Writer: Steven Moffat
Director: Ed Bazalette
Producer: Peter Bennett
Series: 10, Christmas Special
Companion: Nardole (Matt Lucas)
Summary: The Doctor has returned to his travels, having spent 24 years with River Song before bidding her adieu for the last time. They arrive in New York City, where the Doctor meets a little boy named Grant, who is reading comic books. The Doctor points out that Superman and Clark Kent are one and the same, and the little boy recounts Spider-man’s origin. (I love how the Doctor imagines what would really happen if you got bit by a radiated spider.) He then sees that Grant can levitate, but has to get back in the TARDIS. The boy tells him he would be called “Dr. Mysterio”. Nardole is basically clowning around, so he doesn’t pay much attention.
He travels several years later, where a press conference has mobbed around a scientist, including a reporter named Lucy. Suddenly, the conference is interrupted by a superhero clad in black called The Ghost. Curious, the Doctor follows, discovering that The Ghost is in reality the same boy he met earlier, now all grown up. He’s also babysitting for Lucy, who has no idea who he really is. It’s like meeting Superman. In fact The Ghost has flight, superhuman strength, and X-ray vision. However, as he recounts to the Doctor, unlike Superman he can’t turn off the X-ray vision. “Puberty was hell”, he laments.
We learn that the scientist has in fact, been kidnapped by aliens called the Harmony Shoal. They are actually brains in jars and seek to replace every human brain with their own. The Ghost eventually learns the truth, and he, the Doctor, and Nardole team up to defeat them. All the while, the Ghost must deal with his infatuation with Lucy, who he’s known since childhood.
Review: All right, rant time. I heard people were complaining about superheroes being the theme of this special. I have nothing against that. In the 50+ years Doctor Who has been on, we’ve seen King Arthur, Daleks, Cybermen, a robot in Sherwood Forest, Marco Polo, and so much more. So why not superheroes? I believe that the greatness of Doctor Who is that it can be anything it wants to be, even a superhero show. Besides, the Doctor is in a way, like a superhero. He has a costume, powers, gadgets, even a sidekick. Heck, even Pertwee’s Doctor had a cloak that looked similar to a cape.
The Ghost was a great tribute to the Superman mythos. When he was Grant, he had the Clark Kent persona, right down to the everyman, bumbling person Superman pretended to be to throw everyone off. I did have a problem with him sounding like Christian Bale’s Batman when he was the Ghost though. If they were going with Superman, they should’ve had the voice be more commanding, less gravelly.
Nardole didn’t seem like a good fit for a companion. He was comic relief, sure, but he didn’t get much to do. This was more a story about Grant than Nardole. Still, I want to give Nardole a chance to grow on me. It’s been a long time since we’ve had a companion solely for comedy relief, like Mickey Smith was during Eccleston and Tennant’s eras.
However, for a Christmas special, this didn’t seem like one. We only had one obligatory “Christmasy” scene, unlike previous specials. Even the two Christmas specials that ended the runs of Tennant and Smith respectively still had some nods to the season.
Overall, I did enjoy this story. I would love to see The Ghost return in a future episode.
Overall Review: 7/10
Continuity: The Doctor met both Nardole and Harmony Shoal in the previous Christmas special, “The Husbands of River Song”. He built a device on Grant’s roof because his initial reason for coming was to stabilize the time distortions that were still present from “The Angels Take Manhattan”. The Doctor tells the Harmony Shoal to get off this planet, quoting himself from last season’s finale, “Hell Bent”.