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Review: Doctor Who – 9.1: The Magician’s Apprentice

Steve Moffat had said he wanted the first episode of series nine to feel as exciting as a finally. He didn’t disappoint. Right from the off we’re thrown into a war zone. The mixture of primitive and advanced technology tells us that this is Skaro. We’re right in the middle of the thousand year war between the Kaleds and Thals. A young boy has become trapped in a ‘hand-mine field’, already this feels like the hide behind the sofa Doctor of old, only for the Doctor to arrive to save him. As he goes to save the boy he asks him his name; ‘Davros’ the boy replies. Within one scene Moffat has won back the doubters; but this would only be the first of a number of reveals and references to delight the hardcore ‘Whovians’.

Doctor Who series eight had its moments but, felt at times like the writers backed anyway from going too scary or sci-fi. The first episode of series nine has already given me hope. Where last series Peter Capaldis Doctor seemed cold and distant this series he arrives on tank playing an electric guitar. He’s all hugs, flirts and seems comfortable as the Doctor.

His history with Missy (The Master) is also explored. Any ‘Whovian’ will know that their past is littered with a mixture of love and hate; through their childhood friendship, the Academy years, being founding members of the ‘Deca’ and all their confrontations / short lived alliances since. Let us not forget that in the Jon Pertwee episode ‘The Sea Devils’ at one point the two talk like old friends (all be it ones who don’t trust one another) and in ‘The Five Doctors’ it’s The Master who’s sent to save the Doctor. Although whenever they flirt or even kiss I can’t help seeing Roger Delgados face.

There was also a welcome return for the ‘Sisterhood of Karn’ not seen in a full episode since ‘The brain of Morbius’ in 1976 (although they have featured in mini / web-isodes and Big Finish productions).

The highlight for most ‘Whovians’ would have been ‘Davros’ showing the Doctor excerpts from their pass encounters. Tom Bakers speech from ‘Genesis of the Daleks’, which makes a great companion episode to this one, sent tinkles down the spine.

So a great return for Calpaldi and an exciting start to series nine. The episode was confident enough to reference the past but, did so with alienating newer and more casual fans. Can’t wait to see where the series goes from here.

Rating out of 10: 9

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