Scanners indicate an absence of spoilers
So then, it's been a long time coming, longer than usual but the long wait is over, at long last, it's time for that much anticipated moment... when the ratings of Total Wipeout suddenly spike!
And the new season of Doctor Who begins soon after!
(These two facts may be connected, you know...)
Anyhow, all of that means that I'm back here, turbo-digesting what I've just seen to bring you a hot-off-the-press spoiler-free review. And of course, as this is another episode from showrunner Steven Moffat that mean that writing a spoiler-free review is a damn tall order!
You know, I could really get to hate Moffat! I usually find his episodes entertaining and full of interesting ideas and concepts, but as soon as the credits start rolling, a cold sweat breaks out upon my brow. For I know full well that when I mentally compile a check-list of everything I liked about the episode, nearly everything is going to get crossed off again as it's a ruddy whacking great spoiler!
But if you can't take the heat, stay out of the TARDIS...
So then, let's get the usual givens out of the way. Moffat's script is sharp and funny and full of things I touch with a sink plunger for fear of spoilers. Although I can say though it's Moffat in dark mode, and there are plenty of nice creepy moments. And our trio of leads are up to scratch as usual, with lots of nice scenes across the emotional spectrum providing plenty of dramatic meat for both Matt Smith's Doctor, and the Ponds, to get their teeth into. However I will naughtily hint that the stand out performance comes from outside the regular cast.
Now then plot-wise, I'm giving no details away what so ever. However I will say that this episode follows the trend set up in the last few appearances of the Daleks in the show, and that is using them in different ways. Unlike the RTD years where whenever Skaro's finest appeared, they were usually out to destroy everything, here once again their schemes are of a far smaller scale. And like their appearances in the last couple of seasons, we are seeing different sides to the Daleks, and that in my book is a good thing. Asylum of the Daleks gives some additional details to their mythology but also has some very nice references to their past history.
Overall, this was a very decent opening episode, however as this series will be one of single episode adventures, as Mr Moffat puts it "a blockbuster every week", there's no story arc clues to tease out. Or is there? There's certainly plenty of things which I can't mention under pain of extermination, but that definitely looked like nascent plot threads to me!
But nevermind that now! The important thing is that Asylum of the Daleks is a solid opener for the new series, and judging my my Twitter feed, has gone down rather well will many of you. Yes, the Doctor's back and on good form!
JIM MOON, 1st September 2012