Doctor Who

Chris Chibnall to Replace Steven Moffat as Showrunner January 24, 2016 21:04 - Philip Bates

Chris Chibnall will take over from Steven Moffat as showrunner on Doctor Who.

Only one episode will be on screens this year - the 2016 Christmas special - while Moffat's last 12-part run, Series 10, will air in spring 2017. Chibnall's first series will be on BBCOne in 2018; it's unknown whether the show will continue with this spring transmission once Steven departs or if it'll be in the autumn slot it's occupied for the last two years.

Series 1- 5 were all transmitted in the spring, while Series 6 and 7 were split between spring and autumn.

It's unknown if a new companion will debut this Christmas, but a replacement for Jenna Coleman's Clara Oswald will be in place for Series 10.

Moffat has been head writer and executive producer since Series 5, broadcast in 2010, and has worked alongside Chibnall on The Hungry Earth/ Cold Blood (which reintroduced the Silurians), Dinosaurs on a Spaceship, and The Power of Three. Chris' first work on Doctor Who was 2007's 42, and has since created the hit crime-drama, Broadchurch for ITV.

"Feels odd to be talking about leaving when I’m just starting work on the scripts for season 10, but the fact is my timey-wimey is running out," Steven Moffat said. "While Chris is doing his last run of Broadchurch, I’ll be finishing up on the best job in the universe and keeping the TARDIS warm for him. It took a lot of gin and tonic to talk him into this, but I am beyond delighted that one of the true stars of British Television drama will be taking the Time Lord even further into the future. At the start of season 11, Chris Chibnall will become the new showrunner of Doctor Who. And I will be thrown in a skip."

Chibnall, too, is a massive fan of Doctor Who, and was head writer on the first two series of Torchwood. "Doctor Who is the ultimate BBC programme: bold, unique, vastly entertaining, and adored all around the world. So it's a privilege and a joy to be the next curator of this funny, scary and emotional family drama," Chris enthused. "I’ve loved Doctor Who since I was four years old, and I’m relishing the thought of working with the exceptional team at BBC Wales to create new characters, creatures and worlds for the Doctor to explore. Steven’s achieved the impossible by continually expanding Doctor Who's creative ambition, while growing its global popularity. He’s been a dazzling and daring showrunner, and hearing his plans and stories for 2017, it’s clear he’ll be going out with a bang. Just to make my life difficult."

Steven ushered in two Doctors: Matt Smith's Eleventh and Peter Capaldi's Twelfth, and the former said this about his departure: "I’m sad to see Steven Moffat leave. He was a wonderful, wonderful asset to the show and I had the most amazing time with him. He’s a great friend, one of the greatest writers on the planet, and I think he’s just done wonders for Doctor Who. I’m forever indebted to him."

Naturally, everyone at Lovarzi would like to congratulate Chris Chibnall on his new appointment, and we look forward to the brilliant timey-wimey days ahead. And we also have to say a fond farewell to Steven... but not just yet. There's still 13 episodes of his wonderful tenure to go!

Images: BBC


Review: Face the Raven November 27, 2015 20:20 - Philip Bates

End of the line. Here we are again, saying goodbye.

It seems only yesterday that we were bidding Amy and Rory a fond farewell, and even though Clara's been travelling in the TARDIS for a long time, it's still just as tough. Is she properly gone? We'll find out over the next couple of episodes, but for now, this is it.

We'll get it out of the way: it was immensely sad. A little odd, too.

Face the Raven is the first Doctor Who by Sarah Dollard (Being Human; The Game) and what a way to debut! Not only does she bring back two supporting characters, she also gets rid of a main companion and throws in as many aliens as possible. And all brought together thanks to the neat concept of trap streets.

They're real. Well, not entirely, but Clara's tale of cartographers including a fake street so they'd know if their work had been copied by others is entirely true – it's one of those interesting nuggets of information Doctor Who frequently unearths. With a whole world available to us online, maps on our phones and courtesy of Google, the idea of hidden streets is fascinating.

It's realised as a typical magical location, cobbles and olde worlde houses, shadows and the alien. Having an unknown landscape potentially around each corner once again harks back to those early First Doctor days when the otherworldly could be found anywhere.

A stark contrast to the futuristic visuals of last week's Sleep No More, the trap street gives director, Justin Molotnikov something new to explore. It's not as impressive as his work in the La Verrier Space Station but that's to be expected; Sleep No More reveled in its directorial brilliance, its whole premise hinging on how well it was framed.

Nevertheless, Molotnikov impresses. The trap street is bookended by bright explorations of the modern world, with echoes of The Day of the Doctor (with Clara hanging from the TARDIS, just as the Eleventh Doctor did in the 50th anniversary special), and her first 'proper' adventure, The Bells of St. John in its vibrancy.

Whether it's intentional or not, an alien mask used in The Rings of Akhaten and Nightmare in Silver also turns out to be the true face of Kabel (Simon Manyonda). Maybe there's also a bit of the town called Christmas (The Time of the Doctor) in the trap street too: regardless, with aliens cropping up left, right, and centre, viewers are reminded of the recent past with startling regularity. Judoon, Sontarans, Ood, and Cybermen turn up: Clara might not have met all of those aliens on-screen but it does round off her adventures well.

Her send-off doesn't feel entirely perfect, however. For someone so intrinsic to the Doctor – scattering herself through his time stream, talking him out of destroying Gallifrey, helping him come to terms with his new incarnation – her death is shockingly pointless.

Why does she die? Because she messes up.

She's fashioned herself in the Doctor's shadow and has been heroic through and through. Her love of life aboard the TARDIS has consumed her absolutely, but not in the same way Donna, for example, was captivated by it. Donna wanted to stay to see the universe. Clara, it seems, wanted to stay so she could save the universe.

Her final act, then, is to save as many as she can from the Doctor's revenge. She sacrificed herself for a friend she'd seemingly only met once before. Ultimately, her death comes as a result of two supporting characters, Rigsy (Joivan Wade) and Ashildr (Maisie Williams) – or Me or Mayor Me, if we must.

You can't dislike Rigsy for it, though. He was great in Flatline, and he was great here as well. Sadly, he's not given an awful lot to do: Rigsy's merely a means to an end, caught up in something out of his control.

It's Ashildr who will take much of the blame from fans, I'm sure. Williams was superb in The Girl Who Died, but she was an entirely different person in The Woman Who Lived – and not a nice one. She might've carried out her plan for altruistic reasons, to save the street, but she remains far from likeable. What's more, her final scene in The Woman Who Lived, in retrospect, seems a missed opportunity. Maybe she'll return and there'll be a narrative reason for her essentially threatening the Doctor, but for now, it falls flat.

Her promise to the Doctor that humans in general (but Clara specifically) "blow away like smoke", though, is beautifully literal.

The Quantum Shade is one of the most successful aspects of the tale. The Raven is a great presence, a truly effective piece of symbolism, as is the chronolock, hanging around the necks of Clara, Ashildr, and Rigsy. The notion isn't properly explored; that's actually a good thing, adding to this almost mythical idea of a creature intent on delivering death, no matter what.

Honestly? I never suspected Clara would be killed. Not properly, and not so violently. It was a painful death. Many notable deaths of previous companions have been off-screen – yes, even Amy and Rory's living-to-death demise – but this was presented with horrific honesty.

There was nothing timey-wimey about this. Her splinters weren't involved. She didn't save the Doctor. She just died.

It's an extraordinarily brave move. We saw the Quantum Shade take her, and we saw her fall to the ground. So did the Doctor. There's something anti-climatic about it, but certainly not in a bad way. If anything, that made it even more touching.

The intimate conversation, and the words that were never said, exposed the leads' admirably. Clara was strong until the end. She was selfless and accepting. The Doctor fell apart so subtly. His rage caved in as he asked her to stay by his side. "Don't run," he says, pained. "Stay with me."

Next week, it's the Doctor's time to run. But for now...

Goodbye, our Impossible Girl. We'll always remember you.


Review: The Girl Who Died October 24, 2015 08:42 - Philip Bates

This was the week Doctor Who went bonkers. Again.

This is what our barmy show does with increasing regularity. The whole premise of the series is slightly unhinged. Sometimes, it works; other times it doesn't; and quite often, you're not quite sure what to make of it. That's the case here.

Much of this episode was great, and then it got weird. A couple of weeks ago, I said it would be wrong to judge Under the Lake by how well Before the Flood went, but a lot rests on The Woman Who Lived to put the last ten minutes of The Girl Who Died into context.

But that's the last few scenes, not the entire story. Because there was a lot to enjoy here.

After the success of his efforts in Series 8, Jamie Mathieson had heavy expectations to contend with: indeed, he won awards from Doctor Who Magazine for Mummy on the Orient Express and Flatline. With The Girl Who Died, however, he gives us something entirely different.

Sure, it's his first historical, but the tone of the piece is largely in contrast with his previous stories. You can see why so many previews called this a 'romp' but stayed away from that ominous 'filler' label that carelessly disregards stories just because they're not a series opener, finale, or show great character development for the Doctor and his companions.

'Romp' implies something light, funny, and generally somewhat frivolous. We definitely get this. The humour here works better than last year's 'romp' Robot of Sherwood through no fault of that particular tale. Series 8 set out to prove Peter Capaldi's Twelfth Doctor to be darker. After the intense Deep Breath and Into the Dalek, Robot of Sherwood jarred a little, despite being deftly written with strong characters, solid direction, and great performances.

Fortunately, the production team seems to have realised this year that he may be less user-friendly, but he's still the Doctor. It means that we've had severe stories for the past month, but the Doctor has been undoubtedly the hero we all want him to be. He's more jovial, and that's perfect.

The Time Lord is funny – generally and certainly in The Girl Who Died – without losing his gravitas. That's the beauty of this character.

In fact, he's quite joyous, amid bouts of moodiness and contemplative brooding. His happiness at seeing Clara Oswald (Jenna Coleman) returned to the village is a stand-out moment. "I'm not a hugger," he announces while giving her a thumbs-up. And then he rushes up and hugs her. That's the enthusiasm the audience likes to see. He's embracing life, not questioning whether he's a good man or not or getting bogged down by his dislike of Danny Pink.

Series 9 is almost giving us a new Doctor and that's exactly the right direction to take this 52-year-old (nearly) show.

The Doctor isn't without the weight that he carries around with him, no matter the incarnation. The Doctor speaking baby was initially a nice bit of comedy in A Good Man Goes To War (2011), added to in the same year's Closing Time. In that episode, though, Matt Smith showed a great sadness and optimism when speaking to Stormageddon/Alfie, mulling over the years that separate the pair. In The Girl Who Died, Capaldi portrays the same aching depth of emotion when translating the crying baby of this Viking village.

These could quite easily be funny scenes, a bit of light relief, but it's played very differently. It's underlined by the Doctor asking if babies die with honour.

Of course, the Doctor then throws this in the opposite direction: a little distraction comes in the form of a party, just as the Mire arrive to attack the town. Naturally, this is just sleight of hand, and there's something very satisfying that the thing that defeats the deadliest mercenaries in the galaxy is a good story.

Well, it's what we're all here for, isn't it?

The strength of a story is a common theme in many serials under Steven Moffat's tenure as showrunner: in The Big Bang (2010), Amy brought the TARDIS back in time for her wedding because the Eleventh Doctor told her an old-new-borrowed-blue story; he also planned to defeat the Old God in The Rings of Akhaten (2013) with tales of his losses; and in Into the Dalek (2014), the Twelfth Doctor hoped to redeem the Dalek with a story of the universe's cyclical nature.

It makes Ashildr (Maisie Williams) worth saving. She's brave and strange because she imagines – ultimately, that's what scares the Mire into retreating. That and the Benny Hill theme tune.

Her casting caused a publicity storm, and while Williams gives a great performance, it would likely be an anticlimax if this were it for her. I'm sure The Woman Who Lived will give us plenty more to think about regarding her character and role in the Whoniverse.

The device that brings Ashildr back to life causes a few narrative problems. Notably, it's not actually mentioned before the Doctor uses it: it's almost as if we don't really need to know the specifics of how he can do this – we just have to accept that the Doctor can save anyone if 'The Rules' are ignored. The second Mire medical unit – how might that be utilised next week? – introduces the questions that we'll likely explore in The Woman Who Lived, essentially the meaning of immortality, and by contrast, mortality.

If the Mire had this automatic repair kit, why were they scared by the make-believe dragon? It might tie into the Doctor saying Ashildr will live forever "barring accidents", or maybe recalls the Doctor's own fear of dying (largely focused on in The End of Time) despite his ability to regenerate.

Further plot holes centre on the electric eels, which many have noted wouldn't generate that amount of electricity. And why were they even there? The Vikings may have explored and fished, but not in seas with electric eels in.

In other adventures, you can pass the former off by pointing to the sonic screwdriver, but the Doctor was without both that and the TARDIS.

Nonetheless, the siege on the village is immense fun, at turns touching, hilarious, and exciting.

Sadly, it's those final ten minutes that give the story a slightly uneven feel. A great deal of fuss was given to Peter Capaldi playing the Doctor after previously appearing in The Fires of Pompeii (2008), and Torchwood: Children of Earth (2009), and we were promised an explanation.

Of course, plenty of familiar faces crop up numerous times: companions (Karen Gillan and Freema Agyeman), guest stars (Philip Madoc, Martin Jarvis, Geoffrey Palmer -  I could go on), and yes, even another Doctor (Sixth Doctor, Colin Baker was in 1983's Arc of Infinity). But we've just accepted it. This time, however, there was an in-story reason. Supposedly.

Except it sort of falls flat. Russell T Davies apparently told Moffat he had a reason for the same faces popping up now and again, and you can't help but feel this wasn't it. It feels like a cop-out. It might've worked last year, when the Doctor was trying to come to terms with who he is, but this year, he knows. He's the Doctor and that's all he's ever really needed to know.

What's more, that's all the audience needs to know too.

It might be expanded upon in the future, but here, it makes the tale disjointed. Yes, we need to judge these final scenes on how The Woman Who Lived plays out.

And this fan is looking forward to it...!


Review: Before the Flood October 14, 2015 13:49 - Philip Bates

Hey! You! Yeah, you! I'm talking to you! And so is the Doctor...

The Time Lord doesn't often break the fourth wall: in fact, the only other notable time he did was in The Feast of Steven (1965), at the end of which William Hartnell's First Doctor wished everyone at home a very merry Christmas! To do so is to risk breaking the world's illusion, ie. that the Doctor acknowledges he's a fictional character.

Writer, Toby Whithouse is brave to not only have the Doctor speaking directly to the audience, but to have this as the pre-titles sequence. It'll no doubt split fandom, but very few would argue that the subsequent rock-and-roll version of the theme tune is anything other than fantastic. (After the decidedly dodgy track that's accompanied the titles since Peter Capaldi took over the role, anything would be welcome. We get an instrumental that suits the Twelfth Doctor down to the ground.)

Yep, it's divisive, but it's also exceptional.

It's exciting and captivating, and for anybody who's left with a nasty taste in the mouth, there's an argument to be had that he's not really explaining the bootstrap paradox to us but to Clara Oswald.

This is the perfect introduction to Before the Flood because it gave us a hint about what's to come: timey-wimey elements, explanatory discussions, a slight cheekiness, thought-provoking scenes, and the Doctor on mighty fine form.

Indeed, it's a very exciting and captivating episode as a whole. Sure, it lacks some of the intrigue from last episode and anyone well versed in Doctor Who will already have guessed who is in the stasis chamber and that holograms would be used again. That doesn't entirely matter: there's enough to draw you in and keep you on the edge of your seat.

That's quite an achievement considering the story is packed with exposition-heavy scenes. Someone once said, "show, don't tell", so no doubt Whithouse will get criticism for this. Yet it worked. And what made it work so nicely was the ingenious narrative and engaging character development. (I'm not fond of the "show, don't tell" cliché anyway, but that's beside the point.)

Before the Flood is full of smart ideas, throwing the fairly-standard 'ghost' story in a different direction. That's how you keep a two-parter interesting. Give us something new to look at, some new notions to toy with. This isn't a story about hauntings - it's time travel. It might be set in Scotland, but that doesn't mean we can't have the village, pre-flood, covered in Russian propaganda. And because only a set number of ghosts were in Under the Lake, no one who went back in time could die in Before the Flood, right?

Sadly, we should've known that time is in flux, so of course someone would die in the past, and we're very sad it had to be O'Donnell (Morven Christie), an immediately charismatic, likeable, and intelligent character ideal for travelling in the TARDIS. She had something of Osgood about her, sure, but there was also a hint of Rita, a would-be companion from Whithouse's previous adventure, The God Complex (2011), doomed because the Doctor offered her a place in his space-time ship.

Fortunately, there were proper consequences to her death: added gravitas, sadness, and a further peeling back of the Doctor's motivations.

Arsher Ali showed considerable control as he portrayed Bennett's unspeakable grief and his realisation that the Doctor knew this was going to happen. That was foreshadowed by the electric scene in the TARDIS where the Time Lord asks her to stay there – but knows she won't. He did that to her last episode. He forced all of them to make a choice, to stay and satisfy their own curiosities.

Last series, this alien manner seemed very forced – intended to shock and set Capaldi's Doctor apart from his past regenerations. Yet here it works perfectly. The Doctor has always been like this; the extent to which it shows simply varies depending on incarnation.

It brings to mind further scenes from The God Complex, notably the Eleventh Doctor's seeming manipulation, perhaps unintended, of Amy Pond (Karen Gillan). The two adventures share quite a few qualities, despite appearing largely polarised on the surface. Both are important in the evolution of the Doctor-companion relationships (Clara's angry talk with him on the phone is stunningly acted and scripted); both feature large deceptions where the supposed-enemies seem more like victims; both star Tivolians; and both have memorable scenes of the Doctor hiding from a giant, lumbering beast, which ends in death.

Unlike the Minotaur from The God Complex, however, we don't see enough of the Fisher King, played by the tallest man in Europe, Neil Fingleton, and voiced by comedian-actor, Peter Serafinowicz and Slipknot's Corey Taylor. He's certainly a scary creation, beautifully thought-out and realised. His towering over Capaldi makes him seem a genuine threat, while his malicious streak manifests itself in his using of human souls.

There's something of the deep about him, so here's hoping the dam merely put back his plans, that he will return someday...

The Cold War training outpost is a neat idea as well, but one that's also underused. As a backdrop, it does the job and serves the narrative ably. Director, Daniel O'Hara makes it look interesting and gives us fresh new environs for the story to expand, but it did lack something. Nonetheless, it'll remind long-term fans of 1989's The Curse of Fenric, and that's definitely a positive.

The Faraday Cage concept, too, is used deftly in this episode: a place of safety, certainly until the Doctor realises that Clara's phone won't work in there so she'll have to leave it outside the room and fight through the ghosts if it does ring.

Similarly, Cass (Sophie Stone) is excellent, especially in her determination in making sure Lunn (Zaqi Ismail) is safe. Her picking up the vibrations in the floor when the ghost of Moran (Colin McFarlane) is coming for her is very clever, and again acting, direction, and writing all combine to create a tense, absorbing scene.

The really great thing about Before the Flood is that you thoroughly care about each of these characters. You don't want any of them to die. You feel the weight in Bennett's heart as he stares at O'Donnell's ghost then convinces Lunn to admit his feelings for Cass – because he left it too late for himself.

Toby Whithouse has proven again and again that he's a writer you can rely upon. Not one to go through the motions: he delivers vastly enjoyable scripts that play with expectations and make you truly care about the people involved.

There are definitely things to nit-pick about, but the 40-odd minute duration flies by and this two-parter is simply too enjoyable to rip apart. It remains my favourite Twelfth Doctor serial so far.

Images: BBC.


Review: The Witch's Familiar October 01, 2015 00:08 - Philip Bates

The solution to last week's cliffhanger bookends The Witch's Familiar: it was a two-part cliffhanger, and writer, Steven Moffat knows which one you'll know is a red herring – the deaths of Clara and Missy – and which will keep you hooked, namely the Doctor seemingly threatening to exterminate a young Davros.

That opening is bold and clever, mixing gorgeous visuals with an explanation that should satisfy fans. The scenes on Skaro contrast beautifully with the dark direction of Missy's tale of the Doctor escaping invisible androids. Shot in black and white, featuring brief glimpses of past Doctors, and borrowing something from episodes like Planet of the Daleks and The Androids of Tara, it's a great reminder of Doctor Who's past.

But then, that's what The Witch's Familiar does so well, and this first scene sets the tone well.

Moffat of course should take credit for his allusions to the past – indeed, Peter Capaldi called this serial a tribute to the First Doctor era – but similar praise should be heaped onto Production Designer, Michael Pickwoad, and director, Hettie MacDonald.

The interior of the Dalek city is an obvious nod to the show's second story, 1963/4's The Daleks (sometimes known as The Mutants), with sleek lines and sterile environs, while the sewers of Skaro remind viewers of the grim locales of Genesis of the Daleks (1975). Davros' talk of his final victory is reminiscent of 2008's The Stolen Earth/ Journey's End, and the hybrid idea has been explored (briefly) in 2007's Daleks in Manhattan/ Evolution of the Daleks. Furthermore, the Dalek civil war – given a nod in the rotting Kaled mutants seeping through and attacking the Daleks – has been shown in stories like Evil of the Daleks (1967) and Remembrance of the Daleks (1988).

The HADS (renamed here as the Hostile Action Dispersal System) is another knowing wink to the past, the defence tool first cropping up in The Krotons (1968) and coming back for Cold War (2013).

The shock viewers got at seeing Skaro again (destroyed in Remembrance) in 2011's Asylum of the Daleks is even revisited, last week by Missy's understated surprise to be back on the planet, and this time by the Doctor actually questioning Davros about its return.

Yep, it's rather appropriate that The Magician's Apprentice/ The Witch's Familiar is so steeped in history, and while you can't help but wonder what the casual viewer would make of it all, I very much doubt it genuinely excludes even the newest of viewers (the majority of whom would already know about Davros and the Daleks regardless).

Not knowing, for instance, that the Doctor was previously sent back to the Daleks' origins to destroy the race before they got off the ground doesn't hamper what's a thoroughly enjoyable and intriguing story about the Doctor, stuck in the middle of an army of angry tanks, facing up to his arch-enemy.

It's impossible to isolate a single exemplary scene because seeing Capaldi opposite Julian Bleach's creator of the Daleks is a joy, as is Missy's manipulation of Clara, a companion who is normally more than a match for most of the aliens she comes up against.

In fact, while Jenna is never anything less than brilliant, Clara does seem uncharacteristically useless, and this does sit uneasily with anyone who has seen her strength in tales like The Rings of Akhaten (2013), The Time of the Doctor (2013), and 2014's Flatline. I liked the scared Clara shown in Cold War, but that was a long time ago now, and she's grown into an extraordinarily strong, capable person. Seeing her dumbfounded when questioned by a Dalek is odd. Perhaps Missy really does have her on the back-foot, or maybe she's just terrified of the Daleks. It's interesting territory that's not really explored enough.

Seeing Clara imprisoned in a Dalek is another step into exciting territory, and the parallels with Asylum of the Daleks, in which it's revealed that one of her splinters in time (Oswin Oswald) has been converted, are sublime. Given it's Jenna's final year in the role, it's fitting that her first appearance in the series is at least alluded to.

We even get blasts of the Asylum soundtrack, courtesy of the always-great Murray Gold!

The music, however, is at times overwhelming, never more so than when Missy is destroying the Dalek in the sewers, a satisfying scene that, in retrospect, doesn't entirely make sense. We get an explosion, pre-empting the Doctor's destruction of the Daleks en masse, but when Clara is shoved inside the Dalek, the armour is fine again.

These are the only real missteps in an otherwise excellent story that enlightens and intrigues in equal measure.

There are plenty of unanswered questions – for one, the Confession Dial, which we'll surely get to in the Series 9 finale; and secondly the fates of Davros and Missy. Michelle Gomez is fantastically insane throughout, and Julian Bleach gives a shockingly emotional performance. Most fans presumed that Davros' eyes were burnt out or something similarly grotesque, but Moffat shows us otherwise. We also get to see him out of his chair, replaced by an angry (and thus dangerous) Doctor, wheeling about and threatening the Supreme Dalek.

We also get an insight into the psychology of the Daleks, adding more definition to their understanding of emotion. In the past, they've come worryingly close to becoming emotionless robots, akin to the Cybermen (who, no, aren't robots either). The lines had been blurred. Fortunately, here it's revealed that emotion is how Daleks 'reload.' "You are different from me" translates into "exterminate." That's horribly scary and utterly true of the Daleks.

More Dalek tropes are given greater significance, notably one of the my favourite things about them: the thrumming heartbeat. It was used superbly in Victory of the Daleks (2010), ushering in the new (but sadly forgotten) paradigm, and is of importance in this serial because, quite simply, it's keeping Davros alive.

(Given the stunning acting, you can believe that Davros is at the end of his life, but I'm so, so pleased that he's been regenerated!)

And most importantly - to the Dalek mythos, and as the resolution to the cliffhanger – we learn how the Daleks have a concept of mercy. Fans of the Eleventh Doctor era will recall 2010's The Big Bang in which a stone Dalek begs River Song for mercy, and this episode pays that off perfectly.

The Witch's Familiar is a product of the past and hints at an exciting future, and without doubt my favourite link to Doctor Who's history is seeing the Daleks, in the process of regenerating, seemingly deactivated amongst the long corridors of the city. It reminds me of the First Doctor's victory over them in The Daleks, where we learnt that those early Dalek designs were powered by static generated from the metallic floors.

Indeed, when contrasted with the jumping narrative of The Magician's Apprentice, The Witch's Familiar is quite a static tale, but it's certainly better for it: more coherent, more satisfying, and ultimately more captivating... Exactly what an opening serial needs to be!

Next: Under the Lake.

Images: BBC.


Sneak Peek: Doctor Who Scarves, Tie and Hanky Coming This Fortnight! September 28, 2015 22:13 - Philip Bates

We're very pleased to share with you detailed images of the four Doctor Who products to be released in the next fortnight.

Based on the painting by Vincent van Gogh in the two-part Series 5 finale, The Pandorica Opens is a stunning design that we instantly fell in love with - and that's why we decided to display it in all its glory on a 100% Pure Silk Scarf! We're sure you'll agree that it's eye-catching, memorable, and recognisably Who!

It comes in a presentation box adorned with Doctor Who and BBC logos, and is priced £29.99 and with free UK delivery.

We may be embracing the Eleventh Doctor era, but we can't forget both the show's history, and our own past, which is why we're releasing a Shorter Fourth Doctor Scarf (£24.99). It's the same colours in the same pattern, just in a more manageable size. The look is as synonymous with Doctor Who as the TARDIS, the Daleks, and K9, so you can display your allegiance with pride wherever you go.

And because it's still made of 100% premium-quality Acrylic, it'll keep you nice and toasty during the Winter while you wander around the shops, or watch the Doctor's latest adventures in time and space. (Don't forget to check out our Doctor Who blog for regular previews and reviews of Series 9!)

Mind you, a scarf might look cumbersome in the office, no matter its length. So why not check out the Fourth Doctor Knitted Tie (£24.99)? It's exclusively-designed by Lovarzi, and made in Italy from 50% Wool and 50% Acrylic.

If you're a fan of Tom Baker's incarnation of the Time Lord, this tie is a perfect companion to a snazzy shirt or snappy suit.

Finally, you asked for it, so we made it: the Seventh Doctor Hanky (£24.99) is made with collectors and cosplayers in mind.

Anyone modelling their look on Sylvester McCoy's Doctor needs a special something to finish off the unique style - and this is it! In 1987, the BBC purchased around 20 red hankies to tie around the Seventh Doctor's hat, its design intricate and beautiful. Frankly, the Doctor would look odd without it!

Our screen-accurate hanky is digitally-printed in Italy, so we can get that accurate detail, emblazoned on 100% Pure Cotton.

All of these products will be available to pre-order over the next fortnight, and as ever, we look forward to hearing from fans (and seeing your photos) on our Facebook profile and Twitter feed.