WARNING: MINOR SPOILERS FOR DOCTOR WHO SERIES 9, EPISODES 1 AND 2
Hey everyone, sorry this one is late. My parents were in town and I spent the weekend with them. But, I’m back now and the new season of Doctor Who has aired. I’ll make it up to you with two post this week. I have more to say about Amazon. I would have made this post last week, but this story is a two parter. So, here we go: ‘The Magician’s Apprentice’ and ‘The Witch’s Familiar’.
Before we get started, a little background from me. I love Doctor Who. It’s easily one of my favourite shows of all time, top 3 easy. I came into it during the mid season break of series 6, after watching the rest of the revived series, and have been watching it ever since. I’m not caught up on the classic series because….26 years worth, but I’m most of the way through Hartnell’s era and will catch up eventually. I’ve seen some of the more prominent serials, ‘Remembrance of the Daleks’, ‘The Three Doctors’, ‘Tomb of the Cybermen’, etc., and I have my favourite episodes and Doctors among them.
My favourite Doctor is the 7th Doctor, Sylvester McCoy, followed very closely by Matt Smith’s 11th Doctor. My favourite serial is ‘Remembrance of the Daleks’, my favourite companion is Ace followed by Amy and Rory, and my favourite new series episode is ‘The Eleventh Hour’. Also, because these are a popular part of the new series, my favourite Christmas Special is ‘A Christmas Carol’. I love Peter Capaldi’s 12th Doctor, I see it as a kind of return to the classic days for Doctor Who when the Doctor was a grandfatherly or uncle figure to his companions. Jenna Coleman’s Clara is….okay. Don’t get me wrong, she’s a good actor. Maybe it’s still growing pains from losing Amy and Rory, but I’m not that big a fan of Clara. She’s gotten better as the series has gone on and I like her better with Capaldi than I did with Smith, but they could have done better with her. Also, I’m looking forward to River Song’s return in the upcoming Christmas special.
Okay, on to the episodes themselves.
First off, let’s get this one out of the way, Missy is back. In her own words “Not dead, back, big surprise, never mind.” Moving on.
I like the fact they made The Master a woman, Michelle Gomez is funny and a terrific actress and hey, it’s the 21st century, it’s nice to change up the gender of characters. Plus ‘The Doctor’s Wife’ did confirm that Time Lords can change their gender. Also, maybe this’ll open the door for actresses like Hayley Atwell to become the Doctor…I’d watch it. And this makes both the Doctor and the Master Scottish. This pleases me.
And thank you ITunes for adding subtitles to your videos. It helps.
The plot of these episodes is that one of the Doctor’s longest running enemies is dying and lures the Doctor, and by extension Clara and Missy, to him, due to a decision the Doctor made in the enemy’s childhood. What’s interesting about what the Doctor did is that it plays on a famous Doctor quote from the Tom Baker (4th Doctor) era, a quote that’s actually played in the episode to further the Doctor’s guilt for his decision among other quotes from various other Doctors that had encountered the enemy. I won’t spoil who he is but if you know Tom Baker’s era or just what many consider to be the best Doctor Who serial, you probably know who I’m talking about.
The best way I can describe this story is the 10th Anniversary Special for the revived series, and in my opinion it does a lot better than ‘Day of the Doctor’ did. It’s full of callbacks to episodes about the Doctor’s greatest foes, including a particularly disturbing callback for Clara, and is just a joy to watch. Whether or not we get similar vibes from the rest of the season is yet to be determined.
This story also bids farewell to a well loved part of the show. It’s tough to say goodbye to an old friend and I’m not sure how I feel about the new one. Just feels a bit too…’modern’ if that makes any sense. I know this has happened before in Doctor Who, minus the replacement part, but it’s still pretty bitter and isn’t any easier. If you’ve seen it, you know what I’m talking about.
The acting in this is great, Michelle Gomez, as mentioned before, is a welcome return as Missy who has most of the best lines, Jenna Coleman and Peter Capaldi are still going strong as Clara and the Doctor, and it’s great to see Julian Bleach come back. Plus, it’s always nice to have Jemma Redgrave’s Kate Stewart make a return, even if it’s a short one. Also of note is Jami Reid-Quarrell as the snake-line Colony Sarff who adds an additional chill to the story.
I honestly think this is one of showrunner Steven Moffat’s best openers since ‘The Eleventh Hour’ possibly because with Capaldi he’s finally allowing two parters again, something he avoided in Smith’s series 6 and 7, and with any luck the series will be on par with series 5 or most of David Tennant’s Era. I don’t give a rating for my reviews, but if I did it’d be a high one for this. Definitely give this one a watch.
I’ll be doing Doctor Who reviews throughout the Fall, but I’ll release them during the week like today to allow the episode to sink in properly and allow for rewatching. Next week will be another review, Ridley Scott’s The Martian. See you there!
(Photo via BBC)