“The Return of Doctor Mysterio” is steeped in the history of comic books and comic book movie adaptations, particularly the Christopher Reeve Superman movies, from the Daily Planet statue on top of the Harmony Shoal building to The Ghost’s rooftop dinner with Lucy Fletcher.
It was also deliberately written to provide traditional Doctor Who Christmas Day entertainment without necessarily referencing snow, trees or presents.
The full episode is available to stream on BBC AMERICA HERE. Here are a few things that you should keep an eye out for while you watch:
Doctor Mysterio is an anglicized version of Doctor Misterio, the name given to Doctor Who in Mexico. Peter Capaldi discovered this title during the Doctor Who World Tour in 2014, and developed an affection for it. Mysterio is also the name of a Marvel comics supervillain, so it’s all the more fitting for this particular story.
The Doctor is first seen attempting to repair temporal distortions in New York, this is a throwback to “The Angels Take Manhattan” in which Amy and Rory’s attempts to rewrite history by throwing themselves off a building rather than submit to the touch of the Weeping Angels renders New York practically impossible to visit for the TARDIS. That Grant Gorden spoiled his attempt suggests that he still can’t go back and visit his old friends (although how he got to New York for this adventure is anyone’s guess).
On that note, while the Doctor has been to New York a few times (“Daleks in Manhattan,” “The Angels Take Manhattan”), this episode was actually filmed in a studio in Bulgaria.
At the end of his speech to the press, Mr Brock offers any further questions to “Miss Shuster or Miss Siegel”, a nod to Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel, the creators of Superman.
The Doctor’s own choice of alliterative super hero name – Dan Dangerous – must surely be a nod to Dan Dare, the British comic book science fiction hero of the 1950s and 60s.
Nardole mentions “the Time Lord promise never to interfere in the affairs of other peoples or planets”, which is a firm plank of Doctor Who mythology concerning his relationship with his people. The Fourth Doctor stories “State of Decay” and “Underworld” detail exactly why they felt the need to withdraw from interference, largely because their technology had been abused by the residents of the planets they visited, causing a new extinction on Minyos.
It’s also the reason the rebellious (and interfering) Second Doctor was exiled to Earth at the end of “The War Games,” after a forced regeneration:
There’s a cinema opposite Lucy’s apartment which appears to be showing a movie called “Mind of Evil,” which is also the name of a Third Doctor adventure.
The naming of Grant Gordon and Lucy Lombard (née Fletcher) is a deliberate nod to the habit by comic book creators of giving characters names that start with the same letters. In the Marvel Universe there is (deep breath) Reed Richards, Peter Parker, J. Jonah Jameson, Curt Connors, Jessica Jones, Bruce Banner, Steven Strange, Otto Octavius and Pepper Potts, whereas DC has Billy Batson, Clark Kent, Lex Luthor, Lois Lane, Lana Lang, Wally West and so on.
Sandra Teles, who plays the TV reporter, actually has a history with superhero adventures. She had a role in the 2003 Ben Affleck movie adaptation of Marvel’s Daredevil, playing an uncredited woman at a ball. Ben Affleck is, of course, the current Batman.
The groovy music playing as the Doctor meets a teenaged Grant in high school to discuss how his powers are making life difficult, is “Loaded” by Primal Scream. This 1991 indie-dance hybrid was also featured heavily in the soundtrack to the Simon Pegg/Nick Frost movie The World’s End:
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