Review: Doctor Who: Asylum of the Daleks
Well, the first episode of series 7/33 of Doctor Who has aired. While it was an enjoyable watch as always, I did have a few problems with it.
- I still don’t buy that the Daleks wouldn’t just destroy any damaged or insane Daleks. I’ve seen them destroy other Daleks just because they were a different model; “Victory of the Daleks,” anyone? The New Paradigm Daleks exterminated the RTD era Daleks, simply because they were an old and inferior model, and yet they are working together here.
- Oh yeah, why would Daleks have a Parliament and Prime Minister? They have always worked on an Imperial system.
- This episode was hyped WAY out of proportion. We were promised we were going to get every make and model of Dalek ever seen on screen. Yes there were a couple of old Daleks from Classic Who in the Asylum, but they were few and far between. Any Dalek that said or did anything was a RTD era Dalek. The Special Weapons Dalek was heavily promoted for this episode and was prominently displayed on the screen, but it never even got to fire its gun. Don’t promote all the classic Dalek designs so much if they are just background set decorations.
- The Daleks in the intensive care unit are mentioned as survivors of different wars, Spiradon, Exxilon, Kembel, and more. These are all based on Classic Doctor Who episodes, mostly 1st and 3rd Doctor stories. But again we are presented entirely with RTD era Daleks. This should have been the showcase moment of several of the Classic Dalek designs.
- Jenna Louise Coleman: Don’t get me wrong, there was nothing wrong with her performance; I think she did a really good job, and I really liked the character of Oswin. This is not the first time in Doctor Who history that an actress has appeared in an episode as one character and then appeared later as a completely different character that become a companion (Freema Agyeman, Karen Gillan). Even 6th Doctor Colin Baker appeared as a Gallifreyan Guard before being cast as the Doctor. It just seems a little close to have it happen just 5 episodes before she will be back. I know everyone is thinking what about Lalla Ward playing Princess Astra, and then in the very next episode playing Romana II? Well, as with many things in Doctor Who and the English language that is the exception that proves the rule, so to speak. That was very easily explained because Romana; being a Time Lord decided it was time for a change of appearance and liked the way Princess Astra looked. Being in more control of her regenerative capabilities than the Doctor she just regenerated into that body.
Now on to the good:
- The acting all around was great. My favorite lines:
- The Doctor “You’re going to fire me at a planet, and expect me to Fix it?”
- Rory “That is kind of your M.O.”
- The special effects were really good.
- I enjoyed getting a good look at Skaro again, first time since the Classic Series, although not sure why the Daleks would build a giant Dalek shaped building, it looked cool, but not sure what the point was.
- I thought the idea of the Dalek nano-cloud was really good. It sounds exactly like something they would do. Daleks have always been known for using any resource at hand.
- Oswin wipes all record of the Doctor from the Dalek databases. This is more of Moffat taking the Doctor back to the beginning where not everyone automatically knows who he is and is afraid of him. Hopefully this is another step towards smaller and better stories for Doctor Who. Take note Doctor Who writers, not every story has to be about the end of the universe, all of time and space, or an entire planet. Sometimes a good story is about a few people just surviving. “The God Complex” comes to mind, one of my personal favorites from last season.
Steven Moffat said that he wanted each episode this series to feel like a big budget movie. The BBC even went so far as to release some really good movie poster art for the first 5 episodes of the series. I definitely got that big budget movie feeling watching this episode. Unfortunately not all big budget movies are great, you can have the best actors and special effects money can buy, but you still need a really good story to go with it. That is where I think “Asylum of the Daleks” falls short. Maybe it was just too much hype about having all the Daleks back in one episode. I was actually looking forward to this one for that very fact, but they didn’t have any of the old Daleks do anything. Or it could be that the Daleks having an Asylum just doesn’t set well with me, much like the Master being put on trial by the Daleks in the 1996 TV Movie. Daleks don’t have Trials! So did I like it? Yes, but it did have its problems. I continue to hope that it is building to something better.
And hey, next week “Dinosaurs on a Space Ship!”