Doctor Who came blazing back on TV screens on Saturday 1 September and nearly 49 years after they first terrified the nation the Daleks returned to send kids scurrying for safety behind the sofa. <Click here to Tweet this
In nearly half a century successive production teams have treated the Daleks differently. What used to be a scary monster was often reduced to a figure of fun. Especially when exploiting the fact that all you need to do to escape from one is to run up the stairs.
When Russell T Davies revived the show in 2005 he had the metal maniacs flying and they became frightening again. Stairs were no longer a source of salvation from their exterminating excesses. But as the modern programme continued the Daleks became dull again. Too easily defeated. Always wiped out. Instead of fearing them children want to cuddle them. It’s okay to go to sleep with a toy Dalek in your bedroom.
With Asylum of the Daleks, current show runner Steven Moffat, has delivered a genuinely scary script. Humans infected by Dalek nanobots sprout eye stalks from their foreheads and guns from their wrists. Even the rotting skeletal corpses of dead humans rise and deploy their sinister appendages.
Deep within the gloomy shadows of the asylum, dormant cobweb covered Daleks raise the heart rate simply because they are immobile. We know they are going to move but which one first. These scenes drag you to the edge of your seat with tension. Maybe children will be putting their toys outside the bedroom after this adventure.
Matt Smith is totally at ease in the role in his third series, a darker Doctor but still flitting effortlessly between humour, sadness, anger and happiness. He develops a strong bond with Oswin, the girl in the red dress who is hiding out deep in the asylum. She guides him through the maze, opening doors and hacking into systems. When the Doctor finally finds her his face is one of complete desolation as he realises that she is in fact a Dalek after all. A Dalek still dreaming of the time it was still a human. And in that sadness is still loathing. Loathing of what she has become. What a strong moment in a stand out script.
But of course the big surprise is Oswin herself. Played by Jenna-Louise Coleman the BBC has promoted her as the Doctor’s new companion replacing Amy and Rory and that they will introduce her in the Christmas episode. So what is she doing here in the first episode of the new series when Amy and Rory’s story is still incomplete? And if she is a Dalek how is she going to become a companion?
As usual Steven Moffat messes with our minds and sets up many questions that we may or may not find answers to as the weeks go by.
Over to you: Do you agree with this review of Doctor Who Asylum of the Daleks that the show made the monsters scary again? How will Oswin become the new companion if she has been blown to bits as the asylum exploded? Leave a comment. Let me know your thoughts.