Friday, November 22, 2013

Doctor Who turns 50 part 11: Asylum of the Daleks and Name of the Doctor

This post was nearly Impossible Astronaut, Day of the Moon and Wedding of River Song, but last night I also watched Asylum of the Daleks and Name of the Doctor, and I can gush a lot more of those two then I can the others, so I switch, even though the other is practically written. I'll probably release it in a few weeks when I'm struggling for content.

It also unfortunately means that I don't get to gush about Arthur Darvill as Rory, who is just plain fantastic in them, and Mark Sheppard, who in his quest to appear in everything makes his Doctor Who debut, and I hope we got to see more of Canton some day.

But Asylum of the Daleks and Name of the Doctor. I thought I was being a bit harsh on Eccleston and Tennant's outings. I remember thoroughly enjoying then. I've never been one for rewatching stuff that often, I need a good few years between instances, and I just put it down to that. Then I watched Asylum of the Daleks. Holy Crap this is good Who. It's only been a year since it came out, and I still got thrills with it.

Coleman is just brilliant throughout, especially when the Doctor tells her that she's a Dalek, the moment still hits home, and kudos to her for that. Her quick collapse then coming back to win the day refusing to let what they did to her win through is sold so well. To also have her wipe the Doctor from the Dalek's memories is a genius, not only because it saves the Doctor when he reaches the Parliament, but the next time the Doctor faces his greatest enemy he can't rely on his reputation, something current writers have leaned a bit too much on, what with the 'Oncoming Storm' and what have you. While repeated viewing has diminished her reveal, her inclusion in Asylum alone was fantastic, in that it was kept totally secret and while the audience knew she'd be coming on as the new companion further down the line, here we meet her unexpectedly, and see her die. We share the same mystery with the Doctor for once, something far too rare in this age of internet spoilers.

I do have one request though, can we stop having huge revelations about the leadership of the Daleks, since the relaunch we've had the mad Emperor, the return of Davros and now a Parliament, it never seems to be the same one. Can't these supposedly superior beings decide on a command structure?

However, the plot of the Daleks' facing a problem they can't solve, so they turn to the one man who can beat them is fantastic. Done differently this episode wouldn't work at all, but the premise of the Asylum is something far worse than the Daleks, and of course the Doctor can't risk the insane ones getting loose.

Smith is great in both. His genius plan in Asylum of slipping his nanocloud-bracelet-thing onto Amy's wrist to keep her alive while he goes to meet Oswin, but not telling her so she and Rory can face their problems in the face of certain doom and sort their marriage out is pulled off to perfection. The flick of the camera to him fixing his bow-tie as they realise is fantastic directing.

In The Name of the Doctor he comes across as properly worried. Trenzalore is possibly the worst place he can imagine, and he doesn't flick between serious and irreverent at all, just stays completely focused on the task at hand. He can hit all the right emotions, and his flippancy is nearly as good as Eccleston's, though for me sometimes it can go a little too far, especially with River around in Day of the Moon. Though his conversation with River here is expertly low key, and a little odd because the chemistry between him and Clara is electric and here he is sharing a moment with his dead wife.

Then Name of the Doctor is really the 50th pre-party with Clara taking a trip through the Doctor's time stream, becoming integral to his survival by keeping the Great Intelligence from killing him time and time again. The various incarnations of Clara is brilliant, each looking for the time period that Doctor's episodes were filmed. The one issue I have is the Doctor stealing a broken TARDIS. This is on top of River saying he doesn't know how to fly it properly. I liked that as brilliant as he was he couldn't fly the thing properly, now Moffat's making excuses for that flaw. A hero can be too perfect you know.

After seeing all the previous incarnations, John Hurt's reveal at the end of that sequence was a great touch, and the fact that Clara didn't recognise him was an interesting one since we now know he's between Eight and Nine, though watching the second time the script makes clear he was before Smith and really that's the only gap. If she had to fix his time stream what kept her from seeing the War Doctor?

Tomorrow night it all becomes clear. The Day of the Doctor. CAN. NOT. WAIT!
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