Tag Archives: Karen Gillan

“Asylum of the Daleks” – Spoiler-laced review of explodey-wodey awesome

Definitely scary, huge in scale, a surprise around every corner – “Asylum of the Daleks” is a brilliant “Who” adventure.

I don’t know how to begin to review “Asylum of the Daleks”, the first episode of season seven of Doctor Who”.  The ‘Too Long/Didn’t Read’ version is ‘awesome ep/big reveals/cool story bro’.

If you divulge too many of the events which transpired in the story, you run the risk of really spoiling some fairly major surprises for the very fans who will most affected by learning them ahead of time.  If you don’t say enough about the episode, you may as well just skim the BBC press release and talk in generalities, which satisfies nobody.  A quandary, then, and one which I intend to tackle by stating for the record – herein be BIG HONKING SPOILERS.  Approach at your peril.

Spoiler-averse U.S. Whovians look away…now!

So, remember how we were going to meet the Doctor’s new companion, apparently named Clara, in the Christmas special?  There was this whole intricate plan about how she was going to be introduced?

Aren’t you showing up a bit early, Jenna? I mean, it’s only September…

Yeah, so that didn’t happen – Moffat pulled one of the bigger surprises of recent years by introducing actress Jenna Louise Coleman in this opening episode and somehow, in the era of constant internet spoilers and social media leak campaigns, managed to keep that humdinger of a storytelling gambit completely under wraps.

Mrs Rolling Eyeballs and I were genuinely surprised by the reveal, but it was but one surprise in an episode full of “Wait now – what?!” moments.  We had been told ahead of time by Moffat to expect a seventh series which was the stuff of blockbuster cinema, with a larger canvas and more self-contained storytelling which didn’t rely as heavily on the ongoing continuity which has been a staple of the Moffat era of “Who”.  

I think what we got was a mix of old and new – continuity was there, but not to such an extent that it would have put off a viewer who was only casually familiar with the show.  Spectacle was there but didn’t swamp the story and characters and the scale of the episode was compellingly different – this really isn’t the studio-bound “Who” of yore, where budgetary and technical constraints conspired to hobble what could be achieved by the show and gave it an unfair reputation of being a kiddie, kitschy kids’s show and certainly not one to be taken seriously by adults.

I’m not sure how much I should spoil of the story – Skaro! – but I found it really compelling and oddly reminiscent of some of the John Carpenter directed 1980’s genre movies which I grew up watching, with the likes of “Escape from New York“, “The Thing”, and even the tense horror of “Halloween” woven into the fabric of the episode.

Mysterious Dalek asylum, crashed spacecraft, weird signals, strange survivors – fun for all the family…

This was a ‘men on a mission’-type tale, with the Doctor, Amy and Rory tasked with teleporting onto a Dalek asylum/prison planet and switching off a force-field guarding the world, so that the Galaxy’s most genocidal pepper-pot warrior race could destroy the facility which housed the most deranged of their kind.   And woven into that framework, we saw that Amy & Rory’s relationship had suffered  a little fall-out in the wake of the events on Demon’s Run last season.  As in, the Doctor’s favourite young marrieds being separated and signing divorce papers.

It was this latter aspect of plot which was the most gripping element of “Asylum of the Daleks” – more so than the sci-fi adventure A-plot or the introduction of Jenna Louise Coleman.  Seeing Rory and Amy sniping at one another in the manner of all torn-asunder couples was really distressing and high point of the episode  – more so than the locations, big effects sequences and high concept sequences, the scene where Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill confronted each other over the fall-out from their relationship was utterly riveting TV and a nice riposte to those who might dismiss “Who” as that nerdy thing that kiddies and families watch on a Saturday night.

Obviously, that family friendly promise is something which “Doctor Who” should have – there’s no sense at all in turning this much-beloved fantasy drama into “Boardwalk Empire” just to please chin-stroking TV critics and self-appointed taste makers, but the way that Moffat can sprinkle moments of simple, real world drama amidst the explosions, Dalek attacks and grotesque thriller tropes elsewhere in the story is quite something.  Focussing on the married companion’s relationship for a few minutes doesn’t draw attention away from the main plot – it, in fact, integrates beautifully into the whole and makes the experience that bit richer than it might otherwise be.

The final reveal – of who Jenna Louise Coleman’s character is and what that means for the series as it continues – was brilliantly done, wrong-footing me entirely and leaving with it a raft of as-yet unanswered questions which hopefully the keen Moffat mind will resolve in a timely and satisfying fashion.  What we’re left with now is the knowledge that Coleman is a sparky, delightful counterpoint to Smith, carrying herself in a manner which is so confident, quick-witted and full of minor-key eccentricity that she somehow manages t0 make the Eleventh Doctor look like a buttoned-down, low-key wallflower.

Whether she continues to play that kind of character, or a derivation thereof, is a question which will be answered when we know a little more about who Clara is – because Clara isn’t the protagonist of the episode we saw yesterday, if I read things correctly (and after a good few hours interrogating forums, Twitter and blogs on Saturday evening, I’d like to think that I’ve derived the appropriate conclusion).  Of course, as Mrs Rolling Eyeballs has pointed out to me, perspective and residual self-image are devious things at the best of times and how Jenna Louise Coleman’s character saw herself is quite different to how she was eventually revealed to us when the Doctor eventually met her/it.

Confusing?  Count on it – it’s a Moffat story.

Watching this first episode – and the trailer for next week’s gloriously titled “Dinosaurs on a Spaceship” – I was reminded of how confidently and expertly the current architect of “Who” has steered the series after Russell T. Davies‘ undervalued tenure on the show.  Not everybody loves what he’s doing – and the Internet community frequently isn’t happy unless it can find something to whine about in over-entitled fashion – but I find his stories never less than exciting, his use of incidental detail and throwaway asides a delight and his wit without peer.

“Asylum of the Daleks” was fantastic telly, brilliantly performed, expertly staged and great entertainment from beginning to end.

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“Doctor Who” goes to the movies…

In a bid to remind us that there’s a new series of “Doctor Who” imminent – oh really, I hadn’t noticed – dear old Beeb’s publicity ninja monkeys have posted a series of movie-style posters for this first run of episodes.

This one, for episode five – “The Angels Take Manhattan – is my favourite…

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Nifty, huh?  No impending dread or sense that Everything Will Be Going Wrong Quite Soon there, then…

Den of Geek has the full collection here.

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“Doctor Who” season 7 premiere pics mess with your head.

 

"Roads, Pond?  Where we're going, we don't need...roads"

Photo of Matt Smith & Karen Gillan via The Mary Sue, taken by Jill Pantozzi

Yes, your nerd senses are tingling – with joy and/or delicious, delicious confusion.

BBC America stoked the nervous anticipation of global Whovians for the imminent first part of Season Seven Doctor Who by holding a splashy premiere of episode one in New York at the weekend and had Mr Smith, Ms Gillan and related peeps emerge from…DeLoreans, in tribute to both “Back to the Future” and awesome nerdery alike.

If you reside in the UK or US, you can see “Asylum of the Daleks this weekend or via the (whisper it quietly) torrent of your choice if you’re elsewhere on this blue and green marble that I call home and can’t be bothered to wait for it to show up in your neck of the multiverse.

More pictures are available at the always fantastic and thought-provoking The Mary Sue.

 

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“Asylum of the Daleks” airdate – sooner than you think…

 

I know what I’ll be doing on September 1st 2012 at 7:20pm…

Now that I’ve been Freshly Pressed – Thanks, nice WordPress editors – I get a hint of what it’s like to write for a blog like Kotaku or The Mary Sue.   People are reading me!   Quick – look busy!

In that spirit, I’m delighted by news from dear old Auntie Beeb today, which has confirmed that “Doctor Who” will be back on September 1st for viewers in the UK and US, with the first tranche of episodes finishing on September 29th.   The season picks up again in Spring 2013 – after the Christmas special, which introduces new companion Clara, played by Jenna Louise Coleman.

 

So, new “Who” quite soon, then not so much for a while, with seasonal “Who” filling the void until we’ve seen off the Winter and it’s time to start geeking out again in the spring.  I can get with that schedule and eagerly await what else will be shown next year to mark the good Gallifreyan’s special anniversary…

 

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“Asylum of the Daleks” – spoiler-free review at Den of Geek

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Over at Den of Geek, there’s a spoiler-free review from last night’s BFI screening of the first episode of season seven of “Doctor Who”, “Asylum of the Daleks”.

Pleasingly, we can expect the unexpected from Steven Moffat‘s first hands-on work with the Doctor’s most celebrated foe, some great character development for Amy and Rory and effects work which continues the bridge the lessening gap between big screen spectacle and what TV can afford to show us.

Some minor spoilers lurk in the image gallery which adjoins Den of Geek’s story, just so that you are appropriately forewarned if spoilers are not your particular cup of Earl Grey (hot).

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“Doctor Who” wallpaper is Dalek-mungous!

My, what a lot of Daleks you have there, Doctor.

Following hot on the heels of that crazily exciting BBC America trailer for the new season of “Who” (Dinosaurs! Chastising Mechs! DalekCon 2012!), comes this nifty wallpaper with Matt Smith cradling some ginger lass whilst an assortment of homicidal pepper mills look on askance.

At least, I guess that’s what happening.  It’s Thursday – you shouldn’t expect any coherence out of me this late in the week.

Still no news on when the awesome will be descending on television channels in your corner of the globe to help you get your geek on – if the Great and Wise Moffat has any clue, I’m sure he’ll be letting us know.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Matt Smith – he does running now. Running is cool.

Leave it to our tiny planet’s most fervent defender to get in some Olympics action.

Yep, TOTALLY getting why he’s a nerdy lust object from that picture…

Not content with being a kooky and suave master of awesome, time-tripping whimsy, current Doctor Who Matt Smith is going to be running with the Olympic torch in Cardiff on Saturday 26th May.

And with a gait as astonishing as Matt’s undoubtedly is, who can blame the organisers for scoring some valuable publicity points by enlisting a celebrity who might actually do a better job at this athletics lark than some of the nominal pros.

If the London 2012 Olympics organisers could somehow be convinced to build a corridor around the 100 metres track this summer, my money would be on the lanky dude with the bow tie winning that event convincingly.

 

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