The dust has settled. Skaro still exists, the Doctor and friends have escaped the Asylum of the Daleks… but what did people actually think of the Series 7 opening episode?
In time-honoured tradition, let’s consider the ratings.
6.38 million viewers tuned into the episode, a 29.3% share of those with their TVs switched on and watching a broadcast channel at that time. Opposite on ITV1 was Red and Black, stumbling across the finish line with 3.36 million, while many were tuned into the popular Paralympics coverage on Channel 4.
While 6.38 million is the lowest for a season opener since the 2005 resurrection, the episode is number one on iPlayer and adjusted figures have yet to be released. Asylum also garnered a hugely impressive 89 audience appreciation index, the largest since 2010’s The Big Bang. (As for BBC America, Space and ABC, stay tuned…)
So that’s the figures – what about the reviews?
…the Daleks have often been overdone and misused, and at this point mildly archaic for the show…
That’s just one opinion of popular pop culture blog Blast Magazine. However, before you head for their website and email the editor accusing them of “not getting” Doctor Who, keep the following quote in mind:
It was good vs. evil, Doctor vs. Dalek, the oldest Who tale, the oldest form of storytelling there is, and it still works.
Many fans have been complaining over the design of what we term “Smartie Daleks” since their first introduction back in 2010’s Victory of the Daleks. While they look marvellous in video games, the Paradigm Daleks don’t seem to quite cut it on screen – until now. As correctly identified by The Guardian, it’s all about context.
The promise of all the Daleks together proved to be largely just a fun stunt. That wasn’t what the story was about – although bringing back the old models has niftily swerved the iDalek problem, and established the Daleks as a proper species of shapes and sizes.
The surprise introduction of Jenna-Louise Coleman served to swerve your perceptions even further; her tearaway chatter about chins, bisexual phases and souffles going some way to justify Moffat’s claims that Coleman can actually out-manic Matt Smith. And then came that final revelation – the new companion is a Dalek.
Indeed, the Guardian even went so far as reviewing Jenna-Louise Coleman’s appearance as Oswin, although if you’re a fan the results aren’t pretty.
Checking the various reviews online shows a common pattern – Daleks not being all that “every”, Jenna-Louise Coleman’s presence and the character’s denouement, the end chorus of “Doctor who?” and the sudden damage/reparation of Amy and Rory’s relationship. Comic Book Resources rightfully addresses this early in their review of Asylum.
I find myself conflicted about the Pond separation plot…the actual scene where Amy explained all fell flat for me, with the dialogue seeming overwrought and the logic seeming… off, I guess? I don’t know, I just always took Amy and Rory’s relationship to be one where (a) she could have and would have told him that earlier, and (b) he would have stayed with her, even if it meant giving up his dream of having kids.
Finally, AssignmentX write Arnold T Blumberg knows Doctor Who when he sees it.
A nice glimpse of their hellish home world Skaro, ravaged by the Time War and nuclear battles from long ago, kicks off a strong debut for this new series of episodes.
Continuity buffs… might appreciate the return of the Dalek ‘heartbeat’ and an homage shot to the very first appearance of the Daleks in 1963.
This is a premiere packed with very pleasantly surprising delights.
He also amusing refers to the plot similaries with audio adventure The Juggernauts, which is worth a chortle…
Meanwhile, our own wonderful readers (over 300 of them) voted on their thoughts straight after the episode, with 57.93% voting the episode “the best ever”, 37.54% declaring it “alright” and 4.53% feeling that it should be “exterminated”. While just goes to show that you can’t please all of the people all of the time. But with 95% of readers enjoying it, what is there to complain about?
Oh and don’t miss our own review, courtesy of Elton Townend-Jones!