Doctor Who Season 7 Episode 1 Review: Asylum of the Daleks

Our TV blogger is back with the arrival of the new Doctor Who episode. But does the TARDIS arrive with a bang or a whimper?

It seems apt that the first review I write from a unexpected hiatus involves a time bending alien whom disappears for long periods of time without explaining himself. Thus Matt Smith’s Doctor returns to our screens proper in an explosive entry that seems to want to try and put anything and everything into just the one episode, making the whole experience feel rather bloated.

The Doctor falls into a trap on the Dalek homeworld and is tasked with saving the Daleks who just captured him, from the big, bad and crazy(ier) Daleks that are found on a nearby planet but locked in an asylum to ensure they can’t escape. Whether an in joke or not, the Daleks also kidnap Rory (Arthur Darvill) and Amy (Karen Gillian), now broken up, as the Doctor always works with companions. That’s the Daleks reasoning for it, not as an emotional tie or something to drive him,  but simply because that is what he normally does. Cue wisecracks, the odd explosion, the habitual companion in distress and the Doctor winning.

Apologies if I seem unenthusiastic, the whole episode is a welcome return for Matt Smith and co, with the writing being tight, the jokes and quips well placed and the effects seem to actually have been helped with a sizable budget. But the storyline of the next few episodes is being channelled into a big finale that gets rid of Amy and Rory and brings in the new assistance, Oswin, played by Jenna Louise Coleman. Having her arrive in the first episode of the new season was a pleasant surprise but, without giving much away, her story arc in this episode seems to back the writers in a corner, which will likely make her journey from guest character to full time companion be a bit ridiculous, even for Doctor Who standards.

The Daleks actually manage to be quite terrifying in large numbers but are neutralised in ways that make the idea of them being the Doctors worse enemies preposterous; in one scene they are programmed to forget everything the Doctor has ever done to them. Why had the great Doctor, who can travel through space and time and change events at his whim, not do this? The reasoning for it within the show is incredibly flimsy, especially as so much emphasis has been put on the Doctor having an amazing intellect in the new seasons.

I mentioned that Rory and Amy are not actually together at the beginning of the episode, understandable in the grounds of the show, but irritating when it isn’t explained until very near the end of the episode, with the writers expecting you to have watched the five minute webisodes to see what the cast have been doing since we last saw them. Furthermore, the shake up of the biggest relationship that has been in the show since the arrival of the Eleventh Doctor, gets sorted within a few minutes of talking to each other. Again, it seems that Moffat and co are relying on the fact that the audience wants Rory and Amy to stay together which makes any kind of conflict is redundant or cursory , which is a shame after the love triangle that was utilised for character development in the earlier series.

The episode is still essentially very good, but it feels like that the writers have obsessed over the fact that two characters are leaving, and that they must fit as much as possible, which detracts from the overall product. A stronger script for the next episode, which looks like it will play of Smith’s ability for humor, will hopefully improve what was all lights and little substance.

Author: Adam Leith

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