Well that was a strange start to a season. Not a bad start. Not a great start. Just a bit odd.
The Doctor and The Ponds are kidnapped by the daleks (with comical ease - why have they never done this before and just, you know, killed The Doctor?) and tasked to go down to a planet of insane, malfunctioning daleks - The Asylum - to switch off the forcefield so the daleks can blow it up.
Apparently a human spaceship has crashed there and there's survivor, who we'll get to in a minute, and for some reason the daleks (and The Doctor) seem to think this means the nutty daleks will be able to escape. Or something.
Supposedly up until this point the daleks had been unwilling to destroy The Asylum because they were opposed to killing their own kind, even in madness they admired the "beautiful hated" of their race.
No, it doesn't make much sense and once our heroes are down on the planet we don't really get the impression that it's teeming with millions of psychotic daleks either.
There's the usual running around in corridors and some bumping into dusty and damaged old daleks, but the truly interesting aspect of this story is that the survivor, Oswin, was played by Jenna-Louise Coleman who - of course - is destined to The Doctor's next companion. Only that character is called Clara we've been told.
My theory - and it's a pretty obvious one - is that The Doctor travels back in her timeline (because he owes her a massive favour after the great trick she pulls on his behalf), teams up with her, has wacky adventures etc before she finds herself in the position of being on the ship crashing into The Asylum - but because then she'd been meeting The Doctor "out of sync" (shades of River Song) she adopts a new name... Maybe.
Oswin was, undoubtedly, the most captivating aspect of Asylum Of The Daleks. Ignore the contrived backstory of the episode and the break-up (and reconciliation) of The Ponds, here was a spunky character, with brains and beauty, who can hold her own in a verbal sparring match with The Doctor - quite reminiscent of Zoe Heriot.
Unfortunately some of the impact of her character was undermined by similarities to the scenario we encountered in an earlier Steven Moffat two-parter: Silence In The Library and Forest Of The Dead. He does like to recycle (how many more times can the Ood or The Weeping Angels be shoehorned in?)
I guess I shouldn't gloss over the sub-plot of the Ponds' crumbling marriage. Whilst Amy's emotional speech to Rory about why they broke up certainly tugged at the heartstrings there's still the inescapable feeling that they've outstayed their welcome.
It wasn't even clear why the daleks kidnapped them to accompany The Doctor. His "need for companions" again just came across as a contrivance. Had the daleks held Amy and Rory hostage to persuade The Doctor to do their bidding it might have made more sense, but sending them with him to The Asylum was actually rather hamstringing him, as they were just a liability.
When it comes to Doctor Who, Steven Moffat has become the master of style over substance.
He throws in these wacky, cool looking or sounding creatures without thinking through the logistics of the situation. The "dalek puppets" were really natty, but - like the dreadful Vashta Nerada - you have to look at what their existence implied. If the daleks have access to these superpowerful nanobots (that they can use to seed a planet's atmosphere, as they had done with The Asylum) why haven't they simply sprayed a cloud of them over every planet in the universe?
If it wasn't for the mystery surrounding Oswin/Clara/Jenna-Louise Coleman then Asylum Of The Daleks would have been the typical mediocre-Moffat fare of recent years, but - despite the claims that all this season's stories are self-contained "mini-films" (which this one certainly wasn't) - my interest is certainly piqued by the character Jenna-Louise appears to be playing!
Also nice to see Skaro again...