Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating 7/10
Cast: Peter Capaldi, Matt Lucas, Justin Chatwin, Tomiwa Edun, Logan Hoffman, Aleksander Jovanovic, Lee Kemp, Charity Wakefield, Daniel Lorente, Sandra Teles, Tanroh Ishida.
The problem with having a year off is that it takes time for the mojo to get going again, the momentum of life is such that if you sit still long enough either you fade into obscurity or you show creaking signs of the love you have no longer being a fluid and marvellous thing. Momentum and timing is everything to a lot of people, especially in the world of fandoms; take time away and the spark can drift, even for the biggest and most dedicated of fans and when you finally do appear again, the result can be down at heel, not at your sparkling best.
The company you keep can have a lot to do with that and for The Doctor, company and companionship is the reason for running and yet sometimes over the long history of the show, that constant running seems to turn into a small skip, the footloose and fancy free that was in evidence in Matt Smith’s only true insufferable episode, The Doctor, The Widow and The Wardrobe returned with vengeance in this year’s Christmas Day episode, The Return of Doctor Mysterio.
The idea was there in spirit, as it always is the land of Gallifrey, but sometimes the delivery is far from plain sailing, the objective just that little bit out of reach and when you throw the year long gap between new episodes, the ache of separation was just a little too much to bridge.
Whilst Peter Capaldi was keeping his end up, it was the surrounding players that just felt to awkward, less dynamic than a Tardis with braking issues and the story suffered for its art because of it.
When the fans last saw the Doctor they knew it was setting up the framework for the completion of an arc that began with the beguiling River Song smiling at David Tennant in The Library and suggestively using the words Sweetie to insinuate a closeness that had not been envisaged before. The arc was completed, that is not to say that Alex Kingston will not return, but the point of the story has now been closed and to try and top that with no episodes in between to give it resonance made the story clunky, a fidgeting expression between the past and what is to come.
The Return of Doctor Mysterio could have been a real revelation, instead it relied too heavily on the notion of superhero worship and the drama that comes along when the hero fails to live up to their own high standards; not one that even showed the fall from grace, just the small nod of recognition that everyone is capable of being just that little bit shallow.
The return of a new series is to be longed for and the B.B.C. should take note not to leave the series too long in the darkness.
Ian D. Hall