The Witch’s Familiar – New Who Season 9 Episode 2 Review

We all know how we left off with the season premier, so then we move on to the second part.

As the episode starts we see that Clara and Missy made it out alive, with Clara dangling by her feet from a rope and Missy crafting a spear and acting all crazy… I see potential here.  We all knew they weren’t going to be killed with such little fanfare as the previous episode, but I expected we’d have to wait a little longer to see them.  But Missy decides to tell a story about the Doctor, and we get a cameo from certain “old timers” (which made us original Who fans happy) before “giving it to the eyebrows”.  Guess that’s the feature we’ll be fixating on for Capaldi’s version of the character… seems about right.

The story Missy tells is a convenient way to explain how they used modified vortex manipulators to teleport away from the Daleks as opposed to getting disintegrated by them.  I must admit that this was a more creative explanation to getting away than I’d expected as well.  Anyway, we get some clever quips about pointy sticks, which I won’t wreck for you in case you want to actually watch the episode, and all this before the opening credits.

This is the happiest I’ve been with an episode in quite some time… At this point I’ve noticed it’s an episode written by Moffat himself.

Cut to the Doctor and he’s *angry*.  He still thinks Clara and Missy have been exterminated and he seems to want to take it out on Davros.  Next thing we know Davros is laying on the floor and the Doctor is running around in his half a Dalek armor like he’s in a bumper car.  At this point I’m picturing a set of bumper cars where the cars are the bottom half of Daleks.  I implore the BBC to make this happen!

Back to Clara and Missy investigating the sewers (really a nearly-dead-Dalek burial ground) and we get more antics as Missy pushes Clara in to see how big the drop is.  Can these two *please* have their own show?  I could watch this all day.

After a bit of filler the Doctor demands that Clara be brought back alive and safe, broadcast out to all the Daleks.  No mention of Missy, and she actually looks kind of hurt.  The takeover was short lived, as Colony Sarff appeared to capture him.

In the meantime Missy uses Clara as bait to kill a Dalek.  I’m still entertained by their interaction, but I noticed Missy said something about her daughter…  Anyway, more filler while Davros tries to lure the Doctor into his little trap.  Entertaining filler, but filler none the less.  We do get a bit of insight into how human the Doctor actually is, or seems to be.

Back to the dynamic duo, Missy has strapped Clara into a Dalek and gives her driving lessons.  We’re a bit full circle here, if you remember souffle girl from Clara’s introductions.  Clara’s unable to say her name, only “I am a Dalek” comes out, and she doesn’t seem to have much control over her weapons as she gets upset.  A lot of phrases come out as “Exterminate” and now I’m wondering if the Daleks have tried to say nice things over the years and it’s been “translated” to Dalek-speak.

We have a heart-to-hearts between the Doctor and Davros, who finally learns that the time lords are still alive.  He surprises everyone by telling the Doctor to keep his people safe.  There’s some shared laughter, some tears, and the good man question appears again.  Davros claims to be dying, and we all know the Doctor probably isn’t going to let it happen.  Oh look, he falls right into the trap.  Are we surprised?  Not this puppy…

So the regeneration energy is flowing, the Doctor is trapped, and all that energy is flowing out into Davros and the Daleks.  Lucky for him Missy had strolled back into HQ with Clara in tow, just in time to save the Doctor from himself.  Unfortunately, the damage was done… only not the damage you’d expect.  The Doctor trapped himself on purpose to make the Daleks mortal.  It means the generations of Daleks that were mush in the sewers have now been regenerated and are coming back for revenge.

Missy tries to tall the Doctor that Clara (in the Dalek armor) is the Dalek that killed Clara.  Of course he sees something is off and shows her how to open the casing.  And away we go to try and make an escape.  Except for Missy, who was told to run.  No sonic screwdriver for the Doctor, since he left it with Davros years before, but he has sonic sunglasses.  Seriously?  I really hope this is short lived.

So he goes back and saves Davros as a child and teaches him the concept of mercy, so that Clara can use that concept to trigger the Doctor’s suspicions so he can save her.  It’s all very circular and tied together quite well.

All in all I was happy with this episode, even though it posed a lot of questions.  Does the Doctor now have unlimited regenerations?  Will we see Missy again? (of course we will) How long will those stupid sunglasses last?  And will we ever see a Missy/Clara spinoff?  I’d love to hear the opinions of others…

The Magician’s Apprentice – New Who Series 9 Episode 1 Review

Our favorite show has returned to the air, and with it a return to the blog.  I think I’ll be trying to write this while watching it live, so there won’t be as much careful thought as I’m used to putting into the blog.  However, I find it much more fun to do it this way.  Before starting the episode I watched interviews with Jenna Coleman and Peter Capaldi, and am amazed at the respect all of these people seem to have for each other.

Anywho, here we go!

We’re starting out on a battlefield with a child running around.  and it’s not long before we have a scene that looks like something out of a zombie movie.  But then the Doctor comes to the rescue… until the child says his name is Davros.  Then he just looks horrified.

After the credits we meet Colony Staff, and he reminds me of something… something in Harry Potter maybe?  Anyway, he pays a visit to the sisters of the flame to threaten the Doctor.  I feel like this could be interesting…

Ah, there’s Clara!  The planes stop in the sky and Unit calls Clara?  This is new… But it makes sense.  And Missy is back!

Clara doesn’t seem that shocked to see Missy.  She must be tougher than she used to be.  Missy claims to asking for Clara’s help because the Doctor is in danger.  She says that the Doctor is on his last night and then he’ll die.  Clara knows how to find him and cooperates.  I’m not sure how I feel about that.

So they find the Doctor and I have to admit that seeing Peter Capaldi with a guitar is kind of awesome.  There’s some time killing and then Colony Staff turns into a snake.  I’m still very confused, and we’re halfway through the episode.  But then Colony Staff throws the screwdriver down and it all makes sense even before it’s explained.  He left Davros to die.  He made Davros.

So the Doctor is collected, Missy and Clara are taken with him, they left a tank behind and the TARDIS is grabbed by the Daleks… I’m starting to feel like they’re just throwing in things we know:

Cole Hill School, Missy, UNIT, Colony Staff, the Shadow Proclamation, Daleks, Davros, Sisters of the Flame… have I missed anyone?  Seriously!

So on the ship the Doctor is taken away to see Davros and we get a nod back to the previous Doctors.  Meanwhile Missy and Clara escape to “space”.  Turns out we’re on Skaro and Missy’s just going to decide to pair up with the Daleks.  They kill Missy and Clara, and destroy the TARDIS.

Personally, I don’t feel like any of this is real, but hey, what do I know?

This episode was mostly filler, and then some serious plot mixed in.  I enjoyed it, and it felt like the hour passed quickly.  However, I think I’ll have a lot of complaints on rewatch.  What did everyone think?

It’s Friday… Get Ready…

For THIS!

Fourth Disco

It’s Friday Again

Take a break from Universal domination…

DaleksParty

Dalek Risk

I wonder if this is as much fun as it looks?:

DalekRisk

Apparently you join the Daleks, try to take over the world and the Doctor tries to stop you.  As previously promised when posting things like this I’ll include links to buy when they’re available, so here they are:

In The UK

In The US

In Canada

If Eccleston Was In The 50th

From Doctor Who TV, an interesting take on what may have happened if Christopher Eccleston had signed on for the 50th anniversary:

I’ll happily admit that between May and December of 2013 I went through a period of adamant fan-insistence, telling anyone who’d listen that there was no way John Hurt’s role in The Day of the Doctor was borne purely from Christopher Eccleston declining to appear. “Don’t be so cynical!” I’d say, “This is what Moffat’s been building up to all along – a secret Doctor! How would that possibly work with someone we’d already seen?” Alas, I had to eat my words late last year when the aforementioned Moffat confirmed to Doctor Who Magazine that Eccleston would indeed have taken the War Doctor’s role in the anniversary special had he agreed to appear. But nevertheless, how would that possibly work with someone we’d already seen? Despite only appearing in one-and-a-bit episodes, the War Doctor’s existence hits Doctor Who’s 2013 output like a stone in a pond (a pond without any ducks, of course), sending ripples back through series 7B and forward across the 50th anniversary celebrations and into Matt Smith’s Christmas departure. So what would have happened to the surrounding episodes if Eccleston had shocked everyone and agreed to take part? Cue speculation…

“The Doctor has a secret…”

Most of The Name of the Doctor would work just fine without John Hurt turning round in its last moment. The Great Intelligence’s plan may have led to the War Doctor being uncovered, but the latter doesn’t hold any direct connection to the undoing of the Doctor’s victories that ensued in the episode. But putting the episode’s primary plot aside, the key dialogue allusions throughout the episode seem irrevocably tied up with the War Doctor. The entire story is instigated by a single line: “the Doctor has a secret he will take to the grave, and it is discovered”. The very satisfying rug-pull of the discovery being the Doctor’s grave, not his secret, may untie the War Doctor from the Great Intelligence plot, but it also further entrenches him in everything else.

With the Doctor’s secret, and the reasons for his name being hidden, revealed as only incidental to the Great Intelligence’s plan, there had to be a pretty damn good pay-off for what they actually were. Personally, and I’d hope most would agree, I’d say that “Introducing John Hurt as the Doctor” more than fulfilled that criteria; “Re-introducing Christopher Eccleston as the Doctor from a few years back”, however, would not have had anywhere near the same impact. Fair enough, Clara may not have seen the Ninth before, and the initial feeling from the audience would probably be sky-high excitement just the same, but once the euphoria wore of it would have made no sense: how could the Ninth Doctor be a secret Doctor? Rose knew him personally, of course, but he was in no way hidden away even after she left; a certain distinctive Northern face found its way into John Smith’s Journal of Impossible Things, and was happily shown off to Jackson Lake, Rosita, Amy, Rory, the Atraxi and Craig Owens at various points over the years. Hardly hidden away in the sub-subconscious, is it?

So what would the alternative be? The only way I can imagine it working is to remove the notion of a secret altogether. Thus: a different title, no pre-broadcast “they’re going to tell us his name” fun, no “his secret revealed” tag-line, a much less intriguing message from Clarence (“The Doctor’s grave has been discovered on Trenzalore, go there now” perhaps?), and a totally different ending. I’m thinking the Ninth Doctor appearing in the time stream as a direct appeal for help in his darkest Moment-pressing moment, echoing through his history. Despite the losses in The Name of the Doctor itself, this ending could have created a tighter link between Name and Day and, story-wise, a more immediate cliffhanger – and less of a coincidence when the War Doctor crops up again the very next episode. However, I don’t think anyone fan of the show would want it to lose the sheer amount of publicity and interest generated by the mystery of Hurt’s Doctor.

“I don’t suppose there’s any need for a Doctor any more…”

The Night of the Doctor was fan-pleasing to the extreme, and I don’t think it’s controversial to say that was down to Paul McGann’s appearance more than the revelation of the War Doctor’s origin. On the face of it, therefore, having McGann regenerate into Eccleston here wouldn’t have made much difference (and may have even allowed for a slightly fuller appearance from the new Doctor). But I don’t think The Night of the Doctor could have played out as it did at all if it was to feature the Ninth Doctor. Ask yourself, would you have been happy with the idea of the Doctor in series 1 having been specifically chosen as a warrior, and not as the Doctor? Would it ring true that Rose could fix him to such an extent that he won’t even kill the Daleks in The Parting of the Ways, if this was his genesis? It just wouldn’t have fit. The Ninth Doctor would have had to have a natural beginning within the war as we’d assumed for all those years, and so the Eighth would have been right in the thick of the action. It would still have been wonderful to see Paul in the role again, but The Night of the Doctor would have lost that element of filling in the last piece of the puzzle – it would just have been telling us what we already knew, and would feel far less necessary to the fiftieth narrative as a result.

“Are we forgetting Captain Grumpy?”

In my mind, however, the biggest difference in the parallel universe where Christopher Eccleston agreed to return to Who is in Matt Smith’s exit. Quite simply, the Eleventh Doctor would not have been on his last regeneration had the War Doctor not been introduced. So how on Earth/Trenzalore/Gallifrey would The Time of the Doctor have worked? There’s a couple of possibilities. Perhaps Trenzalore stops being the Doctor’s final resting place, and is just the scene of a climactic battle. But hold on, doesn’t that break the plot of The Name of the Doctor entirely? So maybe Matt would get an alternative swan-song that ties up the crack in time narrative and so-on, with Trenzalore tucked away for Capaldi’s last episode? But that seems equally unlikely, when we were told way back in 2011 that Trenzalore signified “the fall of the Eleventh”.

It’s also pretty unlikely that Moffat can be sure of outlasting Capaldi’s time as the Doctor; if he were to leave the Trenzalore story open when stepping down, it would rather restrict any incoming showrunner’s own ideas. So I have to return to the breaking of The Name of the Doctor point. Not only does the secret have to be removed with the Ninth figuring, so too does the core plot of the Great Intelligence’s plan! Other than the general foreshadowing of the Trenzalore setting, I can’t see anything else that could remain of series 7’s finale without the War Doctor. Unless, that is, the events of The Day of the Doctor encourage the Eleventh to head to Trenzalore before his time, in order to pre-empt and avert his final death down the line – sacrificing his current life in the process (which were my initial thoughts before the Eleventh being his final life was confirmed). That could have worked, but it would have changed the climactic scenes of The Time of the Doctor completely and in all probability left the Twelfth Doctor with the issue of gaining a new regeneration cycle hanging over him.

“I never forget a face”

Before concluding, I should confirm that I am a massive fan of Christopher Eccleston. I started watching Doctor Who in 2005, and before Matt Smith came along I was sure that he’d always be my favourite Doctor. Series 1 is very special, but it’s also complete. I would never complain if Chris came back to Who one day, far from it, but does it need to happen? Is he letting anyone down by declining a reappearance? No. When Chris took the job, he owed us nothing more than the thirteen episodes he signed up for – and he more than delivered with them.

I believe also that, when looking at how different 2013 would have been with Chris on board, that it’s all worked out for the best. Matt Smith’s final three episodes would take on a totally different character had the Ninth returned and, now it’s all happened with John Hurt on board and the Doctor gaining a new set of regenerations, I wouldn’t have it any other way. We’re not going to see him again, not with that daft old face, but it’s OK, it’s good, as long as we remember all the people that he used to be. We will never forget when he was the Doctor.

When I Grow Up

When I Grow Up