Bookmark and Share Asylum of the Daleks: Press reaction

9/02/2012 09:31:00 am - Reported by Chuck Foster

A roundup of selected quotes from the media for the premiere of Asylum of the Daleks last night - links to the full review can be found via the author's name. You can also read our own review here.

Please note that as these are reviews, spoilers may be present within the text!

The Guardian

Truth is I'd been a little nervous of all this talk of movie posters and "compressed storytelling". But it looks as if the Doctor Who team knew what they were doing. In fact, more happened in the opening episode than has been covered in most recent two-parters – and events were also dealt with in a lot more depth.

Finally given the chance to write an episode with the Daleks in, Steven Moffat seems to have had a whale of a time, taking a break from the fear-of-the-normal tropes that have defined most of his scripts. In Asylum of the Daleks he delivered his most old-school Doctor Who story to date, a script packed with ace curveballs and zappy dialogue. Director Nick Hurran carried us along with a madcap visual flair and a sense of scale we don't often dare expect.

(Dan Martin)

The Telegraph

The seventh series of the rebooted series sees Steven Moffat hark back to Seventies-era Doctor Who by opening the season with an impact episode, as the Doctor’s greatest foes make a return. After the creation of the new Dalek paradigm in 2010’s Victory of the Daleks it was curious to see the Parliament of the Daleks (an oddly democratic concept for such a race) mainly populated with the supposedly inferior older model, even if it was an arresting sight.

The scenes on the unnamed asylum planet were deftly and creepily done, with an effective but not-too-gratuitous sense of horror; the thought of having a Dalek eyestalk growing out of one’s forehead being very unpleasant indeed.

In all Asylum of the Daleks was a confident opener, a move away from the complexities of last year's series, and launching this year’s run in fine style.

(Gavin Fuller)

Radio Times

That was absolutely stunning. I’ve got to tell you this: when I'm watching Doctor Who, I forget I've ever been in it. It doesn't even cross my mind. Because it's a very different show, so grown-up now. I think Steven Moffat is exactly right with what he's done. It's progressed exactly the way it should.

It has a quirky Alice in Wonderland quality – going from the Daleks up there in this huge sort of Albert Hall of Daleks, spiralling down, down into the hole where Rory sees all the old Daleks... What's glorious for me is to see so many Daleks that aren't tiny little cardboard things superimposed on the screen.

(Katy Manning)


In recent times the Daleks have been given more depth and this week really exposed the vulnerability of these creatures encased in metal. The tragedy of Oswin becoming a Dalek without realising it really tapped into this fragility as viewers witnessed a Dalek crying. The sound was childlike and so unfamiliar coming from a creature hell-bent on extermination of other life forms. It is all part of the inversion of how the Daleks are seen, just like Victory of the Daleks where one asks the Doctor if he would ‘care for some tea’. It is an important progression in the overall story of the Daleks, added to this Oswin has erased the Doctor from the Daleks’ records which gives him the opportunity to start from scratch with them.

Matt Smith gives a searing performance, presenting a different, darker side to the eleventh Doctor. He gives a more mature turn and perhaps this is because he is now fully settled into the role. Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill too have developed their portrayals of Amy and Rory respectively and everyone is on form in the build-up to the Ponds’ departure.

(Neela Debnath)

Los Angeles Times

I am repeatedly on record as being a fan of Smith's Doctor and, at the beginning of his third year, still am: He has humor and depth and the quality of being both colt-new and mountain-old; there is slapstick in his swashbuckling, but authority as well. Moffat has been accused of being too cold or clever, and it's true that his elaborate origami folding of time, like a sentence out of Henry James, can be confusing even while it is grammatically correct. I find his sense and his sensibility rather poetic myself -- as were Davies', but maybe that's true of most good science fiction -- and, in its less demonstrative way, just as romantic as his predecessor's. I don't worry much about the loose ends and inconsistencies.

(Robert Lloyd)


Sleight of hand aside, this is a strong, cinematically-minded series opener, one with a declared mission to bring a serious dose of scary back to the Skaro tyrants. Director Nick Hurran summons a real sense of unease in the rusted, cobweb-swathed environs of the asylum and trades in some effectively hardcore horror imagery as the corpses of the Alaska’s crew are reanimated as Dalek zombies (the sight of eyestalks erupting from the brows of seemingly innocent humans is another brilliant touch – kids, to the sink plungers!). Elsewhere the icy peaks and huge blue skies of Spain bring a widescreen sense of scale to this adventure. Good to see Amy and Rory earn some emotional beats, too, showing that the events of Demon’s Run had real, ongoing consequences for the Ponds. In the end, this is an episode that’s ridiculously, contagiously high on the ancient thrill of playing Doctor Who Vs The Daleks – as the Doctor spins around the TARDIS, embracing his true name like his own biggest fanboy, it’s easy to find yourself with a smile the size of a small galaxy.

(Nick Setchfield)

Digital Spy

The episode's opening sequence as a whole is brilliantly moody and affords Matt Smith the opportunity to explore the darker side of his Time Lord role - this sullen, almost bitter Doctor perhaps providing us with a glimpse of how the character might be were he permanently bereft of companions.

Despite essentially being a standalone episode, in its closing moments 'Asylum of the Daleks' reminds us of Moffat's overall arc for the show with a reinforcement of themes introduced in last year's finale 'The Wedding of River Song' - not only does the entire universe believe that the Doctor is dead, now even his greatest enemies have no clue who he is...

(Morgan Jeffery)

Huffington Post

It was a well-paced, exciting, scary and funny hour. Truthfully I've thought for a while now that the Daleks were a little played out. They're not my favorite villains, and Season 5's "Victory of the Daleks" is one of the weakest entries in the Moffat era, in my opinion. But I liked how the episode breathed some new life into the old pepper-pots: It was fun to see the Doctor abducted by a new style of human Dalek, and it was a kick to see the "Encounter at Farpoint" scene with the Dalek parliament go in a different direction. I can't say I wasn't expecting that twist, but I love when my favorite sci-fi shows take the old chestnuts and execute them with style, wit and flair, which is what happened here.

This episode didn't just have the Doctor once again confronting his reputation as an intergalactic predator, it had him essentially rebooting himself with the entire Dalek race, which is a pretty neat trick (but doesn't erase his own knowledge of what he's done). The creepy Island of Lost Toys vibe in the scenes set on the planet were terrifically directed (all in all, the production values on this episode were top-notch), and it was both a fine sole-survivor-gone-half-mad story and a solid haunted-planet mystery.

(Maureen Ryan)


It all gets back to the theme of remembering, which is one of Moffat's go-to themes on the show. Early on, the Doctor tells Amy and Rory the only thing they can do is "make them remember you." And then, instead, they make the Daleks forget them. The people who've been Dalek-ized have fake memories, or have repressed their real memories except when they need them for "deep cover." And Amy has to hold on to her memories of Rory, to stay Amy. And Oswin's memories, along with her sense of reality, are completely borked and fake.

(Charlie Jane Anders)


As a season-opener, it worked very, very well. It doesn’t have the scope or ambition of A Good Man Goes To War or Doomsday, but neither is it groaning under the weight of a year or more’s worth of ferociously complicated plot. The opening, complete with portentous voice-over and atmospherically shadowy figures, tells even the newest viewer everything they need to know about these tinplated gravel-voiced foes and then we’re plunged into the story proper.

If not scaling the very heights of what the series can achieve, then this was certainly an effective relaunch of the show for 2012, thoroughly entertaining and exciting, more-or-less making sense most of the time and neatly avoiding the worst excesses of the previous series. I’m still not quite sure why the Doctor keeps feeling the need to return the Ponds to their suburban home at the end of each adventure though. Does he want them as travelling companions or not?

(Tom Salinsky)

Media thoughts on Oswin

Guardian: The surprise introduction of Jenna-Louise Coleman served to swerve your perceptions even further; her tearaway chatter about chins, bisexual phases and souffles going some way to justify Moffat's claims that Coleman can actually out-manic Matt Smith.

Telegraph: The star of the episode, though, was Jenna-Louise Coleman’s Oswin, a confident yet charming young woman; it seemed for so long as if we were getting a new companion to launch the series as well, and it was a genuine surprise to discover she was in fact a human converted into a Dalek. Her fate was the saddest part of the episode, although you can't be too sure how things will turn out when Oswin returns in 2013.

SFX: Wait! What? Rewind! Choke! Splutter! Yes, she’s here, and it’s not even Christmas yet – say a somewhat surprised hello to Jenna-Louise Coleman, alias new companion Oswin Oswald, smuggled past the chronic spoiler-flingers of the world in one of the great storytelling coups of Doctor Who. Nicely played, you sly dogs. It’s a winning debut, too – Coleman brings sauce and sparkiness, and while she initially seems a familiar Moffat archetype, all snarky cracks about the Doctor’s chin and throwaway lines about sexual experimentation (“Actually it was Nina – I was going through a phase…”) there’s a deeper vulnerability there too, which makes her eventual fate in this episode genuinely heart-skewering. It’ll be fascinating to see what mind-scrambling narrative physics Moffat employs to bring her back as a full-time TARDISnaut.

Digital Spy: But back to the episode's opening and specifically that shocking post-titles sequence. Hats off to all involved in producing and promoting Doctor Who - they did a remarkable job in concealing Jenna-Louise Coleman's appearance in 'Asylum of the Daleks'. We imagine fan jaws dropped across the country as the companion-to-be appeared on screen almost four months before her expected Christmas debut. Regardless of who she's playing, it's clear from her first scene that the 26-year-old Titanic actress is a fine addition to the Doctor Who cast - her debut performance runs the gamut from funny to incredibly moving to - cool it, fanboys - sexy. We love her already.

National Post: Her character was great. What’s not to like about a gorgeous science nerd in a tight, red mini-dress? And her dialogue in particular was enjoyable, lots of “quick as you likes” and other Britishisms.

Huffington Post: Coleman seemed like a cross between Billie Piper and Martine McCutcheon in her cheeky, chirpy reposts to the Doctor and her blatant flirting with Mr Pond. While no one has quite the charms of soon-to-exit Amy, Oswin has already shown she enjoys talents that potentially match the Doctor's own, and plenty of quirky mystery on which to build.

Other reviews

Other reviews of the episode can be found from The Examiner, The Examiner (second review), Entertainment Weekly, Forbes, Wall Street Journal, East Valley Tribune, Entertainmentwise, MTV, Huffington Post, National Post, TV Fanatic, Hitfix, Seenit, Mashable, Contact Music, AssignmentX.

Monday Press: Mirror, Metro, Guardian, Daily Mail, The Sun, This Is Cornwall.