Entertainment, Review

Doctor Who Series 9 Review: The Magician’s Apprentice

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By Jack Rea

It’s the moment many of us have been waiting for. Last Saturday Doctor Who burst back onto our screens with a bang, and what a bang it was. The sort of explosive events usually reserved for the series finale came straight into play, with impossibly high stakes for the Doctor and his friends. The Doctor is thrown into perhaps his darkest hour, moments before his impending demise and seemingly losing everything that he holds dear.  It is a complete mystery to how any of the characters can come back from the shocking events of the episode’s excruciating cliff-hanger. It is going to be a long wait until next week’s episode!

Watching the first episode of the new series, it is undeniable that Peter Capaldi has cemented himself into the role. After spending a series as the ‘new guy’, he now assumes the role of the Doctor with such gravitas you can believe this is a battle worn alien that’s been around for two thousand years. The Doctor has a rough episode, flitting from a hilarious entrance complete with a tank and electric guitar (and let’s face it what’s cooler than that?) to being imprisoned with his worst enemy in the middle of a dalek stronghold, watching helpless as his friends meet rather grisly fates. The daleks haven’t been this threatening in a while. Instead of messing about with a complicated master plan they are back to their single-minded basics, with extermination in sight!

This was a classic Doctor Who affair: trouble in the Earth’s skies, plenty of monsters, an alien battlefield and daleks, daleks, daleks. It was also an episode of shock returns and reveals. I was apprehensive to Missy’s return so soon after the events of last series’ finale, but Michelle Gomez’s performance made me realise I’d missed seeing her character almost as much as the Doctor and Clara. Pulling off the perfect balance of maniac and evil genius may seem a bit of a cliche in television drama today, but Gomez is just so damn good at it you can’t help but love every moment she’s on screen. Clara is back on form, continuing on from her excellent character development from last series. There seems little she can’t do nowadays. It is almost like she single handedly carries the Doctor through his adventures as he stumbles from one problem to the next. Much has been made of her and the Doctor’s deep friendship and it’s really beginning to shine through. The team up between Missy and Clara creates an interesting dynamic for the show, and though apparently cut short it’d be nice to see more of this.

The next pairing that will surely make for interesting viewing is the Doctor and his arch-nemesis; once again back from the dead, Davros. It’s impossible not to get just a little bit excited at this character’s return. I have to admit feeling a shiver of excitement when the name was uttered before we plunged into the tittle credits. It is also worth mentioning how creepy Davros’ new sidekick is. When Colony Sarff unraveled his distorted face to reveal he was made of an army of snakes I can imagine everybody with reptilian phobias looked away in fear. A lot of credit has to go to the Doctor Who design team for this episode. How Capaldi’s Doctor will really fare against the dalek’s creator remains to be seen, but I imagine the Doctor isn’t going to be happy after the ending of this week’s episode. The Doctor’s morals are going to be sorely tested. The Doctor contemplating killing a child is dark territory, but under the circumstances actually quite believable. I think we’re all hoping his good side will pull through, it’s the Doctor after all.

The cliff-hanger seems almost a little ridiculously over the top, but in a way it’s the perfect opener to what already looks to be an exciting series. The Doctor has lost his sonic, his TARDIS and his closest friends have been exterminated (surely not), and to top it off is surrounded by a whole planet of daleks. My only reservation is I hope next week can build on this great opener without resolving everything with a rushed explanation. I can safely say though I could not be happier to have the show back and I can’t wait to see where the series will take us.

Jack is a third year English student and self-proclaimed Whovian who also enjoys film and live music.

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