Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Doctor Who: Asylum Of The Daleks ( review with spoilers )

Asylum Of The Daleks is a big, bold, surprisingly dark story to launch the new series of Doctor Who. A galaxy ( at least ) away from glossier, Earth-bound fare like Partners In Crime or The Eleventh Hour, it immediately immerses the viewer in the madness of the Daleks and the marital problems of the Ponds.

The Doctor, Amy and Rory are all abducted by the Skarosian mutants, whisked away to a space-station and summoned to the Dalek Parliament, where the Prime Minister ( Dave Dalek? ) enlists them at gunpoint in a mission to infiltrate and destroy the legendary Asylum Of The Daleks. This is a planet-wide dumping ground for the most insane and unstable of the pepper-pot-shaped fanatics and only The Predator ( aka the Doctor ) is capable of carrying out the raid.

Down in the Asylum the Time Trio have to face versions of some familiar Moffat tropes: reanimated corpses, memory loss, infantile jibes at the Doctor's features... as well as some old school body horror, straight out of the Eric Saward era...

This is an atmospheric, creepy episode which goes some way to restoring the Daleks to their position of ultimate Who-foe after a couple of ill-judged stories. It's good to see that the production team have back-pedalled a bit and reintroduced the bronze, 2005-vintage Daleks and given the "Tellytubby" models a darker paint job. It's also a treat to see some "classic"-era Daleks lurking in the Asylum ( especially the Special Weapons Dalek! ) even if they're not quite as prominent as the pre-publicity led us to believe.

Matt Smith is fantastic as ever, again reminding us that his characterisation of the Doctor is at its best when he's being quiet and subtle and conveying a universe of hurt mostly with his eyes. Karen Gillan has a big, going-for-the-Bafta moment... which doesn't quite convince, to be honest. The Ponds' relationship problems apparently stem from her inability to have any more children, following the events of Demon's Run and the birth of Melody/River. But, as in last year's Night Terrors, I found myself asking why the characters can't just adopt or foster children? It might not be so "dramatic" but, out in the real world, there are hundreds of children needing loving families, and to reflect that in a family-friendly show could be both appropriate and touching. But unlikely...

Of course, the big surprise of this episode is the first appearance of Jenna-Louise Coleman, who brings a wide-eyed but confident joie de vivre to the part of Oswin... until the truth about her existence is revealed and she sacrifices herself to save the Doctor and her own soul. It's going to be interesting to see how JLC will return to the show at Christmas: will she play an ancestor of this character or will she be reborn through Moffat-patented wibbly-wobbly-timey-wimey plot magic? Time will tell. I'm definitely looking forward to her Tardis debut and, hopefully, to a companion who doesn't scowl quite so much. Sorry, Amy...

Anyway, I'm going to award this episode:

Four Out Of Five Bow Ties ( or Sink Plungers )


Kid said...

It was interesting and entertaining in places, but didn't you feel you had seen it all before? The Doc and the Tardis surrounded by millions of Daleks on their own territory is quite a familiar sight by now. As is running through corridors with doors closing behind and opening in front of folk. Time for a new man in charge perhaps? One with a less limited vision.

Steve said...

The Daleks captured the Doctor and the Ponds far too easily. They would have slaughtered him years ago if it was so simple!


Related Posts with Thumbnails