After a 12 month break for Doctor Who, my expectations for another terrible Christmas Special were immediately thrown out and replaced with a wonderful surprise. In fact, this ‘Christmas’ episode, really wasn’t very Christmas-y at all.

The Doctor returns after taking most of 2016 off. And to my surprise the episode quickly launches into back into the same hot-streak of awesome that was series nine. It’s really a breath of fresh air to have a Christmas Special that just avoids needless and annoying Christmas themes. I’m looking at you Last Christmas. But it’s still amusing how the better Doctor Who Christmas Specials are the ones which leave the festivities on the side line. And this is exactly what The Return of Doctor Mysterio did.

From the off-set the episode was simply just fun. The writer Steven Moffat in his infinite and arrogant wisdom has decided to tackle the traditional super-hero genre. But not the typical super-yearly-gathering of the Disney empire super-hero genre. Instead the episodes clearly holds parallels with the old Christopher Reeve era Superman movies, and even some themes from the likes of the Tobey Maguire era Spider-Man. I’m a big fan of these movies, and despite previous doubts, I quickly got on board as the episode got going. In addition, the visual direction as always was beautiful. The use of comic book panels to go alongside the overall theme was rather clever and visually impressive.

The main story is pretty clear-cut and doesn’t need much explaining, it’s a simple Clark Kent and Lois Lane love triangle intertwined with some Doctor Who evil villain action.  The main villain is a group of brains with eyes taking control of humans in preparation for invasion. Certainly not ground breaking, but still good fun nevertheless. However the villain really does hold much focus, and I’m happy for it. The interactions between Grant, Lucy and The Ghost (Grant in “rubber with a giant G on his chest”) are pretty damn funny at times, I’m happy they were given the focus.

It wasn’t very excited for Nardole to return, but he wasn’t as bad as expected. He was very much a background character, waddling around like a penguin. He reminded me of Donna Noble in a way, I wasn’t fond of her and she still is nowhere near my favourite companion, but I can’t deny the character was effective in its revival for Series 4. Again I feel the same about Nardole, there’s a lot left to see with him. I was impressed in his involvement in the episode. He didn’t take a lot of focus away from the Doctor, was funny, and still provided something different to the TARDIS. Moreover Matt Lucas had good chemistry with Peter Capaldi, who is still outstanding as The Doctor.

Now the twelfth modern Doctor Who Christmas Special, The Return of Doctor Mysterio is simply a lot of fun. It’s not going to change your life but considering it’s a Christmas episode it’s pretty damn good. Strangely I found it better than last years The Husbands of River Song, however maybe not as memorable.  But the touch of comic book themes in my beloved Doctor Who universe is always going to be a good time. More importantly though, it has me ready for more Doctor Who action in 2017. Roll on series 10.

The Return of Doctor Mysterio: 8/10

By Robert Anderson

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