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The Magician’s Apprentice/The Witch’s Familiar review and thoughts

Series 9 is here! After 9 months, the wait is finally over. I have spent the last two Saturday nights in front of the telly eating jelly babies and pizza (not at the same time) and with a huge grin on my face because this story is AMAZING!

Warning: full spoilers ahead!

sonic shades

This opening two parter sets a very high standard for the rest of the series. If the other stories are as good as this one, then Series 9 may very well be my favourite series of the revival, beating even Series 4.

The plot is unique, revolving around a line made in Genesis of the Daleks (“If someone who knew the future pointed out a child to you and told you that that child would grow up totally evil to be a ruthless dictator who would destroy millions of lives… could you then kill that child?”) Rather than just be a copy of that story, this one expands on that question and asks more. There are two main strands across this story: The Doctor and Davros (!), and Missy and Clara. While the Doctor and Davros strand is the most interesting and deep, as well as being the focus of the story, the Missy and Clara strand is also very entertaining.

What’s interesting is that the Doctor and Clara are barely together in this story. Clara is mainly with Missy. Their relationship in Part 1 is very tense, especially with the cafe scene. In Part 2, the relationship is more crazy and unpredictable. Some of my favourite parts of The Witch’s Familiar involve Missy’s craziness. Her pushing Clara down the hole to check how deep it is and handcuffing Clara to lure a Dalek are two examples of her unpredictability. She is slowly becoming my favourite Master. My favourite scene with her is the scene where she tried to convince the Doctor to kill Clara in the Dalek suit (a great call back to the first Dalek story, where Ian went inside a Dalek casing). It is a clear example of her ultimate goal- to make the Doctor be like her. I don’t think we’ve seen the last of Missy in this series.

The Daleks in this story have a great build up. They are absent from The Magician’s Apprentice until the fantastic Skaro reveal and the squee-worthy appearance of the 60’s Dalek. Then they appear in full force, with the Supreme Dalek and Special Weapons Dalek making welcome returns. While I have never hated their overuse in the series, they have lost their sense of threat present in Dalek in 2005. Since then, we’ve had Daleks defeated by fairy dust, creating pig slaves, defeated by a superpowered Donna, and Skittles Daleks.

They were acceptable in Doomsday (though far too powerful), The Big Bang (though they were unnecessary), Asylum of the Daleks (though it should have been a Cyberman story) and pretty good in the Specials (though again, unnecessary in Time of the Doctor) and Into the Dalek, but here they were superb. They ruthlessly exterminated Missy and Clara and the TARDIS all without a hint of mercy. I knew they would survive, but it was still very well done. In The Witch’s Familiar, they took a back seat to the Doctor/Davros plot, but they were still effective through it. I don’t mind Daleks not exterminating people, I mind them being presented as jokes, idiots or just there for fans. Here, they were vital to the plot and worked as side villains.

davros 3

My favourite parts of the story were the converstions between the Doctor and Davros. In Part 1 Davros was a menacing figure for the short time he was on screen, while in Part 2 he is turned into a complex, quiet character. I genuinely believed Davros was dying and that all he wanted was to see the Doctor and have him heal him. While his plan is quite simple (and probably just a set up for the finale), the dialogue is stunning. A lot of the second episode is just the Doctor and Davros talking about compassion and mercy. Two scenes stand out for me: the first is the scene where Davros is tempting the Doctor to touch the wires and the second is where Davros opens his eyes and seems to be encouraging the Doctor to find Gallifrey. Of course it was all a trick, but the scenes are still powerful enough to make the twist forgiven.

The main theme of this story is all about friends and enemies. The Master is helping the Doctor, and the Doctor trusts her enough to give the confession dial to. There is a strong indication in this that the Doctor and Master were friends and still respect each other somewhat. I also love the fact that Missy is annoyed when the Doctor calls Davros his arch enemy. Davros in this story also seems to be encouraging and kind to the Doctor, before revealing his plans.

There were so many amazing scenes in this story. Some of them were-

  • The pre-credits to The Magician’s Apprentice.
  • The cafe scene.
  • The cliffhanger.
  • The Doctor in Davros’s chair.
  • Davros persuading the Doctor to touch the wires.
  • Davros opens his eyes.
  • Missy tricking the Doctor into nearly killing Clara.
  • The end scene.

And now it’s time for the bi-weekly part of the reviews where I randomly speculate on things!

  • The Dalek/Time Lord hybrid is probably the story arc of Series 9. I think Missy’s final scene here hints towards an alliance with the Daleks.
  • The confession dial is almost certainly going to play a part later on in the series.
  • Who is the Master’s daughter? Clara? Someone else? Or just a throw away line?

Overall this was a brilliant start to the series. I honestly feel that the Capaldi era is going to go down in history as the best in New Who. I am so excited for next week’s story, Under the Lake. I just hope it can match the standards of this opener.

The obligatory Series 9 hype post

Series 9 is TOMORROW! Just typing that makes me feel giddy and excited. Of course I’ll be in front of the television at 7:40 tomorrow, scarf, hat, jelly babies and jammy dodgers galore ready to watch the Magician’s Apprentice. So here I am with my crazy theories, hopes and expectations.

Because I’ll be discussing official news, spoilerphobes and people who don’t like reading Doctor Who news are advised to stop reading. But for the rest of us, let’s dive in!


There is a very high chance that Gallifrey will play a key role in the series. With Skaro already returning, it only seems sensible that Gallifrey will come back as well. Episode 11’s cliffhanger will apparently be game changing, so my prediction is a return of Gallifrey or old Time Lords. A returning foe other than the Master and the Daleks will apparently be making an appearance in the opener, so my guess is that Omega, Morbius or Rassilon are pulling the strings behind the scenes. Although Davros is also heavily rumoured to be returning as well, so that is a possibility too.

The Daleks are also a subject of debate too. As shown in the trailers, all the Dalek types are going to be in the opener, including awesome Supreme Dalek and the Special Weapons Dalek (YES!) I think that the Master will be acting as a double agent for both the Daleks and the Doctor, while she is secretly tricking both sides, manipulating them into her own agenda. She is probably an agent for the Big Bad (I want it to be Omega) and knowing the Master she will probably be betraying them as well. Again, this is all just my theory. I’m excited to see the Master and Daleks together in an episode, as well as how her interactions with Clara will be after Series 8.

So what about other Time Lords? Well, I would like Romana to appear, with K9 in tow. I think the finale will be a Time Lord bonanza, with the Doctor, the Master, Omega/Morbius and hopefully Romana/Susan.

Hopes and expectations

I hope Series 9 is absolutely amazing, but on top of that I hope that it will be even better than Series 8. While beating my number one favourite series, Series 4, is going to be tough, if the episode quality is good enough then it may be able to beat it. Series 8 had one bad story (In the Forest of the Night) and one story with lots of missed potential (Kill the Moon), which left 9 stories which ranged from pretty good (Into the Dalek, The Caretaker) to amazing (the rest of the series).

The amount of two parters in Series 9 means there is a lower chance of a bad story. If there is one, it’s probably going to be Episode 9, which is apparently going to be experimental and shot in a first person style. Oh, I’m not dreading that episode at all, just being cautious as experimental episodes can be brilliant or awful.

UPDATE: The titles have now been revealed. They are-

  • The Magician’s Apprentice & The Witch’s Familiar
  • Under the Lake & Before the Flood
  • The Girl Who Died
  • The Woman Who Lived
  •  The Zygon Invasion & The Zygon Inversion,
  • Sleep No More
  • Face the Raven
  • Heaven Sent & Hell Bent

Based on these titles and what we know, here are my most anticipated stories-

  • The Magician’s Apprentice /The Witch’s Familiar- This looks set to be an even better opener than the Impossible Astronaut, and seeing how that is one of my favourite stories, this makes me so so excited for this two parter. Missy, Daleks of all sorts, mysterious new villains and a mighty big cliffhanger mean this story is going to be awesome!
  • Under the Lake/Before the Flood- An intriguing plot and titles coupled with the writer of the God Complex and some interesting monsters means I cannot wait for this story. I always love base under siege stories.
  • Face the Raven- I know nothing about this story, but the title and the basic plot information (invisible streets) mean I am definitely intrigued.

UPDATE UPDATE: Clara has been confirmed to be leaving the show in Series 9. So now is a good time to speculate on the next companion, which I’ve already talked about. Phew. That saves me a post.

An awesome series is almost here, and I am literally bursting with excitement at the return of my favourite character (now THAT’s a post for another time). While I won’t do weekly episode reviews like last time, as they were very exhausting to write, I will do a post explaining my thoughts on the two parters after Part 2 of the story airs. If the episodes are like last year, then we will have a fantastic series.

Top 5 Twelfth Doctor scenes

With Series 9 on the horizon, I feel it’s time to reflect on the Twelfth Doctor’s previous series. With a multitude of amazing moments, it was hard to choose, but I’ve finally been able to narrow it down. For this, I’m going for the best and most important, not necessarily the funniest, so “Top layer if you want a few words”, “Shuttity up up up” and “Can you hurry up please or I’ll hit you with my shoe” will not be here.

I’ll be doing them in the order of the episodes they were in, as I don’t think a ranking would be enough for the Twelfth (and his eyebrows).

Looking into the Dalek’s mind- Into the Dalek

This is a great scene which shows the kinder side of this Doctor. What works about this is that you can clearly see that the Doctor is determined to be right, and prove that a Dalek can be good. There is some clever misdirection here, as for a moment, it seems the Doctor has won. But then, the tables are turned and Rusty starts killing the Daleks. In Rusty’s mind, this is what a good Dalek is. But for the Doctor, it’s just what a normal Dalek does. His final line is a powerful remainder that the Daleks can never change.

The beach scene- Mummy on the Orient Express

This serves as a great ending to the past two episodes. Here, the Doctor is fully admitting of his mistakes in both this episode and Kill the Moon. He knows that he is cruel and manipulative, yet he knows that being like that will ultimately solve the problem in an easy way. When there’s no simple solution to the problem, like the Mummy, there can be no easy way out. This scene not only shows what kind of a man the Twelfth Doctor is, but that he wants to be a better one.

Defeating the Boneless- Flatline

This scene once again shows the more forgiving side of the Doctor. Throughout the episode, the Doctor wanted to give the Boneless a chance and tried to make the whole situation out as a misunderstanding. It puts the Doctor’s idea of second chances to full effect. The speech also works because here, the Doctor is in charge. No longer is there a man unsure of himself. Instead, there is the man who defends the Earth from monsters. It’s so satisfying to hear him become the Doctor. Too bad the next episode failed to expand on that. Have I mentioned I HATE In the Forest of the Night?

Comforting Clara- Dark Water

This quiet scene brings the Doctor/Clara relationship full circle. The Doctor has seen the extent that Clara will go to save Danny, but instead of abandoning her, he helps her. Why? Because it’s a good deed and a thank you to Clara for staying with him over the series. The scene once again shows the Doctor in full, as he forgives, forgets and does the right thing. It is the Twelfth Doctor’s most noble act, and up there with the Third’s sacrifice, the Fifth’s trek across Androzani and the Eleventh’s protection of Trenzalore as one of the most selfless acts done in the show. This is the Doctor I want in Series 9.

A good man- Death in Heaven

My favourite Twelfth Doctor scene is also one of my favourite Doctor Who scenes in general. Here is the Doctor, with the an army at his disposal, the ability to change history, but he says no. Because that’s not who he is. He is the man willing to give Daleks and Boneless a chance. The man who accepts his place in history. The man who saves a species from extinction. The man with the trust that Clara will make the right choice and to know he’s wrong. He is a hero, a good man, and it takes the Master’s plot to drive him mad for him to realise this. He isn’t a general or a soldier because he doesn’t need to be. All he needs to be is the Doctor. It is the best moment from Series 8 in my opinion.

(As you can see, only two scenes had videos. I will update the post with the finale clips when they arrive on the Doctor Who channel. For some reason the Mummy scene isn’t there)

And those were my favourite Twelfth Doctor moments. Series 8 as a whole is my second favourite series, below only Series 4. There is a high chance Series 9 may be able to beat it though. 8 days to go!

Summer Holiday Round-Up

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Now I’m back in England, after 5 weeks of revisiting old places, visiting new places and going to a new country. Of course there are things to look forward to back home: Doctor Who, a bunch of awesome films, and the return of normality.

There’s something about this holiday that I have really enjoyed. So, without further ado, here are the 10 activities I enjoyed most this holiday, in no particular order – Read the rest of this entry

Singapore Part 4: Ubin Island – Singapore’s time portal

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On Saturday, I went to Pulau Ubin, off the coast of Singapore. The island is almost entirely forest, and the only people there lived in traditional kampungs, which were once the main style of house in Singapore. The villages are very old fashioned and the people rent bikes to travellers.

We went there with a university student from Hong Kong, and Singapore’s local historian KL Lee, who also took us to the Changi museum a week before. We walked approximately 12 kilometres for five hours across a third of the whole of Ubin island, and saw many interesting features on the island. Read the rest of this entry

Singapore Part 3: Marina Bay Sands

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Thanks to my uncle’s generosity, I’ve now spent the night in Singapore’s most famous building, Marina Bay Sands Hotel. We were lucky to have VIP Tower 1. The hotel had 57 floors, with the top floor being the Infinity Pool, the world’s largest rooftop pool which is 150-metre long. The hotel has three towels (I mean towers, whoops) and the top is in the shape of a boat, so it is a unique building to look at.
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Singapore Part 2: Diving into Singapore’s past

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So here I am back in Singapore. Thankfully my multi-media system on Singapore Airlines worked again so I watched Skyfall for the THIRD time (I needed something to quench my James Bond fatigue).

Singapore Zoo

My first trip was the Singapore Zoo and the River Safari. The River Safari was the new exhibit which I had never been to before, but I was not disappointed. There was a massive tank with many animals, including manatees and arapaimas. There were many different sections from many rivers around the world, including the Ganges, the Amazon, the Nile and the Mekong. Read the rest of this entry

Australia Part 3- Fremantle Prison’s “Doing Time Tour”, and a trip to Mandurah

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On Wednesday, we went to the Fremantle Prison in Western Australia.

The prison was used to contain many different types of prisoners, and the building itself was built by convicts sent over from England, as Fremantle was a convict camp. The prison was built between 1851 and 1859 and it was made from limestone.
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Australia part 2- Fremantle and Rottnest Island

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So here I am in Fremantle, the port city of Western Australia. It’s classed as being part of Perth but also as a separate city.

We live in a terraced house with no Wi-fi. The lack of Wi-fi means my blog posts have to be uploaded in the library (and probably means an Ant-Man review will only be in my end of year movie sum up). Still, there has been a lot to do including quokkas and more quokkas.

We lived in this house (with no Wi-fi) in Fremantle.

We lived in this house (with no Wi-fi) in Fremantle.

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Australia Part 1: Close encounters of the KANGAROO kind – in Perth!

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Here I am in Australia, or more precisely Perth, the most isolated big city in the world. For a city with this distinction, it seems pretty alive and it’s hard to believe that the city is surrounded by miles of water of Indian Ocean and miles of desert on all sides.

The flight from Singapore itself was eventful, as my multi-media console was severed for some strange reason. Thankfully I had a bunch of comics from Singapore to keep me entertained. I was given 75 dollars compensation to spend at the airline shop. My parents will probably buy something expensive with it to bring back

Perth itself is a very laid back city. The one downside is that it is in the middle of construction works, so there is noise everywhere, and we could hear them from our hotel room, and get woken up by the digging sound every morning (from about 7:00 clock). The city centre was mostly unaffected though, which is good as the shopping here is amazing!
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