The Magician’s Apprentice had a good opening. War on an alien planet, scary handmines (landmines, but made from hands) with eyes, the Doctor and a young Davros, most evil person in the universe. This gave us moral dilemmas, contradictions and intrigue as the Doctor leaves a young Davros in the handmine field after promising to save him, before he realises who he is. It’s a shame that feeling of greatness kind of ended their until much later in the show (and only appearing at certain bits), even the snake man Colony Sarff looking for the Doctor couldn’t add much. So…
The show continues with Clara and Missy, which is interesting and it isn’t until the second half before the Doctor actually turns up properly. This in and of itself wasn’t a terrible start, it did add a certain tension as you wondered where the Doctor was now and what he was doing. However, I did find the reintroduction of Missy a let down, as I was hoping for something with a little more of a manic flare (yes, the freezing of planes around the Earth was a nice twist, but it wasn’t very gripping), but what we got when we knew she had returned was some off hand comment about yes, I survived, and no I wont tell you how. Very flat and disappointing.
The best bit of the Missy, Clara interaction was the psychotic superiority complex that Missy has over how she is the Doctor’s best friend (she gets his last will and testament, not Clara), and Clara is just his latest plaything or as she puts it his puppy. These two actors played this relationship dynamic very well and I am looking forward to seeing how Clara gets one over on Missy in the end. Knocking her from his highchair.
So cue the entrance of the Doctor…
We had the wibbly wobbly, timey wimey stuff from Missy to get Clara’s attention, a quick vortex manipulator ride later and they’re off to find the Doctor, who thinks he is about to die so is partying it up in medieval England as a last hurrah. Enter the Doctor in one of the best arrivals I have seen on the show in a long time. An Axe (Guitar) wielding Doctor riding a 20th/21st century tank playing ‘Pretty Woman’ once he see’s Missy and Clara. Epic! It was funny, it was energetic and all the things that make Doctor Who great, all rolled into one scene. It was great to see the Capaldi Doctor Who personality shine through, and I also read he picked and played the guitar himself. And he plays very well, so nice one Peter.
Colony Sarff shows up does his thing and they are off to see Davros, who is dying and now remembers what the Doctor did all those years ago when he was young. Unfortunately, it’s at this point the story line kind of peters out, the Doctor, Clara and Missy are on a hidden Skaro, full of Daleks. I enjoyed the ploy used by the Daleks in hiding the planet, but the reveal and discovery by Missy was very fast and with little tension, so it took some of the delight from it.
** ENDING SPOILER **
After this there is not much more that actually happens, the ladies are brought to the Dalek’s, they appear to die (which obviously they don’t) and the Doctor is upset and the show ends. It’s at this stage I felt very let down by the story. It came across rushed in some parts which needed more detail and expanded in others which needed less, throw in a feeling of it being an unfinished story, even for it being a two parter, and you are left with an unsatisfying taste. Looking back, I think the new series intro would have actually benefited from being an extended show, or even a two nighter, episode 1 first night and episode 2 on the second night. I want to know what happens, but I am a bit angry with why I have too wait.
Overall, I did enjoy the first show, it had some great moments mixed in with some not so great moments, so all I can say is bring on Episode 2 already!