Film producer Samuel Goldwyn is quoted as having said, “We want a story that starts out with an earthquake and works its way up to a climax” and since its relaunch in 2005 the revamped Doctor Who has tried exactly that, at the start of each new series. This has seen varying degrees of success, especially with the latest season opener ‘Asylum of the Daleks’. This was Doctor Who at its bombastic best with scale and grandeur tempered with smaller intimate moments. Stephen Moffat (apparently) avoided his usual time twisting story-telling elements replacing them with many mini cliffhangers, clues and plot twists.
Alongside the clues to Oswin’s ‘situation’ the viewers were treated to a temporary break down in the Pond/Williams relationship, a new and exciting twist in the robomen concept, knowing tips of the hat to the past, and a whole new layer to the myth of the Daleks.
It has proven difficult for the BBC to capture the feeling of genuine fear and dread that should surround the fascistic Daleks in recent years. Over use and too perfect CGI have taken the edge of these manic killing machines, often making them cannon fodder for the Doctor as Übermensch. The Asylum of the Daleks goes a long way to recapturing the terror. Like ninjas and zombies, Daleks are more powerful when they are alone or in small numbers. Armies of Daleks are to be mown down and destroyed while one or two can menace and raise the levels of fear. During this episode we see both sides of the tin pot terrors, en mass on their ships as the butt of the oldest Doctor Who joke, and terrifying in the asylum laying in wait, shrouded in shadows and cobwebs.
The reveal of Oswin’s situation was brilliantly handled and the whole cast, regular, guest and future was spot on. There were a few niggles throughout the script but these were lost in the breakneck pace of the episode which all in all provided an earthquake for the latest season of Doctor Who.