Sunday, September 27, 2015

Doctor Who: The Witch's Familiar

Given how rooted in the classic series the first half of this two-parter appeared, the second half feels positively grounded in the new. It’s almost as if Steven Moffat constructed an elaborate bait and switch in order to tell a story of pseudo-redemption. Speaking of bait and switch, it was unsurprising that Davros had a scheme all along; yet fascinating were the emotive lengths to which he was willing to go in order to perpetrate the ruse. It would be easy to write off all of the little moments Davros shared in this episode, but one must take into account how rarely, if ever, he has tapped into that side of himself. I choose to believe that by and large they were genuine, even if in the service of an evil plot to drain the Doctor’s regenerative energy and create a race of super Daleks. Certainly, it will be difficult to view Davros exactly the same after this story.

Of course Clara and Missy didn’t bite it. It never mattered whether or not the viewer believed they were dead, it only mattered narratively that the Doctor believed it (though he should have known Missy had it all worked out, given the sheer number of times the Master has cheated death), as it gave him a sense of helplessness that Davros exploited. From those opening moments of Clara hanging upside down, it was shocking how dumbed-down the character became since the first half. Here she seems written entirely to play foil to Missy, which isn’t necessarily a terrible chess move on Moffat’s part, as it provided loads of comedy fodder throughout. Clara ended up the punchline for so many Missy gags, this episode should surely rate high with all the Clara-haters (who appear to be legion).

Read the rest of this recap by clicking here and visiting Vulture.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Doctor Who: The Magician's Apprentice

“The Magician’s Apprentice” casts an immediate spell. Anyone versed in the classic Tom Baker serial “Genesis of the Daleks” was surely mesmerized within seconds. The misty battleground/rock quarry; a war fought with a mishmash of weaponry from different eras of time – this was all set up back in 1975 by Terry Nation. But just as quickly, Steven starts Moffating by unveiling the handmines, an eerie, unsettling aspect of this particular warfare (we’ll hopefully learn more about them next week). And then, of course, he wickedly thrusts a child into the middle of it all, followed with an obscured by clouds Doctor (Peter Capaldi), attempting to assist. Then BOOM! Davros. The kid’s name is Davros. You needn’t have seen “Genesis” to appreciate that revelation.

Post credits, the action shifts to the freakishly serpentine alien Colony Sarff, hunting for the missing Doctor in some of his previous haunts - the Maldovarium, then to the Shadow Proclamation, and finally Karn (where a briefly seen Doctor hides from his stalker). Unlike some other season premieres, “Apprentice” has little interest in being accessible to newbies. It assumes viewers now know the show’s minutiae and iconography. Given that this is the ninth season of Who redux, why not? With so many places to easily access the series, what’s the point in constantly trying to find new avenues through which to lure or entice new viewers? If someone wants to start watching Doctor Who, they’ll start with “Rose” or “The Eleventh Hour” or “An Unearthly Child” or wherever their friend or an article on the internet advises them to begin. This storyline is for those of us who’ve lived with the series for years.

Read the rest of this recap by clicking here and visiting Vulture.