The 2014 Christmas special holds up beautifully. Lots of fun, lots of twists and turns, plot holes actually serve a purpose. Side characters are wonderful as usual, with Nick Frost of course being an inspired choice. This one is right up there with ‘The Next Doctor’ and ‘The Runaway Bride’ for sheer holiday delight.
‘The Magician’s Apprentice’
The following contains massive spoilers. Proceed with caution.
In his interview with Wil Wheaton following the ‘Dark/Death’ screening, Capaldi advised fans to brush up on their Dalek history.
He was not kidding. The pre-title sting knocked us out of our chairs.
Post-titles, we bring back the Shadow Proclamation, Ohila of Karn, Kate Stewart, and of course Missy. Michelle Gomez continues spectacular. The story is tight, compelling, crazy fun to watch, and wrenching.
I’m a little surprised at how much history Moffat is bringing to this story. So much is meaningless if you never saw ‘The Daleks,’ ‘Genesis of the Daleks,’ ‘Journey’s End,’ ‘Night of the Doctor,’ or even just the prologue*. For lunatics like me, it’s fantastic, but I wonder how it is for newer fans. You don’t get that punch to the chest if you don’t know who Davros is. You don’t get your heart torn out if you weren’t there for the Fourth Doctor’s dilemma. (Yes, the scene is included, but it doesn’t have quite the impact without its context.) But either way, no one can believe the Doctor did what he did, and no one can believe he will do what it appears.
If part 2 is half as good as this one, we’re in for a treat. Moffat is at his best with the impossible. I look forward to the Doctor’s brilliant solution.
*ETA I’m referring to the prologue shown in theaters, featuring Bors. It’s not yet up on youtube as far as I can tell. I didn’t know about the other one, which is.