Doctor Who: The Magician's Apprentice
September 19, 2015 12:49 PM - Season 9, Episode 1 - Subscribe

'Where is the Doctor?' When the skies of Earth are frozen by a mysterious alien force, Clara needs her friend. But where is the Doctor, and what is he hiding from?

As past deeds come back to haunt him, old enemies will come face to face, and for the Doctor and Clara, survival seems impossible.

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posted by fearfulsymmetry (112 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 


EXTERMINATE!


(Too soon?)
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 12:57 PM on September 19, 2015 [2 favorites]




If the second episode lives up to the first, this will be my favorite season opener since The Eleventh Hour. Clara seems like she's really come into her own, and Coleman has fantastic chemistry not only with Capaldi but now with Gomez and Redgrave. Between Clara, Kate Stewart, the UNIT scientist and Missy there were long stretches (the most action-y/problem-solving parts aside from the first few minutes and the cliffhanger) where all the major players on screen were women in this very matter-of-fact, this-is-not-girl-power-we're-just-getting-stuff-done way I appreciated.

Am chuffed that Clara being bi is no longer just fandom wishful thinking, and equally approving of her famous dead ladyfriend. Sad that whatever adventure she had with Jane Austen happened offscreen, though.

Capaldi is great as always and I am impressed with his ability to make me give half a shit about a Davros story.
posted by bettafish at 2:00 PM on September 19, 2015 [12 favorites]


Agreed that this was one of the definitely better openers of a NuWho season.

Oh man, I absolutely love Michelle Gomez as Missy. And I loved Clara being very matter-of-fact about "Yeah, that probably UNIT. I have to go and be clever because I am actually really clever!"
posted by Kitteh at 2:52 PM on September 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


BWLARHGHGLABKABLABLL!!!
posted by wintersweet at 4:15 PM on September 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


Dude...? I mean... Uh. Wow. Okay.
posted by tomboko at 5:50 PM on September 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


I like Michelle Gomez, but calling back to that Toni Basil song was moldy cheese, and don't try to deny it.
posted by Catblack at 6:41 PM on September 19, 2015 [8 favorites]


Overall, a good episode. I thought the Doctor's idea of a "final night" party was a bit sad, but snake dude and Davros made up for it. This Davros was especially good.

Also, Missy is the first of the NuWho Masters who really feels like The Master to me.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 7:07 PM on September 19, 2015 [9 favorites]


I'm going to watch this because there's nothing else on tv right now but this was pretty tiresome to me. Knowing that people can get vaporized and mysteriously come back to life really took all the drama out of that final scene. That scene meant nothing and was totally pointless knowing that being vaporized doesn't mean anything. I know they have always just brought the master back for any reason and no reason but at least in the past they tried to come up with a reason. Also Michelle Gomez is really annoying to me, she's just like trying too hard or something. I miss John Simm.
posted by bleep at 7:11 PM on September 19, 2015 [3 favorites]


I think I finally "get" Capaldi as The Doctor on a visceral level now.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:24 PM on September 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


Also, "How scared do you have to be to put your entire people in tanks?" is a really good line.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 7:47 PM on September 19, 2015 [11 favorites]


I like Michelle Gomez as Missy, but at the same time I'm really tired of the Master/Mistress always coming back and would have preferred at least a season without her. And fuck, the Daleks again already? I hope this story with Davros is the last Dalek storyline for a long time.
posted by homunculus at 8:25 PM on September 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


So my dog lost her shit throughout this episode, until bearded dude was revealed. Then she snuffed righteously and settled down. I know I'm anthropomorphizing my dog here, but seriously, she called it.
posted by Ruki at 9:10 PM on September 19, 2015 [3 favorites]


Ok, but my dog aside, calling back to Tom Baker was brilliant. Four couldn't exterminate the Daleks, but Twelve could walk away. I've felt like the Time War has been treated like a wibbley wobbly timey wimey thing in NuWho, but tonight it was actually given the gravity it deserves as a plot point. Like, fuck yeah, walk away from saving Davros.
posted by Ruki at 9:23 PM on September 19, 2015 [6 favorites]


I really enjoyed this and am quite impressed. Did I say that last year? I might have and I am expecting to be bitterly disappointed by the end of the season.

But for now, though, that was pretty great. I can see how Missy might be annoying people but I thought she was delightful. In a homicidal way, of course.

One thing that made me especially happy was Clara in this episode. She's mostly (but erratically) been quite competent and self-confident before, but this felt different to me. It had weight.

Lots of Van Halen stuff with the guitar. And the Toni Basil I thought was pretty hilarious but, yeah, between the two I felt like, wow, Moffat must be pretty close to my age. (Yep, 53, so just about two years older.)

Also, if you say "one in a thousand" then that means that "concentrate on the one and forget the thousand" is idiotic. I don't think the Doctor is an idiot, but someone is. It actually seems kind of typical of Moffat to me -- clever but also lazy in ways that result in nonsense. Or the hand mines and the planes frozen in the air. Moffat is about 80% genius level amazing ideas. And then he hand-waves the execution. I'm repeating my complaints of last season. But they don't apply to this episode, good execution this time around, I think. Still, at this point I find I'm actually a little annoyed at these super clever frisson-inducing ideas and I feel like cramming multiple examples into an episode is sort of excessive.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 10:14 PM on September 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


Also, if you say "one in a thousand" then that means that "concentrate on the one and forget the thousand" is idiotic.

I don't want to defend this episode too much (because, wow, it's basically plot pasta, chucked at the wall), but he's giving a kid a pep-talk, so the logic holds.

Moffat is about 80% genius level amazing ideas. And then he hand-waves the execution.

So, basically he and RTD have much the same issues?

Also, how great is Julian Beech?

And, the whole idea of the Doctor/Master (b)romance is not working for me as a long time fan.
Yes, the subtext was always where (when they were brothers/the same character/whatever), but sometimes sub-text is best as subtext and not vomited on screen.

There's just so many good parts to this episode, but as a whole it did not hold together (pending the second part).

Also, did I see a Foamasi in the cantina?
posted by Mezentian at 10:27 PM on September 19, 2015 [3 favorites]


I hope this story with Davros is the last Dalek storyline for a long time.

So say we all.
But I did like the mix here.
(And the rumour, which has never been confirmed or denied as far as I have seen) they apparently need to use them at least once a year.

On the other hand, why is the (an) abomination chillin' in the Dalek control room?
posted by Mezentian at 10:29 PM on September 19, 2015


Good news for anyone in the US who doesn't have BBCA! Episodes will be put online for free shortly after they air. In fact, you can go legally watch/rewatch "The Magician's Apprentice" now.
posted by wintersweet at 10:29 PM on September 19, 2015 [5 favorites]


And Aunty has extras!

http://www.doctorwhonews.net/2015/09/doctor-who-extra.html

Missy and The Doctor - Doctor Who Extra Peter Capaldi, Michelle Gomez and Steven Moffat on Missy and the Doctor’s friendship.
The Doctor's Guitar - Doctor Who Extra Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman riff on the Doctor's new guitar!.
Colony Sarff - Doctor Who Extra Go behind the scenes to learn the ssssecrets of Colony Sarff!
The Grand Entrance - Doctor Who Extra Peter Capaldi, Jenna Coleman and Steven Moffat discuss the Doctor's grand entrance.
posted by Mezentian at 10:41 PM on September 19, 2015


And, also: The Dalek Invasion of Abbey Road

The Dalek Invasion of Liverpool Street Station
(Sadly, Daleks do not advise standing to one side to let people past on escalators. As this is a pet peeve, I like to think they go all MAXIMUM EXTERMINATION.
posted by Mezentian at 10:47 PM on September 19, 2015


Also, "How scared do you have to be to put your entire people in tanks?" is a really good line.

It is a great line, but given the Doctor showed up in/on a tank, it's yet another riff on the idea that the Doctor is like a Dalek, which seems to come up every time the Daleks show up now.
posted by crossoverman at 11:27 PM on September 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'm still a little annoyed that Moffatt is trying to write the origin story for everything. Last year was the Doctor as a little kid, this year Davros is a little kid, maybe next year we'll save a baby Tardis from the Tardis factory. He also seems to have a "the Doctor knows he's about to die / Doctor's funeral / last days of the Doctor" plot every single series.

But despite all that I still liked the episode. Capaldi is a great Doctor. I hope he can stay on a long time.
posted by Gary at 12:22 AM on September 20, 2015 [11 favorites]


Capaldi is a great Doctor. I hope he can stay on a long time.

Truth, quoted for, this is.
posted by Mezentian at 1:04 AM on September 20, 2015 [3 favorites]


Capaldi is a great Doctor. I hope he can stay on a long time.

Best since 4

I liked how Davros appeared to have a Dr Who DVD collection
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 2:13 AM on September 20, 2015 [10 favorites]


I'd like to think the tank was a callback to Time Bandits but yeah it's probably just a dalek metaphor
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 2:14 AM on September 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


Why Not Both?
posted by Mezentian at 2:59 AM on September 20, 2015 [3 favorites]


I object strenuously to being Moffatted at, but if you squint and mentally edit out the annoying whimsy and wibbly-wobbly magickey-wagickey, there was some lovely stuff in here. But the sound! The sound! ARGH!

Seriously, the orchestral score is only getting more awful, the constant wheeeeedooo-diddly-DAHHH underscoring everything is so draining. It sucks the life out of every moment, like

HERE IS A MOMENT OF DRAMA YOU MUST FEEL AFFEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEC-TED CHORAL FUCKING AAAAHHHHHHH

during this quiet and contemplative moment you should feel sympathy for the Doctor and his terrible decisionmaking

HERE! IS! THE! MOMENT! THE! MOMENT! THE! MOMENT! OF!

OF!

OF!

TENNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNnnnnnnnnnnnnn--

sion!


Also, the aeroplane stop-start noises were totally ripped from Sim City 2000.

OldWho was such a benchmark and touchstone for sound design, with whole machines built just to make sound for it, that this obsequious the-audience-is-an-idiot-and-can't-be-trusted-to-identify-story-beats-and-emotional-resonance crap is professionally annoying. DELIA LIVES.
posted by prismatic7 at 3:26 AM on September 20, 2015 [11 favorites]


But the sound! The sound! ARGH!

Gold's music aside, at least I could hear the words.
Nice change, that.
posted by Mezentian at 4:06 AM on September 20, 2015 [4 favorites]


Some of the UK press is now running pieces on how "yes that really was Peter playing guitar", and have dug up some recordings of the band he was in with Craig Ferguson. Which must be making Peter cringe every five minutes.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:48 AM on September 20, 2015 [4 favorites]


Which must be making Peter cringe every five minutes.

And, for everyone else: toasting to the awesome of the punk and post-punk era.
posted by Mezentian at 6:00 AM on September 20, 2015 [3 favorites]


Currently in Japan, the BBC having got wise to the concept of VNPs, so no iPlayer. Still, reading the thread because I don't mind spoilers. Very glad to hear Julian Bleach is back as Davros, as I thought he was marvellous and a bit underused in his previous performance. Still my favourite Davros, though.
posted by Grangousier at 7:07 AM on September 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


So... wait a moment. Is Kid Davros being trapped in a minefield supposed to be what leads to his crippling injuries now? So did the Doctor create Davros (who then creates the Daleks) through his own inaction? Doctor, you're supposed to be better at 11th dimensional chess than this...

Hell, if you're confronted with Kid Davros... why wouldn't you just bundle him up in the TARDIS, take him the heck away from Skaro, get him some positive influences, and let him lead a long life of genius as the Doctor's sidekick (or, indeed, the Magician's Apprentice). Such a dumb and bloodthirsty Doctor we've been stuck with since the Time War. Or if this is one of those "fixed points in time" why the guilt? Davros gotta Davros. "Some things could be better with the Daleks..." as the Fourth Doctor said.

As usual, an appealing and interesting episode that falls to pieces the minute you stop and ponder it for a moment. But a good start to the season! Missy! UNIT! Special Weapons Dalek! Suicide moons!
posted by davros42 at 7:59 AM on September 20, 2015 [6 favorites]


I honestly thought at the first 15 seconds they'd gotten Brian May to lend his guitar and chops, (because that's the ONLY way The Doctor would sound like) but then I was like... NOPE!

And that tank! The Doctor would never leave a tool of war laying around like that, and also Time Bandits is better than all of Moffat era Doctor Who and always will be!!!

I love your comment, prismatic7. But all that annoying whimsy is what Moffat thinks the show is about and why he MUST GO.

This NuWho is a show that at it's best tries to scare 10 year olds, at it's worst annoys the rest of us trying to amuse 8 year olds.
posted by Catblack at 8:06 AM on September 20, 2015 [2 favorites]




I am very much looking forwards to a season of two-parters.
posted by Artw at 9:19 AM on September 20, 2015 [4 favorites]


Haters to the left, that was great.

I read the TLo review and I'm convinced they didn't watch the same episode I did. They were whining about how it wasn't about the relationships and they were tired of the "Doctor is about to die" plot point and the episode fucking LAMPSHADED how the Master always comes back before they killed everybody and blew up the TARDIS. And the whole episode was about the relationships between the Master and the Doctor and the Doctor and Davros. Hooray for this show being about its main character instead of the companion.

It took real guts to go back and actually confront Genesis instead of just ignoring it, and kudos to Moffat for that. I don't always agree with Twelve's choices, morally, but it's nice to see him confront them instead of the I am the oncoming storm blah blah blah pompous bullshit we've had in Nu Who in the past.
posted by immlass at 10:32 AM on September 20, 2015 [6 favorites]


(Also "when she was a little girl". It'll never be enough for the haters, but I was delighted. Speaking of callbacks, there's another implicit one to Morbius.)
posted by immlass at 10:33 AM on September 20, 2015 [11 favorites]


(Apparently The Nerdist got a little overexcited: it's just this episode that will be up for free, not all of them. I was wondering, given all the streaming-for-pay services that will be offering them. Oh well.)
posted by wintersweet at 11:25 AM on September 20, 2015


"Also, "How scared do you have to be to put your entire people in tanks?" is a really good line."

It is a good line, but it's not as good as "No wonder you're always screaming" from Dalek and being in the exact same vein it pales in comparison.

It was a good episode I guess, I didn't care for the guitar/tank bits, and Davros... oh well, I guess they're contractually obligated to use the Daleks so let's go whole hog with it and Skaro.
posted by the uncomplicated soups of my childhood at 11:48 AM on September 20, 2015


I searched the crap out of the "the BBC has to use the Daleks once per series" thing a year or two ago and came up empty handed. The rumor is that Dalek creator Terry Nation's estate initially refused to let the BBC use the Daleks when the show returned in 2005 and only relinquished after a once/series agreement was negotiated.

Apparently Steve Martin is a big fan of the Daleks and insisted they be in the 2003 movie Looney Tunes: Back in Action. Warner Brothers went ahead and used them without checking on rights. This understandably pissed off Nation's estate so when the BBC announced the return of Doctor Who the following year the estate refused to give them permission to use the Daleks.

There are several news reports from that time where Russel T. Davies is quoted as saying they don't need the Daleks as he has thought up a new nemesis (which eventually turned out to be the Toclafane). These reports read like RTD and the BBC playing hardball with the Nation estate. The estate is negotiating from a very weak position as the Daleks are much more valuable to them if they appear on the show than if they don't. Anyway, someone gets Steve Martin to write a letter of apology and the estate allows the use of the Daleks. There is never any mention of a once/series or once/year obligation to use the Daleks in any 2004-05 news report that I could find, and there is never any mention of undisclosed details. If such an obligation exists that information has never leaked.

Fast forward to last fall and Moffat is quoted as saying "You certainly don’t wheel the Daleks out because you’ve got a contractual obligation to provide Daleks." That doesn't rule out that the obligation exists but it does say he is writing Dalek stories because he wants to write them, not because he is required to.
posted by plastic_animals at 12:59 PM on September 20, 2015 [5 favorites]


I liked this episode quite a lot; both Clara and Capaldi-as-Doctor seemed better dialled-in than last season's bumpy ride.

I could have done with less of the guitar-shredding Medieval Times shtick myself; that whole scene felt very hokey, until the snake reveal.

A lot of winking towards Star Wars in the opening "where is the Doctor" scenes, I thought. Some somewhat familiar-looking aliens in the background; and some very Lucas-ey wipes between scenes.

The Hand Mines: creepy as hell.

At least I could hear the words.

At my end, it sometimes sounded like the dialogue KEPT CHANGING VOLUME from line to line. Which was RATHER DISTRACTING.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 1:02 PM on September 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


Also "when she was a little girl". It'll never be enough for the haters, but I was delighted.

I was assuming that one was the lie Missy referred to. AFAIK the William Hartnell Doctor has always been depicted as the first incarnation. Also, we saw a flashback to the Doctor as a (boy) kid last season. Finally, the Doctor has sometimes been rather sexist (in the old series) and even as he's become more respectful of women generally he often seems kind of baffled by them. He doesn't act much like a guy who has spent time as a woman or girl. None of which absolutely rules out the possibility that they will retcon it at some point, of course.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 1:26 PM on September 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


I could have done with less of the guitar-shredding Medieval Times shtick myself

Clara says something like "how did you see me, one face in the crowd" when she and Missy were standing in plain view on the battlements well away from the (lack of a) crowd. I wonder if that bit felt so awkward and slow because they couldn't shoot it the way it was intended ... and then didn't bother to change the dialogue. The rest of the episode zipped along much more smoothly.

A lot of winking towards Star Wars in the opening "where is the Doctor" scenes, I thought. Some somewhat familiar-looking aliens in the background; and some very Lucas-ey wipes between scenes.

That Colony chap (what were his parents thinking etc) was a bit Darth Maul-y wasn't he. Swooshing around in his hooded cape intoning menacingly about serving his Dark Lord.
posted by sobarel at 1:40 PM on September 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


I think it would have been more believable if the Doctor had actually just gone to Medieval Times.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 1:52 PM on September 20, 2015 [15 favorites]


I liked this episode quite a lot. More than anything in the last two series for sure, and maybe longer. The intro was an excellent set-up. I could do without some of Missy's twee schtick but I liked that she had much of the Doctor's abilities as regards spotting stuff, etc. Still meh on Clara though.

It is a great line, but given the Doctor showed up in/on a tank, it's yet another riff on the idea that the Doctor is like a Dalek, which seems to come up every time the Daleks show up now.

But particularly appropriate to this episode since the theme is clearly moving a step on from Genesis of the Daleks and how Davros' made them, to how the Doctor 'made' Davros.

It also echoes back to 'Let's Kill Hitler' I suppose.

Carrying on from We had a deal, Kyle's observation about SW, where was the door shape in the Skaro buildings from? I'm sure I've seen it somewhere before, Star Trek comes to mind. Its not dissimilar to one from a previous Dalek episode but with a change to the direction on the short vertical.
posted by biffa at 1:59 PM on September 20, 2015


AFAIK the William Hartnell Doctor has always been depicted as the first incarnation.

They've been mining Brain of Morbius a lot lately and that serial, which comes before the firm "twelve and out" rule, shows the Doctor with a whole bunch of other incarnations in his memory that presumably predate Hartnell. All of those incarnations happen to be male, but, as you mention, they do retcon these things a lot--as they did after Morbius.
posted by immlass at 2:00 PM on September 20, 2015 [3 favorites]


I think this was one of a stories where the writer came up with the excellent cold opening and the excellent cliffhanger, then filled in the gaps. I liked the scenes with Missy basically filling in for the Doctor, helpfully explaining the plot to Clara and the viewers. Perhaps a small trial to see how a female Doctor would work?
posted by AndrewStephens at 2:51 PM on September 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


It seems like it is getting more and more implied that the doctor is like Jernau Morat Gurgeh in Player of Games - there's no actual reason he couldn't be female, his people swap back and forth all the time, but by inclination he himself has never done it, either thrugh strngy identifying as male or by being really old fashioned.

Read into that whatever you will.
posted by Artw at 3:00 PM on September 20, 2015 [3 favorites]


I enjoyed this a great deal. Michelle Gomez is just great, isn't she? And Clara is finally a proper character, and also—thank god—free of her horrible, passive-aggressive, controlling, joy-killing boyfriend.

The Ernst Haeckel-type illustrations on the Dalek shuttle dashboard were a bonus.
posted by EXISTENZ IS PAUSED at 5:43 PM on September 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


Thanks to Listen I believe Danny is still a bit of a dangling thread.

I kind of liked him.
posted by Artw at 5:45 PM on September 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


I wanted to like Danny more than I did but after his controlling, wet blanket speech to Clara in In the Forest of the Night I just wanted Clara to tell him off. Even in death he was trying to control how Clara behaved.
posted by plastic_animals at 6:37 PM on September 20, 2015 [3 favorites]


Wet blanket companions to companions seems to be a bit of a thing. He'll be off blasting Sontarans in no time.
posted by Artw at 6:38 PM on September 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


Eruditorium review.
posted by Coaticass at 8:17 PM on September 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'm still a little annoyed that Moffatt is trying to write the origin story for everything.

I sort of agree, but this was very clever, and as has been mentioned, playing off the fact that the Doctor has changed since his fourth incarnation is really good.

[Yes, it would make more sense to save him and help him. But then, how did he even know this Davros was the Davros who built the daleks? Is there only one Davros in the entire universe?]

I really liked this episode. It does throw a lot at the wall, and I think the tank scene was a little much, but for the most part it worked. I hope it's resolved well, because Moffat can sometimes be all build up poor resolution. I actually think the whole cliff hanger way of structuring two parters is what hurts them: it makes for compelling tv at the time, but when you come back to it you're just going to watch both in a row. Star Trek used to do this too. Who has never (in its new incarnation) gone for serialised story telling, which is odd in a world where the most popular shows do nothing but that.

I think Missy dances very close between quirky and awesome, but mostly managed awesome here, and in her previous appearance too.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 12:47 AM on September 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


That snake guy was actually roller skating around for that gliding effect, wasn't he? I am pretty sure of it. I thought I saw him push off a couple of times.
posted by litlnemo at 1:33 AM on September 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


I totally assumed he was going to be some sort of Davros/Dalek thing from the waist down... so being snakes was a nice surprise
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 2:53 AM on September 21, 2015


I searched the crap out of the "the BBC has to use the Daleks once per series" thing a year or two ago and came up empty handed. The rumor is that Dalek creator Terry Nation's estate initially refused to let the BBC use the Daleks when the show returned in 2005 and only relinquished after a once/series agreement was negotiated.

That part is true. Dalek would have originally starred the Toclafane.

They've been mining Brain of Morbius a lot lately and that serial,

I hope they don't do that.
I once loved this idea.
Now, not so much.

so being snakes was a nice surprise

Except it made no sense.
Why would the daleks need snakes?
I mean, yes, Robomen... but why Mara-like snakes?
posted by Mezentian at 3:02 AM on September 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


Were the interiors on Skaros direct recreations of OldWho sets? They looked really cheap for NuWho. Could have just been the flat lighting.

Glad to see the Doctor and Clara back on the same page. All the tension from last season seemed forced and fake.

I liked the chemistry between the Doctor and Missy. The "gravity" exchange was very nice.
posted by He Is Only The Imposter at 5:21 AM on September 21, 2015


Is there only one Davros in the entire universe?

The other one cleverly hides himself by using another name, Cheney.
posted by juiceCake at 5:49 AM on September 21, 2015 [15 favorites]


Were the interiors on Skaros direct recreations of OldWho sets?

Skaro (what the Seventh Doctor blew up... by exploding the sun) was, in enough ways that count, callbacks to the original Skaro and the one from the Cushing films.

I haven't watched the eps for about 10 years (and, if I recall, .AU TV was BLOCKED from showing the Dalek episodes fora while for reasons) and the films for a few years, but I am sure the design elements are there - expect the look of the exteriors.

Apparently NuDaleks lack imagination.
posted by Mezentian at 5:52 AM on September 21, 2015


My husband and I suspected that the reason the Colony of Sarff glided everywhere because under the robe, there were those trainers with the wheels in them.
posted by Kitteh at 6:18 AM on September 21, 2015 [5 favorites]


Hipster scooter.
posted by Artw at 6:29 AM on September 21, 2015


Maybe this was mentioned in the behind the scenes video, but I read elsewhere that sarff is Welsh for serpent. The name Colony Sarff is a literal description of the creature.
posted by plastic_animals at 6:46 AM on September 21, 2015 [5 favorites]


An Airwheel will also produce a nice "floating" effect
posted by vibratory manner of working at 7:47 AM on September 21, 2015


The thing that bugged me about this episode was that it wasn't just some sort of mystery, everything about The Doctor has become an existential issue where his very existence is threatened. So tiresome.

Besides, how the hell does the Doctor's will/confession thing work? Is he assumed to be in the exact same concurrent time? Since Skaros is back is this now, or somewhere else in time? The Doctor is all over the place, how would you know if he was "dead" since at any specific moments there's probably a dozen of him in several incarnations on different planets doing different things.

Anyways, meh. Hopefully the second part wraps it up enjoyably.
posted by GuyZero at 7:58 AM on September 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


My husband and I suspected that the reason the Colony of Sarff glided everywhere because under the robe, there were those trainers with the wheels in them.

My daughter said the same thing! He's on Heelys.
posted by GuyZero at 7:59 AM on September 21, 2015


I really try not to think about the plot details of Doctor Who too much, but since this is the home of beanplating...

How do you deliver something "the day before" a time-traveler's death?
posted by He Is Only The Imposter at 8:13 AM on September 21, 2015 [3 favorites]


How do you deliver something "the day before" a time-traveler's death?

There's a clue in the last three words of your question.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:54 AM on September 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


I guess I'm the only one who's tired of every ep Moffat writes since season 6 or so seeming like it's an "oh no, the Doctor will die! Oh no, the companions will die first! STURM UND DRANG, etc." build-up then "oh, no, no. Hah, sorry about that. Silly us, people never really die on-screen, lifelong enemies are easily displaced via timey-wimey (mumbles to obfuscate plot logic) magic bullet/plot armor that's only accessible to the Doctor" conclusion.

It's understandable to kick off the new season with 1) a well-known baddie and 2) cool visual cues we haven't really seen before, like Missy walking directly into "space" and then revealing they weren't actually in space at all. That said, if magically undoing major characters' deaths and thereby resetting multi-regeneration/multi-season story arcs from the past is the best Moffat can produce these days, I'll take a season of Nick Frost Santa eps and super-famous fan guest stars paired up with Queen Victoria, K9, Jenny, Strax and and Madame Vastra and then call it a day, thanks.

Part of me feels that Capaldi's one of the first doctors since Tom Baker to really capture the spirit of "I'm insane, but also whimsical and intrinsically good-hearted without being overly twee or downright scary" that I feel is key to understanding the Timelord's personality beneath his ever-changing exterior. He's got such tremendous acting chops and tertiary skill sets (I too was reminded of Brian May's guitar-playing in that scene), but it's all getting meted out to us piecemeal in what are, to me at least, some fairly unsatisfying scripts. His true talents in the Doctor role feel borderline wasted. That said, it looks like everyone else enjoyed the hell out of this, and as a longtime fan, I'm not giving up on my NuWho addiction... yet.

I even like Missy for the most part and feel that the chemistry's there for all three actors when they're in the same scenes (Coleman, Capaldi and Gomez clearly get on well together). Now, I'd just like them to explore some NEW storylines and find novel ways to bring back the old, familiar baddies, like we saw in "Asylum of the Daleks" or "The Pandorica Opens" -- which were also written by Moffat.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 8:59 AM on September 21, 2015 [8 favorites]


This was just a big messy mess of nothing, to me. Blah, blah, the Doctor is conflicted, and cool! He plays the electric guitar, because of course he does! That's cool, yes? And the Daleks are there, because...we have run out of ideas. And Missy is the Doctor's best friend, because isn't that CLEVER!??!?! Best friends and enemies being the same people, because...something, and we toss out "since he was a little girl," because fans squeal over that handwavey sexual politics without ever making the main character anything but a white guy.

Sigh. The show will never be anything more than this, which is sad. Lots and lots of talent go into making the same exact story over and over and over again.
posted by xingcat at 8:59 AM on September 21, 2015 [6 favorites]


Xingcat, I feel the same way. :\

Can we get some more Chris Chibnall and Mark Gatiss scripts, please?
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 9:04 AM on September 21, 2015 [3 favorites]


I dunno. We watched the Tom Baker Origin of Dalecks right after we watched the season open, and I thought they did a really fantastic job of call back, but I'm not sure how Davros survived being exterminated in the Baker version.

Adding: I love, love, love Missy. Love.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 10:28 AM on September 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


I loved the line "OK, cutting to the chase. Not dead, back, big surprise, never mind." Because that's who Missy is. Yes the Master/Mistress is going to come back. We know that, she knows that, the Doctor know that, so let's just move on. I like the version of her even more in this one than last season and I really hope they keep Gomez around.

I was going to get all annoyed about the destruction of the TARDIS, but the Daleks are probably really good at killing TARDISes by now and avoiding a universe ending boom. Of course, they will never actually destroy the TARDIS, but I needed that headcanon for this.
posted by Hactar at 10:54 AM on September 21, 2015 [4 favorites]


To be fair, the master has come back inexplicably with pretty much every incarnation, including the Jon Simm version. It never makes sense, it never has made sense. The same with Davros. The same with the daleks. Villains come back all the time, they just do. In fact before the time lords started appearing again it was getting pretty embarrassing how badly they'd lost the time war, given that the daleks were basically everywhere again.

What matters, usually, is the doctor and his/her companions. They don't tend to come back, and for the most part, they haven't. Danny Pink is unlikely to be returned (at least I hope not). It's the doctor who has to have the human cost on his shoulders, not his enemies.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 10:59 AM on September 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


Also Michelle Gomez is really annoying to me, she's just like trying too hard or something. I miss John Simm.

Me too, bruva. Mostly I'm sad he left before they found a way to have the Doctor call him Mr Floppy.
posted by phearlez at 11:54 AM on September 21, 2015


So, the Doctor knows he's going to die, or at least strongly suspects it. He sends his Confession Disc to Missy. He throws himself a three-week party before going. (Why he thinks he'll die, I'm not sure, as he's faced Davros before, but I'll let that pass as the Doctor knowing things that we might not about this confrontation.)

But then, that raises the question: why is he so horrified when he realizes Davros has brought him to Skaro? How is being on Skaro any worse than whatever the Doctor was already expecting?
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 11:57 AM on September 21, 2015


To be fair, the master has come back inexplicably with pretty much every incarnation, including the Jon Simm version. It never makes sense, it never has made sense.

Not that it really matters, but I assumed she was saved by the vortex manipulator. Wouldn't take much Gallifreyan engineering to set it up as a self-defense mechanism that zooms the wearer out of danger when it detects a lethal danger. Looks like she was hit, but she's really in some pre-programmed safe zone.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 12:11 PM on September 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


Pater Alteheias, I think you just nailed why Missy and Clara vanished when they were shot. And Clara's manipulator is slaved to Missy's.
posted by Hactar at 12:30 PM on September 21, 2015


Possibly The Doctor was suicidal as opposed to prescient about his impending death.

But I suppose that the confession thingie will be a major plot point for the whole season.
posted by GuyZero at 12:33 PM on September 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


The news video montage of planes frozen in mid-air contained this real-life image of a KLM plane landing at St. Maarten.
posted by dr_dank at 1:52 PM on September 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


Moffat can't resist the effect-without-cause time paradox, so I imagine this one will end that way too. He rarely has new big ideas, but he's got lots of neat set dressing. His stories never really hold up, but they make a great ride at the time. We could do worse. Seriously. It's fun TV. Not the most intellectual Doctor Who has ever been, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. I liked some of the cheesy effects. The space station, or the snake guy's shuttle. The last couple of years have been too polished for my taste.

Missy really has a chance to shine now. Last year she spent the whole time as a mystery (like Clara the year before) and never really got to BE he character till the end. I thought Simm was WAY too bonkers to be the Master. I feel like Gomez brings the character back into harmony. Still some of the bananas insanity of Simm, but much more of the traditional vanity and preening of Delgado and Ainley.

Last season we had so much outrage. Seemed like every week someone was swearing never to watch the show again. It was ruined! Just ruined! I hope we've got that out of our system.
posted by rikschell at 3:15 PM on September 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


why is he so horrified when he realizes Davros has brought him to Skaro? How is being on Skaro any worse than whatever the Doctor was already expecting?

I've gotten a bit confused: did Skaro end up in the time bubble with Gallifrey? The Doctor has carried a lot of guilt for putting Gallifrey in that time bubble to end the war, and presumably he put the Daleks in there too. So, maybe he expected Skaro to be bubbleated, and was horrified to see it released. (I almost went with embubbled, but that would've been silly.)
posted by Ursula Hitler at 5:12 PM on September 21, 2015


I loved the line "OK, cutting to the chase. Not dead, back, big surprise, never mind." Because that's who Missy is. Yes the Master/Mistress is going to come back. We know that, she knows that, the Doctor know that, so let's just move on.

This is how I feel about the cliffhangers in general. I mean, really, when have they ever killed companions? Even when they did it in the classic series, it was at the end of the serial. You know the Doctor isn't going to die or forced to regenerate, you know the companion isn't going to die, you know the one-off episode characters with the Doctor and companions aren't even going to die most likely. The tension isn't "will they die?" or "will the bad thing happen?" but "how are they gonna get out of that?" and it always has been. So yeah, the Doctor is going to die again, one more time, but the stakes aren't the Doctor's life or death; they're about what kind of man he is, which has been and continues to be a key question for Twelve.
posted by immlass at 6:41 PM on September 21, 2015


Um, I think Adric wants a word with you.
posted by Ruki at 6:55 PM on September 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


The cliffhangers are the movie serial cliffhangers of the 1940s. How will The Phantom survive being pushed into the pit of lava? How will Captain Midnight escape the bomb in his airplane? Nobody thinks the story will end prematurely, but how the hero gets out of it is fascinating.

It would actually be a nice switch-up if they did have a danger-cliffhanger and open the second part by just blasting down somebody in a hail of laser fire, ala the end of Blake's 7.

I recall hearing that JNT required that all cliffhangers had to put the doctor in danger. It's old hat...
posted by Mad_Carew at 7:12 PM on September 21, 2015


So, maybe he expected Skaro to be bubbleated, and was horrified to see it released.

The thought crossed my mind, but it doesn't seem to jibe with his expression of horror: "You brought me to Skaro!" Not "you got Skaro out" or "you released Skaro" or something like that. The only thing I can think of is that Davros could do something far worse with the Doctor present than he could do without.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 7:34 PM on September 21, 2015


I think it's supposed to be that Skaro is super next-level dangerous! Because it's a planet of Daleks! Oh no! But the Daleks just don't seem dangerous any more due to overuse so the line falls flat.
posted by jason_steakums at 8:21 PM on September 21, 2015


I think he would be more upset about Skaro coming back, because he's used to being surrounded by Daleks but having a planet of Daleks back is bad news for the whole universe.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 8:25 PM on September 21, 2015


Also I wasn't sure why the Daleks seemed momentarily tempted by Missy's offer to give them the TARDIS since they've had time travel technology themselves before, during and after the Time War. Minor nitpicks aside I thought it was a great episode, though. I found myself getting my hopes up that the writing will live up to the potential of the cast this season. They hit on something that worked well here and things feel like they're gelling a lot more than last season, even in the face of it being Yet Another Dalek Episode.
posted by jason_steakums at 8:47 PM on September 21, 2015


Um, I think Adric wants a word with you.

Adric didn't die on a cliffhanger. He was, in fact, the case I was thinking of: when he died, it was at the end of the serial.
posted by immlass at 8:49 PM on September 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


Oooh, my bad. I confused serial with season. I forgot how it was in the before times. And I actually prefer the old school serial aspect, too. In my defense, I was avoiding writing a paper when I wrote that. So, um, never mind and carry on!
posted by Ruki at 9:49 PM on September 21, 2015


Also, because I have no sense of time management, I must admit that I checked out at the last commercial break (in the US) and didn't realize that I missed the last five minutes until I read the CNN headline at work today. I just caught up, so your comment makes a lot more sense to me now. Again, sincerely, my bad.

Given that Jenna Coleman is leaving the show, though, I think I'd appreciate it if she died for real. I know it won't happen now, but before December. It seems fitting for her to finally have a death that sticks.
posted by Ruki at 9:54 PM on September 21, 2015


Even when they did it in the classic series, it was at the end of the serial.
I find your lack of knowledge disturbing.

Katrina and Sara Kingdom were killed mid story.
posted by Mezentian at 3:13 AM on September 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


"Listen, 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?"

Man, Moffat decided to take that line really, really literally, didn't he?
posted by jwgh at 6:09 AM on September 22, 2015


Katrina and Sara Kingdom were killed mid story.

Arguing that The Daleks' Master Plan is typical of Classic Who is pretty weak. Also it's not like the identification of Katarina and particularly Sara Kingdom as companions is without controversy. If that's your best counterargument, I'm going to assume you're nitpicking or whipping out the canon-fu. There's a reason it's called the Discontinuity Guide--no rules in Who without exception.
posted by immlass at 9:51 AM on September 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


Um, I think Adric wants a word with you.


Shut up, Adric.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 10:39 AM on September 22, 2015 [5 favorites]


That's Baldric.
posted by phearlez at 11:58 AM on September 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


TimeLord, I have a cunning plan...
posted by Mad_Carew at 3:23 PM on September 22, 2015 [6 favorites]


Given that Jenna Coleman is leaving the show, though, I think I'd appreciate it if she died for real.

That would be taking fan obsessiveness a bit far, don't you think?
posted by Grangousier at 4:17 PM on September 22, 2015 [6 favorites]


how did he even know this Davros was the Davros who built the daleks? Is there only one Davros in the entire universe?

yea what if it was the onion knight?
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 3:55 AM on September 23, 2015


How did he know that, like, "omg this kid called Davros is THE Davros"? What if Davros is the rest of the universe's "James" and they're ten-a-penny?

Anyway, I like the callbacks to the "old" Doctors, it makes it feel like the whole thing is one series and not just a bunch of reboots.

A lot of winking towards Star Wars in the opening "where is the Doctor" scenes, I thought.

I thought the exact same thing, I wanted to dub the cantina band music over that inn/pub/cantina full of aliens.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 4:35 AM on September 23, 2015


How did he know that, like, "omg this kid called Davros is THE Davros"? What if Davros is the rest of the universe's "James" and they're ten-a-penny?

That's probably the least problematic bit to me. I think it's totally reasonable to have the name then cause him to notice that this situation is identical to something told to him by Davros in the past, or realize that this is the planet that blah blah blah, whatever.
posted by phearlez at 7:09 AM on September 23, 2015


Okay, I think I've rationalized the plot for myself, somewhat...

On Sept. 19, 2015 as Earthlings reckon it (choosing a date for the sake of the argument) The Doctor somehow intuits(?) that his is going to die on Sept. 20, 2015.

He causes his Confession Disk to be delivered to Missy -- thankfully his lawyer's office isn't on Gallifrey -- and decides to find a nice time and place to meditate in the middle ages for a day of his personal timeline.

Because he is distractable and a procrastinator, the day becomes three weeks.

"Meanwhile" Missy receives the disk on Sept. 19th and contacts Clara and UNIT.

Both UNIT and snake guy search throughout time and space for the Doctor. They both find him and -- for dramatic purposes -- both arrive at roughly the same time 3 weeks after the Doctor has started his "meditation".

The snake guy then brings them back to Skaro on Sept. 19th or 20th, 2015.

--

Not to mention that, thanks to the television version of the anthropic principle, this story happens to involve the Doctor sometime shortly after the last time we saw him. (Otherwise they wouldn't show them in this order.)

--

I saw someone suggest that they should have gotten an earlier Doctor for the opening scene, but I'm not sure that any earlier Doctors would have acted that way.
posted by He Is Only The Imposter at 8:00 AM on September 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


If they pulled and Archer and just had the entire rest of the season as The Doctor and The Master running pranks throughout the universe, I'd be so in.

As it is, that sure was an episode of television. A couple of high points, to be sure, and callbacks to two of my favorite old school Dalek episodes. But also a whole lot of "meh."
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 10:23 PM on September 24, 2015 [2 favorites]


I rather enjoyed this, surprisingly enough. As discussed above, the plot doesn't make a whole lot of sense yet, but with any luck this will be remedied in the second episode. I suspect there'll be a whole lot of hand wavery, though I really hope there isn't.
posted by Juso No Thankyou at 8:21 PM on September 25, 2015


Just noticed tonight that there were two new episodes on the DVR, didn't even realize that there was a new season (series).

And after watching this episode, um, I'm not sure if I'm all that excited.
posted by octothorpe at 6:19 PM on September 27, 2015


Did anyone else catch Clara's saying that Jane Austen was a "a phenomenal kisser"?
posted by Thorzdad at 7:35 AM on October 6, 2015


Yeah the 4th commenter here did. I thought it seemed a little ucky to have a teacher musing about making out with someone to her young teen charges, personally.
posted by phearlez at 10:28 AM on October 6, 2015


Sure but her students aren't going to think their teacher made out with Jane Austen, they're just going to assume Miss Oswald is passing on, or making up, some slightly racy trivia.
posted by plastic_animals at 10:55 AM on October 6, 2015


Yes, only we know it's gross.
posted by phearlez at 12:07 PM on October 6, 2015


No, don’t send a helicopter. Think it through!

This was the most I've laughed at a Doctor Who throwaway joke in a while.
posted by schmod at 5:05 AM on April 18, 2018


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