Giving Up On Doctor Who (Why I Hated ‘Asylum Of The Daleks’)
Editor’s Note: Musician Alex Day brings us yet another reaction editorial, this time for the Doctor Who Season 7 Premier. He goes all out with both his opinions and explanation thereof, so it suffices to say - SPOILERS.
A while back, I wrote a post here on LeakyNews about the episode of Glee that broke my patience for Glee. The tipping point at which I think, “Okay, this is just stupid now and I don’t want to bother.”
Asylum Of The Daleks did that same thing for me, with Doctor Who, just now.
The episode was a complete mess. It was awful.
When it started, I loved it. I had a huge grin on my face. Dalek close-ups, the mournful secret Doctor doing his monologue after his newfound death to the world at the previous season’s close, then getting beamed up to the Dalek stronghold, Amy and Rory being bitchy to each other … Jenna-Lou showed up! Awesome! And that moment when Amy says “what can you do?” and the Doctor says so sincerely “what can I do?” was just beautiful.
And then the rest of the episode happened. It was, objectively, bad television. And if you disagree, I humbly submit that you just have lower standards of quality than I do. Because it WAS bad television.
Let me lay all this out for you:
1) What Doctor Who character do you think of when I describe this: “She is a beautiful, smart, teasing, flirty, confident woman who can do things the Doctor can’t”. Did you think of Amy Pond, Sally Sparrow, or River Song? Or did you think of the new character in this episode, who is exactly the same as all of these other characters? Objectively bad writing. She already has that idolising look, self-described genius to boot … I’m sick of this. You can just picture Moffat salivating. “A WOMAN! A brilliant sexy WOMAN! HOW EXCITING!”
No. How boring. You know what turns me on? Characters with dimensions.
2) Amy can’t have kids - and Rory didn’t know?! There’s this thing called the info-dump, where writers that aren’t very good at weaving information into an episode will just have a character spill it all out and it never makes any sense. This scene, which should have been great, was the most awful infodump I’ve ever seen. “I can’t have kids!”, said Amy. “I know”, said Rory. So Rory knows. So why is she explaining it? Amy just continues “ever since Demon’s Run they did something to me” … he should know that already! She is literally saying it for the AUDIENCE. Bad writing. Objectively.
3) Speaking of kids - does this writer have any original ideas left in his brain? We’re really doing the story of the Ponds having kids? Again? We spent all of season 6 dealing with them having kids. They have a child already! Her name’s River! Remember River? She’s exactly like the new girl except not new, remember?
Maybe you don’t remember, because another of Moffat’s recurring bores is plots about people who don’t remember things. Amy spent a significant portion of this episode trying to hold on to her memories. After spending all of season 5 having her memories manipulated by a crack and all of season 6 having them manipulated by the Silence, this is not interesting. Objectively bad.
4) Rory has always been the lapdog, but in this episode he’s just an idiot. Why is Rory so stupid in Asylum Of The Daleks? Example the first: during the tedious soap opera plot of Amy and Rory breaking up and then getting back together, it was revealed (in the awful info-dump as mentioned above) that the reason for the breakup was that Rory wants kids and Amy can’t give them to him. This is a HUGE deal. It’s something I’m surprised they were able to just gloss over without any significant conversations. It’s certainly a mature enough deal that, if I decided to go back to a relationship with that much weight attached, I wouldn’t stand outside the door punching the air and saying ‘yes!’. Rory’s better than this. It’s not a cartoon.
Another example: the ‘eggs’ thing. They made a point of saying that our new super-girl made soufflé, and at the end referenced eggs, which slowly change to ‘exxxxterminate’. Very cool. I liked this. But for some reason they insisted on setting it up even more beforehand with this stupid scene of Rory hearing them say ‘ex’ and going ‘eggs? You want eggs?’ - Rory, you’re not a moron, you know what it means! It’s the only thing they say, what the hell?
5) Speaking of bad setups and payoffs, there was an awful lack of continuity. Moffat had the Daleks call the Doctor the ‘predator’ so that he could show later the old Daleks still called him Doctor. Doesn’t make sense. When we last saw the Daleks, they called him Doctor. Why would they have just invented a new name for him? For that matter, when we last saw the Daleks, they were reinvented in stunning new colours. Rory’s ‘what colour?’ was an entirely valid question. A question the Doctor didn’t answer. Neither did the writer. Fine if those new colours weren’t popular, but you can’t just hide them away in the story without even a throwaway one-line explanation about it. Where did all these Daleks on that ship come from, and why are the new ones happy to put up with them when they previously blasted the old ones to smithereens? And the girl turned out to be a Dalek - what? “They did a full conversion”? How?! The last time that happened we had that ridiculous Dalek Human hybrid! Why didn’t that happen this time? I’m fine with lack of continuity, to a point, because I like that different writers interpret things their own way, but at least Russell would toss out a casual “they must have perfected the technology” line to explain it a BIT. When you’re noticing things and the Doctor isn’t, that’s not good. He should be better than us. That’s the point.
6) The Daleks forgot the Doctor at the end - that was a cool moment, for about five seconds, until then they all started yelling “DOCTOR WHO? EXTERMINATE!” - oh, so you made the whole Dalek empire forget who you were and then reintroduced yourself!? Well that was a smart thing to do! They’re not forgetting you now after you materialise into their ship, taunt them and then leave! And then - oh god - and then he spun around the console saying ‘Doctor Who!’ - IT’S HIS SHOW! It’s like he’s a fan of himself! You can’t DO THAT! And it was the EXACT same ending as the end of Season 6, right down to the Doc - tor - Who’ pronunciation at the end!! DO SOMETHING NEW OH GOD.
7) The Doctor does NOT have a big chin! Rory does NOT have a big nose! It’s fun for just Amy to make those jokes because then it’s part of her character, it’s what she personally sees them as. But Carla or Oswin or whatever doing it as well?? That’s just inaccurate.
This episode was meaningless superficial soap opera froth with no substance to it. It felt like it was just written for the fans who gobble up whatever they can gif and write ‘omg the feels’ tumblr posts about. It seems like the culture of those obsessed few has seeped into the heads of our showrunner and allowed him to get very very sloppy.
So as of now, I’ll just let Charlie watch it (assuming HE still wants to) and he can tell me if there’s anything worth tuning in for at any point. I’ll check it out again properly when Moffat stops showrunning. It makes me sad to see a show with such potential waste hour after hour on this fluff, and watching any more of it will only make me sadder.
Feel free to disagree with me in the comments below.