DWM 492 Who’s Magic?

Back in 2011, we were introduced to a new mystery. What, we wondered, was ‘the first question. The oldest question in the universe, hidden in plain sight’? Some erroneously jumped to the conclusion that it was ‘Doctor who?’. It was, however, quite clear that the question – hidden in plain sight since 1964 – was ‘who exactly was the Waking Ally?’ But now, in September 2015, our household is debating The Second Question. And the second question is: ‘who is the Magician’s Apprentice?’

It did not escape the boys’ notice that there were precisely zero magicians in last night’s episode (for reasons of deadlines this column is being written mere hours after transmission, before I’ve even checked what the internet has to say about it. It’s like being back in the olden days, when you had to actually talk to people to find out their opinions!). Fan Twin’s theory, however, is that Davros was the magician and the snake man (now he was an impressive monstery thing and no mistake) was his apprentice, because he had to do what Davros said. Husband and I inclined more to Magician = Doctor and Apprentice = Davros, because from what we saw it appeared that the Doctor’s actions created the Davros we know. Non-Fan Twin listened to both theories, and came down on the side of his brother. Twin power!

There were, of course, lots of unanswered questions in The Magician’s Apprentice. One thing I like about my children is that they don’t dwell on the obvious stuff. No one bothered for a second about Missy and Clara being exterminated. (That day’s watching had included The Avengers: Age of Ultron and Dark Water/Death in Heaven and a diet of Doctor Who and superhero films has pretty much led them to the conclusion that no one ever stays dead in films or telly). What they did worry about was where the Doctor got the Dalek gun he used to threaten child Davros at the end. ‘Probably Ace gave it to him,’ concluded Fan Twin. ‘That was her job, Dalek basher.’

If that was really the Davros, of course. It was quickly pointed out that there are no less than three people with the same first name as Fan Twin in his year at school (it used to be four until one moved), so there may well be more than one Davros on Skaro. Possibly they, like Fan Twin, always have to add an initial on the end to distinguish themselves. ‘Davros! See me after class! No, not you, Davros H, I meant Davros M.’

Anyway, how nice it is to have Doctor Who back. Yesterday did seem to go very slowly. And even when it got to 7.40, we had to wait a bit longer as Len and Harvey from Survival were still quizzing. ‘They’ve accidentally made Pointless too long!’ said a worried child. ‘Will we miss a few minutes of Doctor Who?’ I reassured him, but you never know. I mean, a few months ago they added a leap second to the year to make things balance out. Perhaps we’ll get to the last episode of the season and they’ll cut the final two minutes to balance out yesterday’s Pointless and we’ll never ever find out how it ends! Aaargh!

(I’m taking deep breaths. That will never happen.) Doctor Who did begin eventually, of course, after a special BBC ident in which I totally failed to spot the Dalek. ‘There!’ cried the boys, frustrated with their dense mother. ‘There! A Dalek! It’s shooting stuff!’ Husband had to get up and physically point it out on the telly. Apparently it’s been used before. I didn’t spot it back then, either.

Non-Fan Twin drew the curtains and turned off the lights, ‘for atmosphere’. While I approve of the atmosphere thing, this did mean that I had to make notes for this column in the dark, and I’ve just spent five minutes trying to work out exactly I meant by ‘subchord of lcem’, which I eventually realised was ‘sisterhood of Karn’ in my not-able-to-see-what-I’m-writing scribble.

We all loved the hand mines (‘Well, this is disturbing,’ said Non-Fan Twin in a completely matter-of-fact way), a brilliant idea that I wish had been in previous Skaro stories – just imagine how they’d have realised it back in Season One, all those propmen lying on the floor putting their hands through a sandpit to grab Jacqueline Hill’s ankle; that would have been amazing. We liked the cantina-esque bit too, I love scenes with lots and lots of different aliens bimbling about because I’m convinced – absolutely convinced – that one day they’ll be panning round a scene and there’ll be a Planetarian from Mission to the Unknown having a pint in the background. Hopefully Sentreal.

Love the Doctor’s new outfit (honestly, miles better than anything last season), his hair and his shades. Non-Fan Twin was whooping in delight when he came on with guitar. (And thank you, Mr Capaldi, for ensuring they were still finishing everyone’s sentences with ‘DUDE!’ well after that bit finished.)

I’ll leave you with the final image of the credits rolling as Fan Twin imitates a Dalek singing ‘We’re sexy and we know it – exterminate!’ while Non-Fan Twin pretends to be shot, crying, ‘Oh no! Sexy Daleks!’ I’d also ask for you not to bring this up in front of them when they’re teenagers. Yes, Doctor Who is well and truly back. DUDE!

(Answers to ‘Who exactly was the Waking Ally?’ on a postcard to Doctor Who Magazine c/o The London Transport Museum, nr Bedfordshire.)

AUTHOR’S NOTE: Contrary to what you might expect, writing columns when the show’s on the air is hard! We don’t get to see the episodes early or anything, so it’s watch Saturday night, write Sunday, deliver first thing Monday – meaning there’s no way for me to consider topics or themes or anything like that beforehand. I just sit there staring at the telly willing the show to give me a hook – or hoping that one of the boys will say something funny/thoughtful/controversial. Sometimes this happens, and sometimes it doesn’t!