‘Doctor Who’ Season 7 Premiere Review & Discussion

Published 3 years ago by , Updated September 2nd, 2012 at 11:18 am,

doctor who season 7 daleks amy Doctor Who Season 7 Premiere Review & Discussion

In the Doctor Who season 7 premiere, “Asylum of the Daleks,” Steven Moffat takes on his first-ever Dalek storyline, transforming the Doctor (Matt Smith) from enemy predator to enslaved savior. But has the often-heralded Doctor Who scribe finally met his match with one of the Doctor’s longtime foes?

Kicking things off with a visually stunning introduction with voice-over of equal quality, anticipation of the story to come was at an all-time high. Unfortunately, as the episode progressed, such anticipation turned into confusion. Not so much of what was occurring, but why, exactly, it was – and why we needed to see it in the premiere. Though still representing some of most visually appealing, epic storytelling, the television medium has ever seen, Moffat’s weaknesses (and challenges) may have finally revealed themselves.

Essentially a stand-alone episode, proving to be more of a future companion introduction than any type of continuation of past seasons, the Doctor’s journey into the Parliament of the Daleks, then the Asylum of the Daleks, though thoroughly intriguing, leaves few story elements introduced still intact upon its conclusion. Largely lacking any type of attachment to previous episodes, even the newly parted Amy (Karen Gillian) and Rory (Arthur Darvill) storyline emotionally falls flat – which may be for the best, as their marriage troubles last but a mere 48-minutes in the presence of the Doctor.

And for the companion introduction – which logically becomes messy for fans who follow production news – the ill-fated Oswin Oswald (Jenna-Louise Coleman) – who will somehow be brought back, perhaps with a name change (Clara Oswin, like Doctor Donna) – was too overpowered in her initial appearance. Though Moffat does make sense of it through his characteristically brilliant plot twists and ingenuity, the lack of Oswin’s backstory for audiences to emotionally fall back on makes her participation in the premiere slightly overwhelming. In a sense, it felt as if Moffat was trying to prematurely sell the new companion to fans before it was actually needed. Still, there’s more than poor character introduction and singular storytelling that make the Doctor Who season 7 premiere problematic.

Returning to the all too familiar, illogical combination of flesh and mechanics which burdened Michael Bay’s Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (amongst many other things), Moffat does little to change audiences perception of such sloppily conceived plot progressors. As one the Doctor’s oldest foes, the Daleks are one of the series’ few legacy enemies which don’t require superfluous assistance in order to create a compelling story. And as the Doctor Who season 7 premiere shows, such assistance can unfortunately be more hurtful than helpful.

doctor who season 7 premiere review Doctor Who Season 7 Premiere Review & Discussion

Taking into account the Daleks’ emotionless mindset and will to destroy, there isn’t anything that longtime fans can turn to in order to help make sense of the completely arrogant species ever looking to become lesser creatures (humans), even if it is to help progress their overall plan to conquer. With the same frivolity in which Daleks can become humans, Moffat completely cleanses the entire Dalek race – and (almost) 50 years of Doctor Who – of the combative relationship (and history) with the Doctor. It still remains to be seen as to the reason for this, but hopefully it’s more than the Doctor wanting to return to the shadows and the premiere completely contradicting that fact.

Though the Doctor Who season 7 premiere may lead many to question whether Moffat has finally went the way of Russell T. Davies, in terms of blindly enjoying his work, it appears that there may have been too many new issues for the famed Whovian to take on at once. Moffat is facing his first companion transfer, which is something that would make even the most skilled writer take pause. Being able to jump in and write iconic episodes of your favorite show is one thing, but Moffat, now leading the series, has to deal with transitioning the emotional attachment of the viewers from one companion (and Rory) to another. Wanting to establish the new companion early on is wise, and Oswin (Clara) shows promise as a character, but the execution of her introduction wasn’t up to par with what we’ve seen him do with less-integral characters. A little too heavy-handed than need be.

Combining this element with Moffat touching his first-ever Dalek story and there’s more than enough reasons for him to fall of his familiar path of quality. Up until now, Moffat has essentially only written for new characters that he’s created. While completely enthralling and absolutely successful, having to take on the weight of so many years of character story can be difficult for someone as nimble with their writing as Moffat. That’s not to say that he can’t successfully do it, he just hasn’t – yet. Whether it be from boredom or not knowing what to do with the characters, there’s a reason why we haven’t seen a whole episode featuring a legacy enemy from Moffat, and this episode may be why. He may simply not know what to do with them.

All that said, Moffat has certainly delivered more than his fair share of terrific episodes, and his role as executive producer and head writer has lead the series down some amazing paths. Still, missteps do happen, and this episode is one of them. Having so many mismatched pieces being combined in a single episode is something that fans have come to expect now and then, but deciding to make this the premiere episode is something that probably shouldn’t have happened.

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Likely not representative of the type of storytelling that fans can expect to see in the whole of Doctor Who season 7, the premiere doesn’t exactly have fans biting at the bit to see dinosaurs on a spaceship. Not because it couldn’t be amazing (because it could), but because the new season simply hasn’t built us up to a point where that’s something we’d like to see.

Hopefully the coming episodes will shift the series back to the quality that fans know Doctor Who can deliver. Because with Amy and Rory’s exit coming near, and a new companion entering the series at Christmas time, the last thing this series can be is weak on story. Not to mention the fact that nobody wants to see dinosaurs on a spaceship go to waste.

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Doctor Who returns next Saturday @9pm on BBC America with “Dinosaurs on a Spaceship.” In the meantime, check out our Doctor Who Viewing Guide: Tips, Suggestions & Complete Episode List!

Follow Anthony on Twitter @anthonyocasio

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  1. Asylum is set in the FUTURE. Not sure what year.
    So the Dalek in Series 1 would remember the Doctor.

    • Future or past! Who knows? Important fact is that the daleks never change rather they know you or not. The doctor, however, changes rather regenerated or not. Want a really wild ride? I have every Doctor Who novel written about the Doctors 9,10, and 11, as well as, several graphic novels. They totally rock! Expand your horizons and be amazed…very amazed. Come on people…check out the Doctor Who Star Trek TNG crossover graphic novel. The Borg get beat up by the Cybermen. Loving it.

  2. While the episode wasn’t perfect, it does seem to fit into (both) Dalek continuity (-ies). When the author writes, “Taking into account the Daleks’ emotionless mindset and will to destroy, there isn’t anything that longtime fans can turn to in order to help make sense of the completely arrogant species ever looking to become lesser creatures (humans), even if it is to help progress their overall plan to conquer. With the same frivolity in which Daleks can become humans,” it betrays a misunderstanding of the history of Daleks on the show. Daleks have been attempting to integrate “the human factor” into their makeup since the Patrick Troughton era. This is a consistant motivation in Classic Who, the Davies era, and the present. While it may not make much sense, you can’t blame it on Moffat, it’s been part of the Dalek storyline since his father was directing Who episodes.

  3. Am I really the only whovian who fully understood the entire episode?

    • You probably are, if you are one of the Superfans who knows every word ever uttered, every colour of the Doctor’s pant, and every knob on a Dalek.
      What do you think a new fan would make of this episode? The first episode in a new series is the time when most NEW fans are acquired. I dread to think what a new fan made of it.

    • no josh you’re not I understood and loved it

        • Could you please post the proper URL because the one you are showing just takes me to a “how to build a website”.

  4. Well, I did happen to like the episode. I wasn’t expecting anything too mind blowing. I knew the Daleks were in it of course, and I’ve always loved run-ins with them. I think it was a fun episode, maybe a bit thought provoking during the show as I wawtched it, but it didn’t detract from it at all.
    I also didn’t get this future companion thing either. I don’t think Moffat put her in it to get fans to preview her early, I think she was available for a episode.
    But overall my thoughts here are that everyone is overthinking it.

  5. Wow! I have watched the new episode of Doctor Who 3 times and will watch it several more. The actors were brilliant and the storyline was off the chain! I did not see it coming…NONE OF IT!!!! Matt Smith has cemented his role as the Doctor…and I thought he had me at The Doctor’s Wife. There was so much emotional turmoil during the whole hour that my hubby and I both felt like we were on a rollercoaster. HaHa When will the Daleks remember the Doctor and how will they feel!? This is gonna be an exciting season folks. Hang on to your fez!!!!!

  6. Having been a fan of the Doctor since the days of Tom Baker, I am always amazed by the number of viewers that feel they have to “Understand” any given episode . . . simply enjoy the ride go crying-out-loud! By the way, this season opener was very good. Well done Mr. Moffat.

  7. Watched dinosaurs on a space was ok

    But really not liking that Dr has started to kill it isnt him

    • The Doctor’s killed billions. When he doesn’t have his friends and allies kill for him.

  8. Well I really liked this ep, really excited for the new companion.

    Thought is must be mentioned that my expectations were below subterranean after the awfulness of the last couple of seasons.

  9. The above review is great. I’m so disappointed about the first three episodes. It’s not been great, pretty lame story lines and no REAL excitement to them. Very Flat. I’m not even sure I want to watch the rest of the season. It’s been such a let down. I really hate that for Amy & Rory, especially since we’re all so in love with them. Thankfully we’have so many wonderful past episodes to enjoy them in. Come back Dr. Who!! We want more than this.

  10. So far the worst season ever. If your under age 14 you might have enjoyed it but for older fans it was kiddy dribble. BBC should be Ashamed of this. Oh lord how far the show dropped from seasons 1 – 4 Please BBc do something please