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"Doctor Who" — "Asylum of the Daleks”: Sympathy For The Daleks

By C. Robert Dimitri | TV Reviews | September 4, 2012 | Comments ()


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The Doctor is back! Noting my anticipation, my wife wondered why she does not enjoy the show more when so many of her friends enjoy it so much. As she describes it, the story almost always starts out with an abundance of goofiness and then takes a jarring tonal shift into over-the-top drama. I would agree that with many of the weaker episodes, it is exactly that shift that can derail the show, but when that shift works, no other television program can do it better.

The case for Doctor Who is one based on science-fiction, nerdiness, and optimism. The "triumph of intellect and romance over brute force and cynicism" - as Craig Ferguson described it - is an appealing and rare theme. I venture that a montage of genuinely cynical sayings uttered by The Doctor mined from almost fifty years of programming would not be a relatively long one. "Don't worry," The Doctor might say with a silly grin. "Have a Jelly Baby." (And "run," of course!)

That is, it is not simply a case of the former intellectual spirit supplanting that latter cynicism. The Doctor is special in his reliance on the methods of the former and avoidance of the latter. Star Trek has a similar mission statement in the world of science-fiction, but it still often falls back on phasers, photon torpedoes, and wrestling duels with giant humanoid reptiles for its entertainment and its resolutions. Don't get me wrong; I love Star Trek too. Doctor Who just hits me in that nostalgic childhood sweet spot that saw me staying up late alone on Saturday nights to watch syndicated PBS airings of this odd British show that did not seem to have any mainstream American equivalent in its daring creativity. My entertainment tastes during adulthood tend toward the realms of cynical reality and grounded drama, but Doctor Who still provides a rare escape from all that.

That said, the season-opener "Asylum of the Daleks" joins our heroes in life's progress with a somewhat adult development compared to our usual predicaments: Amy and Rory are on the verge of signing divorce papers. "It's life - just life. That thing that goes on when you're not there," Amy tells The Doctor. This isn't a problem he can solve the way that he adjusts his bowtie. That's surprise number one.

Surprise number two: Jenna-Louise Coleman, the newly announced companion who is scheduled to replace the Ponds as The Doctor's companion in this year's Christmas special, makes an early appearance in this adventure as Oswin Oswald. Is she playing a character related to the one she will be playing later? That's not clear, but this genius and crashed spaceship survivor stranded on a Dalek prison planet certainly showed off a flair for rapidly spouting that Moffat-ian sly banter and Who-tech-speak.

The Daleks have a couple surprises of their own. Kidnapping The Doctor, Amy, and Rory is not done with the aim of extermination. Rather, they are recruiting "The Predator" (as they have come to call The Doctor) to save them from their own deranged and uncontrollable kind, who are contained behind a force field on a Dalek prison planet. A vast hall of Daleks full of them entreats, "Save the Daleks!" before sending The Doctor, Amy, and Rory down to the surface of the planet through a sort of space elevator. (I was a little unclear on the immediacy of the danger to the Daleks, but in a show that has a very fluid treatment of time, I can forgive that.)

The other Dalek surprise is a new method of converting victims into human-Dalek hybrids, which gives us a creepy new villain: people (living and undead) with Dalek eyestalks that emerge from their foreheads. The asylum atmosphere is filled with a nanotechnology that gradually performs this transformation, so the Daleks provide The Doctor, Amy, and Rory, with bracelets that counteract the effect. Amy's lost bracelet drives much of the ensuing action.

In this Whovian's humble opinion, Steven Moffat delivers with this story as an excellent return from hiatus, as this season premiere is the most original and fun Dalek adventure of the new Who era. I know that many of you have Dalek fatigue, but I can never get enough of them. Maybe it's The Doctor's unique attitude toward them in contrast with all the other beings that he encounters - an attitude that gains some new perspective in this episode. Then again, maybe it's just that voice.

The Dalek prison planet has more than its share of unsettling atmosphere, and overcoming those dangers pays off with Oswin's tragic secret and the reconciliation of Amy and Rory. Why didn't Amy and Rory have that same conversation rendered under the duress of the threat of being turned into Daleks prior to drawing up the divorce papers? That's a fair question, but - as I mentioned earlier - this is still a show accessible for the kids, so sometimes the adult themes receive shortcut solutions. Plus, Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill sell it with perhaps the most skillfully acted scene yet on the show for both of them.

Reminding us that there is still an overarching thread in The Doctor's upcoming adventures and that The Doctor is still a Time Lord presumed dead, Moffat concludes this episode with a callback to the mystery that ended last season. All knowledge of The Doctor has been erased from the minds of the Daleks thanks to the tech tricks of Oswin, and thus as The Doctor makes his escape with Rory and Amy, that Dalek parliament is left shouting that question that must never be answered lest silence fall: "Doctor Who?"

Back in the TARDIS, The Doctor exults over this development and yet another display of his ingenuity in pulling himself and his friends from the fire. He answers them repeatedly, but with an exclamation point: "Doctor Who! Doctor Who! Doctor Who!"

Indeed, Doctor Who! I'm glad it's back.

***********

"What do you want with them?"
"It is known The Doctor requires companions."

"[Is] there a word for total screaming genius that sounds modest and a tiny bit sexy?"
"'Doctor.' They call me The Doctor."

"Eggs..."

"I'm not looking for a countermand, dear. I'm looking for 'reverse.'"

"In no particular order, we need to neutralize all the Daleks in this asylum, rescue Oswin from the wreckage, escape from this planet, and fix Amy and Rory's marriage."

"This is the kind of escape plan where you survive about four seconds longer."
"What's wrong with four seconds? You can do loads in four seconds."

"He's a Time Lord. He doesn't even need it."
"Then why didn't he just tell us?"
(The Doctor straightens his bow tie.)

"Doctor Who? Doctor Who? Doctor Who?"

***********

Classic Doctor Who Bonus:

As an accompaniment to this week's episode and a planned recurring feature for my columns, I revisited 1975's "Genesis Of The Daleks," widely acknowledged as one of the best serials in the program's history.

The Doctor (Tom Baker), Sarah Jane, and Harry are sent by the Time Lords to Skaro to research the origins of the Daleks so that the Daleks might be battled more easily in the future. If The Doctor deems it necessary, he is given permission to erase the Daleks from existence altogether by destroying them before they can proliferate.

It had been a while since I have watched classic Who, and things certainly were paced more slowly back in the old days. Thals and Kaleds are engaged in an interminable war on the planet Skaro, and the top Kaled scientist, Davros (in his earliest Doctor Who appearance) has exceeded the original intent of his experiments by genetically manipulating the creation of the Daleks. The Nazi parallels that run through the episode are not subtle, and overall this adventure offers much heaviness and very little levity. (Jelly Babies are not proffered.)

The highlight scene for me was the verbal showdown between The Doctor and Davros. (It parallels nicely with The Doctor's conversation with the Dalek parliament leader in "Asylum of the Daleks," as we are still delving into Dalek psychology thirty-seven years later.) While The Doctor aims to discover Dalek weaknesses to use in the future and even implores Davros to give Daleks a conscience, Davros - after learning the origin of The Doctor - wants to know future causes of Dalek defeats so that he can preempt them in the original design of his creation.

I mention above that The Doctor is not frequently given to physical altercations. Thus, I was amused that "Genesis of the Daleks" gives us an instance of The Doctor knocking two guards' heads together to render them unconscious. We also see The Doctor restrain Davros and threaten to cut off his life support system if he does not destroy his creation. The Doctor even must grapple with an unarmored Dalek in Alien facehugger attack mode! Yes, altercations with the Daleks always have brought out an enhanced enthusiasm in The Doctor...or beautiful hatred, as "Asylum of the Daleks" points out. In spite of that, when ultimately confronted with the decision, The Doctor still has qualms about genocide of the Daleks, and he recognizes that unification against an ultimate evil has had good effects throughout the universe.

"Genesis of the Daleks" also shares some commonality with "Asylum of the Daleks" in that it depends upon the recovery of a bracelet. In this case, it's the device that can transport The Doctor, Sarah Jane, and Harry away from Skaro and back to the Time Lords.

Overall, it's an entertaining episode that is required viewing for any Whovian Dalek fans that want to revisit the classic days.

C. Robert Dimitri attended a Rolling Stone themed party on Saturday night after watching the new episode, so the column title seemed particularly appropriate. Also, one of his fantasy football teams this season is the Skaro Daleks.



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Comments Are Welcome, Jerks Will Be Banned


  • Buddy Cactus

    Doesn't the Doctor, Rory and Amy still have Dalek nanotechnology still in their bloodstream?

  • Danny Smooth

    Two things about this episode don't jive with me. First, why did Oswin have a human voice over her broadcasts? ( milk and eggs, am I right?). Second, why did the Daleks bring the Tardis directly onto the bridge of their ship?

  • Meenama

    Wow that was quite a introduction to the new companion JLC -- I thought Amy looked quite dowdy in comparison. Can now understood why the show changes companions so regularly. Its like a breath of fresh air. Looking forward to the exit of Amy and Rory (not as much) and the entry of JLC.

  • Kala

    I'm officially ready for the Ponds to leave. Shame, since I find that Rory chap lovely. He's the embodiment of good while avoiding any 'Goody Two Shoes' trappings. Amy, however, is spending far too long in bitchy territory. The only thing that has saved that character, what has made her tolerable for this amount of time is when she shows her love for Rory or the Doctor. It's her only saving grace. Outside of those moments of emotional vulnerability, she is a whole lot of style with little substance. Much like how the Doctor needs a companion in order to save him from himself and maintain his humanity, Rory has functioned in much the same way for Amy.

    The fact that she basically waved away his 2,000 year wait because HER suffering was greater than his, made me absolutely batshit. She turned into an epic bitch because she's doing him a favor? I nearly yelled myself hoarse.

    The episode still managed to be the best one in more than a season, thanks to a fun turn by Jenna-Louise Coleman that quickly went tragic. When that plunger landed on the Doctor's chest...dear God.

    I'm looking forward to this season, but I'm looking forward to next season far more.

  • Becca

    Am I the only one here that really likes Amy and Rory? Where did all the hate come from?

  • ceebee_eebee

    I'm on the other side. I find Rory extremely passive-aggressive and I think a lot of the fandom love for him is just the usual "love the male character, demonize the female character" crap you get in almost every fandom. I love Amy, I find her character fascinating, I find her journey heartbreaking and yeah. I'm a huge fan of what Moffat has done with the show and the way he writes female characters. Ah, well.

  • Long_Pig_Tailor

    I don't think anyone particularly hates Rory, but many hate Amy because her most consistent character trait is an utter disregard for Rory. She abandons him on her wedding night and ends up trying to bang the Doctor, then the universe reboots on her wedding *day* and as soon as she re-exists the Doctor, she tries to jump him again, right there in front of her husband. She's not so bad the next season, until she gets stranded for a few decades and turns into an asshole who nearly doesn't care about Rory (she comes back around, though, so a degree of kudos) while Rory did wait 2000 years (aborted timelines count, as per Amy's comments last season finale) and never complained until she decided to make an insane decision for him without discussing it. If she cares about Rory at all, she does it by making choices for him and disregarding his opinions, but a good third of the time she's been around she hasn't cared for him, she's been trying to sleep with the Doctor.

  • Emily

    My favorite thing about this episode was the appearance of Jenna-Louise Coleman. That was such a great surprise! Oswin told the Doctor to remember her at the end of the episode, so I’m willing to bet he’ll come back and rescue her. I’m so glad this show is back! I work late nights at Dish, so I don’t get to watch Doctor Who live anymore. Thankfully, my Hopper records it for me and I’m able to settle in for a new adventure as soon as I get home on Saturdays. I’m already looking forward to the next episode. Dinosaurs on a spaceship? Does it get better than that?

  • Preface: I enjoyed this episode and I am not ready to say goodbye to the Ponds.

    However, I had some of the same issues that other people did with Asylum. I am glad that they showed that there were repercussions on Rory and Amy's relationship, but somehow they didn't ring true. While it is cool with me that River is their child, I feel like they didn't really show how losing their child ever affected them. Yes, they got to see how she turned out and "grew up" with her, but that is not the same thing as raising their child together. That is bound to take its toll. Having them on the brink of divorce for two seconds seemed disingenuous to me. It has become very clear through past episodes that Rory loves Amy whether or not she could give him children, and she should know that by now. Someone needs to give Moffatt some pamphlets on adoption stat.

    Re: Oswin. I really liked her, but she felt more of the same. Fast talking, sassy, flirty young woman. I know that appeals more to most people, but I feel like Moffatt can't write women outside of that mold. Talking fast does not equal feminism. Can't we have a woman of quiet courage who comes out of her shell while she sees the universe?

    I liked the idea of human hybird Daleks a lot and found them sufficiently scary, but I was pretty sure that Donna wiped them all out at the end of S4. Did I miss something?

    All the whining aside, I am really looking forward to next week. Arthur Weasley as Rory's dad? PERFECTION.

  • John

    Yes you seem to have missed The Doctor resetting the whole universe at the end of series five that somehow it involved the rebirth of the Daleks, plus it was the clone of Ten who committed the Dalek genocide not Donna

  • Patty O'Green

    Can't we have a woman of quiet courage who comes out of her shell while she sees the universe?
    This is how I felt about Harriet Jones (Prime Minister). She was meek and modest, but bold as hell, and she grew into a (too) strong character.

  • DrSarCaustic

    What I've always found problematic about Doctor Who is the lack of character development; unimaginative story lines relying on deus ex machina for resolutions; no consistent internal logic; and the recycling of tired
    old villains like the Daleks and Cybermen.

    It has improved a lot under Stephen Moffat, but I have still yet to watch an episode that has been as clever, witty, touching and socially relevant as say, one of the better episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

    Nevertheless, Doctor Who is an entertaining show, perhaps even a good one. What's frustrating is that it could be so great!

  • DrSarCaustic

    PS The Neil Gaiman penned episode, The Doctor's Wife is my favourite as it came closest to fulfilling the shows potential.

  • BWeaves

    When was this on? How did I miss it?

  • bleujayone

    Yes, I'm back and might as well get to it...Dork Mode ENABLED;

    1. While not exactly a new idea of Dalek controlled human agents...(Robomen anyone?) I was actually more intimidated by the idea that anyone cold be a sleeper agent than the Daleks themselves. I did find the eyestalk sprouting out of the forehead to be a bit silly and thought the later shown glowing forehead effect to be able to get the point across better.

    2. My least favorite companions of the Doctor have always been the ones that are supposed to be on par with the Doctor in terms of brilliance and intelligence Zoe, Liz Shaw, Adric, Nyssa...though oddly enough not Romana) The Doctor is supposed to be the resident genius and the companions are to a degree supposed to be our avatar. If you try to make the companions too clever then the Doctor has no motivation to show them the universe or be concerned for their safety. I really hope that whatever companion Jenna-Louise Coleman becomes, that the writers recognize her as the second banana she should be.

    3. Nice to see all the different looks the Daleks have had over the years. At first glance one might think they've not actually gone through many changes. My personal fave is the Special Weapon Dalek which basically looks like a rolling tank. Put a Caterpillar tread on that and one could picture that on a battlefield.

    4. I liked some of the insults tossed back and forth. I have only heard the Daleks say something clever one other time, and that was against the Cybermen referring to fighting them not as war but as mere pest control. This time around it was claiming maybe they couldn't destroy the Doctor because of their aversion to kill anything that harbors pure hatred. Nice. I also like how the Doctor calls the Dalek with the malfunctioning gunstick as just "a tricycle with a roof" Especially funny considering the actual prop Daleks are just that.

    5. I've never seen a Dalek with self-destruction option. I've seen them overload and shut down, but actual kamikaze warfare I thought was not acceptable by their standards.

    6. I liked the mention of previous encounters with the Daleks as battles in which they had survivors. I never gave a thought about the leftover Daleks from each adventure, but it must have been humiliating for the terror of the universe to be brought down repeatedly by one little alien man. I wonder if their madness is from shame?

    7. Daleks with a Parliament and Prime Minister....yeah that's a bit of a misstep. The Daleks have always had a hive mentality that don't tolerate such things as opinions or votes. It has never been about a democracy. They have always had such things as Emperor Dalek and Supreme Dalek and the like. Yes you could argue Moffat's much hated new Mighty Morphin Power Daleks might have introduced it to the others, but I don't buy it. The idea has always been the Daleks were a relentless single minded force.

    8. I don't like the idea that this is somehow the Doctor's fault and that maybe if he wasn't such a mean Timelord maybe the Daleks wouldn't be so mean back. The Daleks have always been this universes ultimate evil. If at any time the Doctor just sat back and did nothing, billions of lives would have been lost. Hell he's even tried on a few occasions NOT to commit genocide.- (such as in Genesis of the Daleks) In recent years Rose and Donna caused far more destruction. Insofar of what we've ever seen, the Doctor has never gone out of his way to pick on the Daleks, his has always been reactionary from what they've done. If the Daleks want to blame anyone, it should be themselves. Their new title of "Predator' on him is unfounded.

    9. I still don't like Amy Pond, and this episode hasn't improved that. I'm sorry that she can no longer have children, but her treatment of Rory was once again shabby. Well, at least we're one episode closer to her departure. Shame we have to lose Rory to boot.

    10. I don't look at this episode as sympathy for a Dalek. It anything it's sympathy for a human that was raped and jammed inside of Dalek shell. I actually felt for her especially when she was sobbing in a Dalek's voice finally aware of her fate. If I were the Doctor I would only hate the Daleks all the more for what they did. There is still nothing redeemable about them.

    11. I'm not sure what to make of this overall. Yes there were plenty of nice details but as a whole I'd say it was a mixed bag that was made better by the lead. Moffat is too damn clever for the shows own good. Sometimes it's not always about being clever. Sometimes it's about a story. It wasn't a bad story, but it wasn't outstanding either.

  • Anebo

    Regarding point #5: I think the 7th doctor talked a Dalek into destroying itself in Remembrance of the Daleks, though that was less of a weapon and more of a surprising suicide. 80's Who always disturbed me...

  • Tinkerville

    Great points. These were things that didn't sit too well with me either. I understand changing bits and bobs about the Daleks to fit into a particular storyline, but he went about changing their very nature. I especially agree with #8. The Daleks embody hatred, and that didn't come about because of the Doctor.

    I was particularly peeved about them being too cowardly to go down to the planet themselves. I thought that they had taken fear out of their genetic makeup completely, unless I'm wrong..?

  • Green_Eggs_and_Hamster

    My only problem with the Daleks is that they exist. One or two having survived the Time War, I can just about handle. This business where there are hundreds of thousands of them (if not more) is incredibly annoying. I know continuity in a series about a time traveling alien is probably tough to maintain, but what the hell was the point of the Time War if all the Daleks survived? You had this great big war, and only the Time Lords were actually wiped out? That's what it looks like. And with no Time Lords left, what's stopping the Daleks from exterminating the universe? The Doctor can't be everywhere at once (well, I guess technically he probably could be, but still).

    I understand the writers love for the Daleks, I like them myself, but they worked best as few and solitary enemies of vast power almost equal to the Time Lords. Now, they are just random plot filler it seems. Episodes like this cheapen the mythos of the series as a whole. When they ignore the history that has come before, you end up spiraling down into something like they had in the eighties, each series trying to one-up the ones that came before, and paying no heed to consequences. Then of course, people stop watching, and you get canceled. Don't get Canceled Doctor.

  • Fabius_Maximus

    Go re-watch "Bad Wolf" and "The Parting of the Ways" again. It's explained there.

  • Green_Eggs_and_Hamster

    As I recall, Rose wiped out the Daleks and the Emperor at the end of The Parting of the Ways. And those were"part Human" Daleks, not sure this current lot shares that particular affliction.

    So, where did a whole Parliament of the Daleks come from. Bad Wolf was one Dalek Emperor breeding a few hundred thousand Daleks from Human DNA. And he was wiped out. Where are all these Daleks coming from? If tons of Daleks are just falling through time, how come none of the Time Lords could manage it?

    Instead of being this Great Enemy that is the Equal of the Time Lords, they are just another foe that The Doctor gets to face every once in a while to juice ratings.

  • Fabius_Maximus

    1. We don't know if all the Daleks were wiped out during "The Parting of the Ways".

    2. I don't know where the Parliament came from. Maybe they are a constitutional monarchy now?

  • Patty O'Green

    I'm mostly curious to see if there is any long term effect of this nanocloud. Think of how long that Replica Pond was in place before we really knew about it: are these Dalek nanos going to stay in here forever? Also, if the Doctor "didn't need" a bracelot, why did the Daleks give him one? Wouldn't they be completely familiar with his genetic code?

  • Fabius_Maximus

    That's what I asked myself as well. They could at least given us a hint about how that played out.

  • C. Robert Dimitri

    Why Amy and Rory?

    From a practical standpoint, Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill are the most current companions for the show. I get that many of y'all don't enjoy them. I'd just as easily ask, why don't we see The Doctor hang out with all sorts of his past companions all the time? Why don't villains ever use those past companions from fifty years of television against him as leverage? In a timey-wimey show, it's a perfectly reasonable question. (Perhaps the actors are a little over the hill? Perhaps these are the actors under current contract?) It just seems like simple suspension of disbelief to me and an odd thing to harp on.

    The Amy and Rory story is not done yet. Don't worry, y'all. It's almost over, but - particularly as long as River is still an active presence - it requires closure.

    I can even give you a logical answer in the context of the show. If we view The Doctor's adventures as chronologically in order relative to his own timeline, at this point in his story he is presumed dead by most of the universe per last season's finale. He's been keeping a low profile, but there are whispers of his being around doing good deeds, and that's how the Daleks draw him out with the trap that opens the show. Which companions does it make the most sense to kidnap for this Doctor? The ones that most recently traveled with him regularly.

    In answer to the question above about what the Daleks are doing here post-Donna's last adventure: it was established in "Victory of the Daleks" that there were survivors. (And it's not like Doctor Who will ever completely destroy the Daleks.)

  • More specifically, why would the Dalek's bring Amy and Rory? Not even just Amy, which I might be able to gag/force swallow--but Rory too?

  • Fabius_Maximus

    Maybe they see him as indestructible?

  • Tom Baker! Now you've made me want to go re-watch Genesis.

    I agree with the poster who said, "Why bring Amy and Rory?" Of course, I've made no bones about my disdain of Amy, and I'm anxious to be rid of her--but seriously, there was no point to adding Amy and Rory to the episode. Aren't we done with this tired love story yet? And what's with this "I can't have babies" bullshit? Hello Amy, you had a baby you simpering idiot! And she's thrice the woman you are. Come on now, who for an instant felt there was one iota of sincerity or believability to that entire plotline?

    Onto the good stuff, not the least of which is Oswin. I had my doubts about this rush into another girl's arms, and a younger one at that, but Jenna-Louise Coleman knocked my socks off from the moment she appeared. She was positively perfect and my fears were so instantly allayed that I dared to hope Amy would be instantly overtaken by the Daleks. Alas...

    Good on Moffat for taking us by surprise with Oswin's sad truth. I can't wait to see the ways and means of how she (or her twin?) ends up co-piloting. Eleven continues to impress.

  • Long_Pig_Tailor

    Jenna-Louise Coleman is, slightly, older, though.

    But who knows with the character.

  • Abbey Road

    I think the immediacy of the danger to the daleks had something to do with how Oswin had gotten in, and was broadcasting Carmen, and they figured however she got in could somehow end up letting the loony daleks out...? That was how I understood it.

  • Ziver

    I think she was threat because they knew she was a Dalek as well and that she had accessed the hivemind (whatever that was called). That's where she was broadcasting the human music was over their internal systems, that was the threat. As you saw at the end, they were right to be concerned since she was able to remove all information on the Doctor from every dalek. They were probably all wondering why they were thinking about souffle recipes every day.

  • C. Robert Dimitri

    That was my inference as well. I just didn't think it was explained at all.

  • Tinkerville

    That's what I gathered as well. What I didn't understand was why that was a threat to the Daleks. Were the Loony Daleks going to attack the rest of the Daleks? Wouldn't the Daleks like the Loony Daleks wreaking havoc on the universe?

  • Tinkerville

    I really enjoyed this episode, even if it didn't give me the rush of excitement and emotion that past premieres have.

    I, for one, can't wait for Jenna Louise-Coleman's turn as the companion. She really impressed me in this one. My main concern is that they'll recycle the River Song character arch and have the Doctor meet Oswin before she dies, so that we all know what her fate will be but she doesn't. I loved Oswin and I hope that they'll keep that character for the companion and find a way around her Daleky-death-- I just hope her time as the companion isn't going to all take place before what we saw here.

    I think a lot of my issues with the episode, and the show overall, boil down to Amy. She's become increasingly difficult for me to tolerate and the focus has shifted from the Doctor growing and changing to Amy and Rory and their journey. She lacks the strength and humanity that past companions have and she and Rory don't feel as though they're the anchor holding down the Doctor and keeping him protected from himself. She's turned into a nuisance for me, though I'm sure there are others that feel differently.

    Anywho, despite my Amy grumblings I thought this was a very strong episode. I was waiting for a good Dalek story and they pretty much delivered. I am very curious to see how the Doctor being erased from the Dalek's memories is going to effect the Dalek canon from here on out, as that obviously changes things drastically.

    Edited to add: Excellent review, as always. Just added Genesis of the Daleks to the Netflix queue to watch tonight.

  • Kate at June

    I really enjoyed the general plot of the episode. I enjoyed Coleman's performance and thought that this turn with the Daleks was intriguing.

    However. Amy and Rory. Dear God, that was awful.

    I'm an Amy and Rory fan! I don't want them off the show, even. But their "problems" just felt so forced and unbelievable. Really? You put marital strife into the mix for about 40 minutes for no reason. Huh? You never had a conversation about what not being able to have children would mean for your relationship? Giving Rory up shows more love than waiting 2000 years?

    Ugh. It really detracted from the whole episode. I hope their made up issues are done now and next week can just go forward.

  • Carrie/Teabelly

    I do have Dalek fatigue, but I forgive Moffat for this one as I really enjoyed this episode. I've been revisiting Matt Smith's early episodes and have liked them much more on a second viewing. So maybe that helped going into this one, but mostly I think this was just a strong episode.

    I've completely forgotten what happened at the end of the last series, so must watch those again too.

  • ExUSA

    I am so sad about what's happened to my favorite show. Doctor Who used to be never miss for me, but since Moffatt took over I've felt increasingly alienated from the Doctor-- someone I used to consider a friend. The lack of character growth, interesting secondary characters (who aren't white males), and the general objectification of Amy Pond has much made me so sad.

    For me this episode was riddled with plot holes. Why take Amy and Rory? Why not any number of companions who faces the Daleks. How would Amy and Rory get to the point of signing divorce papers without addressing the major elephant in the room. The daleks viewed human hybrids as an abomination, why turn them into their puppets? How was Oswin's voice heard as a girl over the speaker, but as a Dalek in the room? How are the Daleks back after Donna presumably obliterated them at the end of series 4? As a woman, it was particularly insulting that to Amy, the entire value she had to her marriage was her ability to have children, and the moment it was over, she felt so worthless that she believed her only option was to leave her husband. What kind of message is that sending to the little girls who are also watching this show?

    Overall, I just get the sense that this show isn't for me anymore. The Davies era had its problems (jesus complex anyone?) but I feel that they at least wrote for everyone. There were interesting secondary characters, and the companions were allowed to be developed human beings, other than "legs" as Amy as been called so many times by the characters in the show, and the show runner.

    Comparing this episode to 3rd seasons "42" which I watched over the weekend, was night and day...and it made me sad.

    I have a theory on Moffatt as a show runner. I feel that he's writing largely for white men, who also tend to be reviewers for the blogs, newspapers, and publications. Thus the good reviews. For the "others" the women, people of color, and homosexuals (who are treated as a bit of "cheek" in the show, rather than a normal aspect of sexuality by Moffatt) there is no one to look up to. We're just there as props for Moffatt to tell the story. It just makes me so sad, because the Doctor is supposed to be for everyone, and I just don't feel that way anymore.

  • ceebee_eebee

    What's so interesting is that this is the polar opposite of my experience. I'm an old school fan, I live for the Big Finish audios, but I found RTD's run so painful that I actually stopped watching toward the end. The Tenth Doctor was no one I recognized AS the Doctor and every new episode with him had me moving further and further away from the things I love about the show and about the character. Moffat has given me back the show I know and love and Matt Smith is, to me, the best Doctor of the new series.

  • ceebee_eebee

    I should add that I'm saying this as a queer woman.

  • Milly

    Moffat is writing largely, if not predominantly, for children. They are the target audience - always have been, always will - and if the series gives enjoyment to adults then that's just a bonus.

    The subtle nuances of relationships would be lost on most kids, and so what Moffat et al try and do is to give that "I have to hide behind the sofa" feeling that they got when they were kids, and ultimately to see the Doctor prevail.

    You have perhaps become too old to enjoy the programme, and given the extensive back catalogue - ignoring those wiped by the BBC - you may wish to watch those instead.

    I'm 32 and I find it warm and entertaining and perfect Saturday tea time viewing.

  • ExUSA

    I disagree for a few reasons. Doctor Who is not a kid's show, it's a family show. That's why it's on BBC1 at 7:20, instead of the CBBC, so that families can enjoy it together. For that reason, his treatment of women, people of colour, homosexuals is even more problematic. We should be teaching inclusion at an early age, and not treating anyone who isn't part of the "mainstream" as an other. There are plenty of sites on the internet that are more eloquent but here are a few direct quotes from Moffatt himself:
    "“*there’s a huge, unfortunate lack of respect for anything male*” ( http://www.scotsman.com/news/t... *“Your wife turns into a boat, and shortly after that, you never sleep again and you clean shit off someone. It doesn’t seem like a very appealing prospect. Obviously, the moment I saw my child, that was different, but up until that point, I was thinking, ‘how long before she gets back to normal size? Will this damage anything?’” (** http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/...
    *
    *
    *"*“*I remember when I was reading that story as a kid, Sherlock goes on and on about The Woman, the only one who ever beat him, and you’re thinking, he’s had better villains than this. And then you click: he fancies her, doesn’t he? That’s what it’s about." (** http://thinkprogress.org/alyss... )*
    *
    *
    *"I** think the function of a companion is pretty simple. I don’t think that’s very difficult. It’s just a question of who credibly is going to agree to go in the TARDIS? Who’s going to do it? Is it going to be a mother of 15 children? No. Is it going to be someone in their 60s? No. Is there going to be a particular age range? I mean … who’s going to have a crush on the Doctor? You know, come on! It’s more than a format. It’s evolved from good, dramatic reasons.” (** http://www.geekosystem.com/ste... )*
    *
    *
    These are four quotes (out of many) that illustrate how Moffatt views the current incaration as a boys club. It's not right. On a personal level, I pay £140 (appx $230) a year for the privilege of owning a tv, much of that goes to the BBC for programming, of which Doctor Who gets a sizable chunk. I don't appreciate my money going towards this, when I see a sharp decline in quality in a programme I used to love. Davies got away with gassy aliens *because* it was a kids show, Moffatt shouldn't be able
    to marginalise anyone he doesn't few as part of his world in the same manner. It's even more problematic *because* it's for families.

    Characterisation aside, the programme has seen a sharp decline in other aspects of storytelling. Don't you think families deserve an engaging programme without blatant plot holes, too? Especially when they are literally paying for it with their tv license?

  • AngelenoEwok

    FWIW, I totally agree with you. I'm the complaining wife listed at the top of the article, and you've hit upon one of my other complaints about the show. Every time it comes back, I find myself sitting on the couch with C. Rob, saying something to the effect of, "So he can go almost anywhere in space and time and hang out with anyone, but it just so happens that the vast majority of his buddies are heteronormative, generically nice looking, just-sassy-enough British women?"

  • Becca

    To be fair Doctor Who has always been that way, the fact that all the aliens speak with British accents is a given the viewer needs to accept and move on from in order to enjoy the show. Personally, I think that part of what makes Doctor Who such a great sci-fi is it's focus on story and adventure rather that delving deeply into the technical side of thinks.

  • Milly

    I don't think it is really worthwhile to discuss the programme with you as we clearly have different viewpoints, though I am slightly perturbed at the depths you have gone to in order to castigate a writer of a TV programme, and to also rail against the licence fee.

    Regarding social inclusion, well that is a high horse that you may fall from and do yourself some damage.

  • Hoolaballoo

    Ah, the final argument of those who can't actually find one: "Talk to the hand!"

    I'd ask if you're 12, but I have a sense of irony.

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