Doctor Who: The Magician’s Apprentice Gets Just As Much Right As It Does Wrong

Sunday, 20 September 2015 - 3:10PM
Doctor Who
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Sunday, 20 September 2015 - 3:10PM
Doctor Who: The Magician’s Apprentice Gets Just As Much Right As It Does Wrong
After nine long months of waiting, everyone's favorite Time Lord made his return last night to millions of TV screens around the world in the first episode of Doctor Who series 9 entitled "The Magician's Apprentice". Many reputable review websites on the net have given the episode quite favorable scores, and most Whovians seem to be quite excited about the direction series 9 is heading in. Nevertheless, there are a few things that were disappointing to see in the series opener which, in this author's opinion, detracted from the overall quality. So what exactly did The Magician's Apprentice get right, and what did it get wrong?


The Good

 
First of all, it's been a long time since a series opener had such a gripping introduction. The opening scene before the title sequence was such a huge shock, that any casual fan who had heard the name 'Davros' before should have been immediately sucked in. Seeing how the Doctor reacted when given the chance to save or abandon the young creator of the Daleks? Even better. The Magician's Apprentice did a bang up job of drawing the audience in right from the start.

Likewise, it was fun to see all of the shout outs to some of the aliens who have made appearances on the show in the past as well. No self respecting Whovian could have possibly been disappointed to see the Ood, the Judoon, or the Sisterhood of Karn near the beginning of The Magician's Apprentice. There was also a "blast from the past" kind of moment in which a scene from the 4th Doctor's era was brought into view, and it's always great when New Who somehow gets connected to the old run of the show.

Finally, it's great to see a plot that seems to revolve around a personal moral dilemma the Doctor is facing rather than the run of the mill "the entire universe is in danger" sort of thing. While there are definitely big things happening in the Magician's Apprentice, it's refreshing that none of those big things seemingly relate directly to large scale destructive events, such as the world being invaded by aliens, or time itself facing a threat to its existence.


The Bad

 
Though there was a lot that the series opener got right, sadly, there was just as much that it got wrong. For instance, Peter Capaldi's Doctor seems like a totally different character when compared to series 8. Last year, 12 was a grumpy old man with a big heart and serious issues when it came to social skills. Based on episode one of series 9, however, he now seems to be a variation of 10 or 11 stuffed into Capaldi's body. Hopefully this was just temporary, and the Doctor's new behavior simply stems from the belief that his life will soon end.

The Magician's Apprentice also seems to have set up a plot device that has been used much to often in the past few years. The Doctor believing he's near death is an idea that was used at the end of David Tennant's run on the show, and at least twice during the Matt Smith era. Every Whovian in the world knows it's going to end in the exact same way this time around as well, with the Doctor somehow cheating death, even if it costs him a regeneration. Sadly, this plot device is simply no longer exciting.

Just as well, it was disappointing to see the anticlimactic way Missy was brought back to the show. With series 8 ending with her disappearance and presumed death (though everyone at home found it pretty obvious that she used the vortex manipulator at the last second), her reappearance should have been just a bit more momentous than simply sticking her in the very next season, five minutes into the show.

In the end, The Magician's Apprentice was a decent enough episode. It contained a lot for Whovians to get excited about, but it most certainly wasn't without its faults. One thing's for sure, though. No one wants to miss what's next! Catch episode 2 of Doctor Who series 9, entitled "The Witch's Familiar," this coming Saturday at 9pm ET.

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