I haven't written much about Doctor Who lately, and that's because of the season 8 finale. I just really didn't like it. Plus, the season as a whole was weak (although it had some really strong episodes). This is typical - each Doctor's first season is always weaker when compared to his later ones, as actor and writers struggle to really discover who the new Doctor is. So I came into season 9 without enthusiasm, but not without hope.
(Yeah, the Christmas episode was good enough to warrant a review, but not to get me excited about Season 9)
Of course, the nice thing about having low expectations is that it is pretty easy to exceed them. That said, the season 9 opener stands as an above average story by DW standards, and Capaldi proves that he has really come into his own.
SPOILERS TO FOLLOW
Considering that I really did not like Missy at all in Season 8, I was surprised to find myself quite enjoying her presence in these episodes. Genuinely funny, and much more enjoyable to watch as a companionish character rather than an antagonist.
The plot with Davros was fascinating, and ended up going in quite a different direction than I expected. That said, my single biggest complaint with the story is that they never addressed the fact that the last time we saw Davros on screen, he quite definitely died.
Yeah, he could have been teleported away or something at the last minute... but it would have been nice to at least see this addressed. DW fans have had to come to accept unanswered questions in Moffat's reign, but this particular storyline really rubbed in our faces "This is DW, we do what we want and don't explain" with both the Doctor and Missy actually saying paraphrases of this. This just seems kind of mean to the fans, who are just doing what the Doctor himself does and seeking answers to weird things.
Complaints aside, I loved loved loved Capaldi's entrance on a tank wearing sunglasses playing an electric guitar. It was so reminiscent of Ten and yet helped illuminate who Twelve is as well. I also thought Clara was handled really nicely, and it was definitely creepy/cool to see her back inside of a Dalek.
Indeed, bringing Clara's story full circle now, in what is due to be her last season, makes me wonder if the Clara/Dalek connection will re-emerge again in the finale, and tie into her departure from the show. It certainly seems to be foreshadowed at this point.
Not to mention the fact that both episode titles seem to be referring to Clara - or at least, that is the best explanation I can come up with, if one reads "Magician" as "Doctor" and "Witch" as "Missy." Any other interpretations for "The Magician's Apprentice" and "The Witch's Familiar"?
Snake henchman was creepy, but utilized really really well. Invisible Skaro was a beautiful scene, and "Your sewers are revolting!" was HILARIOUS.
All in all, it was a not-perfect-but-still-solid opener and I look forwards to seeing what the rest of the season brings - and that's a better reaction than I was anticipating, so count me happy.