In a new feature on Blogtor Who, each week regular contributor Richard Unwin
will be taking a more personal, in-depth and spoilery look at each episode. So, obvs, SPOILERS ahead if you haven't seen Doctor Who
Series 9, Episode 1.
Davros! Karn! The Shadow Proclamation! UNIT! Missy! Sycorax, Judoon, and Hath – oh my!
We can’t have been the only ones who had to pinch ourselves and check that we weren’t succumbing to some sort of Who-based fever dream induced by the slightly-longer-than-usual wait for this new series…
The Magician’s Apprentice brought to mind that tongue-in-cheek scene from The Five-ish Doctors in which writer Steven Moffat is depicted making up scripts whilst gleefully playing with action figures – this time he really has emptied out the toy-box and let rip.
For the dedicated fan, there are few pleasures as singular and satisfying as watching a brand new television episode of our favourite series for the very first time. We’re currently gifted that opportunity a mere thirteen times a year (although if rumours are to be believed that may not be the case in 2016 – but we’re not going to start worrying about that until after Christmas), so it’s important to make the most of each precious viewing experience, and to squeeze every last drop of pleasure from it. Which brings us to what we want to talk about this week – spoilers.
We are lucky enough to preview new episodes several weeks before broadcast, and as such come to them completely cold – our expectations untainted by trailers or previews or magazine covers (we’re looking at you, 2007 Radio Times cover with Dalek Sec human hybrid… no, we still haven’t let it go). We don’t say this to brag – it’s still exactly the same episode that we’re watching - but because we’re concerned. We had no idea that this episode would feature Davros, let alone Daleks – in fact, from the title, we were expecting something a bit more ‘sword and sorcery’ – and consequently were shocked and surprised so many times within the first ten minutes that our jaws were on the floor and our hair had gone all Shadow Proclamation.
So it’s with some dismay that we’ve spent the past couple of weeks watching more and more details escaping into the public domain – most of them authorised by the BBC. Exhaustive photo galleries, and plot outlines, and a Doctor Who Magazine cover featuring Peter Capaldi surrounded by the children of Skaro with the headline: "Trapped On The Planet Of The Daleks!" We understand that they have to promote the show – but the reveal that the space-station is, in fact, the planet Skaro was one of the big shock revelations – now totally blown. At the time of writing the episode is yet to be broadcast, but a little exploratory foray into the living sewers of the internet reveals that many of you are already quite aware that Davros is the villain of the piece.
Maybe it’s just us. Maybe some of you are quite happy with the slow drip of reveals giving everything away before you see the actual episode. But we reckon that being genuinely surprised by the twists and turns is one of the greatest joys of following this daft old show. Let us know in the comments section – how much did you find out about this episode, deliberately or otherwise, before seeing it? And do you think that it affected your enjoyment?
We realise that we haven’t really attempted much in way of a review here – we’re going to save that for next time where we’ll talk about this two-parter as a whole. Suffice to say we absolutely loved what we saw – from the superbly creepy ‘hand-mine’ sequence to the glorious cliffhanger. Join us next week, by which time we’ll have found out if the Doctor really is about to murder a child in cold blood on primetime BBC1, for more in-depth analysis. (Or possibly more rambling – we’ll see.)
But in the meantime – our advice is to shun the spoilers and remain pure – ignorance is bliss.
Thoughts from Richard Unwin