Six Smart Women Discussing Doctor Who

verityepisode126Our last first of the year is the first episode of 2016 (finally!), “The Return of Doctor Mysterio”. Join Deb, Erika, Katrina, Liz, and Lynne for an almost-full set of Verities discussing this comic book pastiche and whether it succeeded wildly or failed mildly.

Did you love this Christmas special? Did you think it was just okay? Did you see it in the theatre? Let us know all these things (and anything else you have on your mind about this year of firsts) in the comments!


Also covered:

Bonus links:
Lynne’s blog post about Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
Graham Kibble White’s additional blog post on Verity!
Inverse‘s article about comic book Easter eggs in the Xmas ep

Download or listen now (runtime 1:26:00) 

Comments on: "126 – The Return of Doctor Mysterio (Yeah!)" (14)

  1. I can count on always having at least one Verity that I agree with, so thank you for your respectful disagreement. This was only okay for me, and confess that my opinion is heavily influenced by the fact that I’m not yet over Clara’s “death” and the fact that I’m obsessed with DC TV. For the first time since I became a Who fan, I go into a new series with trepidation, hoping to find something that I’ll love. But let’s not ever mix Who with super heroes again – okay?

  2. I thought the Xmas special was very nice. There was nothing earth shattering in it, but there were some great moments. Like many of the Verities, I really enjoyed that the story was honestly rooted in time with regard to River Song’s departure. Personally, I think spending 24 years on a date with your wife and then saying forever goodbye to her physical form is a fine reason to be a bit down.

    Doctor Who as a show can be many things. If we can celebrate The Gunfighters, we can celebrate the Ghost and The Return of Doctor Mysterio! Today I found myself in agreement mostly with Erika and Liz on the special, but interesting points were brought forth by all, as always. I especially admire Lynne for admitting that she is open to watching again with the insights of her friends, just in case she likes it more on second viewing. I hope you do, Lynne. But if you don’t, then may I suggest you watch the wonderful Black Orchid again as a palette cleanser?

    Apparently at the time of the recording you all were unaware of the new mini-series of comics from Titan Comics of the Twelfth Doctor and the Ghost! The first issue is already on my iPad and I plan to read it tonight before bed. It’s not illustrated by Rachael Stott, nor written by Paul Cornell (both of whom make me very, very happy in the world of Titan Comics) but from what I’ve seen, it looks like it’ll be fun.

    My happy thing this week was learning that Teen Vogue magazine will be a gift to my household in the coming year, thanks to one of the Verities and Twitter. My daughter and I remain grateful for that generous opportunity. My daughter is 18, and she enjoys watching Doctor Who, she doesn’t really consider herself a dedicated fan. However, we drove back from my parent’s house where we spent the Christmas holiday, and she listened to the latest episode of Verity! I’m happy to report she laughed and/or nodded in many of the same places and at many of the same sorts of things as I generally do whenI listen to you all. I don’t think she is a full convert to fannish podcast listening, but I will feel even more confident putting you on in the car on our next road trip.

    I’m really excited to learn about next year’s theme…

  3. Possibly worth noting that there is brief appearance of a female superhero in the current BBC Radio Doctor Who series (parts 7/8 of a 10 part story). Appearance starts in the episode at . Substory is “Starfall”, part of “Demon Quest”.

  4. Sarah said:

    I used to be something of a comics collector and loved Uncanny X-Men back in the 1980s; even though I quit X-Men back in 1986 or so, I’ve been listening compulsively to the Jay and Miles X-Plain the X-Men (“because somebody has to!”) podcast, to hear all the utter insanity I’ve missed in the years since. Honestly, with that background, I have no problems with Mysterio being a DW alternate reality with a superhero; it was no crazier than all the years of X-Men. (I haven’t seen many Marvel movies, mostly just the first two X-Men ones… surprise, surprise.)

    I was supposed to notice the FX? Really? Classic DW was formative for me. I pay more attention to story, and found this (bitter)sweet, silly, and charming. I have no salt for it. I hated Matt Lucas as Nardole last year, but not here; perhaps this fixed what I found so bad about him then.

    Fandom’s been doing its policing of female characters thing, Clara vs River, and how River has no right to exist, and how what the Doctor went through in “Heaven Sent” beat out his being with River for 24 years. Oh, grow up, fandom. DW itself indicated that what the Doctor did to himself in HS wasn’t necessarily sane or good, and then he got a partial mindwipe in “Hell Bent,” so can’t recall Clara except as a name. He probably has inexplicable, gnawing sadness over that, plus sadness over losing someone with whom he spent 24 years. (OMG, how dare he feel something for the wrong person.) I hope he doesn’t remember “Heaven Sent” except as a terrible nightmare.

    I’m looking forward to S10, mostly because I’m longing for more Capaldi. Bill might be fun, might remind me of Ace; I really hope so.

    • Sarah said:

      Following up to myself: I suspect that the episode was an excuse for Capaldi to be able to growl “Doctor Mysterio!” on-screen, and that amuses me. He loves that DW is known as “Doctor Misterio” in Mexico; has anyone else seen examples of his pronouncing that in a delighted, dramatic growl (at a convention or two, I think), as he eventually did on-screen? Because I have, and it pleased me.

  5. Laurissy said:

    So I thought this episode was ok. I feel very meh towards it. I have a feeling that I’ll have trouble remembering this special in a few years. The biggest problem for me was that it seems like the superhero tropes that Moffat was making fun of were silver age comic tropes rather than the tropes of today. He doesn’t seem to realise that the superhero genre has moved past this. I mean I remember in the green lantern movie Blake lively had a great line where she says “you think I won’t recognise you because I can’t see your cheekbones, I’ve known you all my life.” That was years ago in a movie that wasn’t that good. So yeah the secret identity jokes felt a bit flat for me. I was like we’ve done this, do you have anything else to say? Also it is worth noting the one female character in this episode which is a bit facepalming. I mean seriously. Can’t we do a little better here? Plus thinking about it wasn’t River the only female character last year. I might be misremembering but can we try and do better.

    • It’s not my intention to try and change your mind about how you reacted to the script, but I did want to expand a little on the discussion of comic book tropes.

      I’m someone who started reading comic books when they cost 12¢ American. I was really young and reading mostly Richie Rich, but I remember when they jumped to 15¢, then 20¢, etc. Decades lake, I still read several titles each week (I still read them on my belly in bed, as well, but I use an iPad instead of a flashlight). My experience over that time includes lots of DC and Marvel classics, as well as so many independents—and definitely not only superhero stuff. Jack Kirby, Bill Sienkiewicz, Mike Mignola, G. Willow Wilson, Harvey Pekar, Jean Giraud (a.k.a. Moebius), Kelly Sue McConnick, Scott McCloud, Kazuo Koike & Goseki Kojima, Fiona Staples, Rachael Stott, are just a few of the more important creators I admire. (Like Erika and Chip I also have a favorite letterer, but I’m guessing mine is different from theirs—I’m on team Stan Sakai.)

      Moffat wasn’t referencing only Silver Age tropes. Some of them may be gags that date back to the 1950s, but some are also exactly the same things we see on Arrow and Supergirl. The tendency of characters within a comic book story to only see and comprehend what is convenient to the storytelling is a core concept of the medium. That’s partly because the timeline for comics is demanding on the creators, and frankly it’s partly because only a small handful of storytellers are responsible for setting up those tropes (I’m looking at you Stan “the Man”…Excelsior!).

      Though overall I loved it, “The Return of Doctor Mysterio” certainly merits some critique, and you’ve nailed the bullseye with one of your comments (for the record, in “The Husbands of River Song” there was one single other female character—[ahem] a secretary). But I acknowledge the potential for more in the playful inclusion of comic book tropes from many eras, but I think it’s grand for two reasons: (1) The Christmas special is often lighter in tone and self-contained—some would even argue the sillier ones have one foot each on either side of the canonical line, and (2) now it’s been done and those in fandom who didn’t like it will probably never have to see its like again.

      Laurissy, I hope that series ten is more to your liking than the special was. I expect you’re still as excited as I am to meet Bill.

      Happy New Year!

    • So in other words The Return Of Doctor Mysterio was money for old trope.

  6. I am with Lynne — this episode wasn’t for me. I just kept waiting for the super hero story to include more Doctor Who! Not a big fan of the movie super heroes, though not as down on them as Liz. 🙂 I am glad this was light hearted and funny episode but I just started looking at my watch half way through. Those brains with eyes were icky! Though I do wonder why the Doctor left the remaining brain transplants free… Can’t wait for the series in 2017!

  7. David Thiel said:

    I just want to say that I’m relieved to hear a group of women disagreeing over the merits of River Song. A few years ago on another Doctor Who forum I attempted to express what I didn’t like about the character and her relationship with the Eleventh Doctor only to have it insinuated that I was motivated by sexism. It’s good to have it confirmed that one’s reaction to River isn’t restricted by gender.

    (FWIW, “The Husbands of River Song” was probably the most I’ve enjoyed the character. I bought into her mutual attraction with Capaldi much more than I ever did with Smith. And I was glad to see her arc given proper closure.)

    • David, you’ve never noticed female fans hating River Song? I hang out on Tumblr a lot, and have seen a lot of scathing hatred for her from fangirls over the years. Fine, but I’m a woman who doesn’t quite get the nastiness. She reminds me of a bonkers character I used to write years ago, and it was kind of fun to see someone like that on-screen. Oh well.

      I also prefered her with Capaldi. …Y’know, while I liked Smith at the time, there’s something creepy about what I’ve read regarding his insistance that River was his wife, and Moffat shouldn’t write her with Capaldi, nor should Kingston play her again in those circumstances. Allegedly, he made a fuss about being possessive of her at Kingston’s real-life wedding? Try not to be a freak, kid. (Allegedly, Tennant had an opinion/attitude, too, which is of no interest to me at all.)

  8. I loved the way River was portrayed at her first appearance: competent, no-nonsense, gets on with her life, has adventures, and at some point apparently had a Thing with the Doctor. Then she got shoved in the fridge to look after children forever and ever, because apparently that’s what independent women really want.

    And then every time she showed up after that it seemed she was being made less her own person and more an accessory to show how amazingly cool the Doctor was. That wasn’t the only reason I gave up watching, but it was a big part of it.

    I think that part of the problem of a show with inconsistent canon is that there are no excuses: everything that happens is something the writers wanted to happen. Clearly nobody said “it would be nice if she could live, but there’s no way we can do that, because of this thing we’ve previously established”. The decision was “we want her to be dead”.

  9. Heidi R said:

    I am still chewing on the big plot hole of the rooftop machine that supposedly was there to fix the timelines that got messed up by the Weeping Angels. Since Grant swallowed the activating gemstone, the machine doesn’t work, so why is the Doctor able to keep returning to NY to visit Grant in teenagerhood and adulthood? I thought he told Amy he could never return to NY. Do the verities have any suggestions for why he’s able to come to NY?

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