Doctor Who Review – “Asylum of the Daleks”

Our regular Doctor Who reviewer was otherwise occupied this weekend, so I’m filling in. Short review: it’s been months since I’ve had a smile this big on my face.

Cast and Crew Information

Matt Smith as the Doctor
Karen Gillan as Amy Pond
Arthur Darvill as Rory Williams
Jenna-Louise Coleman as Oswin
Nicholas Briggs as the voice of the Daleks

Written by Steven Moffat
Directed by Nick Hurran


The Daleks aquire the Doctor, Amy and Rory so they can ask the Doctor to save them.

High Point

“Oh, Oswin, you did it to them all. You beauty!”

Low Point

The final time delay should have been a bit shorter. The Daleks are very efficient when that one task is involved.

The Review

After almost 49 years of this series, it is very hard to find an original story with the Doctor’s greatest enemy. They did, establishing a new type of Dalek threat in the process. That deserves a lot of credit. I give it 5 out of 6.

The effects were pretty good. This series has grown over time, and so has the budget. Virtually every shot included a visual effect of one form or another, but only one actually looked like a visual effect to me. I give it 5 out of 6.

The story was well done, filled with rich details that appear to be small now. I expect this to be a typical Moffat series/season, with a very enjoyable opener that takes on much greater meaning by the time we’ve seen the next twelve (or twenty-five) episodes. That’s the kind of storytelling I love. I fully expect the nanocloud to be a big part of the next few months. I give it 5 out of 6.

The acting was excellent. The regular cast are firing on all cylinders, and the main guest star is a character I’d love to see again. My only complaint is that I’ve been spoiled: I know that Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill are leaving soon, and that Jenna-Louise Coleman returns as a new companion named “Clara” and not Oswin. I’m looking forward to Coleman’s return, but a human Oswin would have been a pretty damned spectacular companion. End spoilers. I give it 6 out of 6.

The production is right there, controlling pacing and camera angles, and keeping things dark and spooky enough to allow for a lack of walls in the set so that the team could litter the place with cameras to get the best possible angles, including ceiling mounted cameras. I’m sure Matthew is happy to hear a new arrangement of “I Am The Doctor” in the score, as well. I give it 6 out of 6.

The emotional response was excellent. This was a compelling 49 minute stretch that seeds so many possibilities that it will demand to be rewatched over the next few months. I give it 6 out of 6.

Overall, this is a very strong series/season opener launching the next chapter of a very strong show. Do not miss this. I give it 6 out of 6.

In total, receives 39 out of 42.

15 replies on “Doctor Who Review – “Asylum of the Daleks””

  1. Karen Gillingham leaving is not a spoiler. That the new companion will be Jenna-Louise Coleman and she will join in the Christmas episode is not a spoiler. These things have been publicly announced by Moffat. They may even not be true – he is known for misleading fans. The only spoiler, for anyone who hasn’t yet seen this episode, is that Jenna-Louise Coleman is in this episode, although we still don’t know whether she is playing the same character she will be playing as companion.

    • I’ve heard she’ll be Clara Oswin. If that’s true, she could be some version of this person.

      Good episode, but I don’t see how, if the Daleks could beam a few people through the force-shield, they couldn’t just send down multiple nuclear weapons. I recognize they had a clever and original Dalek plot, but I wish they would have covered the reason why the Daleks couldn’t just blow away the planet better than “well, there’s a force-field that will protect against our weapons, but we can sneak small things through.”

      • I don’t think that’s as big of a plot hole as it seems. Remember, the planet has automated defenses and security in addition to the shield and it specifically tuned against the Daleks by the Daleks. Also, they are playing logically here by playing the odds. Why take a big risk in material cost and Dalek lives as the first gambit when they can send their best enemy in to sort if out for them at a much lower cost. And who says they’re telling the Doctor the truth? There would be no reason to reveal that subterfuge on screen if they were lying.

        • Perhaps. The problem is, we don’t know the cost of zipping around the universe in Doctor Who. In theory, that kind of power should cost a good deal more than some nukes. However, zipping around the universe seems so easy in tv SF, that maybe this is the cheapest option.

    • Some of us try to actively avoid cast change announcements because we do consider them spoilers. Knowing when a cast member will leave and when another will join eliminates (for me, at least) the “any episode could be his/her last” idea. I find different people have different ideas about what does and does not constitute a spoiler, so as far as my reviews go, I will always spoiler guard anything that hasn’t been revealed on screen in an episode that has already aired.

      • I personally am thinking the big noise about the cast change announcements was a setup by Moffat. It allowed him to pull this big reveal of Oswin in the first episode yet have us all really know who she is.

        It was one of the most brilliant promotional setup jobs I’ve ever seen for a TV program.

  2. ok, something weird is going on. I was not logged in and there were a ton of comments. I log in and the comments dropped to zero. And it is using Disqus, and even though I am logged in, I now have to login with facebook, google, etc…

    • You started posting just as the Disqus import/convert began. The Disqus option was added last night and had 30,000 comments to import. Most of the currently invisible comments were a debate about whether or not the things under spoiler guard are spoilers. (One reader said no, as Moffat has made the statements publicly, but I said yes, as the information has yet to be revealed on air as a part of the episode.)

      • I also added a comment (soon to reappear, I assume) about a plot hole. If the Daleks could send a small group of people through a force field, why couldn’t they just keep sending down atomic bombs?

    • We’re testing something (specifically, the Disqus comment system). I’m not entirely sold on it, in part because I don’t yet know how well it will handle things like ten years of old comments with BBcode tags. Also, I didn’t expect the import to take nearly as long as it’s taking (almost twelve hours, and still going). My plan was to do an import, then turn Disqus off, and hopefully nobody would notice; that seems to have not-worked.

  3. and when I log out, I can see all the other comments, but not this one. and if I log back in, I can see the Disqus comments again…

  4. Another high point line that worked on different levels…
    “Who killed all the Daleks?”
    “Who do you think.”

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