Well hellllllllooooooooo, shippers! It has been a loooooooooooooong time! I’m serious. Like almost two years, maybe three! Has is really been that long? Wow! I’m sorry that I’ve been gone so long. You may not have noticed but if you did, I missed you too.
Okay, enough with the sentimental stuff.
Doctor Who has returned after a bit of a wait with another fantastic Christmas Special, something that has become somewhat of a Christmas tradition within the fandom. And possibly with some outside of the fandom. Hang the mistletoe, hang your stocking, leave out cookies and milk for Santa, and after unwrapping your presents and gorging yourself on your (hopefully) well-prepared holiday feast, you flip on the “telly” and feast your eyes on some new Doctor Who. And this year’s special is just as much of a classic as all the others before it, only this time it has a classic comic book superhero twist.
The story starts with one of our main characters, Grant, dreaming of when he was a young lad and first met The Doctor (Peter Capaldi). At first, Grant sort of confuses him with Santa Claus and even brings him milk and cookies. He soon learns that he’s not jolly old St. Nick; he’s The Doctor. Which Doctor? The Main one, the First one, all the others are just bandwagon jumpers. He’s also dubbed “Doctor Mysterio” by Grant. The Doctor explains to Grant that he is setting up an energy device that should help fix one of his recent goof-ups and it runs on the power from a special deep space gemstone, which he hands to the boy to hold. However, Grant has a cold and The Doctor handed him a glass of water before he gave him the gem, so he of course thought that it was medicine. That, ladies and gents is where our superhero story begins.You see, the gems grants wishes essentially and Grant is a young boy who loves superheroes, so obviously he gets super powers. First flight, then x-ray vision, and I’m sure speed and strength came along sometime throughout his adolescent years. Through flashbacks, we see he had a bit of a tough time through his adolescent years. Cut to modern day and our boy Grant (played by Dragonball Evolution‘s Justin Chatwin) lives a typically mundane life with a normal job (he’s a nanny) in New York City (typical superhero locale). The twist is he works as the nanny for Lucy (played by Charity Wakefield), the girl that he’s been in love with for 24 years who happens to be a hard-nosed reporter from The Daily Chronicle (a la Lois Lane). And just like Lois Lane, she can’t see through Grant’s glasses to realize that he is “The Ghost”, his superhero alter-ego. The same superhero that I’m sure she has been investigating since either he came on the scene or she started reporting. Typical comic book reporting – the truth to your greatest mystery is right in front of you and you can’t see it.
This story also has your standard aliens destroying major cities and trying to conquer the Earth storyline that you get with most superhero and Doctor Who storylines. It has nods to the original creators of Superman, Siegel and Shuster. At one point, The Ghost does the classic “Superman costume change spin” before leaping into action. The Doctor even has his own “secret identity.” There are some clever little classic comic book nods throughout the episode. I don’t want to spoil the whole thing for you by taking out all the fun of hunting for them. Hopefully you’re better at investigating than Lucy.Something I noticed about this episode was that for a Christmas Special, it wasn’t very Christmas-y. There were small elements here and there, mostly in the first scene when The Doctor meets Grant on Christmas but other than that, the most Christmas-esque thing is the return of Nardole (played by Matt Lucas). He was River Song’s companion in the last Christmas Special, “The Husbands of River Song“, who had his head removed by River’s husband at the time, King Hydroflax. Side note: the brain-swapping aliens in this Christmas Special last appeared as servants of King Hydroflax in the last Christmas Special. One of their agents, Scratch, even stated that they represented “the Shoal of the Winter Harmony.” Hence the company name, “Harmony Shoal”. Anyway, The Doctor reattached Nardole’s head to his original body and brought him on as his companion, and by the looks of the trailer for Series 10, he might be around for a while. Which is a good thing because even though he may seem like a goofy lump of comic relief, he’s actually sharp enough to keep The Doctor in check.
The episode is definitely a must-watch, whether you’re a Doctor Who fan or a superhero fan or both. Five out of five stars. It also gives you a bit of a glimpse into how well The Doctor is doing after River’s death. It’s a nice little spin on the classic Superman story from back in the day, coming-of-age with super powers and whatnot. It also works to hold you over until the new season begins in April. At least I hope it will. It’s not much of a Christmas story but beggars can’t be choosers, and we all know we have been begging for new Who. Maybe that’s what makes it a Christmas story – we haven’t had any new Doctor Who in a year and won’t have anymore for four more months, so this is Moffat’s gift to us for waiting so patiently, albeit without any choice but to wait.