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Asylum of the Daleks – SPOILER FREE REVIEW

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It’s big; very big.  If you liked the scale of last year’s season-opener The Impossible Astronaut, then you are going to LOVE this.   The only problem that you might have is working out whether you afford a 50-foot TV to watch it on.

Asylum of the Daleks is not only big in the way it looks – there are huge, wide and beautiful landscapes and massive ideas – but also big in the storytelling.

The narrative shifts between binaries – infinite vistas and airless claustrophobic spaces; huge planet-sized ideas dissolve into the smallness and terror of memory and paranoia.  Impassiveness gives way to intimacy and dismissal falls to desire.  Relationships that are as old as the hills become interactions as new as the morning sunlight on the sea; fear, worry and terror are balanced out by note- and beat- perfect comedy.   Purgatory becomes slave to possibility.  It’s one hell of a ride.

It’s fair to say that although everyone likes to eat, not everyone knows how to cook; in that respect Steven Moffatt is absolutely a master chef.  Just enough seasoning to keep the grumpy old men happy and all of the healthy ingredients for a nourishing and complete Doctor Who story are right here.

Spoilers?  Well – I can confirm what you already know.  There are Daleks in it, lots of Daleks – and lots of *old* Daleks.  There are references to things that the cognoscenti will cheer for and some new imaginings of some very old ideas.

There are at least 3 “Oh My GOD,” moments before the titles roll and then immediately after – one huge one.  The script keeps delivering surprises and suspense and “…what if?” instances all the way through its 45 minutes and by the end of the tale, so many of the questions for the new season and the future of the show are in place – as well as so many much-missed pieces of the old Doctor Who.

Matt Smith was always being the Doctor, but in this story – he becomes the Doctor that we have always known he was.  I don’t think that’s saying too much.  All through the story, from moment one, the Doctor is BACK.

There is scale, there is comedy and there are characters, old and new.  The new fans will be pleased – as will the old guard.   The Doctor, Amy & Rory are – precisely what they were last year only moreso; deeper, wider, older wiser.  If Asylum of the Daleks is an indication of how well we have come to know them and how much we care about these characters then yes – there will be many tears by the end of episode 5.  And there will be questions.  So many questions.

This is easily the most ambitious and largest episode in terms of presentation, story, characters and just sheer WOW factor that I have seen since the show returned in 2005 – and given that the 2005 return kicked all aspects of Doctor Who squarely into the 21st century, that might make it one of the most ambitious and visual episodes of Doctor Who EVER.  If you love new who – you will adore this.  If you hate new who – this may just change your mind for the better.


Written by mpttom

August 15, 2012 at 10:49 pm

Posted in Review, TV