The PodKast Discusses The Magician’s Apprentice

So, a funny thing happened on Sunday. All geared up to discuss The Magician’s Apprentice in our podKast Live on Google Hangouts, we encountered a technical issue that disrupted Christian Cawley’s audio and, basically, turned him into a Dalek. (You can experience this on YouTube, should you so desire.)

The end result was a podKast that sadly didn’t quite get off the ground as James and Brian struggled to understand their co-host, who meanwhile stayed very quiet throughout. At times when Christian was vocal, the results were very difficult to hear, so much so that he has taken the unusual step of “re-recording all of his lines”, as it were, in order to make the audio version of the podKast in some way enjoyable (well, as much as these things we do ever are…)

Click play below to hear just what the podKast team thought of the Doctor Who Series 9 opener, The Magician’s Apprentice

The podKast theme tune is by Russell Hugo. He’s excelled himself this time, hasn’t he?

34 thoughts on “The PodKast Discusses The Magician’s Apprentice

    1. I feel like these three would make the best Doctor Who team. Brian obviously knows a lot about direction and filming. I see Christian leading the team and trying to keep the others on track. And James is very good about playing devil’s advocate and challenging beliefs. I come here for the podkasts because I love listening to their thought processes. It’d be great for a producer to take note: their logic is articulated very well, with examples of what has been done, what could be done.

  1. I think some of the fans have gotten so used the crazy, breakneck pace of the series since it’s come back, that a lot of them have ADD when it comes to watching a show that develops at a normal pace. I think a lot of it has to do with people checking their email/Facebook/Twitter, etc., while allegedly “watching” the show. To me, that’s madness and it does a disservice to anything one watches.

    There was no real “dragging”, there were actual moments of characterization, character interaction, instead of the Doctor incomprehensively explaining three things at once while the music drowns him out. I like that the poll from the other day ranks it very highly. Had I thought more about it, I probably would have voted for best opener ever.

    1. “there were actual moments of characterization, character interaction, ” – Yes, there was, between Clara and Missy and the Doctor and Davros. Much of the rest was fun stuff.

      It didn’t drag in terms of pacing, and it was entertaining, but I know what the chaps on the Podkast mean; there were a lot of diversions before getting to the main story.

      By the third time the impressively sinister Colony Sarff was segwaying around like a serpentine Peter Gabriel, asking, “Where is the Doctor?”, it was almost unintentionally funny, as if it was parodying Doctor Who of the past ten years in the same way that Dracula: Dead and Loving It parodied Francis Ford Coppola’s Dracula.

      One scene like that would’ve been enough; I’d have taken Karn over the Moldavorium (same old reused Hath and Ood; budgetary reasons?) and the Shadow Proclamation.

      1. I think you’re right on that. If you HAD to do the “where HAS the Doctor gone this time? storyline (which I still feel was fluffy and distracting), you only need one event to set it up. He’s a time traveller with a space time machine, he isn’t going to be easy to find. He doesn’t have a locale, this almost suggested that you should be able to just wander out and find the most current incarnation. Karn would have been fine. To be on Karn suggests you have major power, so for you to be on Karn and looking for the Doctor suggests you’ve done the smaller haunts. It did make him look a little ludicrous. Especially on the Shadow Proclamation where they greeted him as if he was an irritating advertising salesman they routinely ask to go away.

        1. Yes, as you say on the PodKast, the idea of the Doctor ‘missing’ from space and time is a peculiarly linear idea, bearing in mind Steven Moffat’s use of so-called ‘timey-wimey’ concepts (I say ‘so-called’ because I still hate that phrase).

          Another point about Sarff: if I were him, I’d be a tad peeved to have done all that segwaying around planets and times in search of the Doctor, only to return to Skaro and be told by Davros, “Well, you should look for his friends first, shouldn’t you? You’ll get to the Doctor that way.” – Er, cheers, boss. Why couldn’t you have told me that before?

          1. I had thought that too and then I wondered if it wasn’t that Davros couldn’t find the Doctor but that he couldn’t find the Doctor at the right point in his timeline: when he’s just left young Davros and filled with shame and self hatred. It wouldn’t work as well to go back to Vulcan, chuck Troughton into the back of shuttle and proceed to lecture him on his future actions.

          2. I can’t remember the exact dialogue, but it seems to refer to all his timeline or all of time and space, even.

          3. … but that could mean ‘the present Doctor’, i.e. the Capaldi one at this particular moment in his life, which could tie in with what you say about the right moment in his timeline.

        2. Worth pointing out that ‘the Doctor is missing from time and space’ is nothing new; The Five Doctors did it too, as per the Gallifreyan High Council’s talk with the Master in that story.,

      2. I didn’t mind the three locations at all, definitely didn’t think it got laughable at all–I think they were establishing that the snake guy was looking all over the place, not just the Moldavorium. I think that was their way of creating scope and successfully so. I see no need to rush through like always.

        1. My only argument to that was I felt it generated less scope, because it constricted the idea of an expansive universe of time and space to a few locales we’d seen before. It didn’t make me feel that the universe of Doctor Who was broad and expansive, but limited and restricting. That’s me though.

          1. I think in a case like that, they went with broad and expansive through familiar sites we’d seen before and throwing in the SP for the first time in a long time. They could have shown a whole other new place as well but I think budgeting comes into it as well. They probably reused shots of the SP station graphics, the Moldavorium CGI, etc. Like you say, it didn’t work for everyone but it laid out well for me. The only time I thought there was a little too much padding thrown in may have been during the arena scenes but even then, I loved the rock ‘n roll Doctor. 🙂

          2. You know, just for once in those ‘Star Wars cantina-type scenes like the Moldovarium, I’d love to see a Draconian or an Ogron; a Terileptil, say, or something newer, but as you say, it all boils down to budget.

          3. An Ogron would be perfect to populate these bar scenes and I can’t imagine they’d even be that expensive to do. Imagine how many extra Ood and Hath heads they’ve got in storage now, Yeesh.

            Speakimg of Draconians though…I don’t want to see these guys hanging around a bar….I want the full glory of the Draconian empire brought back to the show. Next to the Zygons, the Dracocians were probably the coolest design of any alien. I’m kind of amazed that they haven’t been brought back already.

          4. Aye, they were great. They’ve been mentioned in the modern series but never shown. Their time must surely come.

            They were Pertwee’s favourites, as well.

            I like the Ood, and even the poor maligned Hath, but I don’t imagine the producers, or anyone else, going ‘Great! We can put the Hath in this scene!’ All about the money, same as not showing the expensive bit of the Judoon – the face and head – in Magician’s Apprentice.

          5. Absolutely. I just went back and checked the scienceblogs website. We live in a small solar system with a small star. An average solar system has many more planets and other satellites. It’s estimated on the low end there are 200 billion planets in our galaxy; the average guess is 10 trillion. There are 1000s of galaxies at least (and some are so far, that at lightspeed for the entire history of the universe, the light coming from those places has not reached us). And that is one sliver of time. Sure, many of those planets would still be there. But many would be gone. And many are yet to form. Factor in other levels of existence, and foreign realities, and Doctor Who should be much larger.

    2. I think with fans it did rate highly for a lot of fans given the comments I’ve seen. Whether “ordinaries” liked it as much I don’t know. Maybe they did. Audience Appreciation figures will be interesting. I didn’t see much characterisation to be honest. The Missy Clara scene was fun – I liked it, but was it more justification than characterisation; how do I justify this situation and pairing? There wasn’t much characterisation I saw for the Doctor, in fact I began wondering if he was play acting throughout – I still find it hard to believe he would plead genuinely with Davros (we shall see). Davros was great (though why he didn’t send his snake pal to find the companion in the first place I don’t know). It felt very ADD to me. Oh they’re on a spaceship, AH! here’s a saucer! Ah! Here’s Davros! No, it’s not a saucer, it’s a planet! Ah, Skaro! Ah! Daleks!
      Again, as always, if anyone came out with a “I liked it”, that’s cool. I can criticise, suggest and argue to the cows come home, won’t change the fact Rick enjoyed it thoroughly and James did not (so much).

      1. “though why he didn’t send his snake pal to find the companion in the first place I don’t know” – Ah, you’ve already covered that, before I made my previous comment.

        1. It’s a point worth making twice. I’m sure Sariff has made it a few times in the bar after the fact. “And you know what? I didn’t have to take this lame gig – I COULD have been a Mara!”

      2. Is it possible that Moffat took the ‘it’s a season opener approach’ and decided to go for BIG moments as a hook for the rest of the season? If so, he’s sacrificed a lot for a sugar rush that may soon dissipate…

        1. Well, I found all of series 7 and some of series 8 to be one great big sugar rush, so they’ve probably got huge reserves of sugar (and very little substance) to go around.

  2. Brian’s right about Kate Stewart. She’s meant to be the head of a multinational security organisation, yet she doesn’t consider the threat posed by the amount of flammable fuel on those frozen planes until Clara – a school teacher – mentions it.

    1. That’s cos companions seem to make writers nervous. If they’re not saving the world they’re as relevant as a dead battery – ergo, they’re always having to save the world.

    2. the Brig was all military, Kate’s more on the science end, but still, yeah, she should have been a bit more competent all around on this one, I think. Sure, we have to illustrate that Clara IS very good, but Kate should have been able to keep up.

    3. I don’t know why they’re keeping Clara a schoolteacher at this point. I thought she’d be traveling with the Doctor fulltime, or at least go over to UNIT. How can she work for UNIT in an emergency? Isn’t all of their work an emergency? Don’t they deal with threats all the time, especially since I imagine they aren’t all resolved in a day. And unlike with the Doctor, there has to be people doing paperwork and all menial details for months to come, and while we don’t need to watch that on TV, I imagine Clara would have to do that.

      UNIT just feels useless. They worked in the 1970s. The Brigadier helped that immensely.

      Classic UNIT was not always needing the Doctor’s help, but him presenting a better path. Sometimes, UNIT could resolve something, but do it in a brutal military manner. Or the Doctor was dealing with a larges threat that required being in so many places at once, so UNIT took over some tasks. UNIT would secure an area, provide equipment, and the Doctor analyzed data. There were interesting ancillary characters.

      Also, their visualization of UNIT is very different. In the old interpreation, UNIT was clandestine, but most people seemed to be aware they existed, just their work was classified. In Spearhead from Space, the media was trying to interview the Brigadier. But now, it seems UNIT is almost Torchwood-like. How do they screen every companion ever for the Doctor? It’s not needed. It constricts the universe as James says.

      1. UNIT are useful in one storytelling sense: if the Doctor investigates alien incursions and whatnot on Earth, it brings him to the attention of the authorities, who would question him about who he is and what he’s up to.

        UNIT being in charge of those matters and knowing the Doctor saves a hell of a lot of that hassle in storytelling terms. They can just give him carte blanche so he gets on with it.

        My beef is more that, with the best will in the world, the present incumbents, with the possible exception of Osgood, are not as interesting, amusing or charismatic as the Brig, Benton or even Yates.

  3. Like James and Brian, I’m also a little worried that the two-parters of this series may not be fully justified in their length. I think there’s quite a bit that you could remove and rework in this episode and it would have flowed much better. We’re only one episode in of course, so I should probably save my judgement on this towards the end of the series.

    1. Exactly. I looked forward to the two-parters. But they seem to be one-parters with added fluff. The classic series did this too, but they could be 4, 5, 6, even 10 episodes (given they’re half the length). But I was hoping for a middleground. Something more substantial than previous New Who, yet more concise than some of Classic.

  4. As always, a great discussion – a pity about the audio but thems the perils of podcast. I agree with basically everything said – great opening and closing, but a Death Valley in between script wise. Tone Missy down (better yet, make her a man again), less indulgent silliness and this would’ve been a cracker.

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