Review of Doctor Who ‘Asylum of the Daleks’

Neela Debnath

Doctor Who image use 300x225 Review of Doctor Who ‘Asylum of the Daleks’SPOILERS: Do not read this if you have not seen episode 1, series 7/33 of ‘Doctor Who’

It was Doctor Who but not as we know it, with even bigger sets and better special effects Asylum of the Daleks was a blockbuster epic that would not look out of place at the cinema, coupled with this was one of the biggest twists on the show yet.

This is the beginning of the countdown to the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who next year and from the outset of this episode it was clear that the show is building a legacy for the next 50 years.

However, let’s skip to the most important part. The biggest twist of all and possibly the best-kept secret in Doctor Who was the surprise debut of Jenna-Louise Coleman’s character Oswin Oswald. She was not expected to be seen until the Christmas special but she has now been cleverly introduced to the audience. She is just as feisty and flirtatious as Amy Pond and on top of that she is very likeable. Coleman gives a glowing performance as Oswin and she has the makings of a companion.

Moffat has said that one the reasons Coleman won the role was because she could talk faster than the Doctor therefore we can expect to see some interesting if convoluted exchanges between the pair. It makes sense given that Doctor Who has now been back on television since 2005 so audience is familiar with the basics of the show. While Rose Tyler (Billie Piper) was a way in for the audience and asked questions on their behalf, the new companion can be a level closer to the Doctor. Saying this, Oswin has been turned into a Dalek so will the Doctor encounter her earlier in her timeline like River Song? Or perhaps the Doctor’s companion will be a relative like Martha Jones was to Adeola Oshodi?

Going back to the episode, earlier this year Showrunner Steven Moffat promised a story featuring the most Daleks ever and he did not disappoint, Asylum of the Daleks had more Daleks than you could shake an eye stalk at.

In recent times the Daleks have been given more depth and this week really exposed the vulnerability of these creatures encased in metal. The tragedy of Oswin becoming a Dalek without realising it really tapped into this fragility as viewers witnessed a Dalek crying. The sound was childlike and so unfamiliar coming from a creature hell-bent on extermination of other life forms. It is all part of the inversion of how the Daleks are seen, just like Victory of the Daleks where one asks the Doctor if he would ‘care for some tea’. It is an important progression in the overall story of the Daleks, added to this Oswin has erased the Doctor from the Daleks’ records which gives him the opportunity to start from scratch with them.

Matt Smith gives a searing performance, presenting a different, darker side to the eleventh Doctor. He gives a more mature turn and perhaps this is because he is now fully settled into the role. Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill too have developed their portrayals of Amy and Rory respectively and everyone is on form in the build-up to the Ponds’ departure.

The grown up performances from the three leads may partly be down to the more adult tone of the script. In some ways it feels like an adult drama rather than an episode of Doctor Who, particularly with Amy and Rory’s storyline where the couple haven’t lived happily ever after and are getting divorced. To add to the tension Amy can’t have children due to what happened to her at Demon’s Run. It was an incredibly sad and touching moment when Amy tells Rory that she divorced him because she could not have children but wanted to give him the chance to do so. The subject matter is so human and tangible amidst the Daleks and the chaos. If Moffat is trying to win new fans over and make the programme more serious and mature then he is certainly achieving it with this new tone.

Doctor Who has raised the bar yet again with a spectacular opener that will win over both Whovians and non-Whovians alike. Each episode in this series is slated to be on par with a blockbuster film and Asylum of the Daleks was just a taster of that. Given that this series is leading to the 50th anniversary in November next year the show was going to have to top anything that has come before and this episode does just that – in every possible way.

Next week is an Indiana Jones-type adventure entitled Dinosaurs on a Spaceship and will see a whole slew of famous faces including Rupert Graves and Harry Potter alumni David Bradley and Mark Williams who plays Rory’s father.

Image credit: BBC

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  • Jon Karani

    Oh dear… just… oh dear… that episode was an affront not just to Dr Who but to good taste everywhere…

  • Jon Karani

    Frankly if Moffat flicked a switch and erased every RTD penned script from history I’d be thrilled. The only one I’d really miss is Turn Left, and perhaps Doomsday and Midnight on a good day.

  • TheLight

    It’s because they DON’T have a hive mentality. They have access to a common database when any of them needs to access information, but they aren’t like the Borg.

  • Jack Prime

    i’m not trying to homophobic, it’s just that every single episode they have to hammer it in. I know gay is ok, and gay people excist, i don’t need doctor who telling me evry week, it takes you out of the story and it’s just a cheap gimmick to make the characters more interesting that they.

  • Rex for short

    Oswin’s survival. In Dr Who story Cold Blood as Rory is being wiped from time the Doctor tells Amy she can keep Rory alive by remembering him…Oswin heavily underlined the fact the Doctor needs to remember her. Oswin could be bought back to life via a special memory technique.

  • Helen Downing

    And Karen Gillian! She was in the Pompei episode as one of the seer girls!

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