DOCTOR WHO: THE MAGICIAN’S APPRENTICE [Hangout]

The Kabooooom crew may all love pop culture, but we all have different tastes. In Kabooooom! Hangouts, a new ongoing discussion feature, we bring together our different points of view and talk about today’s hottest comics, television shows and movies. The end result is an opinionated, informative, thought-provoking and – hopefully – amusing conversation. Enjoy.


[Warning – SPOILERS for DOCTOR WHO Series 9, Episode 1 “The Magician’s Apprentice”]

Matt: First of all, how much background do you all have as a Whovian?  I’d say I’m something of an expert, having seen most of the classic series and all of the New Who. I’ve also read most of the New Who comics, a good number of the novels and listened to some of the audio plays.

Byron: I am mostly a New Whovian. I have seen most of the First Doctor’s adventures and saw and loved the Paul McGann movie. I have seen all eight seasons of the new series. And I have done a lot of reading about the Who universe so I consider myself somewhat decently versed.

Rush:  I would say I’m pretty seasoned. Raised with Tom Baker but I’ve seen pretty much every episode that I can get my hands on.

Matt:  Outstanding. So, I think it’s safe to say we all liked this episode?  I know I did.

Byron: I would say yes.

Rush: It was good but the two-part arcs all season are going to kill me!

Matt: The only real complaint I had was that I fear it’s completely inaccessible to new fans. And while that’s kind of a silly thing to complain about given the long history of Doctor Who, Moffat has written accessible season openers before. In fact, I’d say The Eleventh Hour (the Series 5 opener) was probably THE best intro to the show ever.

Byron: Really, that’s surprising.  Most of the seasons can be started without seeing the others.

Matt: Well, up until Moffat became the show runner that was true. But with Series 6, you had to know who Amy, Rory and River were ahead of time. And with Series 7 and Asylum of The Daleks you DEFINITELY had to have seen the show before.

Rush: I don’t know that I’d agree that it was all that tough for new viewers to jump in on this episode, actually. Sure, it wasn’t a fresh start from top to bottom, like The Eleventh Hour, but new viewers would have caught on to the basics. They wouldn’t understand the weight of the decision in The Doctor’s hands, of course, but still…

Byron: That’s true.

Rush: And Asylum had a totally different Rory/Amy relationship. So, yeah, knowledge would enhance, but isn’t strictly necessary.

Byron: I’m still not sure how I feel about Asylum of the Daleks.

Rush: BEST. EPISODE. OF. THE. REBOOT. PERIOD. Though I do agree that The Eleventh Hour was the best premiere.

Matt:  I always felt Asylum was one of Moffat’s weaker scripts.

Rush: Oh, I totally disagree! It was fun and showed The Doctor after being alone. And it gave us Clara!

Byron: Boo to Clara!  LOL. 😉

Rush: OH NO! Clara is wonderful! And giving her an actual life was a masterstroke!

Matt:  Oh lordy, I’m going to have to referee…

Byron:  I was an Amy Pond fan.  And I just feel that Clara’s story needed to end with The Great Intelligence.

Rush: I love me some Pond! I love most of the companions, really. Not Martha, though. My god, what a whiner!

Byron: I agree. I disliked Martha

Matt: As did I. So there’s something we can all agree on!

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Matt: Let’s talk about the characters and the actor’s performances.

Rush: I do love that Capaldi’s Doctor finally seems to have some direction this season! His first scene was chuckle-worthy but fun! Axe fight, indeed. LOL!

Byron: Yeah, he was a bit puzzling in Season 8. I’m glad he is better this season.

Matt:  I agree. He’s less of the grumpy old man and more of the trickster we’re used to seeing.

Rush: He was a tough adjustment but at least I could compare it to The Sixth Doctor. Newer viewers didn’t have that luxury.

Matt:  That’s an apt comparison, actually. A regeneration under duress. A companion who prefers the kinder, more silly man she first knew as The Doctor.  What did you all think of Missy?

Rush: Missy is becoming the best Master EVER. She is perfectly mad!

Byron: I’ve been hearing excellent things about Missy and I’m looking forward to more of her this season.

Matt: Yes, I think the interpretation of The Master here is comparable to many modern takes on The Joker – the madman (or madwoman) who thinks she is honestly helping the hero. In that sense The Master is The Doctor’s nemesis – the equal and opposite reaction.  Whereas Davros is The Doctor’s arch-enemy.

Byron: That’s interesting that you refer to Davros as The Doctor’s arch-enemy.

Matt: Well, it’s semantics, I admit. And I’ve heard both words used interchangeably.

Byron: I have only ever seen Davros in the new series so I’m not sure how often he has fought The Doctor. I’ve always gone between The Daleks and The Master as his arch-enemies.

Matt: Well, I’m using the definition from this one article which explained it like this. Your Nemesis will invite you out for a drink and you’ll say yes and when they die you’ll go to their funeral out of respect. Your arch-enemy?  You’ll only go to out for a drink so you’ll have a chance to poison their cup and you’ll only go to their funeral to dance on their grave.

Byron: I like that analogy you gave.  So true.  So by that definition, a nemesis is a sort of twisted friend.

Matt: Exactly. The Master has always respected The Doctor as an equal and vice versa.  They like each other as personalities even as they hate what the other represents. And when push came to shove, they could work together against a common enemy.  Put it in comic terms, The Doctor is to Batman as The Master is to Ra’s Al Ghul.

Byron: Or Loki is to Thor. Or Doctor Doom is to Reed Richards.

Matt: And to complete the metaphor, Davros is The Joker to The Doctor’s Batman – the representation of everything he is not.

Byron: Okay. I get why you said Davros was The Doctor’s arch-enemy now.

Matt: And why it’s even funnier that Missy is disappointed that The Doctor doesn’t consider her his arch-enemy.

Rush: Did you see the other prequel that explained about friends vs. enemies?

Matt: You mean The Prologue?  Yes!  I almost forgot about that!  It continued the same theme of friends and enemies, with The Doctor’s line about how an enemy is just a friend you don’t really know yet.

Byron: I have not seen it just yet. I’m planning on going back this week and checking it out.

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Byron: What did you all think about lack of explanation regarding Missy’s return?

Matt: That was a nice nod to the classic series, I thought.  Quite frequently, the stories would end with The Master in some tight spot and then the next time he showed up The Doctor would say “So, I see you survived the wormhole implosion.  How did you manage that trick?” And The Master would laugh and say “Does it really matter, my dear Doctor?  I am here now and back for revenge!”

Rush: That nod to the classic series was wonderful and I hope we never get a REAL explanation. That being said, its another toss to the originals that may not be a treat for newer viewers, as you’ve mentioned. I also think they are testing the water for a female Doctor, so that makes sense.

Byron: I have zero issue with a female Doctor. But if they do it, it should be done as part of a good story and not just to be politically correct. And a great actress is needed.

Matt: Agreed. They’re going to need a great actress, just to silence all the naysayers who will object to The Doctor being a woman under any circumstance.

Rush: I can’t even begin to guess who could play a female Doctor but do you think the Masie Williams thing may also lead down that path? After all, Missy mentioned him being a little girl for a reason.

Matt: And I think that reason was messing with Clara. So where do you think the Series will go from here?

Rush: I think starting Season Nine with an impossible decision may tell us how the season may go.

Byron: I agree. I think it is indeed sign of things to come. I really hope we get more moral issues. When there is a being like The Doctor with god-like powers, morality should always be a issue.

Rush: SHOULD being the operative word. As for morality, the Doctor has messed around with the universe for centuries without regard to time or, really, paradoxes, and it has to lead somewhere.

Byron: Agreed. We have not seen too many consequences for his actions. I would love for UNIT or Torchwood to return and be a counterpoint. They would be there to control The Doctor – not always to aid him.

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Matt: Well, I guess we need to discuss the elephant in the room then, don’t we? What did you think of the story and the central revelation of this episode?  The idea that The Doctor is responsible – in some fashion – for the creation of Davros?

Byron: I think it goes along with what Rush was saying about how The Doctor has messed with the universe so much that things are catching up with him.  I like the quote from the show Longmire – “Sometimes we create more evil than we stop.” And it comes back around to the question from Series 8 – “Is The Doctor a good man?”

Matt: Well, that does bring to mind the question first raised in Genesis of the Daleks and quoted in this episode – “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?” Before The Time War, The Doctor would never be able to kill a child. Even now I don’t think he could murder one. But if he could let one die by inaction… If he could, by NOT being the hero this once, actually save lives in the future…  And that brings us to the horror of the story. The Doctor may well have been acting to try and reverse the course of The Time War and undo all that had happened by not saving Davros as a child only to have that action set Davros’ fate when he somehow escapes on his own. Davros learns not to trust people and not believe in compassion or heroes. He grows to see everything around him as a threat, which requires him to protect himself and thus leads to the creation of The Daleks.

Rush:  It was a strong first episode that asks a lot of questions and treated long time fans with some great easter eggs. There were some cheats (Missy) and misdirection which, when you think about it, are traits that make a great magician. It also makes a great villain. Last season, the Doctor was trying to find himself and, in the opener, it seems he still hasn’t found his answer. I’m of the opinion that he’ll likely shoot the hands rather than the child, in order to save his friends and, perhaps, destroy the Daleks at the same time. The paradoxes, though…I’m excited to see where it all leads!

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Rush: So how did everyone feel about The Doctor going meta by playing the theme music during the axe fight? I can’t decide if it was cool or just hokey.

Matt: I loved it! Sometimes you just have to say “what the hell!

Byron: I feel like Doctor Who has always walked the line between cool and hokey.

Matt: Talking of meta references, have either of you seen Curse Of The Fatal Death?

Rush: Rowan Atkinson is amazing! And the first time a Time Lord regenerated into a woman! I’m thinking of the right episode, right?

Matt: Right, though that story isn’t in continuity. I mention it because there was a reference to it in the Prologue as well.  The Doctor’s line about “Look after the universe for me…”

Byron: So this episode sees The Doctor stop using his Sonic Screwdriver.  Which replica Sonic Screwdrivers do you all own?   I have the die cast of 11’s, the one with real screws in the handles and I’m getting the War Doctor’s soon.

Rush:  11’s Universal Remote, 10’s extending and the build your own. 🙂

Matt: Three, Four, a custom Four a friend made for me for my cosplay before they made the toy replica ones and Ten with the built-in invisible-ink pen and black-light bulb.


Overall, we were pleased with the Series 9 premiere and cannot wait to see where it goes next. What did you think of last night’s premiere? Let us hear from you in the comments below and let’s keep the discussion rolling!

Doctor Who airs Saturday nights at 8 pm on BBC America.

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