Doctor Who: Was The Magician's Apprentice Worth The Wait?

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Was the Magician's Apprentice worth the wait? Sonny Howes examines the Series Nine opener.

After Last Christmas, Santa went away, everyone woke up from their dreams and Clara ate a Satsuma. We all then begun the painful wait for Doctor Who series 9. It’s always a worrying time, the wait for one of your favourite shows to come back on air, just in case it’s not as good as you hope it will be, meaning the wait had been all for nothing.

So, was The Magician's Apprentice worth the wait?

(Spoilers from this point on, do not read if you have not yet watched the episode)

This was an interesting episode, and after watching it you can see why the reviewers who put together the 'no-spoilers reviews' had such a hard time, as from the third minute in the viewer is thrown into a storyline like no other. The Magician's Apprentice doesn’t hold back, it doesn’t build up, it tells the viewer exactly what kind of episode it is going to be right from the beginning; an exciting but challenging one.

The opening scene sets the tone perfectly, a war with mixed machinery and soldiers running for their lives. Then, suddenly we get the glimpse of a young boy running in the other direction. As soon as a solider runs after him, we get a look at a brand new creature that’s been created for the wonderful (yet messed up) world of Doctor Who. These Hand Mines are subtle but genius. As soon as they rise from the mud, every hair on the back of the viewers neck rises up as the creepiness and darkness of the episode sets into place, and with no warning, we encounter the first death of the series as the kind soldier is snatched from his feet and pulled underground. Then just when your about to feel sorry for this young boy your emotions are thrown into overdrive as we learn we have just witnessed the return of Davros; creator of the Daleks; enemy of the Doctor.

Then, after that opening we meet Clara for the first time this year. I’ve always had my problems with Clara, she always feels a little too clever and annoying, but like every previous episode I go in with an open mind. So, Clara is still a teacher and half way through her lesson she notices the Planes have stopped completely. This is clever and different, and kind of ended far to quickly. We find out it’s Missy (played by the wonderful Michelle Gomez), who’s back after last season. We get this lovely scene between her and Clara, and again we get to see how brutal this story is when she kills two men on the spot, right after making a joke about Clara’s dead boyfriend (Danny Pink).

This is not me saying I loved The Magician's Apprentice though, as what comes next is one of my least favourite moments of Who. The Doctor (Played by the brilliant Peter Capaldi who has really made the role his own) comes out playing the guitar while on a tank. Now, some probably found this hilariously funny, but I didn’t. I found it silly and it really took me out of the story. So far it had been dark, creepy and had a great atmosphere, and suddenly that had all been taken away by some corny lines and bad writing.

Moving on: DAVROS IS BACK. He maybe dying and ill but he is back, and about time! I love Davros, he’s always written well and played brilliantly in every story he’s featured in. I think if I ever got to play The Doctor, I would want to be in a story with Davros just because he’s so iconic. It amazes me, that the same writer can pen some of the best scenes between two characters (every scene that featured Davros and The Doctor together was amazing and any writer like myself can learn from that so much) but then can write that awful tank scene.

Also returning were the Daleks and as always they were great, I was especially happy to see the 60s Daleks once again.

But here’s another problem. The Magician's Apprentice had been ruined by the trailers and internet once again. Why did we need to know the Daleks were returning? And even if they did want to announce their return in advance why not just reveal some shots of the gold Daleks. How amazing it would have been to see the white and blue Dalek on screen without knowing they were going to be there!

Another thing is, I felt like Steven Moffat was having a mid-life crises and was trying to be young by using the words dude, sexy, flirting and man, over and over again. Don’t do it Moffat! It’s lazy writing, not very funny and incredibly irritating after awhile.

My main problem though is that The Magician's Apprentice felt like many ideas thrown together. Was the whole #planeshavestopped idea needed? No, not really. And it was kinda wasted here. How good would an episode be (ok, I’m pitching an episode now) if the planes all around the world stopped but the fuel was still burning and when the fuel runs out, the planes fall. It’s a race against the clock for the Doctor. That’s a story there for just one episode! Then the 1138 scene, could have been an whole episode with fighters and aliens. The Hand Mines could have been an alien threat on their own and had a whole story around them. It all felt rushed, so many ideas and not enough time to do any of them justice. After all, sometimes the most simplistic episodes are the best (Blink, Fathers Day, Flatline for example).

Was The Magician's Apprentice a good episode? Yes. Was it great? Yes. Brilliant? In parts. It was clever and different but a little too rushed. It also had comedy were it didn't fit and the whole guitar scene was cringe worthy, along with the constant ‘trying to be current’ words.

Overall I would give this episode 7/10 and hope that The Witch's Familiar ties up the story and keeps to its dark roots, rather than being something for everyone crammed into just 45 minutes.

Sonny wants to be an actor and has a massive interest in TV and film. If he's not watching Mad Men, he's working on his brand new script for his short film.

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