Saturday, 15 September 2012

Doctor Who: Asylum of the Daleks - Review

Hello there! Yes, I know I'm a bit behind the times, what with Doctor Who's seventh series opener being broadcast three weeks ago, but due to time constraints a review of the episode had to wait til now - and by time constraints I mean I've spent most of my time since Asylum jumping like a five-year old and shouting 'Who's back!' I really need to learn to prioritise my tasks.

                  Geronimo! Just like previous Moffat openers, Series Seven started with a bang!

'Every. Dalek. Ever!'

That was what the viewing public was promised to get from this episode. And, thanks to prequel mini-series Pond Life and a teaser tweet from Steven Moffat, we were also told to expect the break-up of Dear Pond One and Two's marriage. These were the two hooks for the episode. And, boy, were they good hooks. Enough to get any Who fan salivating at the thought of seeing the Special Weapons Dalek again (what may seem inconsequential to a casual viewer can mean the world to a Doctor Who fan) or any Pond-lovers sobbing and curious to see how Amy and Rory's 2000 year old relationship could possibly be ending. So we all sat down to watch with high expectations which the first five minutes or so definitely reached. Skaro! Dalek-Human Puppets!  Amy and Rory not speaking to each other (I can't put an exclamation mark here, it's too sad). And the Dalek's best line ever 'ROR-Y WILL-IAMS IS RE-QUIRED!'

And then Jenna Louise Coleman showed up. And millions of jaws hit the floor.

Yes, this review has to focus on Jenna as it clearly is her episode. Stuff the Daleks, apologies Amy and Rory, but most of the running time is swallowed up by the sexy, hilarious, genius, heart-breakingly sad character of Oswin Oswald whom will have many theories about her appearing on fan forums till Christmas. Coleman plays the part superbly and lifts the character from Moffat stock feisty woman to something more believable. Of course, if Oswin is to be Jenna's regular part she will need to be fleshed out considerably more but for now she worked completely and more than whetted our appetite.

However, the focus on Oswin sadly meant the show's current companions were shunned slightly, which is a great shame as this episode concerned a major point in their relationship. Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill are as ever excellent in their roles and there's that wonderful scene in the Asylum where we get the reason for their separation but overall the story of their near-divorce is reduced to its basics. In my books, more Amy and Rory is always a good thing so its sad to see them pushed to the side but I see that for the good of the other elements of the story it had to be done.

Speaking of other elements, I think its time to cover this episode's titular stars. As with many other episodes of the Moffat era, despite the showy title, Asylum of the Daleks is really about its main characters than those mad, bad pepper pots. Having said that, there is a lot of all-new Dalek stuff to wallow in. The Parliament of the Daleks, for one,  is a wonderful idea. The scene there at the beginning deftly shows the animosity that the Doctor and the Daleks have for each other which is then wonderfully switched at the climax when the Doctor gets to laugh in their faces as they have no idea who he is. The Daleks' completely forgetting their great enemy is a bold and exciting move from Moffat, cunningly linking in the 'Doctor Who?' running theme which will be intriguing to see unfold.

Overall, Asylum of the Daleks is an absolute cracker of an episode. Brimming with brilliant ideas, its also important to give credit to the flawless direction of Nick Hurran who really gives the episode the giddying spectacle and 'Mini-Movie' feel it's going for. It would be unwise to expect such a cinematic episode of Doctor Who every week but this one, with its inclusion of Who's best aliens, strong characters and featuring the most well-kept secret Doctor Who has ever had and likely ever will have, it was a blast. Egg- egg-egg -excellent, you might say.

     The Daleks retreat into the snow as they see what's up next: Dinosaurs on a Spaceship!

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