All through the new 40 minute Christmas special, I expected it to spin on its heels and do something different. Like last year’s The Girl Who Lived I expected it go from silly premise to dark second half, putting a twist into proceedings to give it a purpose. Yet it never came.
It started as an asinine, cliched special and ended as one, with barely any standout moments of wit or pathos to highlight.
Not since Matt Smiths departing episode, the supremely disappointing and turgid The Time of The Doctor, have I liked an episode of Doctor Who less. It was a purveyor of stereotypes, with bland, unsympathetic characters, CGI out of its range and villains amongst the show’s worst.
And there was no moment of relief, no wry twist on the genre. Just dumb, unelegant torment. As much as I’ve lost patience with Who in the past couple of years, even last years The Husbands of River Song had that emotional punch, I’ve still found gems amongst the lesser quality adventures.
It’s a simple story about a bland white dude whose accidentally given super-like-powers by The Doctor’s incompetence and grows up to become New York superhero The Ghost. He’s a local legend, adored by a woman whose baby is cared for by his alter ego Grant and they also happen to have a shared a history of crossed romance and unrequited love.
The two of them become involved in the actions of a Doctor Who staple, a shady company on the forefront of technology with a sinister alien presence behind it. Unfortunately, this presence is floating brains in f*****g jars. They take over their hosts, shown by a scar across the face of the former human, and enact their plan to take over the leaders of the world.
The only thing I can be thankful for is that it wasn’t the Cybermen. A large, unsubtle C in the brain headquarters and the comparisons to the brain swapping of the better cyber tales had me worried but I was wrong.
There’s also the fact that there’s an ooh, they’re now taking over UNIT, ooh at the end. No, Steven, these aliens are neither well developed or interesting enough to bring them back and think we give a damn. There not as fun as the Slitheen or as well designed as the Zygons.
Plus, how the hell do those soldiers not notice their colleague has a new massive bloody great scar on his face?
How do they have guns in their head space when there are brains with eyes living inside?
Then there’s just the awful nudge, nudge, wink, wink to the trend of superheroes on Film and TV, which, frankly feels outdated in these extremely broad terms. Making jokes about Spider-man and Superman, with excessive stale homaging (female journalist, please, comic strips and New York skyline, please god) feels like desperate wish fulfilment for Moffat.
There’s no joke, no gag, no moment to make it worth it. It’s the silliest yet straight-faced Doctor Who has been and the episode full out jettisons any notion of a twist. It just goes along with it like it was a proper superhero story.
There’s even a jaunt back to Grant’s high school, accompanied by a poor usage of Primal Scream, including a terrible levitation/erection joke. It’s like a less funny episode of My Hero where Lucy, the love interest, doesn’t have a clue who The Ghost really is.
Honestly? The Doctor is meant to live in a more realistic universe, himself literally making a joke about Clark Kent and Superman being the same (funny actually) but she must be stupid to not get it. She doesn’t even ask why The Doctor is just hanging around in her flat for most of the episode.
It’s so bad. Moffat had a year to write this. A year to hone it to perfection and maybe give it some meaning, some nuance but at some point, he must’ve gone “to hell with it, that’ll do”.
You can tell, what with the Pokemon GO reference that is already out of date now and a disregard for character or pathos, just brash, cliched surface. This is a first draft script, nothing more.
Nardole said it all “Bit rubbish ain’t it”
.I actually quite liked Nardole here. He wasn’t over the top, his comedy came across lightly as he wandered into shots and I enjoyed the best line of the episode here by him.
“What are you doing here?”
“We could ask you the same question but it’s your apartment so we probably won’t”
.The Doctor whistling for the Tardis is cool
.The Doctor missed River, which is nice and Nardole explaining him at the end was decent.