Saturday 1 September 2012

Doctor Who: Asylum Of The Daleks

Kaled Days

Doctor Who: Asylum Of The Daleks
Airdate: 1st September 2012. UK. BBC1

Warning: Yep. Loads of spoilers trundling around on 
their little coasters, ready to exterminate you. Most of 
these things you will figure out within the first ten minutes 
anyway... but it’s always gratifying to figure them 
out on your own.

Weehay! That was a good one then.

I’m always a bit more optimistic when the start of a Moffat helmed Doctor Who season begins because the openers are usually pretty good, or at least intriguing enough to pull you in and suffer the potential decline of the rest of the series. Yeah, I know, I’m still cynical but the last season of Sherlock was nowhere near as good as the first either.

Anyway, this season gets off to a cracking start following the five short webisodes of Pond Life that the BBC made available as a lead in to this series.

The Doctor is suckered on to Skaro to undertake a rescue mission but it’s soon made clear that he’s trapped and he’s whisked away to help the Daleks lower a forcefield on their Asylum planet so the much better designed, but completely insane, nutter Daleks don’t get out into the universe. He’s given a kidnapped Amy Pond and Rory Williams, who have literally just signed their divorce papers, to help him and he’s baited with a crash landed survivor on the planet, who he needs to go and rescue.

And, yeah, okay... it’s completely predictable this female survivor who’s a computer genius is obviously going to turn out to be a Dalek in the final scenes... so much so that I wondered why they didn’t reveal it properly earlier and play with the drama of that subject a little more rather than pretend to surprise everybody at the last minute. However, the good news is, this didn’t make this particular episode any less enjoyable and I really liked the girl playing the Dalek stand in as it happened. Of course, it wasn’t until the end of the show that I realised, and this was then confirmed by the cast list since that character and actress are conspicuously absent from the Radio Times listing for the episode, that this is The Doctor’s new, post-Pond companion. Now whether she is playing the same character is another matter. I suppose she could be playing a relation of this character like what happened when Martha Jones joined the TARDIS crew as the same actress playing the sister of a dead character from a previous episode... but something tells me that’s not it.

It’s actually quite intriguing. I guess she could be playing the same character and there’s some time-wimey stuff going on, which if Amy and Rory get completely written out of the history of time and space as I’m expecting them to at the moment, might be a possibility. Or it could be the Daleks know who The Doctor’s future companion is going to be and are using it as a signal for themselves or something for a future attack. Don't forget The Doctor would have a hard time ever recognising her as he doesn't know what she looks like. All he's seen is a Dalek. She could well be something left behind from The Doctor’s future timeline which, lets face it, would fit the writer’s modus operandi really well.

Either way, this true revelation of the Daleks in that they possibly have his future companion in their midst (and, of course, the jury’s still out on that one) means two things to me. One, Jenna Louise Coleman could well be a truly great personality to have in the show if her dialogue is written as well as it was in tonight’s show and I look forward to her true arrival as much as I’m dreading the departure of Amy, Rory and, possibly, River. Also, I am looking forward to Moffat teasing me with the three or four possibilities as to how this person can be the new companion for a while.. possibly this year, possibly next year... but either way it will give me something to write and complain about.

There were some bad things in this one too which I can grumble about now and keep myself happy with. Number one is... what the heck are all those old Daleks doing on their starship. I mean, c’mon, I hate... hate... the new designed Daleks but they exterminated all the old ones as being inferior (something which this episode specifically states they wouldn’t do, by the way, which seems to mess continuity up on a second level to my main point anyway) and then, as if by magic, they seem to be peacefully coexisting with their old incarnations in a way that defies logic... or rather... seems to point to clumsy writing continuity. This kind of fuzzy thinking seems to be happening a lot with Doctor Who over the last couple of years, since Steven Moffat took over the production. Take Pond Life, for example. The Doctor can’t get in to see the Ponds in the last webisode because they are not answering the door... but in other episodes it’s fine for him to shilly-shally around their house without an invite and leave a displaced Ood there and then come and get him again without them even noticing him. So I repeat... The Doctor can’t get in because they’re not answering the door? What?

Something else is... we were told was that this was going to make the Daleks scary again. Sorry. No it didn’t. Enjoyable to see them again but no, not scary. Certainly not as bone chilling as they were in their early stories with Hartnell, nor, for that matter, as chilling as we’ve seen them in the Russel T. Davies years. Nicely written, interesting concept (if full of holes the size of a Rasillon wormhole) but scary... nope. Not this one.

Would have liked to have seen a bit more of the older Daleks from all points in history of the show too, as it happens. Didn’t have time to morbidly dwell on the Dalek design details of yesteryear, or really even notice them, during the course of this episode. Never mind. I’m sure they won’t waste these new “retro models” and I’m sure we’ll see them all again really soon, is my guess.

Of course, not soon enough that some fans won’t notice that the BBC are only airing 5 regular episodes this year before the Christmas special. 5 episodes! I told you this would happen. The BBC are playing very tight with their budgets just lately and the inevitable result of those “split seasons” is they start putting half in one year and the other half in the next year... thus saving the cash for thirteen whole episodes some of the show’s fans won’t even realising they’re missing. Mind you... if they can lie about when the new actress is starting her stint in Doctor Who they can get away with anything I guess. I still haven’t forgiven them for saying Christopher Eccleston wasn’t leaving the show on national television just a week or two before his final episode. This is behaviour some of the shows legion of fans won’t take too lightly.

Another thing they won’t take too lightly is changing the bloody opening titles again. For goodness sake, the last two seasons had bad enough titles... this augmented version is even worse. Stop being crap with the Doctor Who graphics please! Bring back the 80s neon tube if it’ll help, but please do something!

Still... go out on a positive note. Good episode, well paced, bit obvious but stylishly done with some nice bright and colourful lighting in some places and, naturally, some great acting. And a new companion who dies shouting the words “Remember Me?” Intriguing, no? Worth taking a look at if you’ve been following the show thus far, methinks.

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