It felt different in the same way Deep Breath felt different. It feels like a new era of Doctor Who with a new version of the Doctor, Clara and even Missy to go with it. It had a real confidence about it.
It’s a bit slow initially with quite a lot of build-up but there are plenty of nods, surprises and, crucially, gags to keep you entertained.
Like Steven Moffat’s best scripts, it’s a fantastic mixture of one-liners (Michelle Gomez and her superb collection of accents get the best ones, of course) and a gritty premise.
It felt like a finale with those kind of stakes. It had a blockbuster-like feeing (not in the way series 7 strived for a mini movie a week) but at the same time some really classic era vibes.
Peter Capaldi is exceptional. His Doctor has had the most natural development of any of the Time Lord’s incarnations, if The Magician’s Apprentice is anything to go by. Again, he delivers a different spin on the Doctor. Long may he be in charge of the TARDIS.
Likewise, Jenna Coleman is superb as Clara. She’s not as bubbly as we’ve seen in the past, she’s more pragmatic and resourceful: a perfect companion.
Anyone that was ambivalent toward Michelle Gomez’s Missy after Death in Heaven rest assured, Missy is more endearing here: sardonic, witty and, as she’s quick to tell us, still completely bonkers. Oh, and definitely not good. She also gets one of the most risqué gags since the Doctor’s excited screwdriver in The Crimson Horror.
The cliffhanger. As the executive producers have said, The Magician’s Apprentice wasn’t fit for a cinematic release because of the cliffhanger [or not]. In five words, it’s shocking, thrilling, ballsy, RTD-ish and terrifying.
There are a few traditional Moffat shocks, when the rug is pulled out from you and your perspective on something changes. These moments generated several ‘oohs’ from the audience I was in.
Whether The Magician’s Apprentice is a classic remains to be seen, it all depends on whether Moffat pulls it out of the bag with The Witch’s Familiarbut, going on part one, we could have a story that will go down in the annals of Who lore.