mpk: (picasso)
Mike Knell ([personal profile] mpk) wrote2012-09-01 10:13 pm

Asylum of the Daleks

Some quick notes to explain why I tweeted that the latest Doctor Who was "deeply unsatisfying, predictable, fourth-wall-breaking fan service that would even have embarrassed Billy Hartnell", at the request of [ profile] boxcat. Hidden behind a cut so you can avoid the spoilers. Typing this all real fast as it's nearly time for my beddybyes.

  • It was all so damn convenient. "It's crawling with insane Daleks down there, but oh, they're all asleep unless you make a noise and wake them up." Plus, none of the Daleks down there seemed actually insane or broken. They were just regular old Daleks (with one Special Weapons lurking that didn't even move), although some of them managed to terrify the Doctor way more than Daleks usually do despite having had their guns removed. The back-against-the-wall-being-menaced by-a-sucker-arm bit was straight from 1963:

  • It was all so damn corny. "There are millions and millions of Daleks down there, but you'll land at a really convenient point for the place the plot will eventually take you." Very lazy writing straight out of the days when the budget could only stretch to three Daleks and a few photographic blowups and if they wanted more, John Scott Martin and Cy Town just had to go round and round and round, and way too reminiscent of the bad old days when every planet had a population of 10 who all lived underneath a quarry in the Home Counties and dressed in curtains.

  • It was all so damn soapy. Blub blub snog. The whole "OMG Amy is turning into a Dalek!" subplot felt tacked on and unnecessary. Again, the classic Doctor Who trap of "giving the companions something to do while the Doctor's at work". Amy and Rory could have been written out completely, Deadly Assassin-style, and the story would have still beeen the same.

  • It was all so damn corny. The whole "Doctor Who?" bit at the end, complete with fourth-wall-breaking "And you'll keep guessing!" or whatever it was, would have embarrassed Billy "And a Merry Christmas to all of you at home too!" Hartnell. At least Hartnell improvised that during an as-live recording and it would have cost too much to edit the tape with a microscope and iron solution. Steven Moffat really has no excuse for such hackneyed stuff. "Doctor Who? LOL!" was considered old hat by 1964.

  • It was all so damn senseless. There was never really any good explanation for why the Daleks had to use the Doctor specifically for this job. With all that technology..

  • It was all so damn telegraphed. The only mystery was exactly what the girl in the bunker would turn out to be. I was thinking "Huh? Making soufflés while marooned on an alien planet? Where does she get the ingredients?" before the Doctor was, and that made it obvious from the get-go that the convenient deus-ex-machina girl wasn't what she seemed to be. Still, it was useful that she was there to open all those doors and stuff.

  • It was all so damn "And with one leap, Jack was free!". I know this is an artifact of the single 50-minute episode format, but the episode didn't have a climax and a denouement so much as it had a reveal followed abruptly by the closing credits. "Look, a convenient teleport! And it beamed me straight back into the TARDIS because I'm SO AWESOME!". Uh-huh, right.

In short.. It was all just way too convenient for me.

[identity profile] 2012-09-01 08:26 pm (UTC)(link)
Interestingly, despite loving the episode, I can honestly disagree with very little that you wrote. I did feel there was something about the insane Daleks that made them creepier and more erratic than regular Daleks, but I'd struggle to say what, exactly. And strictly speaking the "And you'll keep guessing" is directed at the Daleks (who aren't there) and isn't technically fourth wall breaking, but the Doctor leaning on the fourth wall while talking to himself. But still very corny.

Apart from that, yes absolutely. But on the other hand, ALL the DALEKS! AAALLL of them!!
Edited 2012-09-01 20:27 (UTC)

[identity profile] 2012-09-02 10:33 am (UTC)(link)
It's totally fine to love the episode - after all, you could probably come up with a similar list for any number of Who episodes., right?

[identity profile] 2012-09-01 09:28 pm (UTC)(link)
The "OMG they're getting divorced... lol, no they're not" subplot was unbelievably, abominably badly written and acted. It made me want to hit all the characters, actors and writers involved with large blunt objects. Moffatt needs to stick away from trying to write people rather than monster-of-the-week, because he has no clue how people work.

[identity profile] 2012-09-02 05:18 am (UTC)(link)
He actually writes people very well (cf. Coupling), but complex relationships among characters is never something Doctor Who's done very well. As the stories are so "big" (save this planet! defeat this invasion! etc.) simple human-relationship stories always seem irrelevant.

(Anonymous) 2012-09-02 09:19 pm (UTC)(link)
I agree with you on both counts: Moffat *can* write people well, and has in fact done so in a Who context: all that girl/boy-who-waited stuff was often touching without being (or at least without striking me as) manipulative or clumsy. But I agree that this was not his finest hour and possibly his worst so far. Everything felt too rushed, too convenient, too stupid, and the divorce subplot was indeed atrocious. My willing suspension of disbelief simply never got off the ground on this episode, and by the end everything just annoyed me. I liked the actress who played the Dalek girl, and that's about the only positive thing I can find to say about this clunker.

-- Leo Breebaart

[identity profile] 2012-09-05 05:59 am (UTC)(link)
I thought the problem with the Amy/Rory thing was that it needed to evolve over a couple of episodes and didn't work because it was rushed, but given the whole 'arc avoidance' thing I could appreciate why it had to be that way.

I rather liked it, but couldn't understand why Amy and the Dr aren't still going to turn into nano-daleks...