***THIS POST DISCUSSES THE MAGICIANS APPRENTICE IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN IT READ AT YOUR OWN PERIL***
Each year I say to myself I will keep a record or review each episode of Doctor Who and then something comes up or my procrastination comes into play and I never quite get around to it. This year, I am determined to do it. I am hoping that I’ll be able to get the reviews or thoughts out quicker than I have this week, but anyway, here are my thoughts on last Saturdays episode “The Magicians Apprentice”.
Something is off. If I was quoting Shakespeare, I’d say there was something rotten in Denmark. The problems is is it’s closer to home. It’s within me. You see, I seem to have lost my enthusiasm for Doctor Who.
I am a sucker for Doctor Who. There is no such thing as “Bad Who” but rather varying degrees of “Great Who”. I really have no idea where things started to go wrong, but I have been having more and more criticisms of the latest batch of shows. Not just the 3 that have been on since Easter, but pretty much since the middle of series 6. It’s just not engaging with me anymore.
When Steven Moffat took over the show I was cautiously excited by the fact that the shows strongest guest writer would be taking the helm and taking the show forward into new territory. To a degree he did just that. He introduced us to Amy Pond and the world she had created around her brief one night with her “Raggedy Doctor”. That was a genius stroke. He created a world that would unfold over the next series. For the most part Series 5 was great. A new Doctor A New Companion.. hell a new everything. The only problem was he dragged out the unveiling of the new world over to Series 6. There was no resolution at the end of Series 5… just more questions left to be answered. To a certain extent there are still NOW (series 7b) questions left unanswered (The Silence and the Fields of Trenzalore).
When, at the end of the Series 4 specials, RTD left the show everyone was screaming HALLELUJAH. Time for more story based shows over the glitz and glamour that RTD favoured. To me, what a lot of people in fandom didn’t quite comprehend is the RTD had shepherded the show through a rebirth and stellar rise to THE flagship show on the BBC. He had taken a great actor in David Tennant and made his a global superstar. It was RTD would gave Moffat the base that he could take the show down a totally different avenue and have no fears that it would fall flat on it’s butt. Yes, it is my contention that Steven Moffat is still riding on the good graces and incredible street buzz that RTD generated up to his tenure ending.
In these recent episodes there is an earthy, gritty and hard boiled style to the show. It’s not letting up. People who faithfully watch and have watched each week are tired of waiting for the big pay off. So much has been promised and only half answers have been given. I for one am sick of being teased with only half a story.
Looking at the most recent three stories (Series 7b), all three have underwhelmed me. The big monster this week, the Ice Warriors, was a great episode, but it just didn’t lead anywhere. Self contained episodes are great and I think we need more of them, but we as an intelligent viewership KNOWS there is a story that is not being told, one that is being held over to make a big bang at the end of series 7b to lead into the 50th anniversary show in November. I think Mr Moffat has forgotten about the here and now. Looking at my Facebook news feed after the episode tonight, it was obvious that people were unhappy. In what should have been a highlight of the series, it just didn’t quite make the grade. Admittedly, most comments were saying that it was the best of the current half series, but still very weak.
At the start of Series 7a and the Asylum of the Daleks, I was blown away. It was original and it took the narrative to a new place. It had that curve ball thrown in of Clara being inside the Dalek. It was great TV and it was (in my opinion) GREAT Doctor Who. I was again optimistic. I was excited. It didn’t last, the next week was a disappointment and we are left thinking.it’ll get better… it will improve, but for me, it didn’t.
I do realise that if you are still reading this you are thinking I am a whiner. Honest I am not. I stand by my original statement, “There is NO bad Who”. I am still sat in front of my TV when it first airs on Terrestrial TV. I buy the DVD’s when they come out. I have a shelf full of Toys. I wouldn’t (couldn’t) abandon Doctor Who, but Doctor Who really has to up its game and prove that there is a really worthwhile pay-off for all this teasing.
Steven Moffat is the writer of my all time favourite episode of Doctor Who (The Girl In The Fireplace). I think he is one amazing writer. Sherlock is high on my favourite show list (despite only having 6 episodes in it’s canon). Moffat was the obvious choice to take over from RTD, in hindsight, the obvious choice wasn’t the right one. I think I would have been more happy with having a couple of Girl In The Fireplace/Blink style episodes per season from him than having him stretched so thin whilst show running Doctor Who AND Sherlock.