Doctor Who

Preview: Before the Flood October 09, 2015 11:25 - Philip Bates

This weekend, the Doctor comes face-to-face with the terrifying Fisher King..

Anyone else getting a Curse of Fenric (1989) vibe?

In last Saturday's Under the Lake, the Doctor and Clara were up against mysterious ghosts chanting four words over and over again under their breath. Now, separated from his companion, the Doctor has gone back in time to see if he can find out more about the major threat on this underwater base.

On a remote Army outpost, a fearsome alien warlord – the Fisher King – sets in motion a twisted plan to ensure his own survival. The ripples will be felt around the universe. Is this chain of events inevitable? And can the Doctor do the unthinkable?

Here's a brief clip to whet your appetite, with Peter Capaldi's incanration of the Time Lord alongside O'Donnell (Morven Christie) and Bennett (Arsher Ali).


In our review, we called Under the Lake "a triumph", and added:

"Please excuse such untempered enthusiasm for Under the Lake, but it's already become my favourite Twelfth Doctor story so far. Considering it's got competition from Mummy on the Orient Express and Flatline (2014), that's a great feat."

Before the Flood airs on Saturday 10th October 2015 on BBCOne, at 8:25pm and concluding at 9:10pm.

Review: Under the Lake October 06, 2015 23:15 - Philip Bates

Full disclosure: to me, Toby Whithouse is one of Doctor Who's strongest regular writers. I've enjoyed all his Who work, but The God Complex (2011) is a particular favourite. As such, this two-parter has been my most anticipated story of Series 9.

Fortunately, this sole episode lived up to my hopes and continued the run's solid start. Whether it's generally deemed a good episode or not could hinge on how Before the Flood unfolds, but that's wrong. It should be judged on its own merits.

And after doing so, you can only conclude that Under the Lake is a triumph.

You know what we're getting straight away from an engrossing pre-titles sequence. The writing's on the wall. Ghosts and a base under siege. This sounds like standard fare for Doctor Who, but we've not had these tropes since 2013: Cold War was the previous base-under-siege tale – discounting Mummy on the Orient Express (2014) because it doesn't fit easily into that category – and Hide featured the last use of 'ghosts.'

I love both of these concepts though: the base-under-siege idea works particularly well as it hypes up the drama and the horror so core to Doctor Who. But they only work if you do something new with them.

Fortunately, Whithouse does just this. The function of the underwater base means you get a clever design and smart notions of electromagnetic locks and a night-and-day feature that you know immediately will be exploited. The Faraday Cage, too, is a neat way of keeping the crew alive for the three days that pass between Moran's death and the TARDIS' (unhappy) arrival, and containing the threat later on.

The ghosts, too, are presented in a new fashion - as actual ghosts. The Doctor has never believed in them, so previous explanations typically revolve around time travel or impressions on houses (based on the premise of Nigel Kneale's The Stone Tape). But no, the Doctor has come round to a new way of thinking. These are actual apparitions of the dead.

It becomes even grimmer when the Time Lord realises that they're not natural phenomena at all; instead, someone is hijacking souls...

Things should get even more interesting when we learn how the ghosts came into being and how the Doctor's actions in the past affect Clara and co. in next week's Before the Flood.

But we're getting ahead of ourselves. That's how this episode works: excitement and suspense in equal measure surge the tale on, adding layers of intrigue so you're as interested in these characters and the functions of these ghosts as the Doctor is.

It helps, of course, that you care about these characters. They're all well-realised and fleshed out, despite their back-stories not being explored. You understand their reasoning, their companionship. They're not a slightly-fractured crew like in The Rebel Flesh. The Almost People (2011); they care about each other, right down to Cass (Sophie Stone) telling the Doctor that she won't be held responsible for getting her colleagues killed. More than anything, her closeness to Lunn (Zaqi Ismail) is both endearing and completely understandable. Her concern when he is cornered by a ghost is especially effective, as is Lunn's acceptance that if Cass stays on the base, so must he.

O'Donnell (Morven Christie) is the latest in a long line of fans: she knows and respects the Doctor's work for UNIT, just as Osgood and Malcolm have before. She'll no doubt divide some viewers, but Christie makes sure she's not just a giggling annoyance. She's clever and capable, with a cool persona. Frankly, she's exactly the type of person UNIT would employ!

Bennett (Arsher Ali) is likewise a great character, not as enthusiastic as O'Donnell but nonetheless efficient, dry-witted, and, most prominently, curious. I very much look forward to seeing how he and O'Donnell interact with the Doctor, the past, and the Fisher King next week.

It's a shame we don't get more time with Colin McFarlane's Moran (McFarlane having previously voiced the Heavenly Host in Voyage of the Damned and also starring in shows like Death in Paradise, Dennis the Menace, and The Fast Show), but at least his ghost is wonderfully creepy.

Pritchard, played by Steven Robertson (Luther; Ripper Street) is the most stereotypical, with his underhanded business manner making him an easy candidate to be killed early on. Indeed, his death is especially gruesome, something reminiscent of the classic Robots of Death (1977) cliffhanger in Part One where the Doctor is buried in sand. Similarly, viewing his demise via CCTV (or the 22nd Century equivalent) reminds this viewer of Rita's death in The God Complex.

In fact, there's quite a lot here that stems from the past. The whole 'catching-ghosts' sequence is similar to the gorgeous scenes in The God Complex where the Doctor tricks the Minotaur into explaining why he's trapped in that spaceship-turned-hotel. Then there's the mole-like Prentis (Paul Kaye) from Tivoli, the same planet as Gibbis.

There are further allusions to The Impossible Planet/ The Satan Pit (2006) and 42 (2007), as well as Sarah Jane, who the Doctor left in Aberdeen instead of Croydon. (Those cue cards for the Doctor are genius, perfect for the Tumblr generation who love to spot easter eggs. The humour in Under the Lake is another marvel: the Doctor especially is hilarious, which is just what we need right now. "Anything else I should know? Someone got a peanut allergy or something?" is a particular favourite line.)

And could Clara's mentioning "that place where the people with the long necks have been celebrating New Year for two centuries" be a hint at the Krillitane, who before taking bat-form apparently looked like us but with really long necks? Furthermore, the mention of synapses in the brain reminds me of The Claws of Axos (1971), although this is likely unintentional.

The weight of these previous adventures doesn't crush Under the Lake. Referencing highly-regarded tales could bury a story under expectations and parallels, but this is an exceptionally clever episode. The blurring between the supernatural and the mechanical (electronics clearly has a lot to do with what's going on) is sublime, as is the tone in general.

And even though the cliffhanger isn't entirely unexpected, it remains an unsettling and enthralling image. More praise must be lavished upon Whithouse and director, Daniel O'Hara for deftly separating the Doctor and Clara, and making an already-cramped space even tighter.

Please excuse such untempered enthusiasm for Under the Lake, but it's already become my favourite Twelfth Doctor story so far. Considering it's got competition from Mummy on the Orient Express and Flatline (2014), that's a great feat.

This is a story that proves you don't have to rewrite history or add a new nuance to the Doctor; you don't have to reintroduce classic monsters, or do something hugely controversial. You don't need these things to make a fantastic Doctor Who story.

You simply need to be fantastic, that's all.

Images: BBC.

Doctor Who Memes:Oh, Come On! October 06, 2015 12:34 - Maninder Sahota

Doctor Who Memes: You're not happy October 06, 2015 12:32 - Maninder Sahota

Doctor Who Memes: The Magician's Apprentice - DUDE October 05, 2015 11:55 - Maninder Sahota

Lovarzi's Series 9 Guide: Under the Lake/ Before the Flood October 03, 2015 11:08 - Philip Bates

Transmission: 03.10.2015/ 10.10.2015.

Writer: Toby Whithouse.

Director: Daniel O'Hara.

Guest Starring: Morven Christie; Colin McFarlane; Sophie Stone; Arsher Ali; Peter Serafinowicz; Zaqi Ismail; Steven Robertson; and Paul Kaye.

It's 2119 and a mining crew discovers a spaceship and hauls it aboard their underwater base. When the Doctor and Clara arrive, the base is plagued by hollow-eyed ghosts – but as the Doctor says, "They're not ghosts; we're not nine years old." So what really are they? What are their intentions? And is it possible to meet you own ghost?

The time-travellers have a several more questions: "What’s death like? Does it hurt? Do you still get hungry? Do you miss being alive?"

Teased as having elements of The Impossible Planet/ The Satan Pit (2006), 42 (2007), and 2009's The Waters of Mars, the action then moves a few hundred years into the past, where, on a remote army outpost, the Doctor must stop the seemingly-inevitable as an alien warlord, the Fisher King, tries to ensure its own future.

This is the first base-under-siege story for a while, but there's a timey-wimey twist, while writer, Toby Whithouse told Doctor Who Magazine: "Death is the one thing which defines every single species... And what the Doctor finds so fascinating about [the creatures in this two-part tale] is they seem to have overcome this one limitation that every single lifeform has. Every sane person would regard that as terrifying, but to him, it's fascinating."

It's a welcome return for Whithouse, who has worked on Doctor Who since 2006 when his debut episode, School Reunion, reintroduced Sarah Jane Smith and K9. His last episodes was 2012's A Town Called Mercy, but it's actually a race created for The God Complex (2011) that briefly gets revisited in this two-part tale: Paul Kaye (Ripper Street; Game of Thrones) plays Prentis, a native of Tivoli (aka the most invaded planet in the galaxy!

Whithouse is reunited with Daniel O'Hara, whose worked on two previous franchises created by the writer: Being Human and last year's The Game. This is O'Hara's first gig on Doctor Who, but he's also directed four 2012 episodes of Wizards vs. Aliens, the family series created by former Who showrunner, Russell T Davies, and Into the Dalek writer, Phil Ford.

The Fisher King is voiced by Peter Serafinowicz (Shaun of the Dead) – his scream provided by Skipknot's CoreyTaylor – but the alien itself is from Arthurian legend. He's the last in a long line to protect the Holy Grail, a relic supposedly with special powers: it has the ability to give eternal youth...

Ghosts. An underwater base-under-siege. Questions about immortality. Time travel. This is Classic Doctor Who at its finest...

Under the Lake airs tonight on BBCOne at 8:25pm.

Get 10% Off New Products with our Doctor Who Fan Club! October 01, 2015 15:50 - Philip Bates

Love Doctor Who? We've created a very special VIP Fan Club just for you!

You can join for free, and as well as getting advanced details of upcoming Doctor Who products, you'll also receive discount codes that give you 10% off new items valid for two days after launch dates.

All we need to know is your your first name and surname, and of course your email address too. We won't spam you with nonsense emails from third parties either: it'll just be the best offers on your favourite upcoming products!

With four new Doctor Who items launching this week, it's an exciting time at Lovarzi - and we want you to be involved! Become a member of our Doctor Who Fan Club now!

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.

Lovarzi's Official Doctor Who Range Embraces The Eleventh Doctor Era - And Celebrates The Past! September 25, 2015 09:07 - Philip Bates

Four new Doctor Who products will be available nationwide from Lovarzi, in partnership with BBC Worldwide, in the next two weeks – including the company's first foray into the new 2005-present revival!

Since 2012, Lovarzi has worked with the BBC to deliver top-quality items for fashionable fans of Doctor Who and Sherlock, including jumpers, umbrellas, and scarves. Cosplayers, collectors, and casual wearers: there's something here for everyone, whether your heart(s) lie with Tom Baker's madcap Fourth Doctor, Sylvester McCoy's manipulative Seventh Doctor, or Matt Smith's exuberant Eleventh Doctor!

The Pandorica Opens Scarf is based on the painting by Vincent van Gogh of the same name: a warning to his Time Lord friend that the universe is cracked, and the ultimate prison is opening. The stunning picture captures the disaster that led to total event collapse – the TARDIS exploding!

In the Doctor Who Series 5 finale, The Pandorica Opens/ The Big Bang (2010), the bow-tie-wearing Eleventh Doctor was trapped by his greatest enemies – including the Daleks, Cybermen, Sontarans, and Nestene Consciousness – in a futile effort to save creation. Fortunately, the Doctor managed to escape (with a little help from Amy Pond, Rory Williams, and River Song), and reboot the universe, so Lovarzi could make this detailed, digitally-printed 100% Pure Silk Scarf!

Complete with a presentation box (adorned with foil-printed Doctor Who and BBC logos), this is the first time Lovarzi has specifically celebrated the much-loved Matt Smith era of the show, and what better way than with one of the most memorable and instantly-recognisable images from Doctor Who's history!

After the success of the Seventh Doctor Jumper and Paisley Silk Scarf, Lovarzi continues to cater for cosplaying Sylvester McCoy fans (and snappy dressers!) with the Seventh Doctor Hanky, digitally-printed in Italy.

Designed by Ken Trew, the BBC purchased about 20 red hankies to wrap around the Time Lord's panama hat, and Sylvester McCoy stepped out in his now-iconic costume in Time and the Rani (1987). This intricate hanky, also presented in a gift box, adds a touch of finesse for fans battling Daleks, the Kandy Man, and the Gods of Ragnarok; scheming against Fenric and his Haemovore hordes... or even attending conventions!

Made from 100% Cotton, it's simply Ace.

Lovarzi's original screen-accurate replica of the Fourth Doctor Scarf remains a bestseller, but many keep that solely for cosplaying. That's why the company has made a shorter version: at 25 x 200cms, it's perfect for showing off your fan credentials on a daily basis, and reminding you to keep with you a teaspoon and an open mind.

It's still made of 100% premium-quality Acrylic yarn, and comes in a special carry-case. It's still that iconic design, capturing the liveliness and unpredictability of Tom Baker's incarnation of the Time Lord. It's still the same Fourth Doctor Scarf – but in a more manageable size!

Soft, warm, and as synonymous with the show as the TARDIS, K9, and Skaro's finest: the look first appeared in Robot (1974), and has frequently been alluded to in subsequent eras, including brief appearances in tales like The Christmas Invasion (2005), A Christmas Carol (2010), and, of course, 2013's The Day of the Doctor!

If you're looking for something completely different for Fourth Doctor fans, Lovarzi's exclusively-designed Knitted Tie takes those same colours in that same pattern and makes a unique product for anyone who wants to show off their love for the world's longest-running sci-fi TV series.

Also presented in a gift box, foil-printed with the Doctor Who logo, the Fourth Doctor Knitted Tie is made in Italy from 50% Wool and 50% Acrylic.

This smart tie is a great companion to a sharp suit or stylish shirt, wherever you go, whatever the weather. Just make sure you've got some jelly babies with you too.

Preview: The Witch's Familiar September 24, 2015 21:16 - Philip Bates

Doctor Who Series 9 continues this weekend with The Witch's Familiar - and sees the Doctor surrounded by his deadliest enemies, the Daleks, and faced with a tough decision that could change the whole of time and space.

Trapped and alone in a terrifying Dalek city, the Doctor is at the heart of an evil Empire: no sonic, no TARDIS, nobody to help. With his greatest temptation before him, can the Doctor resist? And will there be mercy?

The BBC has released this clip of the forthcoming episode, with Peter Capaldi's Twelfth Doctor lashing out at Davros (Julian Bleach).

In our review of The Magician's Apprentice, we particularly praised Bleach:

"It's been seven years since he last played Davros (in 2008's Journey's End), but he slips back into the role effortlessly. His dialogue with the Doctor is naturally electric, and the two bounce off one another perfectly. He immediately cuts down the Doctor's assertion that the Daleks should never have been created with a simple line, accusing him of being a broken record: 'This is the argument we've had since we met.'"

The Witch's Familiar airs on Saturday 26th September, on BBCOne, at 7:45pm.

Review: The Magician's Apprentice September 20, 2015 20:57 - Philip Bates

In The Magician's Apprentice, the Doctor has a lot to contend with: Davros, yes; the Daleks, of course; Missy perhaps; the complexities of time travel; his own shame; and a large helping of dramatic irony – in varying degrees.

There's quite a lot the audience knows that the Doctor and co. aren't entirely aware of, and depending on your point-of-view, this either adds to the drama, or utterly diffuses it. Case in point: Clara dies. Despite news that Jenna Coleman is leaving the show, she's already been seen filming for the rest of Series 9 (possibly with the exception of the final two-parter, Heaven Sent/ Hell Bent). When Michelle Gomez's Missy is exterminated, it's surprising yet a bit damp; she died in Death in Heaven, but here she is again. A little thing like death isn't going to stop her.

When Clara dies, you know this can't last.

And then the TARDIS is blown apart, and that's the final confirmation that these things will be undone.

That's the same problem with The Sound of Drums/ Last of the Time Lords (2007): the Master had decimated the Earth, so the only thing the audience expects is a big reset button. Indeed, the Paradox Machine was destroyed and everything wound back one year. But that's how smart Steven Moffat's writing is. Straight after blowing away Missy, Clara, and the TARDIS, he presents to us the means to reset things – only it's by doing something equally dramatic. It's something the Doctor will never do, because it's something he can't do.

He has to kill Davros.

Of course, we know the Doctor won't kill a child and substantially alter time. If he had done so before, the whole Time War could've never happened and Gallifrey would still be in the skies. There are too many subsequent paradoxes – prominently, if he kills Davros, there's no reason he would travel back to kill Davros, that timeline in which Clara is exterminated having been diverted.

(This, too, poses interesting questions: what would the Doctor be like without the Daleks (given his confession in last year's Into the Dalek that he found out who he was when he first landed on Skaro?)

Furthermore, we know the Doctor. We know who he is, and he wouldn't shoot a then-innocent boy. The Doctor, then, wouldn't, and he couldn't.

And yet – and yet...

Dramatic irony heightens/diffuses the suspense in other ways too: if you listened to rumours, you'd know Davros would be back, and that we'd be retreading old ground – both that we'd literally be back on Skaro, and that the Doctor's dilemma would be the same as in Genesis of the Daleks (1975).

Many have called the central concept a great idea, and indeed it is – although it's far from original. The same territory was explored in not just Genesis but also recent episodes like The Beast Below (2010), and to a lesser extent, Let's Kill Hitler (2011).

Additionally, Eleventh Doctor era stories have mulled over the Doctor's last days and what he would do – which is why the three-week party in 1158 doesn't quite ring true. Peter Capaldi's Time Lord is a different incarnation but he's still the same man, so why spend his final hours rocking out instead of spending time with his friends (The Impossible Astronaut), saving as many as he can (The Time of the Doctor), or both (Closing Time).

Capaldi, however, is really nailing the Doctor, and thankfully, much of the burden lumped on his shoulders by Series 8's "am I a good man?" arc has been lifted... or at least seemingly. That question hangs in the air still as he confront his shame at having left a young Davros to die amongst the hand-mines, and no doubt when he returns at the episode's cliffhanger.

Michelle Gomez, too, is great. Although I'm still not comfortable with the idea of a female Master, Missy herself is full of wit and dark charm. Her relationship with Clara is just as interesting as with the Doctor. There's an odd respect between them all, and a kind of trusting. Clara's reaction, while cautionary, isn't quite how you'd predict, especially considering Missy held at least some responsibility for Danny's death last series. Considering this is a companion hooked on danger and fashioning herself like the Doctor, Clara's taking Missy in her stride shouldn't come as too great a shock.

Kate Stewart's reaction, though, is a surprise. It simply doesn't ring true. I know Lethbridge-Stewarts are a strong breed, but she didn't convey much anger at the woman who flung her out of a plane, and killed one of her trusted advisors, Osgood.

That's not Jemma Redgrave's fault – she's always been a fantastic addition to the semi-regular cast – she was simply lacking in that sort of material. It's a shame, really, especially as UNIT was essentially deemed a necessary but inept plot device. I can only hope that it foreshadows events later on in this run of stories, notably The Zygon Invasion/ The Zygon Inversion, and, alongside the Doctor's confession, the finale.

There were so many elements to The Magician's Apprentice that some were bound to be left unexplored. Fortunately, Davros isn't one. He's a joy – always has been.

And thankfully, we have Julian Bleach back as the evil genius. It's been seven years since he last played Davros (in 2008's Journey's End), but he slips back into the role effortlessly. His dialogue with the Doctor is naturally electric, and the two bounce off one another perfectly. He immediately cuts down the Doctor's assertion that the Daleks should never have been created with a simple line, accusing him of being a broken record: "This is the argument we've had since we met."

We're sure to get further chilling exchanges in next week's The Witch's Familiar, and while this opening episode was a mixed bag, it should slot into place much better after we know how this impossible cliffhanger, and the storyline as a whole, is resolved.

I know I speak for fandom as a whole when I say, I can't wait.

Images: BBC.

Lovarzi's Series 9 Guide: The Magician's Apprentice/ The Witch's Familiar September 19, 2015 11:28 - Philip Bates

Transmission: 19.09.2015/ 26.09.2015.

Writer: Steven Moffat.

Director: Hettie MacDonald.

Guest Starring: Michelle Gomez; Jemma Redgrave; Clara Higgins; Jaye Griffiths; Jami Reid-Quarrell; Nicholas Briggs; and Daniel Hoffman-Gill.

Doctor Who Series 9 is upon us, with Peter Capaldi's Twelfth Doctor at the helm of the TARDIS alongside his ever-reliable companion, Clara Oswald (Jenna Coleman).

But with news that Jenna is leaving, what do these next 12 episodes hold for an Impossible Girl running out of time? The series kicks off with the Doctor missing, the Daleks searching for the Time Lord, and Clara driven into an uneasy alliance with Missy...

The skies over the Earth have frozen – planes suspended above skyscrapers and fields – and the one man who can help is missing from time and space. Where is the Doctor? And what is he hiding from?

Teased with the last will and testament of the Doctor, the return of Michelle Gomez as Missy, and the Doctor making a cataclysmic mistake, this opening story sets the run's precedent for two-parters: indeed, showrunner, Steven Moffat recently said that Series 9 will blur the lines between what constitutes as a multi-part tale. We've at least four two-parters this series, and that's without episodes 5 and 6, which, we're assured, are linked.

In the Radio Times, Moffat posed some very intriguing questions, namely "Why did [the Doctor] really leave Gallifrey all those centuries ago?"

Hettie MacDonald returns to the director's chair for the first time since the fan-favourite Blink (2007), which introduced the Weeping Angels – and this time, she gets to work with Daleks from all eras of the show! Because the Doctor is trapped on Skaro, the planet of the Daleks, as a prisoner of the creatures that hate him most... Taking

The irradiated deserts of Skaro were filmed in Tenerife, and Peter Capaldi told Doctor Who Magazine: "We were in a very isolated location. You had to drive quite a distance to get to it. It's not on a touristy bit of the island; it's way, way up. It looks great. It works very well."

Rather interestingly, these episodes also credit former showrunner, Russell T Davies, and further writers, Toby Whithouse, Chris Chibnall, Gareth Roberts, and Stephen Greenhorn – most likely for creating aliens that have cameos. For Whithouse, this could be the Krillitanes (from 2006's School Reunion); for Greenhorn, we're betting on the Hath (2008's The Doctor's Daughter); and Roberts' monsters include the Carrionites (2007's The Shakespeare Code), the Skovox Blitzer (last year's The Caretaker), and the Graske from the 2005 Interactive Red Button game.

Davies, of course, created a vast array of aliens (including the Slitheen, Sycorax, and the Adipose), while Chibnall's contributions also span both Doctor Who and Torchwood.

Jemma Redgrave reprises her role as UNIT's Kate Stewart, Kelly Hunter as the Shadow Architect from 2008's The Stolen Earth, and Clara Higgins returns as Ohila, a member of the Sisterhood of Karn, which she previously played in 2013's The Night of the Doctor.

The Magician's Apprentice airs tonight on BBC One at 7:40pm.

Images: BBC.

Jenna Coleman is Leaving Doctor Who September 18, 2015 21:54 - Philip Bates

The BBC has confirmed that Jenna Coleman is to leave Doctor Who during Series 9.

Jenna's played Clara Oswald opposite Matt Smith's Eleventh Doctor and Peter Capaldi's Twelfth Doctor, facing up to Daleks, Cybermen, Zygons, the Great Intelligence, and Missy – but how she meets her end in the upcoming run of episodes of course remains a mystery.

"I have left the TARDIS. It’s happened; I’ve filmed my last scenes," she confirmed on Radio 1's Breakfast show before explaining further: "It was emotional but it’s been in the works for a long time. Steven [Moffat, showrunner] and I sat down a year ago and decided the best way to tell the story and that’s what we’ve done."

Sadly, her departure from the show has been rumoured for some time: she even seemed to have left the show last series (in Death in Heaven), but was welcomed back onto the space-time ship in Last Christmas.

"Jenna has been absolutely brilliant," Peter Capaldi said. "I think she’s wonderful in the show, and she’s my favourite companion."

Coleman was announced as the Doctor's new companion in March 2012, and began filming her first proper adventure in May of that same year: Hide was a romantic horror story that also starred Jessica Raine (Line of Duty; An Adventure in Space and Time) as Emma Grayling, and Dougray Scott (Mission: Impossible II; The Wrong Mans) as Alec Palmer, and written by Luther creator, Neil Cross. While her first real appearance as Clara was in 2013's The Bells of St. John, she made a surprise appearance in 2012's Asylum of the Daleks as the doomed Oswin Oswald, Junior Entertainment Manager on the starship Alaska, and then again in that Christmas' special, The Snowmen, this time as Clara Oswin Oswald.

This kicked off the Impossible Girl storyline, which saw the Doctor puzzling at how one person can be seemingly splintered through time.

If she does last until the conclusion of Series 9, Jenna will be the longest-running modern companion: Hell Bent will be her 36th episode, compared to Karen Gillan's 34.

Don't worry too much about Jenna's next role, though – she's already been cast as Queen Victoria in a £10million ITV production, called Victoria, written by novelist, Daisy Goodwin (The Fortune Hunter).

Everyone at Lovarzi wishes Jenna all the best for the future!

Lovarzi and Doctor Who September 17, 2015 15:12 - Philip Bates

Since we launched our first Doctor Who product – the multi-coloured Fourth Doctor (Tom Baker) Season 12 Scarf - back in 2012, it's been a great journey for us. It would not have been possible without the great, dedicated fans of the show, and we truly appreciate this committed fanbase. On the way, we got some great feedback which helped in our product development from individual Whovians and also fan groups like the lovely folk at Stitches in Time.

We pride ourselves in having a very close relationship with fans of Doctor Who, and honestly some of products would not have been possible without input from you, the fans.

We've now released 10 Doctor Who products – including scarves, umbrellas and jumpers - and all of them have been received very well, and are especially popular among the cosplay community. We are committed to provide quality products year on year and 2015 is no different. We will be soon releasing 3-4 Doctor Who products, and have some surprises to add to these in coming months too.


Get Your Own Scarf September 11, 2015 13:20 - Maninder Sahota

Our Doctor Who Umbrellas are in SciFiNow! September 08, 2015 12:12 - Maninder Sahota

This month, we at Lovarzi have had the privilege of having one of our most popular collections featured in SciFiNow magazine!

 Our Doctor Who Umbrellas - which have always been a firm favourite amongst fellow Whovians - are featured in SciFiNow’s monthly ‘Vault’ section, in which they share their favourite ‘collectibles, toys and cool stuff’.


Pictured L-R: Tardis Umbrella, Time Lord Umbrella

Seeing our products featured in prints, blogs and videos only feeds our passion; it’s great to know that you guys love them just as much as we do!

 SciFiNow’s 109th issue is available to buy now. If you’re nowhere near a local shop, you can always download the digital version to see our Doctor Who umbrellas in all their glory!