Tag Archives: Doctor Who

Doctor Who: The Witch’s Familiar

by DAVID CRANMER

The Doctor with Davros

Doctor Who: The Witch’s Familiar
Written by Steven Moffat
Directed by Hettie MacDonald

How can Clara Oswald (Jenna Louise Coleman) be so gullible? The Master/Missy (Michelle Gomez) has already tied her upside down for no apparent good reason, well, other than being a sociopath freak. Then she’s handcuffed by The Master to be bait for the Daleks. So when Clara freely climbs into an empty dalek body-armor where she becomes just another emotionless machine from outward appearances, I’m thinking maybe it’s Ms. Oswald’s time to go the way of her predecessors. These scenes are watchable thanks to Michelle Gomez who is a one-woman tango, but the sheer foolishness of The Impossible Girl’s character (that I’ve admired in the past) is disheartening.

That subplot is balanced with The Doctor (Peter Capaldi) squaring off with the century’s old villain, Davros (Julian Bleach), creator of the daleks. The Time Lord is trapped without his sonic screwdriver or TARDIS inside Davros’s lair. An emotional verbal clash ensues that’s routine at first until it’s quite apparent that Davros is actually dying and seems to be extending an olive branch to The Doctor. They even share a laugh! Davros asks to see The Doctor’s face with his own eyes—eyes that had been fused shut eons ago. He then opens them pleading, “I need to know before the end … am I a good man?” Bleach is so damn convincing under tons of make-up and plays nicely off Capaldi. Hopefully both will be remembered along with Ms. Gomez when awards season rolls around.

It’s been said that Doctor Who is about a guy flying around in a blue box. Yes, but at the heart is a humanity that The Doctor exemplifies in “The Witch’s Familiar” as he desperately seeks the energy for Davros to see one last sunrise and correct his mistake of abandoning the young Davros. Of course, fans will be guessing up to the end whether this is all a trick of Davros or The Master.

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Doctor Who: The Magician’s Apprentice

by DAVID CRANMER

Doctor Who Hand MinesDoctor Who: The Magician’s Apprentice
Written by Stephen Moffat
Directed by Hettie MacDonald

On a distant planet a soldier notices and goes to assist a terrified young boy running through a battlefield. Unfortunately they have wandered into a sea of creepy hands slowly protruding from the ground. Each hand has an eye on its palm looking for another victim to devour. The boy watches as the soldier is grabbed by his ankle and swallowed underground. A second chance for the kid comes in the form of The Doctor (Peter Capaldi) who describes himself as “Just a passerby. I was looking for a bookstore.” He tosses the kid his sonic screwdriver to communicate better and insists though it’s a 1 in a 1000 chance of survival that “you forget the 1000 and you concentrate on the 1.” But then the boy’s odds further deteriorate when he reveals his name to be, Davros (creator of the Daleks—one of The Doctor’s oldest and most despised enemies).

The Daleks are a very tired and monotonous storyline but Davros himself is not and the main theme of “The Magician’s Apprentice” is an engaging one, “Davros made the Daleks but who made Davros?” The episode ends with the pacifist Doctor, training a Dalek weapon on the young Davros, facing that philosophical stumper: if you had the opportunity to go back in time and kill Hitler when he was an innocent baby to prevent the Holocaust, could you?

Kudos as always to Michelle Gomez who steals every scene as the latest incarnation of the Master. But I would like to see less of UNIT and the corny ‘Earth being held hostage’ storylines. Been down that cliché-worn road a bit too much thanks not only to Who but also the James Bond series. And the planes being frozen in the sky were simply unconvincing.

All in all, “The Magician’s Apprentice” was a strong start for season nine of Doctor Who and expectations run high on how it will be concluded in “The Witches Familiar.”

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