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New Who Openers In Perspective: The Impossible Astronaut / Asylum of the Daleks

Mark McCullough concludes the series looking at past openers with Series 6 and 7’s.

As our countdown to Deep Breath enters its final hours, it is time to complete our series looking at its predecessors. Both these openers are rather unique as will become evident throughout the course of the article:

The Impossible Astronaut

series-6-promo-astronaut

The Impossible Astronaut can be considered as a major oddball when it comes to opening episodes. The main reason for this is that it was the first series opener since the revival to feature the same Doctor and the same companion which ended the previous series. This means that it did not have to introduce a new character to the audience like all other openers had. Tonight’s Deep Breath will have the honour of doing so for a new Doctor. What this allowed was for the episode to be bold and inventive as it already had a stable base with which the audience could relate with. The use of a two part narrative was something that allowed a larger scale of story which afforded Moffat the opportunity to hit head on, one of the major questions from Series Five.

“I’m going to need a SWAT team, ready to mobilise. Street level maps covering all of Florida. A pot of coffee, twelve Jammie Dodgers and a fez.”

Impossible Astronaut Spoiler pics (2)The story of the episode is a true sci-fi. We are re-introduced to our eleven hundred year old protagonist as he is reunited with his friends in Utah. Once everyone is assembled (via TARDIS blue envelopes) in true Doctor Who fashion, they have a picnic on the beach. If you thought that was strange, before we had reached the ten minute mark, in a very bold move by Mr Moffat, the titular Time Lord was dead. However, before the characters (and the audience) have time to grieve the Doctor, he is replaced with a younger model bearing a grin we were all accustomed to. Cue confusion and a mystery which spans the arc of the entire series before an inevitable cop-out.

The narrative then shifts course as the TARDIS team follow a lead given to them by the future Doctor before his death. This leads them to the Oval Office in 1969 with the Doctor initially reluctant to go, but yielding under persuasion from Amy swearing on something which matters, which naturally is fish fingers and custard (symbolic here for the relationship between the two, founded upon the unorthodox food pairing). The addition to the narrative of a little girl able to phone the President (Nixon) about a spaceman who is trying to eat her leads to an immediate mental connection with the astronaut which killed the Doctor. We are introduced to a younger version of Canton who has been tasked by the President to help with the situation. He allows the Doctor an opportunity to showcase his genius in locating the source of the call and his disappointment at being denied a fez.

Whilst this is occurring, Amy has a rather unpleasant bathroom break where she encounters one of the creatures who were first seen on a cliff in Utah in the future. A tense dialogue ensues with Amy being informed that she must tell the Doctor “what he must know, and what he must never know”. Admittedly even now I’m not one hundred percent certain as to what this line refers to. One can only assume due to Amy’s horrendous timing to announce her pregnancy that it was some sort of suggestion from the creature. That said, the line could equally pertain to the Doctor’s death at the hands of the astronaut which for obvious reasons the Doctor should not be told about. Maybe the and means that they are two separate things rather than an attempt by the Silent at being cryptic. Who knows? (*taps nose*)

The story then shifts to an abandoned warehouse where the TARDIS team, now with Canton in tow discover the origins of the suit whilst the Astronaut watches on from the shadows. The discovery of a series of tunnels which are revealed to spawn the entire planet leads to the return of a familiar setting last seen in The Lodger. Whilst this in ongoing Amy decides to tell the Doctor she is pregnant shortly before the Astronaut appears. In the dénouement to the episode Amy shoots at the approaching Astronaut as it visor lowers to reveal the little girl inside the suit.

“Oh. Hello. Bad moment. Oh look, this is the Oval Office. I was looking for the er, oblong room. I’ll just be off, then, shall I?”

The-Impossible-Astronaut-Cast-Promos-(6)Surprisingly a large part of the episode focuses on character development. For Amy we see her relationship with the Doctor questioned by Canton. This question is ultimately answered in the cliff-hanger when Amy shoots the Astronaut in an attempt to save the Doctor. It is also worth mentioning that from the fish fingers and custard line that Amy really values their relationship to the extent that it is the thing she cares about the most to swear upon.

The Doctor’s characterisation is an interesting one; in fact there are notable differences in the two Doctors which correspond with the two hundred year age gap. Not surprisingly the focus of the episode is slightly more on the three companions; this is typical of the style for a series opener. What is evident about the Doctor is that he comes across as slightly more disturbed than usual, almost as if he knows more about the circumstances than he lets on. Another point that should be picked up is actually the Doctor’s initial reluctance to travel to 1969. To me it seems very out of character as I have never seen him shy away from an adventure before, this to me confirms some prior knowledge and an element of fear.

Rory is the character who has come on the most in the gap between series; it is shown here how much his experience as the lone centurion has changed him. Perhaps one of his defining moments in this story was when he refused to give up on the Doctor despite Amy doing so.

For a one off character Canton is surprisingly well rounded, he is an intelligent man who takes no nonsense and has the confidence to defend himself against others, even the president. He is developed so well that he is one of the few one-off characters that I would happily have back. Day of the Moon is probably his better of the two episodes, although he is fantastic here too.

River’s development is perhaps the most interesting. It is facilitated mainly through individual conversations with Amy and Rory. For example in her conversation with Rory in the tunnels we get a small glimpse into the personal anguish which the character suffers due to her lifestyle with the Doctor. The character we see in the series is River at her best when she is with the Doctor, but off-screen a very different woman occupies a Stormcage Cell. What we get here is a glimpse into who this woman is and how unlike our River she is, it is rather heartbreaking. In retrospect having seen the finale too we get an appreciation for the intelligence of the character as she acts and lies in such a way to appear like she doesn’t know what is happening. We also get an appreciation as to how much she loves the Doctor through the implications of a conversation with Amy. The fact that River had considered killing the girl in the spacesuit (herself) to save the Doctor’s life shows just how highly she holds him.

“Joy. Her name was Joy. Your name is Amelia. You will tell the Doctor.”

1 Impossible Astronaut New Promo  (2)The Silence, I could very easily write an essay on them, but I’ll not bore you. Suffice to say, I absolutely adore them and feel that they are without a doubt the best monster that Moffat has ever created. They are conceptually similar to the Weeping Angels in that they play on a fundamental fear that you cannot know what is happening to something unobserved. It’s like Schrodinger’s Cat, only a lot more lethal (or maybe not, the cat could be dead). The twist with the Silence is that you can observe them, but they remove the memory of the observation as soon as you look away. The result: you remain unaware of the existence of the Silence. Memory is a tricky subject, one which is not yet fully understood so a creature capable of attacking this is possibly one of the shows scariest concepts. Have you ever walked into a room and forgot what you were there for? IT’S THE SILENCE. No? Well if you can’t remember, how do you know it wasn’t? That is the beauty of Moffat’s concept, the fact that something could be there, ready to kill you and you are blissfully unaware it exists.

The use of the Silence in this episode is minimal but effective; they feature much heavier in the second part. What the narrative establishes here is how much of a threat they can be and the basics of their concept. First encountered on a hillside in Utah we are teased about their presence and their special ability. It is not until we meet them the second time that we learn what they are and what they are capable of. For starters the narrative establishes them as being extremely intelligent having knowledge from outside their time zone. The sense of threat is upped as Joy is brutally murdered at the hands of the Silence. Interestingly the name ‘the Silence’ is not revealed until the second episode maintaining a sense of mystery for the duration of The Impossible Astronaut. The creature’s final appearance in this episode hints to the scale of their invasion while also providing scenes with a unique fear factor which places our heroes in grave danger.

Conclusion

Without a doubt The Impossible Astronaut is one of the darkest openers we have had, it has genuinely terrifying monsters utilised to their maximum potential. The concepts explored have severe and lasting consequences for the characters and there is a genuine sense that danger lurks around every corner. The scale of the episode is notable too as the directors do a superb job especially in the shift from the vibrant colours of Utah to the dull and dank warehouse driving home the shift in the tone of the narrative. Given what we have been teased as to how Capaldi’s Doctor will be presented onscreen, I would suspect that this will be the opener that Deep Breath is most similar too, if that only be tonally.

Rating – The Impossible Astronaut

Throughout this series of In Perspective articles we are going to provide a rating for the episode to allow for some comparisons and to see what elements are actually important to making a good opener. The following ratings were produced by taking the individual ratings of five contributors (David Selby, Jack Hudson, Lewis Hurst, Simon Mitchell and Tomas Edwards). These ratings were then averaged to provide a number which should be relatively free of individual bias. The results are as follows:

  • Episode Rating: 9.3/10
  • Effectiveness as an Opener: 9.6/10
  • Monster Rating: 9.5/10
  • Character Rating: 9.3/10

This gives the episode a total score of 37.7/40

Asylum of the Daleks

asylum-of-the-daleks-promo-pic-b-(2)

Perhaps you are wondering why Asylum is here instead of getting its own article. The answer is rather simple; it has already been covered extensively via an absolutely superb In Perspective article by Michael Coats. (You can read said article here) There really is very little that wasn’t covered, so there was little point in producing another article of the same title which would have struggled to come across as eloquently. As a compromise (so as we can still score it) I have included a paragraph on what little remains to be covered.

As Coats’ article was written before The Bells of Saint John, (which many consider to have more qualities of an opener than Asylum) it could not have covered how the episodes since then have affect the way in which the episode is viewed. In truth, not much changes other than the fact that we know that Oswin is a splinter of Clara Oswald after stepping into the Doctor’s time stream. This makes Asylum one of the only two instances where we actually see the Impossible Girl’s splinters save the Doctor. The premise of the Daleks having their knowledge of the Doctor wiped is unfortunately retconned in their next chronological appearance as the Daleks download memories of the Doctor from the corpse of Tasha Lem. On one hand it’s unfortunate that we didn’t get a story which played upon this new dynamic, but on the other hand it showed how ruthlessly intelligent the Daleks are re-establishing their threat further.

The episode also adopts a darker tone and like The Impossible Astronaut features and already established TARDIS team albeit with an altered dynamic and being brought together not by their own choice. The concepts featured within the episode are superb and it was nice to see the Dalek Puppets brought back in The Time of the Doctor in a really shocking twist. The Asylum itself is something that was visually stunning and has the potential for reappearance at some stage, perhaps even when fully operational.

Rating – Asylum of the Daleks

As above, the following ratings were produced by taking the individual ratings of five contributors (David Selby, Jack Hudson, Lewis Hurst, Simon Mitchell and Tomas Edwards). The results are as follows:

  • Episode Rating: 8.7/10
  • Effectiveness as an Opener: 8.2/10
  • Monster Rating: 8.5/10
  • Character Rating: 7.5/10

Final ratings and conclusion

This gives the episode a total of 32.9/40 and puts us in the position to view our final list to see how the series openers rank up.

  1. The Impossible Astronaut: 37.7/40
  2. The Eleventh Hour: 36.8/40
  3. Smith and Jones: 34.9/40
  4. Rose: 34/40
  5. Asylum of the Daleks: 32.9/40
  6. Partners in Crime 31.7/40
  7. New Earth: 28.4/40

Perhaps the list is not what you expected it would be and I would hazard a guess that is down to the monster rating which is probably least important in openers compared to regular episodes. I thoroughly hope you have enjoyed reading this series of articles. With only a matter of hours left until Deep Breath excitement and anticipation are at their height. So relax, put your feet up (or get your popcorn at the ready), take a Deep Breath (sorry) and enjoy!

Step back in time...

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53 comments
The Finn
The Finn

Thank you for this series!

PeterGecko
PeterGecko

Wow, this is my actual list for New Who openers best to worst.

The Outer Space K9
The Outer Space K9

I agree with The Impossible Astronaut taking the top spot. As much as I love the Eleventh Hour (and I really do love it) I've never been more intrigued by a Doctor Who episode than when I saw The Impossible Astronaut. A very bold, solid series opener and one of my favourite episodes ever.

And congradulations on a great series of articles!

YaelMoise is glad they mentioned the goddess
YaelMoise is glad they mentioned the goddess

The Amy and Rory divorce thing was wrapped up too quickly and too easily, I felt. That took a lot of out of it, for me. Other than that... Oswin is one of my all-time favorites: "Pop your shirt off. Quick as you like" "I call him Nina. It's a personal thing", and the idea of the Daleks who met him being the ones most in need of mental help? LOVED IT. 

SonicTheHedgehogRules
SonicTheHedgehogRules

I love The Impossible Astronaut/Day of the Moon. If The Girl in the Fireplace didn't exist, it would probably be the best Moffat story ever. It basically tells you the end of Series 6 and you don't even know it. It's genuis, I like the whole "Start with the end and go back to the beginning" story set up. If done correctly, it's just a fantastic watch. Best opener, and definitely best Moffat story. Asylum of the Daleks, however? The hype was immense for it, we were told "Every Dalek Ever", so much so that I even thought that one random Dalek from The Five Doctors would show, or even that Guard Dalek from The Chase. It was a great way to build up the 50th hype. Sadly, it was a rather large let down in terms of the Daleks themselves. Parliament of the Daleks? Suddenly they have democracy? Suddenly Daleks have a concept of beauty? What? We've been taught to know that Daleks with defects are considered impure, hence why we had the entire Imperial/Renegade Dalek civil war of the 1980's. Asylum kind of ignores that part and does it's own thing, which I always found as rather weird. Then we get the Asylum itself. In terms of Classic Daleks, all you basically got was the 4 Classic Daleks on show at the Doctor Who Experience, plus RTD's personal Dalek, and plus another 2 Daleks from where-ever. Not to mention inside the Intensive Care area should have been ALL Classic Daleks. Following that, you get a random sub plot of Amy and Rory splitting up that makes the slightest of sense! It's never brought up again, and never referred to. Sure, it started in Pond Life, but even then I didn't really understand it there. Honestly, Asylum is still a great episode, but it's a hollow promise that wasn't fulfilled, and with a random subplot that makes no sense.



troughton who?
troughton who?

Try as hard as I can, I can't think of Asylum... as an opener. In fact, the whole of Series 7 part one just feels like part of a different series, like an extension of series 6. The Bells of Saint John feels like a series opener - new companion, new intro, new costume, new TARDIS interior. 

wutetka
wutetka

I'd give "The Eleventh Hour" a 10 without doubt, "Asylum of the Daleks" comes next with a near perfect 9.5, then "The Impossible Astronaut" with a 9, "Rose" and "Smith and Jones" both deserved an 8, "Partners in crime" gets a solid 7 and "New Earth" comes last with a 5, it was quite a boring episode.


ahunter8056
ahunter8056

Rating – Asylum of the Daleks



  • Episode Rating: 5/10
  • Effectiveness as an Opener: 4/10
  • Monster Rating: 7/10
  • Character Rating: 6/10

Final ratings and conclusion

This gives the episode a total of 32.9/40 and puts us in the position to view our final list to see how the series openers rank up.

  1. Rose: 35/40
  2. The Eleventh Hour33.5/40
  3. The Impossible Astronaut: 31/40
  4. Smith And Jones27/40
  5. New Earth: 22.5/40
  6. Asylum Of The Daleks: 22/40
  7. Partners In Crime15/40

ahunter8056
ahunter8056

  The Impossible Astronaut is a really good episode. I wish I could say the same for Asylum Of The Daleks, but I've never really liked that episode. Time for my rankings.


  • Episode Rating9/10
  • Effectiveness as an Opener: 6.5/10
  • Monster Rating: 8.5/10
  • Character Rating: 7/10

This gives 'The Impossible Astronaut' a total score of 31/40 So far this leaves the episode one ‘Leader-board’ looking like this:

  1. Rose: 35/40
  2. The Eleventh Hour33.5/40
  3. The Impossible Astronaut: 31/40
  4. Smith And Jones27/40
  5. New Earth: 22.5/40
  6. Partners in Crime 15/40

Meh Meh Meh Meh Meh is in the Secret Play! Shh!
Meh Meh Meh Meh Meh is in the Secret Play! Shh!

1. Impossible Astronaut (actually my favorite episode ever)

2. Asylum of the Daleks

3. The Eleventh Hour

4. Partners in Crime (love it for some reason)

5. Smith and Jones

6. New Earth

7. Rose

MrRazza is wittily changing his name for each week
MrRazza is wittily changing his name for each week

I enjoy The Impossible Astronaut for its tone, setting in an actual different country, and the odd political reference that makes the politics nerd in me very happy. The Silents are a great, intimidating and unnerving foe, but to be honest the plot leaves me too lost when it's coupled with Day of the Moon, and I feel it's not brilliantly paced.

The Dalek Asylum is, in my opinion, a little overrated. It's a good main storyline - but I find the Ponds quite irritating by this point, the ease of everyone's abduction sits uneasily with me and while the "Doctor Who?" is a great scene, I feel it's wasted when it's undone by the Daleks' next chronological appearance in Time of the Doctor. What makes this episode  what it is are the chilling Dalek Puppets and the much appreciated alterations to the teletubby Daleks and return enmasse of the Time War ones.

Partners In Crime - 9/10

Smith and Jones - 8.5/10

Rose - 8/10

The Impossible Astronaut - 7.5/10

The Eleventh Hour - 7/10

New Earth - 6/10

Dalek Asylum - 5.5/10

[Bells of St John - 4/10


Whodman6
Whodman6

Asylum of the daleks is probably the biggest let down of an episode as far as I can remember, I remember all the promises of every dalek ever, instead we got a couple of classic daleks somewhere in the corner. Then to make it worse they made daleks from exilon gold.

MeglosProductions
MeglosProductions

I honestly bloody hate The Impossible Astronaut/Day Of The Moon. It's so confusing, begins lots of terrible plot lines that either go nowhere or end badly, and the actual plot is pretty damn terrible and uninteresting.


Asylum on the other hand, I have to admit is pretty decent, even if I still consider it overrated. 

Stradiwhovius
Stradiwhovius

The Impossible Astronaut comes in with a solid 9/10, and 17th overall. It's an amazing opener, full of shock value, scale, darkness, all the good stuff. Day of the Moon comes 4th with a 10/10 - The Doctor at his best, a marvellously clever plan, some truly frightening sequences in Greystark Hall, and I don't see how a series could be started any better (though perhaps I'll find out tonight!). 

I want to stay positive so I'll refrain from commenting on Asylum, but I feel I'm being generous by calling it a bit of a mess. 4/10 and 79th overall. Doesn't feel like much of an opening episode though because everything is still so familiar. Bells of Saint John, or even The Snowmen, are more of an opener.

supermoff is now in 2D!
supermoff is now in 2D!

Asylum was also pretty good. Certainly, for me, the best Dalek story since "The Parting of the Ways", and also the scariest they've been since "Dalek". I still have quibbles with the divorce subplot, but this episode was, on a cinematic scale, absolutely gorgeous. It would have been great to see this one at the cinema! But yes, it has some wonderful moments and some shocking twists, and the nano cloud conversion system is disturbing. Throw in some great acting from everyone, and you have a classic. 

Episode Rating: 8.5/10 (rank 29/104...I think)


Effectiveness as an opener: 9/10 (bit of an odd way to open a series, but it will still effective)

Monster rating: 9/10 (the Daleks back to form!)

Character rating: 8/10

34.5/40. Another great opener. So ultimately: 

The Impossible Astronaut - 40/40 

The Eleventh Hour - 37.5/40 

Asylum of the Daleks - 34.5/40

Smith and Jones - 34.25/40

 Partners in Crime - 33.5/40 

Rose - 32/40 

New Earth - 25/40 

Now, bring on Deep Breath! Only 7 hours and 40 minutes to go!



supermoff is now in 2D!
supermoff is now in 2D!

Ah yes, The Impossible Astronaut. The greatest Doctor Who episode ever made.


I have watched it countless times, and every single time I am stunned by its absolute perfection. Every single thing about it is wonderful and flawless, as is the second part "Day of the Moon" which is, somehow, even better. It's clever, it's scary, it's funny, it's gorgeous, it's shocking, it's suspenseful, it has a amazing cliffhanger, it has wonderful characters, and an incredible plot. This is the greatest Doctor Who has ever been, and I doubt it'll ever be beaten, but just...what an episode.  

Episode Rating: 10/10 (rank 2/104 with "Day of the Moon" 1/104)

Effectiveness as an opener: 10/10

Monster rating: 10/10 (the Silence are the best monsters ever imo) 

Character rating: 10/10 

40/40. A perfect score, and it still won't be enough. 

ShayHatchard1
ShayHatchard1

I can rank series openers in different ways - effectiveness as an opener, the best story, the best dynamic or idea etc, so I don't think I really could. But LOOSLY, this is based just simply on enjoyment after the episode. NOTE: The top three are all the same for me really...

1 - Asylum Of The Daleks

2 - The Impossible Astronaut

3 - The Eleventh Hour

4 - Rose

5 - Smith and Jones

6 - Partners In Crime

7 - New Earth

Edit: As an extra, I think Deep Breath may replace Number One.

microbat98
microbat98

I was in love with Asylum when I first watched it, but after looking back many times I have realised the sheer amount of plot holes and retcons. Sure, we must expect retcons in Doctor Who, but Asylum seems to have completely disregarded Dalek history and had way too many plot holes. The Daleks being a hive mind in the episode sticks out as a big one.

Impossible Astronaut is brilliant, though. It's my second favourite New Who opener behind The Eleventh Hour. It just works in every way and ends up being a superb story.

MetamorphmagusWho
MetamorphmagusWho

I absolutely love The Impossible Astronaut. I too find The Silence (wait isn't The Silence the religious order and The Silents the species name? Or are they synonymous with each other?) a great adversary that contributes to such an amazing two-parter. Asylum of the Daleks... isn't quite as good. I like it, don't get me wrong and it is a good episode, what with Oswin and concept of the Dalek puppets, but the Pond's divorce subplot is just...cringe.I have nothing against Moffat working it in but the way it was done wasn't very effective and it was never mentioned again. It's almost a Big Lipped Alligator Moment.

LGwalchmai95
LGwalchmai95

The Doctor: What have you been doing on your own against the Daleks for a year? 


Oswin: Making soufflés?


The Doctor: Soufflés! Against the Daleks! Where'd you get the milk?

Not going to lie, when I first heard him say this, I thought he was just making a joke! This shows us just what a brilliant writer Steven Moffat is. Asylum of the Daleks, for me, just gets better and better every time I watch it. It's such a brilliant episode. It is a fantastic opener that just fires you straight into the thick of it, and it's so confident! It has everything; chilling/scary scenes, the Nano Cloud and Dalek puppets were a brilliant idea, especially converting anything living or dead, those skeletons were creepy! I like how the Daleks think hatred is beautiful, and have a prime minister! Oswin is the highlight of the episode though; Jenna is outstanding considering she’s just sat around green screens and has a random crew member reading the other characters lines! That’s really admirable work, and shows us how great an actress Jenna is. I love the Oswin arc throughout the episode, and the reveal that she's been converted is just heartbreaking. I can't begin to imagine how painful and terrifying it must be to be converted from a human into a Dalek. Oswin is my favourite one-off character in Doctor Who; smart, funny, relatable, brave, resourceful, and just all round awesome! Matt is brilliant, just acting with a machine the way he did was top notch. My only real criticism of this episode would be this; Amy and Rory didn't really need to be there. As much as I love them, this episode could have functioned just as well, if not better, without them. They were only there because the Daleks thought it would be nice for him to have companion, since he always does! I think it could have been better if we had just seen the Doctor making his way to the force field thing that he to deactivate, hearing more from Oswin as she’s constantly there, helping him along the way, and then making him go and get her. I think that would have been better and more heartbreaking in terms of the story to me if the Doctor had formed a stronger bond with her. But I still love the episode how it is. Other things that I think are good about it are; the direction, which is brilliant, the visuals; the way the trio are transported to the Asylum looks awesome, as does the Asylum itself. The Dalek parliament looks really cool too, and the music is very, very good; Murray Gold is on top form. I love the Dalek Asylum planet, especially the outside where the Doctor and Amy land, it looks awesome. It was a tragic end for Oswin Oswald, who was a fantastic one-off character, and a nice surprise to get a glimpse of Jenna Coleman’s brilliant capabilities as an actress, plus a glimpse at her great chemistry with Matt. Asylum of the Daleks is the best Dalek story of New-Who in my opinion. 10/10 from me! Fantastic series by the way, great job! :)

My overall list of openers would be; 

1. The Eleventh Hour 

2. Asylum of the Daleks 

3. The Impossible Astronaut 

4. Smith and Jones 

5. Rose 

6. Partners in Crime 

7. New Earth 

I love all of the openers since the revival, they've all been brilliant in their own way, and are all top episodes! :)





SilenceHasFallen
SilenceHasFallen

For me:

1. The Eleventh Hour - 10/10


2. Partners in Crime - 9/10

3. Smith and Jones - 8,5/10


4. The Impossible Astronaut - 8/10


5. Asylum of the Daleks - 7/10

5. New Earth - 6/10

6. Rose - 5/10



Really wonder, where will be Deep Breath after tonight!




Clara Bosswald is the Doctor.
Clara Bosswald is the Doctor.

I absolutely adore The Impossible Astronaut. It's not only the best opener in my opinion, it is one of the best Doctor Who stories ever written. The Silents are a wonderful, powerful monster. The resolution of the plot is genius. I love when the monsters' power ends up being the way they are defeated – the Angels looking at each other, the Silents giving the order for their own execution. It's so elegant!

Superb guest cast – I love Canton! And I really want to talk about the way his homosexuality was handled : "This person you want to marry...black?" - "Yes... he is". And that's it! We need characters like Captain Jack Harkness but it is too rare to see a gay character whose homosexuality is irrelevant to the story – in Canton's case, it's just a fact. It also highlights how we always assume that people are straight unless proven otherwise – straight people are the normality, gay people are the difference. And it's really important for me because it means that unless a character's sexual orientation is clearly stated, the character is straight by default. We never saw River with a woman but I'm pretty sure she's bisexual – she is in my headcannon.

And can we talk about Karen Gillan? I don't know what happened between series 5 and series 6 but her acting skills skyrocketed! I was really impressed. Arthur was his usual perfection and Matt delivered the ending speech perfectly – his best in my opinion.

Asylum of the Daleks was also great. Never understood the hate about it, never will. The Daleks are not the personification of the Nazis, they are the personification of the Evil of the time. I loved the way RTD made them discover religion in Parting of the Ways in 2005 (4 years after 9/11). The Time War also sounds a lot like the War on Terror if you replace "The Nightmare Child" with "Drones". It was perfect for the time. Moffat took them in another direction: a system that looks like a democracy but really isn't – the Nazis themselves had a parliament. The Daleks don't kill people, they turn them into puppets. They even use diplomacy but it does not make them better, all the contrary. It was a really smart critic of our society.

Oswin's story was also very touching. Jenna Coleman did a fantastic job! I love the idea of the nanocloud slowly converting people to insert them into the security. Lots of good ideas.



My final ranking is : 1. The Impossible Astronaut / 2. Eleventh Hour / 3. Smith and Jones / 4. Asylum of the Daleks / 5. Rose / 6. New Earth / 7. Partners in Crime 


jamesanash101
jamesanash101

My list goes like this: The Impossible Astronaut (/Day of the Moon) + The Bells of St John: 10/10 ---------- Smith and Jones + The Eleventh Hour + Partners in Crime: 9/10 ---------- Rose + Asylum of the Daleks: 8/10 ---------- New Earth: 7/10 ---------- But I wouldn't say that any opening episode was bad, I've really enjoyed them all! Great articles!




Planet of the Deaf
Planet of the Deaf

I would definitely quibble with the effectiveness as an opener mark given to Asylum! (am I the only person who thinks that phrase should be used to describe Alastair Cook or David Warner incidentally?)

Asylum had no bearing on S7A, but the introduction of Oswin was a master-stroke, which got people puzzling for months, how the Companion could arrive several months early and die! While the Ponds divorce plot was a bit grating, the episode is in many ways much more important retrospectively as the first appearance of the Impossible Girl, which would be the S7 arc, so I'd definitely bump up the opener and character marks...


Ava Averson
Ava Averson

If I could only take one episode of Doctor Who to a desert island, it would probably be the Impossible Astronaut 2-parter. (No, that doesn't count as cheating:)) It is perfection! 

TheNightmareChild is havin' a good time!
TheNightmareChild is havin' a good time!

In spite of the fact that Series 6 ultimately went in some directions that I simply don't like, I really enjoy 'The Impossible Astronaut/Day of the Moon' for its mystery, its atmosphere, and as the author of this article put it its true sci-fi-ness.  In fact, I would go as far as to say that its one of the most ingeniously plotted episodes in the whole show.  The Silence are simply blood chilling, both in concept and in design.  And they are implemented masterfully in this episode.  It's just a shame that they haven't had much show since, or been put toward a better series arc.  If I had to list any downsides to the episode itself, I would say that it was the beginning of Amy's downfall as a companion in my eyes.  She was alright in Series 5, but she really doesn't have anything to do in this episode and that would unfortunately persist throughout series 6.  She really is just kinda' there.  Also, at points the flirting between River and the Doctor was a bit insufferable.  But overall, a fantastic story, right up there with 'Smith and Jones' and 'The Eleventh Hour'.  

I just rewatched 'Asylum of the Daleks' tonight, and I have to say I remember liking it a bit more than I did after rewatch.  Oh, it's a fine episode.  It has a real sense of menace and creepiness to it with the Dalek puppets and the patients in the asylum itself.  It was fun seeing Rory's first interactions with the Daleks.  Oswin is a great character, and the big twist surrounding her in the end was shockingly tragic.  But if I disliked the Amy and Rory drama the first time I watched this episode, it's only degraded in my eyes since then.  The reasoning behind it feels contrived and it was resolved way too quickly for me to really care about it.  So I really wish that just wasn't a part of the episode at all.  

So here we have my rankings, with a three way tie for first place:  

1. Smith and Jones-The Eleventh Hour-The Impossible Astronaut  2. Partners in Crime  3. Rose  4. Asylum of the Daleks  5. New Earth  

And thank you to the writers for occupying us with this engaging and thoughtful series while we wait for 'Deep Breath'.  Just a few more hours.  OHMAGAWD!!! :D


Ivegotkidneys in 3.415265358979D
Ivegotkidneys in 3.415265358979D

For me: 

1.The impossible astronaut 34/40


2.Smith and Jones 34/40

3.The 11th hour 32/40

4.Partners in crime 32/40 

5.Rose 31/40 

6.Asylum of the Daleks 31/40 

7.The bells of st.John 28/40 

8.New Earth 26/40 

TardisBoy
TardisBoy

'The Impossible Astronaut'- This is not only one of my favourite openers, but also one of my favourite episodes in Doctor Who history. I absolutely adore it. It starts off so spectacularly with the Doctor dying in the very first 10 minutes, being shot by a mysterious Astronaut – well already my mind had been blown from the shock. How on earth could this have happened? And what follows is a very poignant, tense scene where they burn his body, a moment so rich in pathos; it’s one of the most brilliant scenes in the history of the show. Of course the rest of it is brilliant too. I love the incorporation of the Silence; although they are underused in later appearances they are really used to their fullest potential here, and actually terrified me –they are such an ingenious concept. What really nails this episode for me is the acting from the leads (especially guest star Mark Sheppard as Canton) and Murray Gold’s sublime musical score – he elevated every scene through his rich and atmospheric musical compositions. Just brilliant in every sense of the word!

‘Asylum of the Daleks’  - This episode is actually quite divisive amongst the fandom but I adore it, just as I do every New Who Dalek episode – they’re my favourite monster, and I think they’re used absolutely brilliantly here, with Moffat managing to bring back the ‘fear factor’ and making them a real, serious threat. I adored the “eggs” scene with Rory which will surely go down as an iconic meeting, and I loved the ‘intensive care’ scene, especially how them backing the Doctor up against the door mirrors the Daleks first appearance in the 60’s, doing the same to Barbara. I think in terms of plot it’s very strong IMO, not too complicated at all and flows really easily. But of course what makes this episode for me is the appearance of Jenna as Oswin Oswald, such a terrific character that is played wonderfully by Jenna here, such a surprise too! And of course the reveal that she was in fact a Dalek all along will go down as one of the best twists ever! The direction from Hurran is a real strong point, he makes everything feel grand and cinematic, I adore his direction – and as always the music from Gold was stunning. This episode is just a fantastic example of how to do the Daleks right, which Moffat really does IMO.

1. The Impossible Astronaut

2. The Eleventh Hour

3. Asylum of the Daleks




4. Smith and Jones

5. Rose

6. Partners in Crime

7. New Earth




HitchcockWhovian
HitchcockWhovian

Great series of articles, I do agree mostly. I think my list would be something like this:

1. The Eleventh Hour (9.1/10)

2. Rose (8.8/10)

3. Smith and Jones (8.7/10)

4. The Impossible Astronaut/Day of the Moon (8.7/10)

5. Partners in Crime (8.5/10)

6. Asylum of the Daleks (7.9/10)

7. New Earth (7.6/10)

For the record, I love Partners in Crime. The quality of openers in Who is quite wonderful. The only two I have mixed feelings toward are indeed Asylum and New Earth.

Whodman6
Whodman6

Yeah, totally agree season 6's arc was probably the worst since the show came back. The plot lines fell on the wayside and went nowhere.

ShayHatchard1
ShayHatchard1

Asylum is still one of my favourite openers, if not my favourite.

Planet of the Deaf
Planet of the Deaf

@LGwalchmai95 Hear hear, Oswin for the win, er Oswin...


I'd agree, a great episode, excellently directed by Nick Hurran (who would go on to do DOTD) and clever use of that Spanish mountain snow for the planet surface! I guess the main use of Amy and Rory was to have someone for the nano cloud to potentially convert? 





HitchcockWhovian
HitchcockWhovian

Oh, and applying your system to my reaction to Deep Breath would go something like:


Episode Rating: 8.4

Effectiveness as an Opener: 8.7

Monster Rating: 8.4

Character Rating: 9.2

Total: 33.7/40

microbat98
microbat98

Ah. I didn't think of that. Out of interest, you have watched the Classics, right? Not getting at you or anything, I've just always been sure that you were a Classic buff for some reason. I can understand why you wouldn't include them in a ranking, given the sheer amout of stories there are.

Interesting to see your favourite Doctor Who story! Or New Who story. I didn't expect this, to be honest, but I'm glad that I know someone who sees it as a favourite. It deserves more attention. For me, it's probably my favourite series six story.

supermoff is now in 2D!
supermoff is now in 2D!

@microbat98 I suppose I should have been more clear and said it was the the "greatest Doctor Who episode ever made out of the ones I've seen". I have watched a lot of the classic series, but not all of it (yet). Say 2/3. I haven't ranked them as I need to watch a story many times before I can fully rank them, and classic stories are always so long, plus, as you say, there's so many of them! :)



microbat98
microbat98

You're still a buff to me, I've haven't seen even close to that much. The War Games remains as my favourite; with The Mind Robber being a tough contender.