Happy New Extermination
The BBC shouldn’t have bottled it – despite some fans guessing, they should have held off any reveal that the Daleks were in the latest not-quite-festive episode of Doctor Who until the episode was broadcast. Despite the early reveal in pre-release trails the episode thankfully wasn’t too badly spoiled; but this isn’t the first time that the BBC have revealed returning foes ahead of broadcast ruining in-episode revelations having done it TWICE in Peter Capaldi’s final season with the Mondassian Cybermen and John Simm’s Master.
That said, Resolution, is both Jodie Whittaker’s and Chris Chibnall’s best Who outings to date; the former finally given material worthy of her performance and the latter actually turning in a story that works from almost all angles. I’m not sure he quite knows how to use all of the characters he’s created effectively, with Bradley Walsh getting the short shrift this time around being separated from the TARDIS crew for much of the episode and Mandip Gill again had very little to actually do. Despite this Chibnall manages to also cram three new characters into the story and TARDIS (one being Ryan’s father) in underwritten roles that could have in, two thirds of cases, been replaced by existing characters.
Resolution somehow manages to be a solid hour of television with plenty of taught drama and a partial redemption of Aaron (Daniel Adegboyega) and Ryan’s relationship that actually works if feels a little heavy handed. The cobbled together Dalek design that is introduced about half way through actually looks great and reminds me of some of the exciting Dalek variations we saw in the classic series episode Remembrance of the Daleks, it’s a shame that it was a one off due the nature of its creation. It’s also the first time since the Christopher Eccleston episode Dalek that Doctor’s biggest enemy have actually seemed threatening – with one Dalek here being far more effective an scary than the eleventy billion that used to be chucked in by Russell T Davies by the end of his run.
The scene at the army base when the Dalek took out over a dozen soldiers was really effective – unfortunately it was undermined somewhat by the actual resolution of Resolution, which saw a deconstructed microwave melt the scariest monster in the universe. One question I do have after all this – is there ANY alien technology that can’t be put together out of a few scraps of metal in a Sheffield workshop?
Resolution was fun and allowed Jodie Whittaker to really shine – moreso than any episode since her debut. She still feels like she’s channelling David Tennant’s Doctor at times and it would be nice to see her find something that differentiates her portrayal next year.
With twelve months until we get to see more, and with persistent rumours or unhappiness behind the scenes, I hope that these disagreements don’t serve to distract from creating a more cohesive run of stories next time around. Chris Chibnall has always managed to turn in serviceable standalone, largely inconsequential, episodes for previous Doctors but he’s yet to prove his ability to oversee a full season effectively – and while Steven Moffatt may have created increasingly convoluted mythology he DID have an overall vision that carried through his two very different Doctors. A year in and it feels like we’re still lacking that vision this time around.
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