Doctor Who Series 7: Asylum Of The Daleks episode review

When last I wrote a Doctor Who review on this site, I think I was thoroughly fed up with the new ‘bonkers’ Doctor and Steven Moffat’s “madcap uncle entertaining the kids” style of writing.

Sad to say, I was totally fed up with Doctor Who.

Until a few weeks ago, when I was lucky enough to go and see a preview screening of Asylum Of The Daleks. And there was a massive spoiler that Steven Moffat himself begged us not to reveal. But it was a big, ambitious one and right up until airtime, not one major news outlet or blog had broken the story. So let’s get to the review and MASSIVE SPOILER WARNING…

You know the story in a nutshell: the Daleks capture The Doctor and the now-estranged Ponds. That’s right, the Ponds are divorcing. Because they have an Ood in their toilet or something.

Wibbly Wobbly Story Writing…

The kidnapped time travellers are begged by the Daleks to beam down onto a planet so fearsome they won’t set foot on it: an asylum for lunatic Daleks who can no longer be controlled. Now, there are a few things here that don’t stand up to any kind of scrutiny. The Daleks can’t simply blow the planet out of existence because it’s got a forcefield around it and the off button is on the planet itself. Yes, the off switch is down there in the asylum with the crazy dangerous Daleks.

So, let’s get this straight: the Daleks built a forcefield around the planet to keep strangers out and keep the loonies in. It’s resistant to firepower but a starship can crash land on it. And they put the power button for the forcefield on the planet? That doesn’t make ANY sense, because they would surely need to deactivate it every time they needed to drop another mad Dalek on the planet. Details, Moffat, details.

And while we’re at it, since when have Daleks EVER kept prison camps? Their enemies are all inferior species and their sole intention is to EXTERMINATE them! Gah!

The triumphant bit…

Those foibles are surprisingly easy to ignore in Asylum Of The Daleks, because the tone of the episode is perfect. The Ponds continue their own story, going from the tension of a divorce to a hasty reunion all in the space of one episode. The tragedy is that we discover Amy can’t ever have kids again after Demon’s Run.

The quipping and chemistry between The Doctor and his new and old companions is fantastic. And of course, the surprise of Jenna Louise Coleman popping up in this episode as Oswin Oswald pretty much overshadows everything else. Jenna is the product of every awesome female companion that’s appeared in Doctor Who since the 2005 reboot. She’s feisty, smart, takes The Doctor totally in her stride and whoa is she attractive!

But she’s also a Dalek, thanks to some nifty nanogenes. So doesn’t that rule her out as a future companion? We’ll have to wait until Christmas to discover that.

Other highlights are the visually stunning Parliament Of The Daleks, which as the promo material already said, features one of every kind of Dalek ever made. (And which also kind of reneges somewhat on the purification of the Daleks from Matt Smith’s first season.

Not enough people are talking about that delicious glimpse of Skaro though. A wasted planet, the original home of the Dalek race, realised in CGI with a towering effigy of a Dalek rising above the buildings. It was just incredible to see, and I wanted to praise it here.

Sadly, Asylum Of The Daleks wasn’t quite the epic Dalek episode that I’d been hoping for. For a planet that was supposedly ‘crawling’ with insane Daleks, the surface of the planet was clear and the Daleks the gang did encounter didn’t pose much of a threat. But really, it was all about the shock of seeing Jenna Louise Coleman and setting up a mind-boggling series of questions about how The Doctor will be able to travel with a Dalek companion.

What did you think of Asylum Of The Daleks?

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  1. pirho

    I have a feeling that this episode was just to set Jenna up as the new companion. The writing sucked, the whole story line are no sense at all, and we waited for this?   Bah, I’ll go back to watching re-runs of Ten if this keeps up.  Jenna or no.  

    1. Gerard McGarry

      Wow, really surprised you didn’t like this one – I thought it was a brilliant set-up for the eventual introduction of the new companion. My head was buzzing with questions after the episode ended – is this the same person, or an ancestor of Clara’s or a parallel version?

      I get what you’re saying though, but in essence it’s no different to Let’s Kill Hitler having five minutes of Hitler and really being all about River Song. Daleks were mightily underused. One thing’s for sure, if Moffat keeps poking fun at the Daleks, they’ll be completely worthless. He had them serving tea in Victory Of The Daleks and now they’re inept at locking down their own lunatics.

      1. pirho

        Let’s think about this, last season we were left with “The oldest Question in the Universe”, during the season break (which took longer then it normally did) we were taken down a path and led to believe the Doctor will destroy all the Daleks (again) we were told we would see every dalek ever created, and some we never saw before.  Instead we go to see a Dalek Parliament?  (since when are the Dalek a democratic society?) A Prime Minister of the Daleks? A bunch of dead people that have Dalek eye stalks sticking out of their heads?  And lastly a girl who is already a Dalek, that thinks she is a human.  Come one now.

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