The Series Nine opener was more fanfest than fanwank and congratulations to The Moff for the surprise return of Davros. I’ve always wondered why he’d never been back since The Stolen Earth/Journey’s End, and could only conclude that it was because Moffat couldn’t think of a story where, like Jenny the Doctor’s daughter, he had to be there. And then he did, and what a surprise it was, alongside some Classic Series Daleks, a Genesis cameo from Tom and those Hartnell/Troughton time trousers. And is it just me, or was Capaldi evoking Peter Cushing at some points as he scurried about the place?
On the plus side, this story succeeds where Asylum of the Daleks failed and has Classic Series Daleks aplenty, right alongside their New Series counterparts. Only the rubbish Paradigm Daleks are conspicuuis by their absence but then Dalek Chronolgy was never my strong point. You can delve deeper into what props were used over at the story’s page on the excellent Dalek 63.88 website.
Meanwhile, back at the fan edit, the chance to not only edit together the two eps themselves but also the two prologues was the main incentive to tackling the story, which I started the same night Apprentice went out. Whilst the Karn stuff survives intact, The Doctor’s Meditation was pretty poor I thought and so I cut that right back to the minimum.
Attempting to put the material into chronological order was never an option as this edit was compiled from the fully mixed broadcast version and not the 5.1 DVDs. So we start with a cut-down version of The Doctor’s Meditation, segue via a nice crossfade into the opening of The Magician’s Apprentice and then, just before Missy turns up, we cut back to Karn for the Series 9 Prologue, which required a mask to obscure the planet’s name second time around, then back to The Magician’s Apprentice and The Witch’s Familiar.
The reason for locating the Prologue where Missy’s giant inflatable psychic projection head was in the original was that I thought her giant inflatable psychic projection head was a bit naff to be honest and one of the first examples of some humorous mis-steps – like the “only chair on Skaro” gag – that seemed to me to violate the overall tone of the piece, or at least to be at odds with it. The whole thing seemed a bit Who Framed Roger Rabbit if I’m honest. Nevertheless Missy remains an enjoyable mix of Evil Mary Poppins and a lady version of The Joker from Batman.
The bulk of the cuts are to the first episode, with a lot less in the second as the plot starts to pick up speed. Although the Beeb put out a compilation edit on the Sunday after The Witch’s Familiar went out, I purposely didn’t look at it. Apart from anything else, they would have the advantage of the clean version of the opening scene where Twelvy picks up the Dalek Gun, whereas mine had the Producer/Director credits over it. I think that actually works a little better as you don’t even get the misdirection that Twelvy is holding Davros before the big shock reveal of the Doctor in Davros’ chair. We lose his cup of tea as well as cutting back on Missy’s frankly unintelligible Yankee accent as I’ve no idea what she’s going on about, especially at the end. And we lose the “cameos” of Tom and Bill’s body doubles and just leave it all to “The Eyebrows”!
That the story is an Easter Egg-filled sequel of sorts to Genesis of the Daleks on it’s 40th anniversary didn’t go entirely unnoticed, but I’m not convinced that we really needed a story to explore the famous question Doctor Tom posed in 1975, since we all know already that the answer is no. That’s why Sarah quickly changes the subject rather than answer the question. And just where did Davros get the footage from? Maybe that would have been better as an audio clip instead of a fan-pleasing bit of video. And was I the only one who thought of the DWM strip “Up Above The Gods” when Twelvy & Dav were chinwagging?
The wonderful Julian Bleach continues to prove himself the true successor to Michael Wisher. I know Terry Molloy has his fans but for me Jools is The Man, no contest. Of course, we all knew that a trip to Skaro was always going to be some sort of trap but going into part two I had no idea what it was. That it turned out to be Davros playing on the Doctor’s compassion like Stefan Grapelli on a violin in order to trick him into fulfilling a hitherto-unknown prophecy of a Dalek/Time Lord hybrid was a complete surprise. Quite why The Moff would want to do that, and remember he changed his mind about blowing up “Rusty” in Into The Dalek, remains another mystery. One can only assume he has plans for these New Dalek Hybrids, but on the plus side, those Paradigm buggers were nowhere to be seen. And do we really need yet another iteration of “we shall be even more deadly!” to up the storytelling ante? I’m not convinced we do.
In addition to the hours of head-scratching this story will require from Dalek Chronologists to somehow reconcile this with Asylum and Victory, we get a story that positively triumphs where George Lucas fails. The Big Baddie As A Nice Kid trope is one that the Star Wars prequels mess up spectacularly badly by having Jake Lloyd playing the Kid Darth Vader as a spoiled, unlikeable brat. The Little Boy Davros is at least played by a kid who’s a bit older and thus capable of the emotional expressiveness a part like that requires. Jake Lloyd wasn’t necessarily miscast, but he was certainly too young. Oh, and Steven? Sorry, but your idea for Sonic Shades? That sucks.