Television: Doctor Who, "The Magician's Apprentice"

So first I watched that little 10-minute thing because my DVR recorded it, then the episode. And my first question is: Why does a show made in 2015 look like it came from 1995? Doctor Who reminds me of old episodes of Babylon 5 and Highlander. Sure, I loved those shows, and the production values were good for their time (well, okay, fair), but that was 20 years ago.

I hear a lot of people screaming that the low production values on Doctor Who are all part of the charm, but . . . I'm not convinced someone really just doesn't know what they're doing.

And then the episode, which was kind of a mess. We start at the end, which is also the beginning. Or maybe we start at the beginning and it's also the end? It's ceased to matter in this show, if it ever did. But anyway, the Doctor claims to be looking for a bookshop, but he apparently really sucks at navigation, or else the TARDIS is failing miserably. And it appears he's going to save this little boy from "hand mines" but . . . Well, we'll get to that.

Meanwhile, to everyone else the Doctor is missing. And Davros (creator of the Daleks) sends a snake guy out to find him. That planet with the women . . . And already I wasn't paying much attention, but I felt like that planet says a lot about how Moffat views women in general.

Meanwhile, Missy (sigh) freezes airplanes mid-flight in order to get some attention. So of course Clara is sent to meet her. But to prove she's still "bad," Missy randomly kills some men sent with Clara—men Missy specifically said should accompany her IIRC. There's the obligatory, "Shouldn't you be dead?" from Clara, but at this point we always just assume anyone is fair game and no one really stays dead. This fact means there is ZERO tension in Doctor Who any more. Nor is there much narrative cohesion. Watching the show these days is like staring at a plate of spaghetti and expecting it to tell you a story.

Missy has the Doctor's . . . something that amounts to a last will and testament. And since it hasn't opened or activated or whatever, they know the Doctor isn't dead. They end up finding him doing electric guitar for a bunch of medieval people (from the 10-minute preview thing). I'm not sure what we were going for here. Character development? Are we answering the critiques that Capaldi is too old and crotchety? He didn't come off any less so. Instead he seemed a bit desperate to prove he isn't old and crotchety, yet his "oh, come on, dudes!" still failed to be lighthearted.

Thing is, I haven't had a problem with Capaldi as the Doctor. I rather like how different he is from the antic Matt Smith. He and Jenna Coleman have no chemistry, though, so it's probably just as well she's leaving. In short, however, I think trying to liven up this Doctor is a mistake. Trying to force him into a new mold is a spectacular disaster.

Whatever. We do eventually get around to Davros, who is dying. And the Daleks take possession of the TARDIS, and they kill Missy and Clara and then destroy the TARDIS. And so we go back to the first scene and this time the Doctor kills the boy who would be Davros.

And this is what Davros wanted, ostensibly. He wanted to prove to the Doctor that compassion is not only useless but a fatal flaw. And now we're up for a whole season of angst as the Doctor deals with that, I guess. But it felt like a ridiculously long way around to get there.

I do wonder sometimes why I'm still watching the show. I'm not sure if it's to see how bad it can get, or to see if it gets better, or both. But I do find with each new episode my interest wanes and my mind wanders. So if any of the above is incorrect, or if I've missed something (and yes, I do know the medieval guy was a Dalek), it's because the show did not hold my full attention.


Sheena-kay Graham said...

Don't watch that show but maybe it could do with some improvements.

Christine Rains said...

I was amused by the episode, but not wowed. Keith says he doesn't even know if he wants to watch the Doctor anymore. I agree that the Doctor and Clara have no chemistry. She's totally the puppy. I thought she worked better with Missy, frightening as that is.

M said...

Scott asked flat out about 20 minutes in: "Why are we still watching this?" But I'm not quite ready to give up.

Yes, you're right, Clara + Missy was a better show.