TV Review – DOCTOR WHO – THE MAGICIAN’S APPRENTICE / THE WITCH’S FAMILIAR

THE MAGICIAN’S APPRENTICE / THE WITCH’S FAMILIAR
2 episodes / 95m / 19 & 26 September 2015
Rating: ∗∗∗∗½
Writer: Steven Moffat
Director: Hettie MacDonald
Cast: Peter Capaldi (The Doctor), Jenna Coleman (Clara Oswald), Michelle Gomez (Missy), Julian Bleach (Davros), Jemma Redgrave (Kate Stewart), Jaye Griffiths (Jac), Harki Bhambra (Mike), Daniel Hoffmann-Gill (Bors), Joey Price (Young Davros),
Benjamin Cawley (Kanzo),  Aaron Neil (Mr Dunlop), Clare Higgins (Ohila), Nicholas Briggs (Voice of the Daleks), Kelly Hunter (Shadow Architect), India Ria Amarteifio (Alison), Dasharn Anderson (Ryan), Stefan Adegbola, Shin-Fei Chen, Lucy Newman- Williams (Newreaders), Barnaby Edwards, Nicholas Pegg (Daleks), Jonathon Ojinnaka (Soldier).
Plot: Capaldi returns as the Doctor for another series of time-travelling exploits. However, as this first adventure begins, it seems the Time Lord has gone missing – which is bad news for Earth, as a mysterious alien force has frozen the skies. Clara needs to find her friend – but where is he and what is he hiding from? Things soon become clear with the appearance of a familiar old enemy with a black hat and Scottish accent.
Comment: Confident two-part series opener. The plot takes the concept from the powerful scene from 1975’s GENESIS OF THE DALEKS – in which Tom Baker’s Doctor and Michael Wisher’s Davros debated genocidal ethics – and stretches it over a full story. Capaldi’s scenes with Bleach are enthralling and their interplay is the highlight of what is a stylish production. The story also pairs off Gomez’s Missy and Coleman’s Clara and their exchanges are lively and witty. It is also great to see the Daleks in most of their various liveries from over the years. Great ideas abound – including Hand Mines reaching out from the mud and a sewerage system on Skaro that is literally alive with waste. In recent series Moffat has taken an increasingly scattergun approach to his writing, cramming so many ideas that the stories can sometimes lose focus for the sake of a witty or wacky scene, but here he stretches them over two-episodes allowing the story room to breathe. The result is a visual treat combined with an emotive plot, creating a very satisfying whole.

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