Doctor Who: Initial Reactions to The Magicians Apprentice

September 22, 2015 in Dr Who, Guest Blogs by GuestBlogs

A Guest Blog by Hevy782

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It’s been a long wait but Doctor Who has returned at last and with it so have my posts about the episodes following their broadcasts. It’s now been over ten years since the series came back in 2005 and the ninth series has just kicked off with The Magician’s Apprentice, an intriguing title which does seem to have a lot to do with the actual episode. It’s also the first of a two-part story and it looks like we’ll be getting quite a few of them this series. The series eight finale was the first two-part story we’ve had in a long while and now they appear to be back with a vengeance. This is one of things that excites me about series nine as I feel that having two-parts really allows a story to breath and allows for more time to give a satisfying and unrushed ending, something a lot of stand-alone episodes seem to struggle with. However, two-part stories aren’t always the easiest to review as I’m ultimately only review half a story at a time. But I’m not going to let that stop me as I actually really enjoyed this episode and I want to discuss that. Yes you did read that last bit right, I really did enjoy this episode. It’s probably one of the best Doctor Who stories Steven Moffat’s written in a long while. And here’s why.

Well for one thing it feels a lot like a finale in terms of scale, which is something that a lot of people have commented on. But at the same time as feeling like a finale it also doesn’t have any overarching plot threads leading up to it so it has less to tie up and so it be enjoyed a great deal more on it’s own. But I’m not just talking about scale in terms of it being set in loads of different locations stretching all the way across the galaxy. I’m talking about scale on a personal level as well, namely for the Doctor. Speaking of the Doctor, I quite like the direction they took with his character in this episode as it appears to be much more balanced where are last series he appeared to be all over the place. He’s becoming slightly more like Tom Baker but he’s still retaining many of his defining characteristics and overall I’m quite happy with this new direction as long as they don’t loose what made him work in the first place.

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Now for one of the biggest surprises of the episode, the reveal of Davros. At least it would’ve been a surprise if the thing hadn’t leaked a while back. Never the less, it was exciting to see it come to life and those opening minutes leading up to the child’s name being revealed were breathtaking. I do feel that the soldiers death should’ve been a bit slower though, rather than just a sudden pull down beneath the ground. The whole idea of having a young Davros though feels very much inspired by Genesis of the Daleks but at the same time it doesn’t feel like they’re retreating that same ground. Then we get the reveal of the older Davros, once again played phenomenally by Julian Bleach, and that was something I was not expecting but I’m really happy to have him back. Also, I think we’ve finally found a proper villain who Moffat can write well for. He’s made Davros as devious as he was back in Genesis of the Daleks and I think that’s great. I only hope that he can keep this up in The Witch’s Familiar and not do what Death in Heaven did with Missy, who I will discuss in due course. It’s also nice that Davros isn’t planning anything big (that we know of) but he’s instead just getting as much enjoyment out of his final days of life by ruining the Doctor’s. Now that’s just downright evil. But then again, he could just be faking it and either way I don’t think I’d mind. It was also a nice touch to have Davros using his hand to lift up his head, it’s just one of those little things that does a lot to enhance the story.

Now on to Missy (it’s amazing how much there is to talk about in this episode) who appears to be going more in the direction of being an anti-hero in this story. However, she could just as easily be up to something. While I do think it would be truer to the character to have her be up to something I feel that if she were then there might end up being a bit too much going on in the next episode. As for Michelle Gomez, I feel that she was much better in this than she was last series. Maybe it’s because there’s no more mystery as to who the character is so she’s just free to be the Master or maybe it’s because she’s has more time to get settled in to the role. It’s nice that Missy describes her relationship with the Doctor as simply a friendship (an infinitely more complex friendship than anything on Earth) rather than a romance which had been hinted at rather too much for my liking last series. She is still a bit too overly sexual for my liking though. Anyway, now let’s talk about Colony Sarff who we’ll hopefully find out more about next episode. In this one he was quite a good villain, if a little single mined at times but the reveal of the snakes and the way that was done was wonderful. Now you’ve probably noticed that I’ve avoided talking about a certain topic and that is Clara. I’ve been saving her for last so that I can talk about that that cliff-hanger but first is Clara herself. She was alright, I guess. She played her part well but this story seems to be all about the Doctor and I’m fine with that given the amount of attention she got last series. Hers and Missy’s deaths though (while obviously fake) were never the less well used, mainly for their impact on the Doctor, leading him to point a gun at a young Davros in the final moments of the episode. Those moments were a bit too quick for my taste but I do like the dilemma it poses there.

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Overall, I think The Magicians Apprentice is the best series premiere since the show came back. Admittedly I wasn’t sure what to think about it the first time but after watching it again I really enjoyed it and would give it a strong nine-out-of-ten. While it does dip a bit in the middle with the Doctor’s guitar solo I can’t really deduct more than a point for that and the rest of the flaws were just minor things really. I didn’t really talk about the Daleks as I’m saving them for next week as they were hardly in this episode and speaking of next week, I have high hopes for The Witch’s Familiar and hopefully it will deliver but until we find out for sure be sure to sound off your thoughts on the episode in the comments below.