TV Review: Doctor Who, New Year’s Day Special. “Resolution.”

Anyone who has read my previous reviews will know how anti-Chibnall I have been as of late. But, I’ve got to give credit where it’s due. Resolution isn’t perfect by any stretch, but it’s probably my favourite Dalek story since the RTD era, and I now have a slight hint of optimism when thinking about the future of Doctor Who.

After an entire season of no returning classic villains, it was so refreshing to get a story that is familiar, and this felt more like Doctor Who than the entirety of Series 11. Even the small things, like finally getting to see The Doctor rush around the TARDIS console, put a smile on my face. I feel like we’ve been starved of the small moments and this was genuinely the first episode I’ve been able to appreciate the new TARDIS interior. It’s the little things that count, and they go a long way to capturing that Doctor Who feel that I think has been lacking.

Although it has had a mixed reception, personally, I loved what they did with the Dalek in this episode. Admittedly, it did appear that Mr Chibnall may have watched Venom a few times, but the Daleks have been around for so long that tweaks and changes to them such as this are welcomed, and add a new dynamic to the classic villain. I really enjoyed the Dalek possessing Lin (Charlotte Ritchie) and it led to some incredibly dark, violent moments. Chibnall has achieved in one episode what Steven Moffat (and I’m a big fan of his, remember) failed to do in his entire tenure… He made a Dalek creepy and terrifying again. The newly designed Dalek mutant was extremely unsettling, and I do believe that there is so much more power in a lone Dalek than there is with an entire army of the things. It makes the situation more personal, I often found myself disconnected when large numbers of them were defeated with ease in previous series, to see one single Dalek achieve so much in the course of this episode makes them seem more of a threat, its about time we saw that side of them again.

When we finally get to see the Dalek in it’s new casing, I personally loved the design. I think a lot of the haters have not grasped the point that this is a one-off look and will not be how all Daleks are going to look going forward, I thought the “spare parts” premise would have made that obvious, but clearly not. Chibnall did the wise thing by adding in a throwaway line about Reconnoissance Daleks having more abilities and perks than the standard model, it’s a good counter to anyone who found this Dalek a bit ridiculous, without detracting from the overall story. My biggest gripe with the new Dalek was that we didn’t get to see enough of it, the scene where it takes on a small army single-handedly was brilliantly epic and it reminded me a bit of a similar scene in Remembrance of the Daleks. I wanted to see more of this.

Resolution also brings with it, in my opinion, Jodie Whittaker’s finest performance as The Doctor yet. She seemed more settled and confident in this episode, and she finally got to take more of the spotlight, away from the TARDIS Team. Her confrontation with the Dalek was probably the first moment where I truly saw her as The Doctor, and not an imitation of her predecessors. She seemed to have more of an individual personality in this story, she was warm, she was funny, but she also got to show more of her stern and serious side, I found myself really liking her. Bravo, Jodie Whittaker! I want to see more of this in Series 12, please.

Let’s have a quick look at my negatives. whilst I didn’t have a huge problem with the Ryan/Ryan’s Dad family drama, I do think Chibnall gave them too much time, time that could have been given to the Dalek which would have made this episode far more entertaining. I think this is a key reason why the episode has had a mixed response, as I’m sure many people tuned in to see a Dalek on the rampage, not to see family problems aired out like we’re watching an episode of Eastenders. Secondly, Yaz was once again utterly pointless and unnecessary in this story, I still don’t see what she offers as a companion and I really do hope she’s given more of the spotlight in Series 12, because she most definitely needs it now.

But, overall, as someone who has been quite anti-Series 11 and even more anti-Chibnall, I was pleasantly surprised by this story. Visually, it was stunning and could have passed for a film in places. They finally made a Dalek chilling and threatening again, and we finally got to see what Jodie Whittaker can really do in her role as The Doctor. For the first time in a while, it felt like I was watching proper Doctor Who again, and this actually felt like a finale, unlike the previous episode. It wasn’t perfect and it still suffered from some pacing and overcrowding issues, but Doctor Who is barely ever perfect, and in this case I will take the rough with the smooth. If we can get more of the same in Series 12, I’ll be feeling a lot more positive in 2020. I want to see 13 square up against more classic villains before she departs, we’re finally off to a good start, let’s keep it going!

You’ve got a whole year to get this right Mr Chibnall, please, prove me wrong, because I want nothing more than for you to succeed.

I give Resolution an 8/10. 

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