The idea behind this post is nothing new or original, but after watching Doctor Who (first broadcast 19/09/15, BBC One) I just felt like… what?
Let me preface this post by saying: I like Doctor Who. It’s often a good show. Ten is my Doctor; his episodes were on when I first started watching it. I dipped in and out of Eleven’s episodes, and watched Twelve’s last year because I had a reliable wifi connection at uni for viewing on catch up. I think the show is interesting and I’ll watch it if it’s on, but I wouldn’t say I’m particularly a True Fan.
Here are my thoughts on The Magician’s Apprentice (episode one, series nine)*.
* I’m assuming a general familiarity with Doctor Who and the people behind its production for this post, including Steven Moffat, the show-runner and writer for this episode and Russell T Davies (RTD), the show-runner and head writer prior to Moffat.
- Characters of colour! In the first two minutes! Sadly, this point does warrant a bullet, because Doctor Who (especially in the Moffat-era) generally contains tonnes of white people and very few people of colour, especially in supporting roles. I thought we were going to be heading in the right direction.
- …and then they died. In fact, maybe this should be a Moff-plot device called, “Characters of Colour! And Then They Died”. Moffat is known for killing people off and bringing them back (see: Rory Williams), and then he created Danny Pink, a regular Black character, for the last series, who was probably just about the only character to properly die, dead, RIP in peace. So we weren’t going in the right direction at all.
- Sarff the snake man was interesting! I thought the graphics were really good on that. Although my friend did comment that he moves like he’s on a Segway.
- The clock in the opening titles is really cool (yes, I know that was there last series).
- Michelle Gomez’s acting is stunning as always.
- What was the point of the plane thing? I thought that was going to go somewhere, rather than being just the (re)introduction to Missy.
- Why isn’t Missy dead?**
- Why is Missy suddenly the Doctor’s BFF?**
- Davros created a race of cyborgs by trapping beings inside a tank, and then used them for near-genocide. The Darleks and Davros were literally based on the Nazis. Why does he deserve a Tragic Backstory™? Are we supposed to feel sorry for him? Does it make him not a murderer?
- I feel like I should elaborate, as this is maybe tricky territory. Obviously terrible things, like being left to die after witnessing someone die in front of you, affect you. However, it’s the difference between, “Davros is a murderer but he had a traumatic experience as a child” and “Davros is a murderer and he had a traumatic experience as a child.”
- In fact, this backstory kind of… cheapens the Doctor’s mix of feelings, primarily his mercy, shown towards Davros at the end of Journey’s End (episode thirteen, series four)? The Doctor offers to he save Davros despite everything; a reading of Journey’s End after The Magician’s Apprentice suggests that offer was made out of shame at not saving child!Davros, rather than his mercifulness.
- I didn’t get the whole fighting in the arena with a rock guitar thing. I just… didn’t.
- If you have an archenemy, you don’t call them that. That’s what other people call them when referencing you. You’d just be like, “that Darlek dude I really hate”. Get it together, Twelve.
- The walking in ‘space’ thing was Really Cool and I want my room to look like that now.
- Why doesn’t Clara know what Skaro is? She jumped into the Doctor’s timestream (or something) to save him in all his regenerations, so surely she should know.
- I was just confused by the end. Bear with me, as I’m not completely up on my knowledge of the show’s canon, but: there are fixed points in time, right? Some things the Doctor can’t change, like his own death? Surely going back and killing Davros as a child will have, simply, a massive knock-on effect. And some of the things it changes will be fixed points, or things that aren’t allowed to change, or shouldn’t be changed? This is just my musings, because, like I said, I haven’t devoutly followed the show, so I may be wrong. But it just seems like it will retcon A Lot.
** I realise that this is beginning of a new series, and these points will hopefully be explained/expanded on as it progresses. This bullet list was simply my thoughts after watching only the first episode.
Edit: here is a link to Claudia Boleyn’s video review of the episode. Her reviews of the last series inspired this post, so definitely check her videos out.
Edit II, January ’16: I gave up with Doctor Who. I tried. I did. But I couldn’t put myself through it every week. Only now, Moffat is stepping down as show-runner! So who knows? By 2018, I might be able to watch it again.