Sunday, 2 September 2012

Doctor Who Review: Asylum of the Daleks

So Doctor Who is back, and it’s about time. After being away for 8 months with only a rather nice miniseries about the comedy exploits of the Tardis team to keep us going, could the series return with a bang, especially after the disappointing Christmas special. Well there were certainly enough elements in play here: insane Daleks, divorcing Ponds, creepy zombies and a surprise appearance and disappearance of a certain new companion. The question is of course, is it any good?

The answer is yes… but. Because I love it, but there are a few little niggles that in all fairness, after bashing other stories for similar problems I can hardly overlook. Firstly though, what worked? I love the new Dalek slaves/servants/Robomen or whatever you want to call them. The gun out of the hand in the early scenes seemed a bit silly, but the eye in the head is a brilliant piece of design. They are gloriously creepy and to be honest I’ll be surprised if the BBC doesn’t receive a shed load of complaints about the sequence with the walking dead. I absolutely loved it, but if I was a kid? I don’t think I would’ve had the balls to finish the episode. This new Dalek technology also creates another creepy part where Amy imagines the Daleks as people, which just has you on the edge of your seat worrying. Not to be outdone though, the Daleks themselves are probably as scary as we’ve ever seen them. I’ve always been a huge fan of the Daleks, but more because I thought they were really cool than actually being scared by them. But here? They are terrifying. There are so many parts, especially Rory’s “egg” jaunt and the Doctor being menaced by his past defeated foes that just chill to the bone. But maybe that’s my not-so-secret Dalek fan popping up there.

The story boasts great performances from all the regulars, with Matt Smith continuing his darker Doctor that I’m really loving more and more every time I see him and Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill showing why they’re two of my favourite companions with some proper acting. It’s also nice to see with the Pond’s revelations that the Doctor’s travels have consequences and that Moffat isn’t afraid to bring in issues that might seem a bit deep for a family sci-fi show. Nick Briggs is great as all the various Daleks, especially the one that everyone will be talking about, who’s also played by Jenna-Louise Coleman. Wait though, that’s the new companion isn’t it? Well, why’s she in this? And why’s she a Dalek? And why does she die? Well, these questions will have to wait for now, all I can say at the moment is that I liked her performance, but I hope she gets a bit toned down as I can very much see her getting irritating fast. Here though, she’s great and the twist, well I often boast I guess twists in Who, but not here, and I was both shocked and enthralled.

But here we come to the bit where I have to have a moan, because we must always have that bit. The publicity for this story told us we’d see all these different Daleks and we just, didn’t. It’s just a minor problem, because at least they’ve realised how bad the new Daleks were and downgraded them, but when there’s a list of planets from the classic series and a bunch of Daleks from them, it’s a bit disappointing not to see the Dalek variants from those stories. Also, I don’t like the Dalek Prime Minister and the Parliament of the Daleks, the Daleks just don’t seem like very democratic aliens. Also, Skaro was destroyed in 1989, so does the fact it’s restored here mean that the book War of the Daleks is canon? Oh, my head hurts from fanning around. These are all rather minor issues though and although they annoyed me later, they didn’t ruin my enjoyment of the show.

So, all in all, I loved this story. I loved the bit it paid homage to The Last Man on Earth, I loved the jokes at the expense of ‘the nose’ and ‘the chin’, I loved the creepy vibes, Robomen and Daleks, I loved the direction and how it really did feel like a big Dalek movie so I wasn’t being lied to by the interviews I saw before it, and I loved the mysteries. Whether making the Daleks forget the Doctor works out, well we won’t know until their next appearance, same with if Oswin is the Doctor’s next companion and how that works, but for now, all I have to say is that this is one of the best, scariest and impressive series openers and Dalek stories yet, and I loved it.


If you’re looking for more Doctor Who reviews, click on the Doctor Who tag below. (Basically I did some over the summer which I want read) 

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