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Doctor Who XXXIII(7).1: Asylum of the Daleks

September 1st, 2012 (11:23 pm)

Extending an earlier Facebook post.... probably the most effective episode of the entire Moffat era, returning to the Russell T Davies philosophy of building stories around strong, arresting images. There is a homage to past masters Terrance Dicks and Robert Holmes, with the Daleks placing the Doctor and his companions in an maze of lethal puzzles, but this time with a decidely ghoulish twist. We return to the idea of the being which thinks its human but isn't, a favourite of Moffat in Silence in the Library, with a teleport system presented as part of the key to the mystery; so will the Oswin who eventually joins the Doctor be the rehumanised maddest Dalek of the lot? Or is this just one of many misdirections, in which media hints prepare the audience for something which only hints at the story which is to be told (and completely obscures the role of Jenna-Louise Coleman in this episode). A very strong start to the new series, and promising for the reshuffled production regime of Moffat and Skinner.

Also posted at http://sir-guinglain.dreamwidth.org/538738.html.

Comments

Posted by: daniel_saunders (daniel_saunders)
Posted at: September 1st, 2012 10:56 pm (UTC)
Eleventh Doctor

Further to what I said on FaceEyestalkbook: how many online fans have complained about the episode "reinforcing the hetero-normative paradigm"? Personally, I'm more concerned about it reinforcing the Dalek New Paradigm - yes, the clunky, chunky "collect the set" Daleks are still around, albeit outnumbered by old ones. And I didn't spot many of the old series Daleks either (I was looking out for the Special Weapons Dalek in particular). So I'm somewhat disappointed right now.

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: September 1st, 2012 11:09 pm (UTC)
DoctorQuillDWW

More a matter of Moffat's predeliction for flirtatious bisexuals, I'd say, than the heteronormative paradigm. The old series Daleks were lower profile than I would have liked; and I can cope with the New Paradigm as the ruling elite.

Posted by: daniel_saunders (daniel_saunders)
Posted at: September 1st, 2012 11:20 pm (UTC)
Eleventh Doctor

I was thinking more of the Doctor saving the Pond's marriage and of the reason for its failure (although this time it's the man who wants the babies).

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: September 1st, 2012 11:29 pm (UTC)

That's very sad.

(Deleted comment)
Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: September 2nd, 2012 11:25 am (UTC)

I found it eventually, hiding in plain sight by not doing anything.

Posted by: muuranker (muuranker)
Posted at: September 2nd, 2012 11:19 am (UTC)

We watched and ExMemSaid: is it going to be looks-good/falls-apart failure type Moffat, or looks-good/coheres type Moffat.

Latter, we agreed.

I was interested in how the concept of Asylum was treated (not a good word in either of its two main meanings in British English - either it is a synonym for mad house, or a kind of skiving indulged in by foreigners).

I didn't like the parliament of Daleks. I could sooner believe in a parliament of fowls.

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: September 2nd, 2012 11:41 am (UTC)
DoctorQuillDWW

Presumably the parliament of the Daleks exists to enforce and celebrate uniformity, chanting agreement to the proposals made by the executive. Intriguingly, the Dalek prime minister might have a role analogous to the Speaker, though there are precedents for the chairman of a parliament being also a head of government.

Posted by: daniel_saunders (daniel_saunders)
Posted at: September 2nd, 2012 12:47 pm (UTC)
Eleventh Doctor

I have some thoughts on the Dalek chain of command and the Dalek Parliament which I hope to share later. Short answer: perhaps it is another name for the Supreme Council (Planet of the Daleks) and evolved from the Council of The Daleks. I see it as advisory, rather than legislative, let alone elected and representative. 'Parliament' might be a human/Time Lord nickname (did we hear Daleks use it? Can't remember. We can always handwave it as a translation convention if we did!).

Still, it was a stupid idea if I had to think up such a convoluted retcon.

Posted by: muuranker (muuranker)
Posted at: September 2nd, 2012 01:35 pm (UTC)

We were thinking along similar lines. We took in the Supreme Council (Soviet) of the USSR, the regency council (between John and Henry III), and the early Alþingi.

We tried handwaving as translation, but it didn't work very well. We think SM should direct the handwaving, as it will be more effective if beautifully filmed.

Posted by: widsidh (widsidh)
Posted at: September 2nd, 2012 04:15 pm (UTC)
K9

Yes, and the Roman Senate under the Empire comes to mind as well.

The GDR also had a parliament-like assembly (which worked slightly differntly from the Supreme Soviet), with elections and all, but of course completely meaningless polictically - so there is plenty of precedent.

The Dalek Parliament all in excited agreement seemed reminiscent of that kind of thing. I wonder if the Supreme Council is a differnt chamber, and this is something we just haven't seen before.

The Daleks sem to be fond of changing round their political system - maybe that is to disguise the general absence of a real one...

Posted by: daniel_saunders (daniel_saunders)
Posted at: September 2nd, 2012 05:09 pm (UTC)
Eleventh Doctor

the Roman Senate

That crossed my mind too, as did the Supreme Soviet, but I didn't know enough about either to argue my case properly. What still bothers me is why the Daleks would WANT a Parliament - it's not like they're noted democrats. The Romans were trying to disguise a move to dictatorship and the USSR was trying to appear democratic, but surely the Daleks would prefer an openly totalitarian system anyway? It makes me think it's a bunch of military and imperial governors acting in an advisory capacity. I would say that retired Supreme Daleks become Dalek MPs (in the way retired Prime Ministers in the UK become peers), but they had the wrong type of casing for that.

Possibly I'm thinking about this too much!

Posted by: widsidh (widsidh)
Posted at: September 2nd, 2012 07:22 pm (UTC)
K9

Good point about the absence of any need to appear democratic.

Possibly I'm thinking about this too much!

Or possibly, SM did not think about this enough...;-)

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: September 4th, 2012 05:30 pm (UTC)
DDR40

I don't think a parliament necessarily implies democracy or indeed representation. I imagine the Dalek parliament as somewhere that Daleks are addressed en masse, and where they chant their agreement with the Dalek Emperor or its prime minister. The imagery is borrowed from the Dalek comic strip published in TV Century 21 in the 1960s, where the Emperor often appeared addressing massed ranks of Daleks.

Posted by: daniel_saunders (daniel_saunders)
Posted at: September 4th, 2012 05:39 pm (UTC)
Eleventh Doctor

I think I saw those (in the comics) as more of a sort of 'Nuremburg Rally of the Daleks'.

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: September 4th, 2012 05:44 pm (UTC)
Davison Clock

Parliaments can perform a similar function.

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: September 4th, 2012 05:26 pm (UTC)
Troughton

I don't believe that it is possible to think about Doctor Who too much...

Posted by: daniel_saunders (daniel_saunders)
Posted at: September 4th, 2012 05:36 pm (UTC)
Eleventh Doctor

I would say 25 hours a day, 8 days a week, 400 days a year is too much. Unless you have a time machine.

Posted by: Matthew (emperor)
Posted at: September 10th, 2012 09:17 am (UTC)
Phoenix

Having finally seen this, I thought it was rather good. There looked to be a nod to the basement of the Empire State Building from Daleks in Manhattan where Rory lands?

After the last series, they were always going to have something of a difficulty making the Doctor less famous-warrior, so the irony of the manner in which the Daleks forget their greatest foe was quite pleasing.

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: September 10th, 2012 09:26 am (UTC)
DavidIcon

It's a while since I've seen 'Daleks in Manhattan'; but there was definitely some thought to Dalek architecture here, not always observed in the series (great in the 1960s, less so since).

The theme of the Doctor's removal from the historical record looks as if it is going to be perpetuated through these five episodes at least.