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Doctor Who XXXV/9.1 - The Magician's Apprentice

September 19th, 2015 (10:19 pm)

No essay from me this week, but negatives first. There aren't many of them, and are largely personal in that there's always an awkwardness to me in the Doctor revelling in pop culture or being a rock musician, and yet here I can see it was the right choice. I'm not sure where the Doctor's audience in 1138 went either...

Otherwise, superlatives. Steven Moffat and company projected their most coherent vision of the Doctor Who universe so far; though I did find myself wondering if the Shadow Architect's hairdresser (probably a Judoon, come to think of it) had been killed in action since The Stolen Earth. The Maldovarium is a sorrier place for the loss of Dorium. Clara's confidence as schoolteacher and UNIT's contact radiated and Jenna Coleman's authority in the part was more than a match for Michelle Gomez's calculating tricksiness. The traps within traps were sprung and the Daleks depicted as more detached from human or Gallifreyan values while justifying their fond parent's description of them as children. Barry Norman's comparison of fifty years ago, that they are devices through which children imagine killing grown-ups, was made plain here; as was the realisation most fans have had at some time, that the Daleks are tanks (and I'll link to John Wilson's article on the subject as soon as I've identified the relevant issue of Tides of Time - [ETA it's issue 23, but I can't manage the link at present - search for "Tides 23" at tidesoftime.wordpress.com for the pdf]). Taking up the convincingly-performed but sidestepped 'Do I have the right?' speech from Genesis of the Daleks is a dangerous exercise and we'll only find how well it works next week. Otherwise, a sense of the programme trying something new and Peter Capaldi's most moving and enthralling performance in the role.

Also posted at The Event Library

Also posted at http://sir-guinglain.dreamwidth.org/2015/09/19/the-magicians-apprentice.html.

Comments

Posted by: daniel_saunders (daniel_saunders)
Posted at: September 19th, 2015 10:29 pm (UTC)
Leekley

I have never been so conflicted about a Doctor Who episode. I'm honestly not sure if this was a work of pure genius or fifth-rate fanfic! I was one-step ahead of a lot of the major twists (only partly through knowing the Daleks were returning), which probably spoiled things a little [EDIT: or not. There is satisfaction in guessing right]. I'm not at all sure what I make of Moffat's conception of the Doctor-Master/Missy relationship, nor of how Davros fits with that. And I prefer the dinky, interesting model Skaro from The Daleks to the big but boringly repetitive CGI one we got here. But it was unusual and did hold my interest with lots of good set pieces. No idea where it's going, but that's probably a good thing. I suspect I'll need to see part two, and then a second viewing of the whole thing, before I'm even vaguely sure what I think of it!

And I'm sure people will complain about the lack of tenth Doctor-Davros clips... I was just glad to hear Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy!

Edited at 2015-09-19 10:29 pm (UTC)

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: September 19th, 2015 10:41 pm (UTC)

I suspected that if I'd not been in the emotively anticipative mood I was in, I'd have felt much the same, and feel slightly guilty about enjoying it so much!

Posted by: cynthia2015 (cynthia2015)
Posted at: September 21st, 2015 11:08 am (UTC)

I found the Doctor playing the electric guitar amusing, at least it was a change from him being uptight about soldiers. Even if it was just used as a distraction from the dilemma about his upcoming death. Clara not being completely angry, annoyed or upset by the Doctor was refreshing. It felt like the closeness of their relationship was lacking last series.

Edited at 2015-09-21 11:10 am (UTC)

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: September 21st, 2015 11:22 am (UTC)
parrot

Oh, I agree. I was even more entertained when I watched it for a second time, and impressed to have my expectation confirmed that Peter Capaldi played all the guitar tracks himself. There's just a younger voice for whom the Doctor was a bastle-house against certain forms of contemporaneity shouting; but even when I was comforted by some of the theatricality of the 1980s, intellectually I still thought the offputting polysyllabic dialogue a mistake.

Posted by: daniel_saunders (daniel_saunders)
Posted at: September 21st, 2015 07:01 pm (UTC)
Leekley

I found the electric guitar fun, but I can't work out whether it's out of character. Of course, one could say that anything we see the Doctor do is, by definition, in character. But should he be channeling his inner Embarrassing Dad so much? (Alternatively: isn't the last day of your life too late for a mid-life crisis?) Then again, if this was the tenth Doctor, it would have been played straight...

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: September 21st, 2015 07:22 pm (UTC)
parrot

It's a way of changing his character, I presume...

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: September 21st, 2015 07:45 pm (UTC)
parrot

It's a way of changing his character, I presume...

Posted by: cynthia2015 (cynthia2015)
Posted at: September 27th, 2015 12:37 am (UTC)

I think the purpose of that scene was to show that the Doctor has mellowed since the end of the last series. Back then, the Doctor had just regenerated and he was "finding himself again". Now his more comfortable within himself, his willing to let lose. Either that or it was just something on his bucket list?. At least Clara seemed impressed by his guitar skills. I thought when men go through a mid-life crisis they dye their hair and/or get a sports car?.

Posted by: daniel_saunders (daniel_saunders)
Posted at: September 27th, 2015 11:21 am (UTC)
Leekley

Bucket list, I think!

I was assuming a tank was a step up from a sports car.

Posted by: cynthia2015 (cynthia2015)
Posted at: September 27th, 2015 12:08 pm (UTC)

I didn't think about the tank in that way until you pointed it out. Who was driving that tank anyway?. I thought it was only there for the "fish tank" joke. I'm a bit slow sometimes. I almost forgot an electric guitar is also referred to as an "axe". At first I was thinking why was that funny?.
Nothing compares to the TARDIS. Although the TARDIS is more than a mode of transport.

Posted by: daniel_saunders (daniel_saunders)
Posted at: September 27th, 2015 01:24 pm (UTC)
Leekley

Don't worry, I completely missed the "axe" joke until you pointed it out to me! To be honest, some of the banter in Doctor Who just goes straight over my head.

I assumed the Doctor had set up some kind of remote control on the tank.

Posted by: cynthia2015 (cynthia2015)
Posted at: September 28th, 2015 09:51 am (UTC)

The Doctor likes bantering now. But it's hard to define the Doctor's behavioral traits. At least for me it is. Thanks for answering my tank question.

Posted by: wellinghall (wellinghall)
Posted at: September 21st, 2015 07:06 pm (UTC)

I hadn't picked it up until I read your post, but 1138 may be a reference to THX 1138

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: September 21st, 2015 07:20 pm (UTC)
parrot

It probably has more to do with that than with, say, the battle of the Standard...