Each week the Blogtor Who team give their first thoughts on the latest episode of Doctor Who. Here’s what we thought of the New Year’s Day special Resolution.
Needless to say, this article contains massive spoilers, so only read on if you’ve already watched Resolution.
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The Daleks or rather Dalek is back! And the Doctor had to pull out all her bag of trick out her bag to defeat her lives long foe. This episode was full battle, adventure and explosions a lot of running. Nicholas Briggs pitched a perfect voice for the casement-free Dalek and together with guest star Charlotte Ritchie created the magic of the adrenaline-filled chase throughout the first half of the episode. Both actors excelled in building the tension and the threat of the return of the Daleks. There was more grit in the Doctor in this episode than in any other in Series 11. She called out Ryan’s dad and challenged the Dalek head on. The determination and fierce anger of the Doctor has been missing from Thirteen and while there is still more to build it was great to see.
However, the episode had a number of moments that just didn’t work. The jumping back and forth between the drama between Ryan and his dad and the battle with the Dalek didn’t work. It jolted the view out of the build-up chase between the Doctor and the Dalek and just didn’t work. The microwave solution was too obvious and WiFi family panic should have been cut all together. Finally, I was disappointed by the Doctor asking for reassurance once again on her decisions just before the final battle.
All it in all it was a reasonably good episode but I prefer Eccleston’s Dalek from Series 1. But I would really like to hear about how the 9th century humans beat the Dalek in its original casement in the first place.
Resolution, appropriately, shares a lot of DNA with Dalek, Robert Shearman’s scorchingly brilliant 2005 episode. Like Dalek, it seeks to reintroduce Skaro’s finest psychopaths and establish them as a threat for a new audience. And like Dalek it features a lone Dalek, damaged and weakened, cut off from its fleet, yet still a global threat. It certainly earns maximum points for its reinvention of the Dalek mutant – both the new, larger, more lethal squid type creature, and the more sadistic and cruel personality (backed up by a bravura Nick Briggs performance that is hard to credit as the same man who’s played them for fourteen years). More questionable is the decision to make its casing deliberately Dalek-like but a bit rubbish. It works in the context of the episode, but perhaps not as a relaunch for the monster.
However, the script certainly succeeds in raising the stakes and tension and the Doctor here is more under pressure and more threatening than she often was in Series 11. It not elevates the Daleks as a menace but the Doctor as a hero. The escalating battle between Time Lord and Dalek shows them both at their best, matching each other every step of the way. And that’s before we even get into the deft handling of the Sinclair-O’Brien family dynamic. A couple of jokes about Wi-Fi and Brexit style impacts on UNIT fall a little flat, mainly because they feel so out of place. But all the same, Resolution is surely one of the strongest episodes of the Thirteenth Doctor era so far.
What a fantastic way to wrap up this series of Doctor Who! I was somewhat disappointed a couple of weeks ago that the so-called ‘series finale’ didn’t feel might like a finale, but Resolution definitely did what the previous episode didn’t quite manage to do. Surprisingly, after a series where each episode was very self-contained, I do wonder if this episode might have been slightly alienating for anyone who hadn’t watched the rest of the series so far. However, as someone who’s all caught up this felt like a great ‘resolution’, most notably of that one last loose thread – namely, Ryan’s dad. It did feel a little odd at times switching between two very contrasting storylines, but I do think it worked in the end. The very much Earth-bound nature of this episode really appealed to me – episodes like this where the threat is so close to home are some of my favourites. In light of this, I do feel that the scale of the danger could have been raised even more – I didn’t quite feel as though the entire human race was truly threatened by one Dalek. Having it capture a human host was an excellent idea, and Charlotte Ritchie was on top form as possessed but resilient Lin. Similarly, having a ‘junkyard chic’ Dalek was a great way to change up its design. More importantly, how amazing was it to finally see the Thirteenth Doctor face up against the Daleks?! She absolutely is the Doctor, whether you like it or not. Finally, I can’t finish this review without applauding Laura Evelyn for her brilliant performance as ‘Call Centre Polly’ in one of the funniest moments of the series!
At the end of series 11, I pleaded for the New Year’s Day episode of Doctor Who to bring a big, horrible, squarky Dalek. And it certainly did. Hurrah! Nicholas Briggs, who the BBC can now add to the cast list, has put in a wonderful turn as the reconnaissance scout Dalek that’s literally unearthed after centuries with a plan to re-build itself and take over the puny planet it finds itself on. Also putting in a brilliant turn is Charlotte Ritchie as Lin, the archaeologist who discovers the Dalek in its biological form before being taken over by it. The Dalek/Lin story is a highlight of this episode and particularly impressive is the self-made scrap yard Dalek casing. Writer Chris Chibnall and Director Wayne Yip have an absolute blast as the Dalek sets off in its relentless malevolence to take over the planet. There’s a side story involving Ryan’s dad who appears with his soon-to-be handy
Chekov’s gun Dalek-beating microwave oven. Ryan and Graham each show devastating honesty in the face of Aaron’s reappearance. Nonetheless, when it really matters, Ryan tells his dad he loves him and risks his own life to save him. Now, I’ll address the elephant in this particular room. How does Resolution stand up to other Dalek episodes. Well, it’s not the best. It’s not anywhere near the best. But it’s a jolly good romp, with a very well realised Dalek who’s a welcome return to Doctor Who. Comedy highlight – call centre agent Polly advising that “other armed forces are available” while UNIT is suspended.
I’ll confess up front that I was one of the few people that wasn’t keen on the Daleks returning for this special. Personally I thought they needed a bit more of a rest but I have to give it to Chibnall, because he has delivered one of the most original and interesting Dalek stories we’ve had in years. The decision to have a lone Dalek, and one out of its casing for half of the episode a wise choice. To show how dangerous just one of those creatures can be. The first half of the episode had a body horror vibe and there was tension throughout the whole episode that kept me on the edge of my seat.
There were more great character moments from Graham and Ryan spurred on by the introduction of Ryan’s Dad, the natural culmination of their character arcs so far and the moment where Ryan forgave his dad near the end was very touching, but Yaz once again felt a little left out in the development stakes, hopefully this will be rectified in series 11. Overall this episode was thrilling, had some great battle scenes. I may not have been anticipating the Daleks return but in hindsight I’m very pleased with what we got.
New Years Day heralded Doctor Who – Resolution. I thought the episode was a great celebration of Doctor Who. The storyline kicked off superbly with the tale of the war between the humans and this unknown assailant later discovered to be a Dalek. I enjoyed seeing a Dalek outside of its casing. It cast my mind back to Resurrection of the Daleks where the Fifth Doctor has to battle a Dalek which has escaped its casing. My favourite part was most probably the conversation between the Dalek in its makeshift casing talking to the Doctor without knowing her identity and the Doctor always saving the punchline “I’m the Doctor” for the most impactful moment possible. Even though the scarf wasn’t featured for long I am in love with it. It has such a Who-Vibe to it and I was lucky enough to be given one for Christmas (which I will most likely wear every day from now onwards). The only thing I found cheesy was the family discussing what to do without Wi-Fi as if it were the end of the world. A not so subtle New Year;s Resolution perhaps Chibnall wants people to adopt? Overall though the episode was incredible and refreshing I’m just sad that there is no Who for at least a year but Series 11 comes out soon so I will be watching that several times over. Happy New Year!
So, the only new televised episode of Doctor Who in 2019. Resolution. An hour long special on New Year’s Day. What to make of it?
Firstly, it started really well. The manufacture of a creature being on Earth for centuries was successfully achieved and things moved at a swift place to the revelation of its identity. I rather enjoyed the Dalek mutant outside of the casing, evoking memories of the Fifth Doctor hunting a similar creature in a warehouse during Resurrection of the Daleks. Those early sequences were tense and with a horror inflection which worked brilliantly. After that however things began to tumble downhill with it becoming all a bit Venom. Charlotte Ritchie was great but I struggled to get over the idea of Oregon from Fresh Meat doing a version of Tom Hardy’s Venom. Interspersed within the building tension were however multiple scenes involving Ryan and his Dad that simply killed all the momentum of the episode. The clunky and inexplicable addition of the microwave was so blatant, forecasting its place in resolving the plot, that I threw my hands up in frustration. It was not the only time. For example, when UNIT was written out in a less than subtle dig at Brexit. Similarly, when the Dalek took down the UK’s Wi-Fi. On New Year’s Day. The monster. For goodness sake!
I was keen to see Doctor 13 square off against a Dalek, or at least an imposing threat for the first time. Whilst Jodie was strong I was frustrated that as soon as those altercations were over the character’s instinct was to crack a joke, be it about the length of a rel or her skid, the latter of which almost proved particularly costly for Ryan’s Dad.
Overall, it was typical Thirteenth Doctor era stuff. Long scenes of exposition. Jodie not helped by the scripted lines. Too much deviation into family stuff with some characters, Yaz once again, largely irrelevant. Oh, and the Dalek casing looked terrible. I know that was the point but it was still dreadful.
The Dalek bits were great – good to have Nick Briggs back, too, who showed once again that he can do so much more than a generic Dalek voice. Loved the idea of a scout Dalek as more powerful than the others; loved him piloting Lin. Charlotte Richie, who is so good in Call the Midwife, showed her talents again as both human and Dalek, struggling against each other. Memories of Sarah Jane struggling against possession by the Queen Spider spring to mind. Good battle scenes too. Was the reference to the Dalek as a drone a late addition after the Gatwick Airport disaster in December, where the whole airport was shut down as a rogue drone was sighted? Now we know what the drone might have been…no wonder the police couldn’t find the operator…
The scenes in the new TARDIS set worked well, director Wayne Yip finding ways to shoot it convincingly and it was good that we got to see the whole set, usually concealed with close ups and very moody lighting. Daniel Adegboyega particularly impressed as Aaron and his rivalry with Graham was well played. Sadly, I think that we had another instance in tonight’s episode of some of the guest characters and actors being more interesting, and more strongly played, than the regulars. Adegboyega and Richie were stronger presences on screen, and more interesting, than Ryan and Yaz, and again we had too little for the companions to do. It is a good idea to feature the companions’ families, but when we had Jackie and Rose, or Martha and Francine, the interaction and family scenes between them were always, always tied into the science fiction action of the episode. What we had in Resolution was a cutaway, and very long, scene between Ryan and Aaron in a café in which they discussed their relationship, and it had precious little to do with the main plot. When Chris Chibnall does an arc, it seems to be a personal arc rather than a science fiction one, and I did wonder a little if I was still watching the trailer to EastEnders which aired before tonight’s Who was screened.
I was a little disappointed that the Doctor didn’t show more steel and rage when she confronted the Dalek – remember Christopher Eccleston spitting in disgust and hatred in season one’s Dalek? I also noted the contrast between David Tennant’s newly regenerated tenth Doctor telling the Sycorax that Earth “is defended” (by him) and Jodie’s Doctor telling the Dalek that Earth is defended by her and her friends. As so often happens in new Who, the production team seems more interested in the companions than we are. But a much stronger episode than some of those we saw in last season, with higher stakes and higher peril. A shame we didn’t get to see the Dalek fleet and hundreds of them confronting the new Doctor, but maybe we will see more of the Daleks in 2020. This was a more Doctor Who-like episode of Doctor Who than we have had for some time. I shall miss her in 2019.
You can watch Resolution now on BBC iPlayer.
Doctor Who will return in 2020.