My favorite things about the Doctor Who Christmas Specials are that they are light-hearted and can depart from the usual style/tone of the show. This year’s special, “The Return of Doctor Mysterio”, was both of those things. I liked the episode overall, but it could have been better by shifting the focus of the story.
We’ve seen a lot of episodes where the Doctor is upset by how he has affected people’s lives, especially his companions:
- Rose has to live in a parallel universe
- Martha gave up her medical career
- Donna forgot all the adventures she had with the Doctor
- Rory and Amy were the boy and girl who waited, putting their lives on hold over and over because of the Doctor
- Clara was splintered across time and then caught in a moment between life and death
The Christmas special introduces us to Grant, a boy the Doctor accidentally gave superpowers. Rather than resenting the Doctor for altering his life, Grant grows up to become a superhero. He is excited to have a secret identity and a superhero costume. He takes his duty seriously, helping in both small and big ways. He even offers PSAs on the news, making sure to include tips about fire safety when he’s being interviewed.
Grant’s story offers the perfect opportunity to show someone the Doctor affected in a positive way, but we only see that in brief flashback scenes.
I would have liked the Christmas special to focus on those flashback scenes with the Doctor guiding Grant and helping him learn how to use his superpowers. (The alien invasion plot could have been secondary, instead of primary.) Each time the Doctor checked in on Grant could have been a significant step in Grant’s journey to becoming a superhero:
- learning to control his abilities
- using his abilities ethically
- the first time Grant saves people’s lives
- the first time Grant fails to save someone
The Doctor would be with Grant at each step, offering encouragement when Grant doubts himself and offering comfort when something goes wrong.
The audience sees all the good the Doctor does, but he doesn’t always realize it. A story about how he helped Grant become a superhero would have been exactly what the Doctor needed.