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Doctor Who Review: Asylum of the Daleks (Season 7 Episode 1)

Posted By: Matt McGloin
Sat, 09/01/2012 - 16:31



Review: Asylum of the Daleks

"At first there were the Daleks, and then there was a man who fought them. And then in time, he died. There are a few, of course, who believe this man survived, and that one day he will return." 


So ladies and gentlemen, what did you think of Soufflé Girl? I mean, what an absolute coup that was...keeping it secret of new companion to be, Clara Oswin, appearing in the opening episode?

And what the das’t?! SHE’S A DALEK! In a red dress! I’ll get to that in a moment...

Season openers are always tricky beasts. They need to engage the target audience right from the off or otherwise it is an immediate slide down the hill of uninteresting plots and sub plots. Now, a lot of criticism was thrown at Steven Moffat last year — Who fans moaning that his seasons were too complicated. Now I disagree there; I love twisty-whisty plots anyway – but with "Asylum" – Moffat has partly headed his critics and turned in a real old school classic, and more so done something that only Dalek creator Terry Nation could ever do. He’s made them scary again!

Moffat plundered his own story, "The Empty Child," back when Christopher Eccleston was the 9th Doctor to re-introduce the nanogenes, which the Daleks harness to convert human dna into Dalek mutants. It was a quaint nod to the Robomen from the Hartnell era – made shockingly realistic and cruel – even though I had visions of Dalek plungers popping out of other orifices (I leave that to your imagination), and yet wham! Turns out new companion to be – stunning Jenna Louise Coleman in a sultry red dress lusting for a girl called Nina and amazed at the size of the Doctor’s chin – apparently stranded on the Dalek Asylum listening to classic music was converted by those nanos into a Dalek — and she’s doesn’t realize what she has become. Genius that. Of course, there are immediate River Song shades here....cause again we’ll have the Doctor meeting Clara in Victorian Christmas London of 1853 — her fate already known. Unless of course there’s a plan afoot by Mr Moffat — would not be surprised.

It was a treat to see all those different Daleks from yesterday, the Rory/Eggterminate sequence was both chilling and funny, and a nice nod to the past that the really insane Daleks were the ones present from the stories when the Doctor screwed them up the most. And yeah, I saw the Special Weapons Dalek - the Abomination - and it didn’t fire a shot! Minus one point there! A Dalek with a big bloody gun and it didn’t fire a shot!

Focusing back to Amy and Rory, well, it was tragic to hear they’re now divorced – the result of Madam Kovarian’s inception of River ensuring Amy can’t have any more kids – causing a rift to develop while the Doctor was away. Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill were on fine form; enjoy them while you can. And of course let’s not forget Matt Smith; from the opening sequence on Skaro — nice touch there to his comic moment, one eye closed, and waiting for the entire Parliament of the Daleks to mass Exterminate him...sheer class. Then the novel twist as the Daleks hire him to save them! The Predator of the Daleks. Hands up if that will be a future story.

The resolution was also neat having Dalek Oswin wiping the memory of all the Daleks of their entire history of knowing the Doctor...leading on the sub-plot of Doctor Who? An echo of what’s coming for the 50th Anniversary? Perhaps.

"Asylum of the Daleks" touches all the right buttons in the right sequences — a dark Dalek story with soufflés. What more could you ask for? Well, what about dinosaurs on a spaceship? Roll on next week.

For an in-depth look at the upcoming season, check out our Doctor Who Series 7 Fall Preview.

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