EXTERMINATE! The Thirteenth Doctor faces off against her greatest enemy, the Daleks, in Jodie Whittaker’s first festive Doctor Who special.
Chris Chibnall’s vision for Doctor Who has, so far, been all about bucking the established trend. Love it or loathe it, his era has marked a milestone in the series’ history for a number of reasons. Not only did it introduce the first ever female Doctor, it also swapped out the traditional Christmas Day episode in favour of a New Year’s Day special. It had also exclusively featured brand new villains for the Doctor to fight. But, after ten stories starring the likes of mutant spiders, Tim Shaw, and the Pting, 2019’s one (and only) Doctor Who episode finally saw the return of a familiar foe…
Following fevered speculation, the rumours were true – on 1st January 2019, Jodie Whittaker made her first stand against the Doctor’s greatest enemy. Barring cameos in The Pilot and Twice Upon a Time, this was the first “proper” Dalek story since 2015’s The Magician’s Apprentice/The Witch’s Familiar. So, four years later, there was a lot riding on Chris Chibnall’s re-introduction of the much-loved monster. Was the face-off worth the wait? And, more importantly, is this newly released DVD/Blu-Ray worth your money?
Back to Basics
Rather than bombard us with an army of Daleks straight away, Chris Chibnall decided to take a more stripped back approach with Resolution. And we mean that quite literally, too. The story begins with a flashback, showing humanity banding together to defeat an unstoppable foe. Its body is then scattered across the Earth, where it lays dormant – until, of course, one piece is accidentally dug up in an sewer in Sheffield. Unarmoured and desperate to survive, the Dalek takes one unlucky archaeologist hostage and runs rampant on the streets above. As you might expect, it’s up to the Doctor and her “fam” to stop the Dalek and save the world once more.
This isn’t a review of the episode itself, so we won’t go into too much detail here. But, rest assured, Resolution is one of the strongest stories from the Thirteenth Doctor’s first year. Taking the Dalek back to basics was a great way to restore their menace. There are also some really strong performances, particularly from Charlotte Ritchie as the Dalek-controlled Lin. The inevitable Doctor/Dalek confrontation is also among the episode’s best scenes, with both Jodie Whittaker and Nicholas Briggs putting their all into this historic occasion. There are niggles – the Ryan/Aaron subplot, the cringeworthy wi-fi gags, and (shudder) the font used in the opening montage. But on the whole, this is easily up there with the best of the Chris Chibnall era.
But what about the actual DVD/Blu-Ray itself? Well, for starters, it comes in a nice little slipcase. The artwork may be exactly the same as the DVD/Blu-Ray box, but it’s a welcome touch that at least makes you feel like you’re getting a bit more bang for your buck. Pop the disc into your TV and you’ll be greeted by the main menu, which reuses the same promotional imagery, albeit with a few bits of minor animation. Unsurprisingly, your options here are fairly limited. You can play Resolution, watch the special features, or adjust the audio settings. Disappointingly, there’s no audio commentary for this episode, which is a shame considering these were a treat on the recent Series 11 box set.
The special features include a Series 11 look back, a Behind the Scenes featurette, A Dalek Re-formed, and a Closer Look at the relationship between Ryan and his dad. They’re all very similar in design, intersplicing cast/crew interviews with clips and behind the scenes footage. The features are generally pretty good, offering up some interesting trivia and even some subtle nods towards the show’s future. Combined together, they offer about half an hour’s worth of bonus content, which isn’t too bad all things considered. However, the problem is – just like the Series 11 box set before it – that you can access most of this content already, for free, on iPlayer and YouTube. And indeed, that’s arguably the biggest flaw with this entire product. The quality of its content isn’t the issue: it’s the fact you have to pay for it.
When looked at as an overall package, the Resolution DVD/Blu-Ray is a complicated beast that’s difficult to recommend. On one hand, it’s possibly the best Thirteenth Doctor story to date, complete with an enjoyable selection of special features. Certainly, compared to the Series 11 box set, the bonuses here feel much meatier, only having to focus on a single episode. On the other hand, it’s almost impossible to shake the nagging sensation that is just a glorified cash grab. There’s no reason at all why this content couldn’t have been included on last month’s Series 11 box set. (Except, of course, that the BBC gets to charge you twice for the privilege).
So, should you buy Resolution on DVD/Blu-Ray? That ultimately depends on how much you enjoyed the episode itself. If you’re not desperate to add it to your collection, it might be worth holding off to see if it’s included on the Series 12 box set instead. But if you can’t wait a year, this is still a decent (if arguably overpriced) release that ticks all the boxes – even if it never really goes the extra mile.