Ever since the show was resurrected back in 2005, the Doctor Who Christmas Special has become an annual tradition.
Telling the usual sort of fun sci-fi adventure you can expect from the time-travelling Gallifreyan, only with a festive twist, at their best they’ve managed to entertain those who’ve never seen an episode of the show before – while still offering die-hard Whovians something exciting. Some of the revised series’ biggest events have come at Christmas: David Tennant’s first full episode was the first ever festive episode, “The Christmas Invasion”, and both he and Matt Smith regenerated in these specials (2010’s “The End of Time” and 2013’s “The Time of The Doctor”), while December 25th has also been a major date for companions such as Donna Noble, Clara Oswald and River Song.
This year’s special, “The Return of Doctor Mysterio”, will see Peter Capaldi’s twelfth iteration of the Time Lord (although technically thirteenth form) return alongside Charity Wakefield (Wolf Hall), Justin Chatwin (Shameless) and Matt Lucas (who provided comic relief in last year’s special) in order to take on – what else – an alien threat against the Earth.
The first look at the special came from NYCC in October, but that was mostly behind-the-scenes B-roll and quick flashes. Now we have a new full clip, released as part of BBC’s Children In Need, that really highlights the big selling point of the episode – it’s Doctor Who‘s take on superheroes. The scene has The Doctor, Wakefield’s journalist Lucy Fletcher and Lucas’ Nardole sneaking around Harmony Shoal, a mysterious corporation up to no good (in this instance, creating brains that can work independent of a body), only to be confronted by a villainous CEO. The gig looks to be up, but then the superpowered Ghost turns up and saves the
Doctor Who‘s always been a genre-hopping series, able to be full-on horror one week and knockabout comedy the next, so it was only really a matter of time before the show set its sights on the current king of movie genres. And, in that regard, The Ghost really is a send-up of various different iconic heroes – he flies and blocks bullets with the chill of Superman, uses gadgets and has an honour code not dissimilar to Batman, and even quips like a Marvel character. Those are all pretty broad observations and it’s unlikely to spear the genre in a way that surprises Marvel and DC fans, but there’s no denying it’s new territory for Who and the light-hearted tone of the clip – The Doctor’s sneaking around while eating sushi is a highlight – suggests “The Return of Doctor Mysterio” should be perfect viewing on Christmas Day evening.
It’s been almost a year since we last saw the Doctor, with no full run arriving in 2016, and Series 10 won’t be on screens until April (alongside the new series of spin-off Class) – so in some ways it’ll just be refreshing to see everyone’s favourite Galifreyan again.
The 2016 Doctor Who Christmas special airs on BBC America in the U.S. and BBC One in UK on December 25th. It will get a brief theatrical release in the U.S., with screenings on Tuesday, December 27 and Thursday, December 29.
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