Asylum of the Daleks Advance Review
Reviewed by Benjamin Tavener (Creator & Editor of Geographybase).
Warning! While I have not included any large plot twists in my review, spoilerphobes should read ahead at their own risk!
Wow! That was the first thought that came into my head after the closing titles for “Asylum of the Daleks” began to roll. I cannot stress enough that you to listen to Steven Moffat when he says it is “huge”, because this story lives off its scale and grandeur. As season openers go, I thought that “Asylum of the Daleks” was up there with the likes of “The Eleventh Hour” and “Smith and Jones”. Why is this? Well sit back, and I will tell you why. Geronimo!
The story itself is actually quite simple. The episode begins on a war-torn Skaro (Dalek homeworld), where the Doctor is confronted by a very strange Dalek “Puppet”. Amy and Rory are zapped to a Dalek flagship, where they and the Doctor are thrown into one of their stickiest situations yet. Although knee-deep in Daleks, another part of the story resolves around the Ponds’ marriage, which is not at all hunky-dory…
Without revealing too much, the story then develops into one where the Doctor is left to destroy the restoring Daleks, with the help of a mysterious genius, whilst Amy and Rory spend a great length of the episode fighting. The highlight of the episode’s narrative is a scene where the Doctor decides it is appropriate to make all the Daleks say “Doctor Who?” at the same time. Is this a hint that we might be finding out the answer to “the Question” in the foreseeable future?
In terms of the acting, Matt Smith undoubtedly steals every scene he is in. Smith shows a new side to the Doctor as he begins to sympathise with the Daleks, as well as a new ability to make jokes about them. Karen Gillan gives a sound performance as the girl who waited. She does incredibly well when it comes to the scenes which involve her now ex-husband, Rory, which I believe show an Amy who lacked compassion and appreciation. Arthur Darvill displays a very comedic side to Rory in this episode, especially when he finds himself in a situation with a Dalek and he mistakes its cry of “Exterminate” for “Eggs”. One character in this story that was not fleshed out enough was Harvey, who is played by David Gyasi. What you see of him in the two released trailers is what you get, which shows little character development.
This episode is visually stunning, and every shot shows the effort put in by the BBC. Director Nick Hurran, who previously directed “The Girl Who Waited” and “The God Complex” sets his standards even higher with “Asylum of the Daleks”. The reason I say this is because the varied collection of shots made me feel this episode had real scope. One sequence which is really well directed is the opening shot of Skaro, where CGI really captures the essence of the alien planet.
However, one aspect that I did not enjoy is the newly revamped opening sequence. In my opinion, it is a backward step which feels cheap and does no justice to the sequence of 2010-2011. Conversely, it has not changed to the point where it feels like a reboot of the Moffat era of Doctor Who we have all come to know and love.
“Asylum of the Daleks” does not waste time when it comes to continuity. Within the first minute the events of “The Wedding of River Song” are referenced, with everyone in the universe still believing the Doctor to be dead. When it comes to story arcs, this is where I must stay quiet, as the main plot twist of the episode will have effect upon the whole of Series 7. Lets just say, we are introduced to an important character…
The main theme of this episode is the restoration of the Daleks and also the theme of relationships is portrayed strongly. However, this is done in a way not to make this episode seem like “EastEnders in Skaro”.
On the topic of the Daleks, I must say that I am disappointed to report that they have not changed one bit since their last appearance. Although Matt Smith said that he thought they are back to being genuinely scary, sadly, judging by the laughter from the BFI audience, the Daleks have become even more of a laughing stock. Also, it was disappointing that we are only given such a short glimpse of the Daleks from the classic era. I suppose the good news is that we don’t get much from the “Power Ranger” Daleks. If you’re weren’t a fan of the redesign, that is!
This screening ended with a very exciting “Coming Soon” trailer, which gives a great look at the upcoming episodes which make up “the final days of the Ponds.” In particular after seeing this trailer, I am very excited to see episode 4, “The Power of Three”.
In conclusion, “Asylum of the Daleks” is a very good episode. However, there are some aspects of this episode which did not live up to my expectations. Namely, the Daleks in this episode did not seem like much of a threat. Why not? Because their ray guns were out of action! However, apart from this, the episode shows true beauty and contains a few surprises, which make you think,”This is the best opener ever!”
Best Quote: Rory (Asking about the Dalek Asylum) : “What colour is it? Sorry, you already asked all the good questions!”
Episode Rating: 8.5/10
Essential Info: Written by Steven Moffat. Directed by Nick Hurran
Cast: Matt Smith (The Doctor), Karen Gillan (Amy Pond), Arthur Darvill (Rory Pond-Williams), Anamaria Marinca (Darla), David Gyasi (Harvey), Barnaby Edwards (Dalek Operator), Nicholas Briggs (Voice of the Daleks), Naomi Ryan (Cassandra)