Since its return to our screens ten years ago, the time traveling adventures of the Doctor have gathered countless numbers of new fans across the globe, each year eagerly awaiting the newest adventures of their favourite Time Lord.
After the rage and darkness of Ecclestone’s incarnation, the mania of Tennant, and the ageless charm of Matt Smith, much tentativity was in the air as cantankerous Scot Peter Capaldi took to the TARDIS’ time-honoured helm.
Throughout season eight, we gradually got to know the latest regeneration of the Doctor, though through a number of hit-and-miss storylines and unrealised ideas (along with possibly the worst episode to date, Robot of Sherwood), fans were left somewhat underwhenlmed, despite Mr. Calpaldi’s best efforts.
And so, on Saturday evening, the country sat in anticipation, waiting to see where the TARDIS would take us next. Would this be the Doctor’s greatest adventure yet, or yet another damp squib? Fortunately, we were not let down. In possibly the tensest season premier to date, the Doctor faces his imminent death, and confronts one of his darkest secrets involving the origins of his greatest nemesis of all, Davros, creator of the murderous Daleks.
As the Doctor deals with mortality as only he can, his current assistant Clara (the ever-delightful Jenna Coleman) strikes an unlikely alliance with the Master (still in his female form, and a very welcome return of Michelle Gomez, once again the perfect foil for Capaldi’s grumpy old Doctor) in order to find their missing comrade. Journeying through time and space in a joyous romp and a race against the clock, this is Doctor Who as it should be, complete with some wickedly creepy new monsters (a field of “hand mines” will haunt my nightmares for weeks to come, along with a gruesome snake-man who acts as the herald of Davros), as well as a nice showcase of some of the Doctor’s finest foes to date. Not once, however, as it has often done in the past, does this feel like just hashing out the old villains for the sake of it; there is reason and, at last, some real threat here. When the final credits roll, Moffat will have you screaming for more.
Witty, dark and genuinely shocking at times, The Magician’s Apprentice is a fantastic opening episode, and certainly gives hope for a great season ahead. Let’s just hope Mr. Moffat’s well-woven wording doesn’t start unravelling too soon!
Dir: Hettie MacDonald
Scr: Steven Moffat
Starring: Peter Capaldi, Jenna Coleman, Michelle Gomez, Julian Bleach
Prd: Peter Bennett
Original Air Date: 19/09/15
The Magician’s Apprentice will be available on iPlayer until October 19th