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since 1997 | by maryann johanson

still heartbroken over Doctor Who (“The Return of Doctor Mysterio” open thread)

the-return-of-doctor-mysterio-promo-cast-image

[previous: “The Husbands of River Song”]

“The Return of Doctor Mysterio” is a big ol’ nothingburger of an alien invasion story that moves around some familiar pieces on the Doctor Who chessboard… and in service of nothing more, it seems, than letting a nerdy comic-book fanboy land the girl of his dreams.

I continue to be done with Doctor Who, and heartbroken over it. Maybe I’ll go watch some old Tom Baker episodes.

Anyway, here’s an open thread for you all to discuss “The Return of Doctor Mysterio,” if you want to. I will monitor comments here — as I do across the site — but don’t be surprised if I don’t participate.

Assume that the comments below are full of spoilers.

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  • Jurgan

    That “superhero costume” is hideous, though maybe it’s a parody. And the bald guy looks like Vincent D’Onofrio as the Kingpin. This is pathetic. I haven’t seen the episode, and this doesn’t make me want to.

  • Jurgan

    “letting a nerdy comic-book fanboy land the girl of his dreams.”

    This has always been one of Moffat’s weaknesses. “Blink” was a very good episode, but it unfortunately contained a man stalking a woman until she married him and a nerdy guy getting with a girl with very little buildup. Plus Rory and Amy. It wasn’t a big problem at first, but the more I see it repeated the worse it gets.

  • RogerBW

    I can strongly recommend watching the whole of the old show, in order. (I did, and blogged about it.)

    I don’t see myself doing that for the new show. It just doesn’t trigger that kind of enthusiasm. The longer it goes on, the more it feels like a tired old dog trying to do the same old tricks but its legs don’t really work any more.

  • Hey! I’m doing it right now and blogging!
    It’s such a great experience and has kept me going as a Doctor Who fan this year… going to watch Earthshock for the first time tonight!

  • I thought the episode was okay… it didn’t make much sense, but I liked the characters and there was nothing brutally bad like in Hell Bent. Nardole(or as Capaldi calls him, Nardoul) was a breath of fresh air after years of Clara.
    Series 10 looks like a mixed bag, but I’m hopeful.

  • Kathy_A

    I have the entire run of Capaldi on my dvr waiting for me to watch it, and I’m still debating if I even should or if I should just delete them. As a lifelong DW fan, that’s a sad thing for me to have to say.

  • Elwood72

    There are maybe 4 or 5 good regular season episodes of Capaldi, and some okay ones as well, and for old-school Who fans, Michelle Gomez is the closest they’ve come to the original Roger Delgado master, gender swapping aside. (It’s almost impossible to watch the old Pertwee/Delgado episodes and not suspect that they used to have a thing. . .) But I’m sad to say the majority of it is the worst stuff since the late, unlamented Colin Baker era. Capladi’s a dick, and Clara is a cipher. And the moon, in a solid contender for Worst Episode Ever, is an egg. With spiders living on it. Whatever you do, don’t watch that one. Oddly enough, I don’t mind the Christmas specials, and Capaldi is a charming loon in this one, rather than the jerk with contempt for humanity he’s usually played. The characterization has also changed wildly between seasons, as it must have become obvious it wasn’t working. I wasn’t previously a Moffat-hater, by the way, Eleven was my favorite Doctor and I rather enjoyed the complicated dynamics he had with Amy and Rory. They all seemed like interesting, flawed people. Twelve and Clara just aren’t people at all. My advice – skip Season 8 entirely, Season 9 watch the Dalek ones with Michelle Gomez, and go ahead and watch the Maisie Williams ones if you’re a Game of Thrones fan, and the Christmas specials are okay.

  • Owen1120

    I thought this was an overall mediocre episode- I really like Capaldi and Lucas, and the brain stuff was the usual throwaway Christmas story, but the Grant/Lucy plot line was full of plot holes and had the uncomfortable “girl of his dreams” sexism.

    The Power of the Daleks was a great throwback-I recommend it if they aired it on TV in the U.K. I’m still excited for Class due to the presence of Patrick Ness- BBC America doesn’t get it until spring.

  • Jurgan

    All of the old show? Are you Robert Mugabe?

  • ketac6

    I thought it was better than last year’s Xmas special at least and had some bits of humour in it but yeah, nothing great and nothing very Doctor about it.

  • That wasn’t *all* “Blink” was about, though.

  • I can strongly recommend watching the whole of the old show, in order. (I did, and blogged about it.)

    I’ve mostly done that. I have seen all the show in order from the Tom Baker years onward (and almost in real time!). Caught up with previous Doctors in between.

    I can binge the Eccleston and Tennant years: those were mostly great.

  • Jurgan

    Exactly. With hindsight, I can see how relatively minor flaws in Moffat’s early episodes were the cracks in the Doctor Who universe that eventually made the whole thing break apart. Like how I enjoyed Girl in the Fireplace when it aired, but after he reused the idea of a young girl imprinting on the Doctor and then him reuniting with her as an adult with Amy Pond, I started to think the whole thing was a bit creepy. The increasing sexuality of The Doctor was interesting at first, but after a while I started to suspect it was Moffat living out a sexual fantasy. Combine that with the way 12 mocks Clara’s appearance, and The Doctor starts looking like a creepy pick up artist.

  • Tonio Kruger

    It was probably inevitable that we’d see a Nu Who episode about a superhero. And now that we have, I’ll be very glad if we don’t have to see another one for a long while.

    Not that this episode didn’t have its amusing moments. And it was nice to see Capaldi channeling the young Tom Baker for a change rather than take yet another ill-advised take on Marty McFly or Dr. Greg House.

    But the plot was very predictable — especially in the episode’s second half — and I really rather not think too much about how the superhero of the week managed to retain his powers for so long.

  • Hu

    What I think is upseting about this episode is the fact that the Doctor isn’t supposed to be able to go back to NY, it’s the reason he couldn’t go back in the past to see Amy and Rory
    So does that mean he found a way to see them again? Anyway I didn’t like this episode, it doesnt make much sense. It just didn’t feel like watching a DW episode…

  • the Doctor isn’t supposed to be able to go back to NY

    Ha! I forgot about that.

  • Radek Piskorski

    I loved Kill the Moon.

  • Radek Piskorski

    I think he can’t go 1930s NY only. But apparently he was there precisely to try to “fix” time in order to be able to do precisely that, which is a weird plot point.

  • I think he can’t go 1930s NY only.

    So he could have popped forward a few years and rescued Amy and Rory. And he didn’t. Maybe he’s just an asshole… which, to be fair, does seem to be a lot of what Moffat seems to have been saying about the character.

  • Reginald Anselm Leppik

    Are you going to come back? Because Series 10 is really really good. For real.

  • I’m watching it. I don’t think it’s really good. It feels very familiar and covering ground we’ve seen before. I like Bill, but the stories have been blah so far.

  • Danielm80

    I agree, mostly, especially after this week’s episode, but I like Bill. I like her a lot, mainly because: Pearl Mackie. But I also feel like someone told the writers: Imagine that you’re a young person in the real world. You’ve never heard of a Dalek. You’ve never heard of the TARDIS. If someone told you about those things, you probably wouldn’t believe them. But, like most people, you have watched TV and seen movies, and you know all the standard conventions. How would you react to the Doctor?

    I feel like that perspective has brought a freshness to episodes that, otherwise, seem very familiar, because Bill has never seen these things before, but she’s also skeptical enough to question everything the Doctor does, and to make fun of the tropes of the show.

    And I surprised myself by liking the emoji episode a whole lot, even though it was about emoji robots.

  • Reginald Anselm Leppik

    That’s fair enough. For me, characters are the most important part of a good story, that’s why I found Clara’s era such a struggle. Bill suits the 12th Doctor better and the writers are also much more consistent with him. So I can enjoy even trivial episodes, because at least it looks like they’re having fun with it.

  • Except Bill *should* know what Daleks are, because they’re been seen flying in the skies over London!

  • Danielm80

    I know, but I’ve failed to notice enough big events in New York that I can sort of believe it. More than a dozen stores burned down a few blocks from my apartment, and I didn’t find out until a few weeks later. I thought, “Oh, that’s why I heard all those sirens.”

  • Bluejay

    “New York is peculiarly constructed to absorb almost anything that comes along (whether a thousand-foot liner out of the East or a twenty-thousand-man convention out of the West) without inflicting the event on its inhabitants, so that every event is, in a sense, optional, and the inhabitant is in the happy position of being able to choose his spectacle and so conserve his soul.” – E.B. White

  • bronxbee

    another example of Moffat ret-conning all his story lines.

  • RogerBW

    Letting the alien invasions go public has the inevitable consequence that people know about aliens – and that’s always been downplayed in the show, since it should be changing society beyond recognition.
    And without messing about with time on a really huge scale, there’s no way to un-do that.

  • Danielm80

    If I ever get a goldfish, I’m going to name it Moffat.

    And now that I think of it, goldfish don’t blink, do they?

  • But fires are ordinary, everyday events. Alien robots in the skies above us, not so much. *Everyone* would be talking about that, there’d be video all over the Net and TV. You’d have to be a special kind of incurious to miss it, and Bill is anything but incurious.

  • This is part of the problem with setting so many stories on contemporary Earth.

  • RogerBW

    Yes, which the original show fixed even in the Earth-bound era by:

    – keeping most of the invasions contained rather than national news; or when they weren’t, they were a plague outbreak or a space disaster rather than aliens. (Yes, I know there are exceptions!)
    – narrative convention that modern Earth remains modern Earth, and weirdnesses don’t affect it in any significant way
    I can see the appeal of saying “there is a great big spaceship next to (well-known landmark)”, and borrowing newsreaders, but such actions have consequences.

  • Reginald Anselm Leppik

    I thought Victory Of The Daleks made it clear that all the RTD era Earth invasions were forgotten.

  • And of course the world is different now, with the Internet and 24-hour news and social media. Even a small-scale alien invasion wouldn’t stay secret for long today. :-)

  • RogerBW

    Yeah, one of the few good things (IMO) about Twitter and Facebook is the collapse of cryptozoology, UFO sightings, etc.
    Of course there are other conspiracy theories instead.

  • Well, that Lindsay Duncan character on Mars far in the future remembers at least one of them…

  • Reginald Anselm Leppik

    RTD also had the Doctor notice that the giant Cyberman in Victorian London did not become a part of history, which Moffat explained in Time Of Angels as the crack erasing people’s memories. And since then, there’s been no mention of those attacks.
    It’s incredibly contrived, for sure, but we might as well move on now. For all intents and purposes, they never happened.

  • RogerBW

    You go erasing people’s memories, undoing events, and so on, you’re effectively saying “all that stuff you cared about as a viewer didn’t really matter, har har har aren’t I clever and Literary”. Do enough of it and you sour people permanently on the series.
    Thus presumably the loss of about a million viewers per season since 2012, not helped by long production breaks. They’ve bucked it up a bit with the premiere but it seems to be dropping again.

  • Reginald Anselm Leppik

    The memory-erasing happened years before the ratings began to drop, and a lot of people took to Matt Smith straight away. It’s stagnation that hurts the show, not the choice to ignore RTD’s era.

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