Monday 3 September 2012

Daleks and Happiness

Yes: Daleks and happiness.

Not, I will admit, a combination that happens often. But on Saturday night, it did.

I liked Asylum of the Daleks.  I haven't got round to my habitual re-watching on iPlayer with the subtitles on, but my impression (quite a distinct impression, at that) after the initial screening of the Season 33 / New Series 7 opener was a positive one.

As might have been hinted in previous posts on this blog, I was less than ecstatic with the way Doctor Who Season 32 / New Series 6 turned out.  As time has moved on, and the first two Matt Smith seasons have become more and more a matter of hindsight, my liking for 31/5 has remained undiminished, but my dissatisfaction with 32/6 has become increasingly definite.  Not to say it was without its moments - I thought The Doctor's Wife was mostly very good, and The Girl Who Waited was excellent (pleased to hear rumours that Tom MacRae has written another script, for the second half of 33/7) - but the season had some pretty naff episodes, and on the whole, I thought it was badly structured.

And then, there was the massive wait for the new season.  All those months without Who.

But it was worth the wait.  I think the fundamental problem with Moffat's episodes for 32/6 was that he was so busy trying to string together his massive River-centric arc that he forgot to make sure each individual story was satisfying in its own right.  Some of them, in my opinion, definitely weren't, with the main culprits being A Good Man Goes to War and The Wedding of River Song.  I was therefore relieved when he announced a few months back that 33/7 would be a lot less arc- and cliffhanger-driven, with each episode being more of a standalone adventure - and that's exactly what Asylum of the Daleks turned out to be.  Yes, it sets up some big questions for the rest of the season, but the story hangs together in and of itself, and I came away feeling that I had seen a proper, complete story, rather than only the first bit of something.  It manages to be as intriguing as last year's opener The Impossible Astronaut, but without also being as frustrating.

Mixed feelings on the revised title sequence, but that's a minor thing.  The point is that the episode itself works.  I would rank it as Moffat's best script for the show since 31/5 finale The Pandorica Opens / The Big Bang, and - possibly - the best of the eight DW season opener episodes I've seen.

In my opinion, RTD was at his best during his first season, and at his worst during his second, with the third and fourth recovering somewhat.  Moffat's first two seasons followed the same pattern, and if Asylum is anything to go by, then it looks like he might be following the third-season-recovery pattern too.

Which is why, for me at least, Daleks and happiness have coincided.

- The Colclough


  1. I actually watched that episode (well I was on the computer but I noticed it) and I did like the many generations of the daleks that were present.

    I do think Riversong is one of the worst ideas in the history of the show. She always has to appear and yet somehow her character does not make sense (at least it is not as bad as the Time War and the Death of Gallifrey).

    I liked RTD's second season, particularly because the Cybermen were in it and their first time back is one of the best stories of the New Doctor Who Era.

    1. i'll admit that season 28/2 had some very good bits (Girl in the Fireplace and the two cybermen stories being the main ones), but overall i wasn't that impressed with it. doesn't help that it contains what i still regard as the worst episode ever produced, i.e. Love & Monsters.

  2. What was the point in hiring Peter Kay for that Episode apart from the fact that he is fat? The Cartoon chase sequence was fun to watch but overall the episode was terrible.

    I recently saw the episode where Donna Noble had a Bug on her back and where time had changed. I think that is possibly one of the best episodes of the New Doctor Who.

    I also have an Idea for how the Time Lords can return and no more Time War references.

    1. the one with Donna and the bug was season 30/4 ep 11, Turn Left. that's one of my favourite RTD-era episodes. i thought it had quite an interesting soundtrack too.

      you're not the only one with a plan for how to bring back the Time Lords. i've figured out how i'd do it (in the unlikely event that i ended up running DW...), although my method wouldn't eliminate the Time War.

  3. There is no point to The Time War other than to fill 2/3 minutes of dialogue if they think they don't have enough. They keep mentioning it without explaining it and whoever is the doctor has to do an odd prolonged stare. If they are not going to tell us what happened, stop talking about.

    Removing the Time War from our time line would create a Paradox but that is not to say we cannot remove it from the show.

    Removing it from the show would save the series from pointless dialogue and pointless dalek episodes (Human Dalek) and would save the series as a whole (especially for the viewer).

  4. Why not do an episode based on Pan's Labyrinth, or at least within that style.