Monday, 21 September 2015

Doctor Who: The Magician's Apprentice ( review with spoilers )

"They built it again  -  they brought it back!"

Yes, Doctor Who is back for a ninth Series / thirty-fifth Season with Capaldi, Moffatt and Coleman still at the controls ( although that is set to change soon as the lovely Jenna moves on ) and the return of some very old enemies.
The story starts with the Doctor finding himself on a desolate, ruined planet where an ancient ( and familiar ) war is raging. A young boy, fleeing the fighting, is trapped by a suddenly growing field of "hand-mines" ( a superbly creepy visual, see above ) and begs for the Doctor's help. The young boy's name is Davros...

And with that revelation ( Of The Daleks heh heh ) we're off on a whirlwind adventure across the universe, taking in the sights of The Maldovarium, Karn, The Shadow Proclamation and, er, medieval Essex. The Doctor has gone missing from all time and space and hooded, serpentine bad guy Colony Ssarf is looking for him  -  he has a message to deliver: "Davrosss knowsss, Davrosss remembersss..."
Also looking for the Doctor are unlikely bedfellows ( stop it! ) Clara and Missy who reluctantly team up after the "not dead" Time Lady  has thrown all of Earth into a panic by time-stopping every airborne plane just to send a message to UNIT.
"We can't just phone the Doctor...he'll go Scottish..."
The pair finally track down the Doctor who apparently only has one more day to live and is throwing a party for himself... which is gate-crashed by old snakey who whisks them all off to a recreated Skaro for a confrontation with the dying creator of the Daleks...
And that's how breathless and incident-packed an episode this is. As promised, this opening story of the season has all the high-stakes, widescreen feel of a finale and is a far cry from the first episode "romps" of previous years. There are many things I loved about this episode: the odd pairing of Clara and Missy, the beautiful 60s-style Dalek city, Julian Bleach's dying but manipulative Davros, the nostalgic clips of old Doctors, Capaldi's portayal of the Doc's moral dilemma and shame, Hettie MacDonald's blockbuster direction, the gut-wrenching cliffhanger...
My only reservations are that Moffatt may be tinkering too much with the show's history ( but, then, it should never be too sacred and fixed  -  it's all about time travel after all ) and the scenes of the Doctor's party dip quickly from funny to cringe-worthy... but... overall this is a hugely confident and exciting return for the show and I can't wait to see what other treats are in store for us over the next three months.

I'll give this one Four Out Of Five Sonic Screwdrivers ( or Dalek "balls" )


Kid said...

I thought it was totally self-indulgent and trying too hard to be quirky. Moffat does a good job on Sherlock, but his over-the-top approach on Doctor Who is fast alienating (npi) me from the programme. The sooner he moves on the better. Having said that, I enjoyed parts of it, but that's the trouble - there have been no episodes that have been completely satisfying since Moffat took over. The serial has become too hit-and-miss, for my tastes. We need a hard, aloof and mysterious Doctor, not a buffoon, and despite promises to make the Doc a darker character, we're still left with a wannabe stand-up comedian. Hopefully it will improve, but I have my doubts.

John Pitt said...

It sounds to me like they are making it more complicated than necessary. However, I will have to watch a repeat of this episode.
I totally agree with Kid about Moffatt. Be spoiled the programme for me.

cerebus660 said...

Apart from that, how did you like the play Mrs. Lincoln...?


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