Dr Who Review: The Magician’s Apprentice/The Witch’s Familiar

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Lewis: So, Dr Who?

Ben: Yeah, I suppose we’d better do it.

Lewis: As much as we’ve been avoiding it…

Ben: So what did you think?

Lewis: Well, I don’t want to be this pessimistic about the season’s opening episodes, but they were just subpar on almost every level.

Ben: I agree. Everything just seemed so stupid; don’t even get me started on the “sonic sunglasses”. They had better not a permanent thing.

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Lewis: If they are I might just have to swear off the whole thing. To be fair though, at least the second one had some redeeming features, the first one really was just a mish-mash of poor dialogue and stupid attempts at being witty. It feels like Moffat’s trying to be Douglas Adams and not doing a very good imitation.

Ben: I feel a similar way. Yeah I would agree, the second was better than the first, but even the one section that had some emotional gravity was just thrown away as just a plot point.

Lewis: I assume you’re talking about the Davros-Doctor discussion?

Ben: Yeah, that was one of the best bits of Doctor Who we’ve seen in ages, right until the climax which completely ruined it.

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Lewis: I didn’t really like that though, because Davros just isn’t that kind of character. All that emotion and shared respect for each other just felt really forced… I really liked it up to a point, but when Davros cracked that joke and started talking about the sunrise, I was sincerely hoping it would be a trap, and it turned out it was, even if it was a pretty shitty one.

Ben: I didn’t think it was forced at all. I can kind of get why it was done, but I just feel that if they did actually kill Davros off that discussion would have been the way to do it. In the moments before his death he considers his work and wonders was it all worthwhile. I felt it was one of the better scripted and better acted part of the series that we’ve seen for a while.

Lewis: No I get that, and the whole time I was really impressed with the Davros actor’s performance. I didn’t really have a problem with any of the writing for that discussion, but I just feel like some parts of it didn’t really suit the character of Davros. But yeah, that discussion was definitely the highlight of the two episodes.

Ben: Moving away from the discussion, I think the way in which the Doctor beat the Daleks was a bit stupid.

Lewis: Yeah it was pretty naff, a very big dose of convenient plot point there… funny how those deceased Daleks were never mentioned before, huh?

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Ben: But then we have never been to Skaro before, I would have liked to have seen a bit more of the planet as well.

Lewis: What do you mean? We’ve been to Skaro at least twice before. Once in the first Dr Who episode ever, and I’m pretty sure Tom Baker went once.

Ben: I meant that we haven’t been there in the new series.

Lewis: Well yeah, but I’d expect them to consider the fact that we’ve been there before in previous series’.

Ben: Well now it is back (did they explain how they brought it back? I can’t remember) I expect we will be going back fairly regularly.

Lewis: I don’t think they actually explained it… which is incredibly lazy if that’s the case (I could be, and probably am, wrong). I did quite like the censorship thing that the Daleks now have, it’s quite interesting, even if it does make them a little too emotional for my liking.

Ben: #stopmoffat
Where exterminate means reload? That bit? I wasn’t a big fan. That just seemed shoe-horned in for the last scene. Another thing I appreciated were the old Daleks and the lack of the Teletubbie ones.

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Lewis: Not specifically that bit, because that bit’s just stupid. The part where if she says anything non-Dalek like it just changes it to something more suitable; that seemed like something that the Daleks could feasibly have. And yeah, the old Daleks were a very nice touch, but in the end it feels like they were just shoved in there in order to get people to appreciate these episodes more. They really played up the nostalgia…

Ben: That is true. I presume they took inspiration for the sets from the first Skaro episode.

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Lewis: Oh yeah, and I admit, it was really cool to see the old sets/models/Daleks, but it felt like they were just saying “oooh look at all this shiny stuff that you remember, isn’t it cool?? Don’t worry about the poor writing, just look over here”.

Ben: Essentially they were just trying to distract us for 45 minutes.

Lewis: Yeah, and while there were some very good moments (which may or may not have been immediately ruined), it was just a very poor opener to the season.

Ben: Well hopefully things can only get better, but those ghosts don’t look promising…

Lewis: Well… no… no it doesn’t. Looks like a shitty live-action episode of Scooby Doo. It’ll end up being some old guy who was wronged by the scientific team and is using a projector to simulate ghosts and then when they catch him he’ll say “I would’ve gotten away with it too, if it weren’t for you meddling dicks”.
Or something along those lines anyway.

Ben: #stopmoffat
But I suppose we shall have to wait and see.

Lewis: Yeah, fingers crossed the other writers will have something more impressive to offer later on in this season.

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Into the Dalek

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Ben:  If doctor who is shit tonight, (I hope it isn’t but if it is) we should post something along the lines of “Urgh… See ‘Deep Breath'”.

Lewis: Haha, good idea. I really hope it’s better.

Later that evening…

Lewis: I haven’t watched it yet, but I’ll be watching it later. What was it like?

Ben: Fair enough, it wasn’t brilliant but I thought it was pretty good. Kind of original, but I won’t say too much.

Lewis: Sounds good, I’m looking forward to it.

The next day…

Lewis: Last night was a definite improvement on the Dr Who front. Not a very original idea though, a lot of things have used it before.

Ben: Yeah I didn’t mind it. The Dalek morality thing harks back to the first appearance of the new Daleks with Christopher Eccleston. Also, the shrinking down of the people was fairly original, and I quite liked how he let that guy die really early on.

Lewis: That “top layer” joke was the first piece of good comedy that’s been in Dr Who for a long time. As for the shrinking down thing, it was the plot for a big 80s movie called Inner Space, where a doctor had to go into a human and remove a blood clot. They did acknowledge that it wasn’t original though, “that’d make a good movie”.

Ben: Fair enough, I haven’t seen that film. On the whole I thought it was a big improvement on last week’s episode.

Lewis: I’m really glad that Vod from Fresh Meat didn’t join them; I’ve never really been a fan of her. I really like Pink though. Some of the writing with him was a bit heavy handed but he’s a good character and Samuel Anderson’s acting is one of the better examples in the show.

Ben: I think that he will be a second recurring story line, and he will doubtless be the soldier that changes the Doctor’s perception.

Lewis: Yeah, for sure. That episode has left my hopes up for this season; I think it’ll be a big improvement on their past efforts. And I really like the Take-no-shit-Doctor that Peter Capaldi is becoming.

Ben: I concur.

Lewis: Indeed *pulls out pipe*.

Ben: Quite *nod of the head and opens a broad sheet newpaper*.

Lewis: *pauses while filling pipe, frowns, ponders, nods head and continues with pipe*.

Ben: *peers over glasses which are placed on the end of the nose, sees the return nod pauses briefly to acknowledge before returning to today’s news*.

Lewis: I think I’ll end it there, haha.

Ben: Fair enough. I couldn’t think of anything else anyway.

 

Sorry this one was a little late and a little short, there were a lot of reasons why it wasn’t finished ’til today, and procrastination wasn’t actually one of them! Let us know what you think of this new format, and what you thought of our comments.

Deep Breath

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Before we start this joint-review, we just want to remind everyone that we don’t want to hate Dr Who, and we really don’t enjoy ripping it apart… much. We’re just disappointed by it, because something that was so incredible to begin with has turned into something that could really be a lot better.

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Lewis: When that averagely-animated dinosaur first appeared on the screen I immediately thought ‘Here we go, more of this crap.’, and to be honest, I don’t think I was wrong, at least not for the majority of Saturday night’s episode.

Ben: I think it was hard to judge. My full opinion of series 8 won’t be formed ‘til after a couple of weeks. But these are my initial impressions. Firstly, I want tosay that the first 15-20, for me, were pretty uncomfortable to watch. Starting with the woeful new opening credits (the music made it sound like Christmas and the clock thing was just stupid, what happened to if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. The previous opening credits were good) It was like Capaldi was trying to emulate Matt Smith and for me it didn’t work. However, as the episode continued, a doctor developed that I quite liked.

Lewis: I definitely agree with you on the first 15 minutes being a bit painful. To be honest, it just felt like the writing was a bit stodgy. Also, I’m not a massive fan of Steven Moffat’s 19th Century crime fighters; they get on my nerves a fair bit. As for the opening credits, I actually didn’t mind the song; it felt new but also sounded a bit like the older theme songs. The one nit-pick I have is about the graphics for the opening sequence. They were awful. The old one definitely had better CGI, and so why downgrade it to this cartoon-like image?

Ben: The delivery of dialogue was much improved, especially from the Doctor’s end, but I still don’t know what to think about the Clara character. I think now that the endless flirting (which did happen all the time) is over I may grow to like the character.

Lewis: Same here in terms of Clara, she seemed a bit more likeable in this episode (Which I thanked God for). So, for me, the episode had two characters that were far more likeable than they used to be, since while Peter Capaldi is the new Doctor, the character is the same. However, in my opinion, this doesn’t save the episode.

Ben: Yeah, the story was pretty standard for the below par ideas that have seeped into episodes ever since the loss of T. Davies. The script itself was good while the story pretty poor. I think Moffat managed to write a script which was; funny at the right times, showed the audience that this doctor will be darker in character, and also assured us that there will no longer be any of this hugging crap (hallelujah). I also appreciated the mentions of previous Doctors (the long scarf bit amongst others), they were done in a tasteful way that poked fun without humiliating them (thinking back to Skyfall, which failed to do this, and how the older Bond films took a real battering at the hands of the pouty blonde man).

Lewis: I quite like Skyfall… and Daniel Craig…

Ben:  I am not saying I don’t like Skyfall, I am saying that after the first few funny comments, the remarks about previous got pretty vicious. I don’t like Daniel Craig, but I think that could be an argument for another day. The story on the other hand was a rip off of the Madame Du Pompadore episode, which I for one was able to suss out pretty quickly. It again shows the uninspiring and dull stories have to be improved.Also, the series already seems to be developing one of the long-running storylines that Moffat is such a big fan of, an Americanism that I really cannot stand, especially when they are so frequently shit (And this one looks to be one of those crap ones).

Lewis: I for one quite like a long-running story, but only if it pays off at the end. And Moffat just doesn’t seem to be able to give us the pay off that the show deserves. He’s pretty good at writing a one-off script (Blink comes to mind), but as for a season-arcing plot-point, it’s just not worth it.

Ben: I said that about his writing in my earlier Doctor Who piece. Going back to what you said earlier, I really hoped that the lizard and her team would be left behind with Matt Smith, unfortunately not. I can see them coming back at least once a series which is really irritating because none of them are really that likable.

Lewis: I can’t agree with you more there, and Mr Moffat, the next time you want to find an excuse for a cross-species lesbian kiss, either make it a good one or just do it without it.

Ben: I liked Peter Capaldi;but I didn’t really like much else. On the plus side the old non-Teletubbies Daleks are coming back in the next episode, and I think that it is from this point a proper opinion will be formed.

Lewis: Indeed, It wasn’t the worst episode I’ve seen, but it could’ve been a whole lot better. Anyway, thumbs up to Peter Capaldi, and bring on the Daleks.

Thanks for reading! If you want to call us idiots or other more explicit names, please leave a comment.

-Ben and Lewis