Critic Consensus: Peter Capaldi and the writers have settled into an emotionally engaging tone, allowing the show to raise the stakes for the Twelfth Doctor.
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This is big-ticket Doctor Who, done in such a beautifully delicate way that it manages both to startle and to endear.
Rarely has a show been so dependent on the skills of a single actor - and Capaldi is a good one: able to bring just enough emotional depth to a comicbook caper to render it dramatic.
To make matters worse, the episode falls foul of the two most common stumbling blocks for Doctor Who writers: maintaining the balance between the Doctor and his companion, and making sure the stakes feel believably high.
The character this season appears less grumpy, imbued with a kind of joyful mania.
Seemingly keen to re-energize itself after a topsy-turvy year in 2014, Doctor Who Season Nine has upped the stakes dramatically while still maintaining much of its grounded, loveable charm.
Mad, funny, creepy, original and dramatic, 'The Magician's Apprentice' is a bold, mostly successful attempt to be all of Doctor Who, all at once, in just 46 short minutes. Its execution isn't faultless, but you certainly can't fault its massive ambition.
Audience Reviews for Doctor Who: Season 9
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