This story contains plot spoilers.
Press reaction to this years season première, The Magician's Apprentice has been overwhelmingly positive, with most of the reviewers enjoying the storyline and the performances in the episode.
Rare praise for the BBC came from the The Daily Mail whose reviewer thought "Doctor Who was ridiculously good - a sharp, fast, thrilling, piece of historic, futuristic, television: the BBC at its best". The Telegraph was less convinced by the show's storyline but more by its lead actor. "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".
The Mirror thought the show belonged to Missy. "Michelle Gomez steals the episode as the demented Time Lady who kills for fun and prances around in the face of greater evil". While The Express thought the episode should have been Peter Capaldi's first episode. "The Davros genesis story is a stroke of genius by Steven Moffat. We've seen the maniacal Nazi-esque creator of the Daleks as a craggy old man, hellbent on destroying the Doctor, but rarely have we seen how the mad genius came to be. And that's exactly what fans got with this episode.".
The Guardian also enjoyed Julian Bleach's performance as Davros. "The bleak devastation he wreaks by the end of the episode is more powerful than any madcap plot to enslave the universe that has come before. And Julian Bleach, returning to the role, wrings every drop of menace.". The Evening Standard called the episode a "gripping start to the latest series. Ray-Bans on, an electric guitar swinging from your neck. To the ever-expanding list of abilities that the last(ish) of the Time Lords has, we can now definitively add one more: Doctor Who can shred."
Patrick Mulkern in Radio Times calls the boy Davros a brilliant idea and says the episode rattles along with barely a bum note, with the gradual reveal of Skaro being beautifully realised.
Over in the States Entertainment Weekly said "From the minute the Doctor’s sonic screwdriver flies through the air and lands at the feet of a child yet to be named, The Magician’s Apprentice feels like coming home"., while Forbes thinks the show is back to its rare form and called the opener "an edge-of-your-seat thriller for recent Who fans and absolute magic for old-school Whovians".
Over in Australia the Sydney Morning Herald praised Michelle Gomez, "A breathtaking performance as Missy, full of gasps, one-liners, moments that lurch from underplayed to overplayed in a breath"
Online Digital Spy thought the episode was mixed. "Not everything works, but with the ideas, twists and gags being packed in at such a rate of knots, there's enough that does - and some of it very well indeed.". CNET described the show as" one of the most idea-packed and high-stakes episodes I can remember", while IGN said it was a "cracking opener to the season with a combination of exciting action, creepy visuals, and tense situations". Games Radar called the episode "a supremely confident series première, and said the show was full of wit and menace, unafraid to take on the show’s museum piece classics."
The Register thought Season 9 a brought Doctor Who back on form with a bang, "from the eerie handmines, to the glorious return of Missy to some excellent clowning around from Capaldi, this episode had it all.", while TV.com said the "episode made me care about Doctor Who and its characters by playing on the show's strengths—especially the relationship between the Doctor and the Master, who's still stealing scenes thanks to a perfect performance from Michelle Gomez"
The episode can be viewed on iPlayer in the United Kingdom, on iView in Australia and on YouTube in the United States, where BBC America have released the whole episode.
You can read Doctor Who News's review of the episode on our reviews site.