero, both then and now. By his own account, he took particular inspiration from the Christopher Reeve Superman films of the 1970s and 1980s.
Though clearly humorous in tone, The Return of Doctor Mysterio explores many common superhero themes, such as the hero's secret identity, his origin story, and a love triangle involving both the hero and the man behind the mask.
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A young boy named Grant wakes up during the middle of the night to find the Doctor swinging from his ankles in front of his bedroom window. Grant, believing the Doctor is Santa Claus, lets him in and feeds him cookies. The Doctor hands Grant a red gemstone and a glass of water, and two discuss superhero comics, of which Grant is a fan. The Doctor leads Grant to the roof of the apartment, where he reveals a device that he is unable to describe in simpler terms than a "time distortion equaliser thingy". He instructs Grant on how to power up the device, the final touch being the alien gemstone he had given Grant, which grants an individual his desires. However, Grant reveals that he thought the gem was medicine for his cough and swallowed it. Grant begins to levitate, as the Doctor realizes that Grant's love for superheroes has combined with the power of the gem, giving the young boy superpowers. Abandoning the device, the Doctor makes Grant promise to not use his new superpowers before he leaves.
- Present Day
The Doctor returns to New York City whilst being accompanied with Nardole, whom The Doctor recovered from King Hydroflax's robot body. The Doctor is conducting an investigation into Harmony Shoals, a multinational research company, and soon stumbles across Lucy Fletcher, an undercover newspaper reporter performing a similar investigation. The trio discover that the company is being secretly run by a group of living alien brains that transplant themselves into any living creature they need for their plans. Killing the company's owner, Mr Brock, for his body. Tracked down by Dr Sims, an employee the brains already took over, the group suddenly are rescued by a masked superhero named The Ghost, who carries Lucy close to her home. Returning to her apartment before her, Ghost transforms back into Grant, who works for Lucy as a nanny, only to be shocked to find the Doctor and Nardole waiting for him, having tracked him down via the gemstone fused to him.
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- The Doctor - Peter Capaldi
- Nardole - Matt Lucas
- Grant - Justin Chatwin
- Lucy - Charity Wakefield
- Mr Brock - Tomiwa Edun
- Dr Sim - Aleksandar Jovanovic
- Young Grant - Logan Hoffman
- Teen Grant - Daniel Lorente
- Reporter - Sandra Teles
- Operator - Tanroh Ishida
- Soldier - Vaughn Johseph
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- There's a Joe's Pizza under young Grant's apartment, which is situated on the corner of Macpherson Street.
- Young Grant accidentally swallows a gemstone known as the Hazandra, mistaking it for medicine. There are only four of its kind in the universe.
- The Doctor tells the young Grant Gordon that he usually gets a cold or an invasion on Christmas. This refers to previous Christmas specials.
- Grant gets a cold at Christmas.
- The Doctor builds a time distortion equaliser thingy.
- Grant serves the Doctor milk and cookies, believing him to be Santa Claus. In response, the Doctor utters "Ho. Ho. Ho."
- Grant owns A Classic Case of Dr Seuss.
- Grant has prepared a Christmas stocking.
- The Doctor mentions Lightning conductors.
- The Doctor mentions the Apocalypse monks of the Andurax.
- Mr Brock jokes that his backyard is the size of Wyoming.
- Lucy Fletcher is a reporter for the Daily Chronicle.
- Harmony Shoal has offices in every capital city on Earth, as well as in New York City, which is not a capital city.
- Brock says that no one at the Harmony Shoal Institute are allowed to talk or even know about what the benefactors are doing.
- Lucy possesses a Mr Huffle.
- A cinema opposite the apartment where Lucy and Grant live is showing a film entitled The Mind of Evil, likely a reference to the Doctor Who serial of the same name.
- Nardole mentions the Time Lord non-interference policy.
- The Doctor said he used Pokémon as a distraction in Tokyo.
- The Doctor is eating sushi while observing the room filled with brains. Sushi is often referred to as a type of "brain food".
- The Doctor tells Lucy he is "Dan Dangerous from Scotland Yard, Scotland".
- The episode takes place in New York.
- Nardole mentions Washington.
- When the baby monitor beeps, as the Ghost is about to take off, Lucy asks if "the Bat Signal's an app now?".
- Grant's gemstone granted him X-ray vision. According to his teen self, "naked hell".
- The Doctor mention the White House and the Kremlin.
- The Doctor gives the Shoal a burger.
- Nardole travelled to 12th century Constantinople where he "ruled firmly, but wisely".
- The Tokyo Tower is seen when the Doctor travel to the Tokyo-branch of Harmony Shoal.
- The Doctor refers to the bomb ship as the Sword of Damocles.
- When the teen Grant is asked "Who he likes" romantic wise, by the Doctor, Grant replies that he "likes everyone". This may suggest that Grant is either bisexual or pansexual. It may also be that he is avoiding saying he likes Lucy, which is not unusual for boy his age.
- Young Grant Gordon is a comic book fan, and becomes a superhero in their vein. He owns a Superman comic, and has posters on his wall of superheroes including Hulk, Thor, Spider-Man, Batman, Wolverine, Silver Surfer, Superman and the Flash. His duvet depicts Captain America and Iron Man, among others.
- Gordon nicknames the Doctor "Doctor Mysterio"; the name appears to be a mix of the Spider-Man villains Doctor Octopus and Mysterio.
- Grant Gordon's name is alliterative, like Clark Kent, Lois Lane, Lana Lang, and many other Superman characters. Alliteration was even more frequently used by Marvel's Stan Lee when naming superheroes such as Peter Parker, Bruce Banner, and Stephen Strange.
- To make the point of Superman and Clark Kent being the same, the Doctor draws glasses on Superman. Lois Lane did the same in Superman II.
- Mr. Brock mentions Miss Shuster and Miss Siegel. This is a reference to the creators of Superman, Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel.
- The episode has a Marvel style comic book opening.
- Below Lucy's apartment, a Joe's Pizza is situated. A pizza parlor of this name featured in 2004's Spider-Man 2, and was where Peter Parker worked.
- The Harmony Shoal building has a globe on top with the name. This is a reference to the Daily Planet building from Superman, which is also topped with a globe with its name on it.
- The episode was also heavily influenced by the 1978 film Superman in particular. Both Grant Gordon/The Ghost and Clark Kent/Superman wear glasses to hide their superhero identities, particularly when rescuing a reporter they are close to, and have feelings for, in their everyday life. They then arrange a rooftop interview in which they attempt to reveal their dual identities. Then are also contacted via a specific frequency which only they can hear.
- The Doctor tells Grant off for leaving the baby unattended, using the words "With great power, comes great responsibility". These words were used by Uncle Ben to Peter Parker, and they later became Spider-Man's mantra.
- The Ghost tells Lucy "I hope this unpleasant experience hasn't put you off a career in journalism". This is a wonky reference to Christopher Reeve's Superman saying in the 1978 film, "Well, I certainly hope this little incident hasn’t put you off flying, miss. Statistically speaking, it’s still the safest way to travel."
- In the 1960s Batman TV series, Adam West's caped-crusader would often give very heavy-handed PSA-style speeches to Robin, and seemingly, the audience. This is referenced when the Ghost tells a reporter that every good citizen should "get a smoke detector."
- When the Doctor accidentally gives Grant a gemstone, which Grant swallows, the Doctor says the gemstone is giving him "what he always wanted". The first Captain Marvel (later known as "Shazam") was actually a child named Billy Batson who can become a superhero. The metafictional influence in "The Return of Doctor Mysterio" may also be a reference to the Mark Millar comic series Superior in which a young boy literally becomes a popular fictional flying hero.
- When Grant calls Lucy as the Ghost, the screen is divided, just like in a comic book.
- The name Doctor Mysterio comes from the name in Mexico for Doctor Who, Doctor Misterio (as a literal translation of the title, "Doctor Qué", would make less sense in Spanish than in English), which Steven Moffat and Peter Capaldi encountered when they visited there in the Doctor Who World Tour. Capaldi in particular fell in love with the name, so Moffat decided to use it in an episode title. Capaldi noted that he was quite taken by the deep voice that announced the title on the overdubbed soundtrack, and in fact when the Doctor utters the name in the episode, this is Capaldi impersonating the delivery of the announcer.
- Matt Lucas is the first comedy writer to play a companion in a television story since James Corden as Craig Owens in Closing Time. The last comedian to play a full-time companion, though, was Catherine Tate as Donna Noble.
- Daniel Lorente (Teen Grant), Sandra Teles (Reporter), Tanroh Ishida (Operator) and Vaughn Johseph (Soldier) are not credited in Radio Times.
- The previous story, The Husbands of River Song, is also a Christmas special. This marks the first time two full consecutive television stories have both been broadcast on Christmas Day.
- This is the first Christmas special since The Snowmen in 2012 to have a coming soon trailer at the end.
- This story was the third Christmas special to star Peter Capaldi and the first not to feature any Eleventh Doctor companions since The End of Time.
- Unlike the two previous Christmas specials, the title sequence has no Christmas-themed changes. Matt Lucas is also credited as "And Matt Lucas" before the show's title (like Nick Frost in Last Christmas), unlike previous companions whose actor's name immediately followed the Doctor's.
- Keoki's "Pass It On" plays in the scene where the Doctor catches up with teenaged Grant in high school.
- One of the things the Doctor and the young Grant discuss is Spider-Man. In Daleks in Manhattan and Evolution of the Daleks, the character of Frank is played by Andrew Garfield who played Spider-Man in The Amazing Spider-Man movies.
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- Characters from Class would appear in a crossover. False.
- Clara Oswald would appear or be referenced in a substantial way. False. Originated from fans interpreting comments made by Peter Capaldi at a June 2016 convention appearance in Washington, DC, that he had "just filmed something" involving Clara as indication of an appearance or reference. Ultimately, this ended up being a reference to his appearance in the Class episode TV: For Tonight We Might Die, which also featured a Clara reference.
- Pearl Mackie would make her first appearance. False, the Series 10 trailer notwithstanding.
- Alex Kingston would appear as River Song. False, though River is referenced.
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- The Doctor says he often gets an invasion at Christmas. (TV: The Unquiet Dead, The Christmas Invasion, The Runaway Bride, The Next Doctor, The End of Time, The Snowmen, The Time of the Doctor, Last Christmas)
- The Doctor guesses Peter Parker received radiation poisoning after being bitten by a radioactive spider. (TV: Planet of the Spiders)
- The Doctor pulls a glass of water out of his pocket, suggesting that it may be bigger on the inside. (TV: The Runaway Bride). This is not the first time he's suddenly produced a drink. (TV: The Witch's Familiar)
- The Doctor attempts to repair a temporal disruption he previously caused in New York. (TV: The Angels Take Manhattan)
- The Doctor purports himself to be the original example of the title doctor. (TV: A Good Man Goes to War)
- This incarnation of the Doctor still exhibits an inability to determine the age of humans, even children. (TV: Deep Breath, Last Christmas)
- The Shoal of the Winter Harmony returns. (TV: The Husbands of River Song)
- Nardole joins the Doctor in his travels. When the Doctor first met Nardole, he was River Song's personal assistant. (TV: The Husbands of River Song)
- The Doctor once again proves his credentials to an aggressive foe by mentioning the numerous failed attempts by alien races to conquer the Earth. (TV: Rose et.al.)
- Nardole states that the Doctor cut him out of Hydroflax's body. (TV: The Husbands of River Song)
- Nardole refers to the Time Lord non-interference policy: "Never interfere in the affairs of other people or planets". (TV: Underworld, et al.) This was previously acknowledged by Amy Pond. (TV: The Beast Below)
- The Doctor mentions his love for buttons and switches. (TV: The Christmas Invasion)
- Nardole says the Doctor is out of his mind, and he asks how that can be news. Other people have said similar things. (TV: Smith and Jones, Journey's End)
- The Doctor again says only one chance is needed. (TV: The Magician's Apprentice)
- The Doctor uses a sonic frequency only Grant can hear. He previously created something similar to be able to talk to young Davros. (TV: The Magician's Apprentice)
- The Doctor is still gently baffled by other people kissing. (TV: The Big Bang, A Christmas Carol)
- UNIT reappears. (TV: The Invasion, et al.) Specifically, their New York division is seen, suggesting it was not entirely destroyed, or has been reestablished since its destruction in 2009. (TV: The Stolen Earth)
- Lucy finds herself telling the Doctor everything about herself; he responds, "spooky isn't it?" This is a reference to how people just tell him what they are doing. (TV: The Lodger)
- Osgood is mentioned. (TV: The Day of the Doctor, Death in Heaven, The Zygon Invasion/The Zygon Inversion)
- Nardole mentions River's death in the Library. (TV: Forest of the Dead)
- Nardole mentions that the Twelfth Doctor has been away for twenty-four years. (TV: The Husbands of River Song)
- Lucy asks the question, "Doctor who?", perpetuating the "Doctor Who?" running joke. (TV: An Unearthly Child et.al.)
Home video releases
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- ↑ Video: Doctor Who - Steven Moffat and Peter Capaldi joke about 'Doctor Mysterio' Christmas special. Belfast Telegraph (14 October 2016). Retrieved on 25 December 2016.