Hastily-written thoughts straight after my first viewing…
Spoilers for Doctor Who – Asylum of the Daleks.
Seriously though, a Dalek Parliament we’ve never heard of, composed largely of inferior Daleks that the new ruling elite previously blasted out of existence for being offensive, has been exiling mad Daleks onto a planet instead of killing them for entirely implausible motives, and this asylum planet is protected by an impenetrable forcefield that can only be opened from the INSIDE, and the Dalek Parliament are genuinely so scared to go down there that they track down their worst enemy in the entire Universe, who they should by rights expect to be dead, and instead of killing him they send him down there, oh and there are some nanoprobes that turn humans into Robomen on steroids, just because. Oh, and how long has this asylum existed, exactly, because if it has Daleks from right back to Hartnell’s stories on to the present, how does that fit with the Time War?
Somehow it’s all just about cool enough that it breezes past your suspension of disbelief. Somehow.
On the plus side, what good things emerge from all this contrivance. The visual of the Dalek Parliament is stunning, as glossy and ‘sci fi’ as the Asylum is grim and unnerving. Not quite so impressed by the Dalek eye stalks coming out of people’s foreheads but it’s the kind of image that will stick with kids for decades to come.
Matt Smith is completely persuasive, shifting seamlessly from the sombre opening through the gamut of whimsical, excited, angry, scared, flirty and sad. Amy and Rory’s sub plot, although sketched in economical terms, still packs a punch and very effectively conveys time passing in their lives while the Doctor is away. Both actors acquit themselves very well. And Rory doesn’t die once.
Oswin is a likeable guest star and I’m keen to see her again, although if I’m being critical I thought her snarky, flirtatious patter came off strongly like River Song (not getting the Amy vibe so much) and I’d really like to see how she is when being a little more real and grounded in genuine emotion rather than too much more super-genius patter. The actress was impressive though, and the end of the episode packed a real punch. Moffat’s comments here also give me hope: http://www.sfx.co.uk/2012/09/03/steven-moffat-talks-new-doctor-who-companion-oswin/
I was straining to see the retro Daleks in all the gloom, but I only spotted the Special Weapons Dalek and one with the smaller dome lights. Need to see it again, I think!
Oh, and new opening credits to boot. Nothing massively different, more the kind if changes-by-degree we’ve seen throughout the show’s evolution, but I quite like the new look.
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