Doctor Who – Into the Dalek Review

The Moffat era was somewhat sparse when it came to quality Dalek stories – which is surprising, considering Steven Moffat himself was such a fan of them. Throughout this era, particularly Matt Smith’s era, Moffat almost took the Daleks for granted, as when they did appear, the episodes were rarely about them specifically in the way that an episode like 2005’s Dalek was. As such, Into the Dalek, the second episode of the divisive Series 8, comes as somewhat of a refreshing change compared to earlier Moffat-era Dalek stories, as this episode is all about one very specific Dalek, and gives us a closer look at the inner workings of a Dalek than we have ever seen before. But how does this episode stand up, nearly five years later?

The Opening

It makes sense to start at the start, and one of the most eye-catching things about Into the Dalek is the opening scene, which immediately grabs your attention in a manner similar to that of Star Wars: A New Hope, as we are shown the tiny human ship desperately trying to outrun a massive Dalek Saucer in an asteroid field. The low angled shots of the Dalek ship effortlessly ploughing through the asteroids as the human ship dodges and weaves around them depict the near-unstoppable power of the Dalek Empire, and how ill-equipped the humans are to deal with the threat. The rapid cuts to the cockpit of the ship, showing pilot Journey Blue trying to radio her command ship, attend to her dying brother and fly the ship all at once furthers the idea that the Humans are vastly outgunned when compared to the cuts to the clean, efficient Dalek bridge.

We see a Dalek move towards a control panel, it shrieks its familiar cry, and Journey’s ship is finally destroyed. But the flash of her exploding ship morphs into the familiar spinning lights of the TARDIS, as she wakes up on the floor with the Twelfth Doctor stood at the controls, holding coffee. This image is one of the enduring impressions that this episode leaves, as it is a truly memorable opening sequence that is sadly underappreciated. Peter Capaldi gives a stern rebuke to Journey’s attempts to order him around at gunpoint, which serves as the introduction to the theme of this episode, the idea of the folly of the military and soldiers in general, and as if to ram this point home, following the title sequence, we immediately cut to Danny Pink in the playground of Coal Hill School, ordering children about like a drill sergeant.

Danny Pink

Opinions on Danny Pink and his relationship with Clara seem to vary among fans. On the one hand, he was an honest attempt at developing a character that was unaware of the space-and-time antics and had to be kept in the dark as a series arc, something that had not really been done since Series 4 as Moffat seemed to sway away from the Earth-based parental angle of the Russel T. Davies era and instead kept the majority of his domestics in the TARDIS. But on the other hand, although it is a refreshing change to introduce this kind of character, many have argued that his characterisation was painfully flimsy and that he was underdeveloped – which is hard to argue with. It has to be noted that the Earth-based scenes in this episode were written by Steven Moffat, and these few short minutes focusing on Danny are packed with Moffat tropes from conversational faux-pas to the classic cutting ahead and flashing back routine, so these scenes can be skipped if this sort of thing isn’t for you.

Clara and the Doctor

Another controversial thing about this era is Clara, as opinions on her are widely divided. The best way to think of Clara is as New Who’s Peri – her character is who she is, and is unapologetic about it, whether you like it or not. Ironically, she was first introduced as the most basic, generic, cardboard-cutout companion you could imagine, but during the Capaldi era she is given a chance to actually establish her own character, and Moffat takes the opportunity that any of us would as showrunner, and wrote a companion with serious personality flaws to play out how they clash with the Doctor. He did this knowing that kind of Doctor-Companion relationship doesn’t appeal to all fans, but took the chance, which is commendable. The result is a strange mix of genuinely heartfelt acts of kindness displayed by the Doctor and Clara to each other, to them arguing or falling out or manipulating each other.

As such, they are perhaps the closest thing that we will get to a Sixth Doctor and Peri homage in the New Series, and Into the Dalek shows this down to a tee – the Doctor is melancholy and brooding in the TARDIS, and the companion is attempting emotional support with little success. For those who have seen it, this scene mirrors a similar one in Vengeance on Varos, arguably the best Sixth Doctor TV story, although the topic in question is markedly different. In Varos, the Doctor is facing the idea that the TARDIS has died mid-flight and stranded them in the Vortex, whilst in Into the Dalek, the Doctor is confounded at the possibility of a ‘Good’ Dalek that has made him begin to doubt his own morality. In a way, it is a good problem to throw at a new Doctor, particularly a more grumpy incarnation who is unsure of himself. After all, if a more mean and standoffish version of the Doctor met a ‘Good’ Dalek, who would be the better person of the two? Speaking of the ‘Good’ Dalek:

Rusty the Dalek

Rusty is a rare example of a depiction of an ‘individual’ Dalek, arguably the best way a Dalek can be depicted in the series, as it is by far the most interesting way to portray them. All the best Dalek introspectives have focused on the morality or decisions of a single Dalek, be it the Dalek from Jubilee, the Metaltron, Dalek Sec, and in this case, Rusty. The title Into the Dalek is fitting for more reasons than just the obvious.

The Dalek philosophy is fundamentally challenged in this episode, and it is hard to decide whether Rusty’s sudden change of heart is madness or morality. There have been a few instances of the ‘single captured Dalek’ plot in past Dalek stories, such as Jubilee, The Dalek Transaction and Dalek. But Into the Dalek puts a unique spin on the idea, making Rusty a memorable Dalek in his own right. The effort that went into painstakingly constructing the Dalek prop for this story is impressive, and can be read about in detail in Dalek 63 88’s excellent segment on how Rusty was built using materials to hand.

Maximum Extermination

Another aspect to this story that makes it important in the chronology of Dalek episodes in Moffat’s era is the fact that it features the extermination effect, a staple of successful Dalek stories in early NuWho but sadly neglected during the tenure of the Eleventh Doctor. In fact, the extermination effect had not been used since Series 5. Rusty’s rampage through the Human ship, followed by the climactic battle between the Daleks and the Human soldiers, marks the first time the Daleks are seen doing what they are supposed to do on-screen in a long time.

Not only that, but the exceptional use of model shots during these action scenes is inspirational. The team used 12-inch RC Daleks for the bridge scene and again in the boarding corridor scene, and the results are really good. Practical effects are used for when Rusty turns on the Daleks and destroys them all, and the special effects team made excellent use of a stunt Dalek blown up in several different ways to depict the Dalek Assault Squad being destroyed one by one.

Doctor Who – Series 9 Daleks Explained

The mutual love of the Classic Series that both Steven Moffat and Peter Capaldi shared meant that the Twelfth Doctor’s era was packed with Classic Who references. Arguably the most overt were the appearance of several classic monsters, such as the Mondasian Cybermen, and spiritual sequels to several classic episodes, such as Genesis of the Daleks being continued in The Magician’s Apprentice and The Witch’s Familiar. The latter two-part story features the appearance of several iconic Dalek designs, seemingly with little explanation as to why they appear. Variants such as the Special Weapons Dalek, a Renegade Dalek, 1960s Dead Planet Daleks and even Dalek Sec. But why are so many different types of Daleks featured in this episode?

The Asylum Problem

The real-world answer for the diverse variety of Daleks in this story is that the production team, particularly Moffat himself, decided to use more Classic Daleks in response to the poor reception of Asylum of the Daleks. The dark lighting and dulling-down of the paint jobs on the props in the Asylum meant that they were difficult to recognise in the episode, and their limited screentime coupled with the fact that the Special Weapons Dalek was completely idle was seen as somewhat of a missed opportunity by fans. So, when the next chance to introduce more kinds of Daleks to New Who came along, Moffat took it.

The fact that the Series 9 opener featured the Dalek central control on Skaro meant that there was now a chance to populate the set with Classic Daleks in a well-lit atrium, rather than a dank dusty chamber. The Dalek props were sourced from a variety of collectors and prop manufacturers, and a few were even hired from novelty businesses. Some were accurate representations of Classic Daleks, such as the Renegade Dalek and Special Weapons Dalek props, but others were modified varieties, such as the bright blue 1960s Daleks. But what was the lore reason behind these Classic Daleks showing up again after all these years?

The New Dalek Paradigm

As of Victory of the Daleks, it can be assumed that the Daleks featured in the New Series are all members of the New Dalek Paradigm. It has been shown that the Progenitor Daleks and the Bronze Daleks are part of the same faction in the Dalek Parliament, and depending on when The Magician’s Apprentice and The Witch’s Familiar is set in the Dalek timeline, it could be that Skaro had been rebuilt for hundreds, even thousands of years before the Twelfth Doctor arrived to meet Davros. It is even possible that the Classic Daleks seen in the episode are survivors from previous wars that are kept safe at the heart of the Empire, as a form of experienced Elder Council. Or, the Daleks have been snatched from their own timeline to add their DNA to the pure Dalek race. Either way, it would seem that Bronze and Classic casings have replaced the Paradigm designs in the new Dalek regime.

However, it is clear from behind the scenes images that the Paradigm Daleks were on set, suggesting that they were originally to be included in the episode but were pulled at the last minute. As a previous Sacred Icon theory post suggested, the Paradigm could now be an elite time-travelling Dalek caste similar to the Time Controllers and Time Strategists of the Big Finish Audios. In that sense, the mainline Dalek Empire is composed of Bronze Daleks, with Classic Daleks appearing in the safe depths of Dalek space. Meanwhile, the Paradigm Daleks travel up and down the timeline, interfering when they see fit.

Russell-era Daleks

Another interesting addition to the Daleks seen in Series 9, however, are a particular set of Russell-era Daleks. The same kind of Dalek Supreme seen in The Stolen Earth and Journey’s End also appears here, although it is clearly a different individual as it displays a distinctly different personality from its 2009 predecessor. Whilst the previous Supreme shunned Davros and locked him away, the Series 9 Supreme shows Davros more respect and even praises him. The return of the red Supreme Dalek in this episode is a welcome addition, and is a clear deviation from the consistent use of the White Paradigm Supreme in the Matt Smith era.

The other significant Russell-era Dalek is the distinctive Dalek Sec, and as another theory post suggested, the fact that the Black Dalek featured here is definitely Sec going by the identification tag means that this Dalek is in fact Sec at a point in his timeline either before the events of Doomsday or, more likely, between Doomsday and Daleks in Manhattan. This is interesting as it suggests that the Cult of Skaro could have had more exploits between the ones we see on-screen that could potentially be developed in a Big Finish audio series.

Skaro Shenanigans

So now that the appearances of the forms of Dalek seen in Series 9 have been explained, hopefully the reasoning behind Steven Moffat’s decision to include them seems more clear. Many fans would agree that the appearance of Daleks from different eras of the show in the New Series is definitely welcome, but perhaps it should be used more sparingly. Hopefully if the Daleks return to battle the Thirteenth Doctor again, they adopt a standardised design whilst still retaining varieties like the Supreme Dalek and the Special Weapons Dalek, but fans can only hope.

Read More

Doctor Who – Big Finish Dark Eyes Box Set Review

When browsing the online catalogue of Big Finish audios, either via their site or through some other means like the Wiki, eventually the eyes of the curious will be drawn to the wide variety of Eighth Doctor Box Sets, starring Paul McGann among various other stars. Recent releases like Ravenous and the Eighth Doctor: Time War series are heavily promoted by Big Finish, and with good reason – the Eighth Doctor Box Sets were the pioneers of their kind, and the first four Dark Eyes box sets comprised Big Finish’s first complete four-set story line. So in many ways the Dark Eyes series, the set that started it all, is considered the progenitor for all other box sets. So how does this first box set hold up? Is Dark Eyes worth a listen?

Time and Space

Being the first box set of what would become the first series in what would become a huge range of Eighth Doctor box sets, Dark Eyes has a lot on its shoulders. Interestingly, the premise of the opening story is somewhat humble. Brooding and depressed due to a series of recent Dalek victories, the Doctor decides to take the TARDIS to the end of the universe, to see how things play out. Either the Daleks are stopped, in which case life can prevail, or they are not, in which case the universe would be overrun with nothing but Daleks. During this trip, however, the Doctor’s TARDIS is intercepted by another Time Lord, Straxus, who warns the Doctor not to go to the end of the universe and instead offers him what he wants most – a source of hope, in the form of Molly O’ Sullivan, a Voluntary Aid Detachment nursing assistant from World War One who has the eponymous ‘Dark Eyes’, and also seems to be the key to a Dalek plot to eradicate the universe.

In many ways, Molly’s introduction mirrors that of previous Eighth Doctor companion Lucie Miller, except rather than the Eighth Doctor reluctantly taking Lucie as his companion, in this case the companion is reluctantly recruited by the Doctor. Molly does take some getting used to as a companion – she calls the TARDIS a ‘Tardy-Box’ and is hesitant to believe anything the Doctor says, but throughout their first adventure they get to know each other and inevitably as the scale and stakes of the conflict they are sucked up into get higher, their friendship begins to blossom. Speaking of stakes, the Daleks have teamed up with a rogue Time Lord known as ‘X’, whom the Daleks call Kotris, and are attempting to use retro-genitor particles to wipe out the Time Lords completely. Kotris, having grown tired of the Time Lord’s hypocrisy and meddling in affairs, had made a deal with the nefarious Dalek Time Controller, a truly wonderful character played brilliantly by Nicholas Briggs. The best way to describe his Time Controller voice is as a sane and composed version of his insane Dalek Caan voice.

World War One and the Daleks

The World War One setting of the first story is a brilliant choice for a Dalek story, and the Daleks spend a lot of time creeping around and being uncharacteristically patient, not revealing themselves until very late in the story. The Doctor lands in France and is caught in a gas attack, which incapacitates him while his Gallifreyan physiology heals him. In the meantime, he is picked up by soldiers and taken for medical assistance, meeting Molly in the process. The first story in the box set is a great introduction to Molly as a character, as it first shows her in her time period dealing with the war before catapulting her into the much more threatening Dalek incursion that follows.

Overall, the Daleks are effective not just in the first story but across the entire box set. the Dalek Time Controller, as previously mentioned, is excellent, and the second audio in the set in particular depicts the Daleks at their most ruthless. Unfortunately, the series doesn’t dwell on the idea of Daleks in World War One, as the pacing begins to increase as soon as they appear. It is perhaps telling at this point that Dark Eyes may have originally been set to be eight episodes long instead of four, perhaps even as another series of the Eighth Doctor Adventures, and several ideas had to be crammed together into one story in order to condense the series into a four-part box set. Whilst this does allow for some fast-paced action and varied set pieces in the second audio, it also means that none of these ideas are particularly fleshed out.

The Arc and the Eyes

The best way to describe the story arc for the first Dark Eyes box set is as a tentative first step in what would become a long journey. And as first steps go, it makes some great progress. Throughout these first four audios the groundwork for the majority of the Dark Eyes series is laid, although the fact that the series was almost planned as it was being made means that not all of the vital elements of the Dark Eyes series are present here. One of the most iconic things about the Dark Eyes series, Alex MacQueen’s incarnation of the Master, does not appear until midway through Dark Eyes 2, although Kotris is a great antagonist and Toby Jones plays a great villain.

Molly O’ Sullivan gets a great introduction in this box set that not only sets up her character arc perfectly but also gives us a great idea of the kind of person she is, and how she reacts to situations bearing in mind the fact that she is from a time period that is now over one hundred years ago. Like the first series of the Eighth Doctor Adventures did for Lucie Miller, the first Dark Eyes box set presents Molly with a diverse array of challenges and testing situations to overcome, and as such the listeners glean a lot about her character early on. Although her demeanour takes some getting used to, Molly is an empathetic and charismatic character who pairs well with the Eighth Doctor.

So, is Dark Eyes worth a listen?

Absolutely, there is no doubt about that. The first Dark Eyes box set not only serves as an excellent introduction to the incredible Dark Eyes series, but each story is exciting and interesting in their own right, and not one of the four hour-long episodes in this box set feel like they are not pulling their weight. Big Finish does an excellent job of translating the Eighth Doctor into different release formats, from his debut in the Main Range to the New Who style EDAs and now the Eighth Doctor Box Sets. Paul McGann does a fantastic job with every story he is given, and he always gives it his all. Molly O’ Sullivan is a fantastic companion who has an excellent introduction here and the Daleks are as great as ever.

Read More

Doctor Who – Top 5 Monsters That Should Make a Return in Series 12

Chris Chibnall definitely delivered on his promise of featuring no returning monsters in Series 11, which was perhaps not the wisest choice for the debut series of a new Doctor and new showrunner. Usually, when a new Doctor is introduced, their first series will retain many recurring elements from the show’s history, to reassure viewers that it is indeed the same show. This is usually done by having the new Doctor face off against classic villains such as the Daleks, and is part of the reason why fans will always yearn for the show’s recurring villains to make continuous comebacks – as the show evolves, the essential aspects of the show’s identity must evolve with it, and there is no reason why new showrunners can’t introduce their own recurring villains, such as the Ood, the Weeping Angels or the Stenza.

Having said that, Series 11 featured a distinct lack of classic villains, and although Resolution turned out to be quite a good Dalek story, it ‘s status as a New Years Special means that it was not included as part of the eleventh series. This makes Jodie Whittaker’s debut series seem quite odd and out of place compared to previous Doctor debut series – and as a result of the lack of truly great villains in the series to stand in for the lack of classic monsters, the Thirteenth Doctor’s character came across as somewhat flimsy and vague compared to recent Doctors like Matt Smith and Peter Capaldi. Perhaps in response to feedback from fans, Chibnall seems to have lifted his ‘ban’ on including classic monsters in the series, as he has stated in several interviews recently that he intends to do more with the show’s iconic monsters – after all, there is no better way to define yourself as a showrunner than to present fans with your spin on the show diverse array of key elements – the Doctor themselves, the TARDIS, the Sonic Screwdriver, but also the classic monsters. So, without further ado, let’s take a look at the Top 5 Monsters That Should Make a Return in Series 11.

macra

#5 – The Macra

Though they may seem a strange choice for a returning monster, the Macra are actually quite a topical choice given the recent release of the animated version of The Macra Terror. This fantastic recreation of a lost classic using the original audio manages to capture the essence of the Second Doctor’s era and finally does the concept of the Macra justice, as their previous appearances in the original version of the episode and then in 2007’s Gridlock never managed to truly present the idea to its truest potential due to the sheer lack of budget. One of the things that Series 11 showed fans is that Doctor Who now has CGI to rival that of other modern sci-fi shows, and so now with Series 12 the writers might finally have a chance to write a new Macra story with the CGI budget to justify it.

two-masters.jpg

#4 – The Master

Audio producers Big Finish have been doing some very ambitious projects involving the Master recently – the first canon multi-Master story, The Two Masters, starring Geoffrey Beevers and Alex MacQueen, the War Master box sets starring Derek Jacobi, the introduction of the Master’s first incarnation played by James Dreyfus in the The First Doctor Adventures box sets, and more recently the return of Eric Roberts’ Movie incarnation and Michelle Gomez’ Missy, the latter getting her own audio series. With so many incarnations of the Master ‘active’ in fan’s minds at the moment, and with the Master also being a time-traveller like the Doctor, there is no reason why Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor couldn’t come up against one, or even several existing incarnations of the Master. Particularly good choices for Masters to go up against Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor on-screen include Geoffrey Beevers, who could be featured in heavy makeup or even as the voice of a CGI version of the rotting corpse Master, and Alex MacQueen, who has never had a TV appearance before but would be a fantastic choice to portray the charismatic yet sadistic killer to contrast Whittaker’s good natured Doctor.

time of the cybermen

#3 – The Cybermen

Having been primarily responsible for the death of her previous incarnation, it would make sense that the Thirteenth Doctor would have a bone to pick with the Cybermen. Not only that, but her diverse cast of companions perhaps best portrays the Doctor’s love of individuality and diversity – something that the Cybermen seek to destroy. Given that so far we have only been given one insight into Chris Chibnall’s take on the Cybermen, and that was Torchwood’s Cyberwoman, it would be nice to see Chibnall’s take on the standard Cybermen in the main show. Whilst Cyberwoman did have some really creepy and unique concepts dealing with Cyber-conversion in it, the unfortunate error with the costume design trying to emphasise the show’s adult nature derailed the episode. Now that he runs Doctor Who, however, Chibnall now has a chance to portray a fresh new take on the iconic metal men.

sontaran

#2 – The Sontarans

Having been practically transformed into a comedic joke during Steven Moffat’s era through Strax, the Sontarans stand in a sort of limbo-state at the moment, as all of their appearances – even ones that were not down to Strax – have been for comedic effect since Series 7, and at the moment it remains unlikely that they will ever make a return that can scare or intimidate viewers anymore. Interestingly, there were rumours during the run-up to the release of Series 11 that it would feature an episode that delved into the origin story of the Sontarans, how a ‘clone race’ was actually created, and how their warrior ethos came to be. Although it turned it to be false, the story idea remains a good one – and certainly one that Chris Chibnall could harness given the popularity of the concept.

dalek fleet

Honourable Mention – The Dalek Fleet

Included here as an honourable mention are the Daleks, or rather their Fleet, who should not make an appearance in Series 12 per-say, except maybe have them hinted at as a recurring arc for foreshadowing, as it and, of course, the pepperpots themselves should definitely reappear in the next New Years Special. The Recon Dalek in Resolution was prevented from sending a full transmission to the Dalek Fleet, but given that it was using every single transmitter on Earth at once, it is more than likely that something got through to them, and having Daleks on New Year is definitely something that many fans would happily adopt as an annual tradition.

stenza

#1 –  The Stenza

To give credit where it was certainly due, the Stenza were an interesting race introduced by Chris Chibnall, and as the only recurring enemy in the series, they are effectively Chibnall’s ‘poster’ villain at the moment. All the more reason for them to make a reappearance in Series 12, particularly considering the fact that we only saw an individual member of the race in the series and not, say, their homeworld. An episode called ‘Planet of the Stenza’ would certainly be an interesting concept, particularly as each warrior would have a unique appearance given the fact that each one hunts on a different planet – and so each one would have wholly unique teeth implanted into its face, presumably. How Chibnall manages the Stenza, his flagship race at present, will give us some excellent insight into how he will fare as showrunner in the future. Also, having the Thirteenth Doctor once again come face-to-face with the responsibilities of her prior actions at the hands of the Stenza might become a recurring opportunity to see some development in her character in Series 12, something that the show definitely needs at the moment. So, to sum up, the Stenza might not be the most accepted or appreciated aspect of Doctor Who at the moment, but they certainly have potential – so in a way, they are representative of Chibnall’s Who as a whole, which is all the more reason for them to make a return in Series 12.

UPDATE – Judoon in Series 12

As of May 2019, it has been confirmed that at least one returning villain will appear in Series 12 – the Judoon. Although they originally didn’t appear on this list, the Judoon are an interesting race that have been explored somewhat in spinoffs like The Sarah Jane Adventures and several Big Finish audios, and their ruthless and single-minded nature will certainly contrast with the Thirteenth Doctor’s personality. The on-set photos from Gloucester show some interesting tidbits about the Judoon, such as their new two-handed rifles and the interesting haircut of their commander.

Read More

Doctor Who – Resolution of the Daleks

Though it has been several months now since the release of Resolution, the only episode of Doctor Who in 2019, the full impact of the story still hasn’t sunk in. Despite the positive response that most fans had to Series 11, an undeniable flaw with the series was that none of the villains felt truly scary, and due to the fact that Chibnall has opted for a more child-friendly interpretation of the show than we have ever seen before in the New Series, each and every episode struggled to scare or thrill most of the audience. In that regard, Series 11 was a bitter failure.

However, fear factor is not the only criteria used to judge Doctor Who. In fact, by most people’s reckoning, Series 11 was a success as it managed to create an excellent jumping-on point, making the show more accessible to younger fans (who are, at the end of the day, the future of the show) and also establish a decent base that Series 12 can build upon. Had the ten episodes of Series 11 stood alone, then perhaps we would be more pessimistic – but Series 11 was saved at the eleventh hour by a certain upstart New Years Special.

To get it out of the way, it must be said that Resolution is no masterpiece. However, it is perhaps the best Dalek story of the decade, although there are several factors that blur this assertion not least being the fact that the episode has two plots running concurrently – the interesting plot, involving a single deranged Dalek going on a rampage after building itself a junk casing out of scrap, and the boring plot, involving a microwave salesman. Those who predicted that Ryan’s deadbeat dad would appear at some point in the series were proved right, perhaps a little earlier than they were expecting.

Throughout Series 11 one of the main recurring issues was the characters – not just the companions, but almost every character who appeared in the series. Often character motives or feelings would be expressed through expository dialogue, and whilst this is forgivable for one-shot characters who who get less than 20 minutes of screentime, but it is a poor way to develop a companion. Ryan was perhaps the most exposition-built companions of the bunch, and the vast majority of his dialogue had something to do with his dad walking out on him when he was a child.

The issue here is that, with Ryan’s deadbeat dad situation now resolved, what else really is there for him to talk about? According to Series 11, Ryan is a person who likes to talk about his neglectful father and mention that he has dyspraxia – and following Resolution, his potential topics of conversation have now been halved. Whilst this is a testiment to how flimsy Ryan’s character really is, hopefully in Series 12 the writers will use this clean slate oppurtunity to write Ryan as an actual character and not the flattest in a lineup of cardboard-cutouts. There is some great potential for this, as the scene in the diner in Resolution in which Ryan sits down and talks to his father is actually really moving, and proves that Tosin Cole has great potential as an actor. Hopefully the writers will have a long hard think about how they can use what Series 11 establishes to make Series 12 better.

With the wider concerns out of the way, it’s time to talk about what should be the primary focus of any Dalek story – the Dalek. And Resolution’s Dalek is probably the best singular example of the species that we have seen on the show since Dalek Sec. A cunning, manipulative and surprisingly boastful ‘Recon Scout’ who, after centuries of being trapped on Earth without a casing, has gone completely insane. The basic idea for the story is brilliant, and resembles the kind of imaginative idea you normally get from Big Finish rather than the mainline series – the Dalek mutant, separated from its casing, hijacks a woman’s body and uses her to get around, build a new casing and, of course, murder people. Credit has to be given to Charlotte Ritchie for her incredible performance as Lin, particularly once she has been taken over. The powerful stare coupled with the sickeningly gleeful smile when she carries out an extermination makes her a highlight of the episode, to the point where I was almost sad when the Dalek finally gets its casing back because we wouldn’t be seeing any more of Ritchie’s fantastic Dalek performance.

Neverthless, when the Dalek does get its casing, that is when the episode really picks up. An already respectable body count from Lin’s massacre is quadrupled as the newly-armoured Dalek takes on an entire platoon of British military, including a tank, and exterminates them all. As good as Moffat was at understanding the psychology of the Daleks and offering more nuanced takes on their philosophy, his Dalek stories lacked one vital ingredient – copius amounts of death. Resolution makes up for this by demonstrating the power of the Daleks and providing the first real threat that the Doctor and her friends faced in the entire series. For a one-off design, the Dalek itself is excellent – admittedly, when it first wobbled through the door for its dramatic reveal, my first reaction was to chuckle – the ramshackle parts coupled with the oddly offset design made it seem almost comical. However, we soon find out that this Dalek is just as deadly as its pristine counterparts – perhaps even more so. Whilst fans likely wouldn’t take to it as a standard Dalek design, the one-off Resolution Dalek must be praised for its unique design and thecreative implementation of the first example of a fully-remote-controlled Dalek prop in Doctor Who history.

Resolution proved a lot of things. It proved once again that the Daleks are just as fearsome as ever, it proved that a New Year’s Day Special can work, and it proved that Chibnall and his team can write an excellent Doctor Who story when they embrace the pre-existing aspects of the show that made it so popular in the first place. However, whilst fan reaction to Resolution were largely positive, there was something else that it proved – it proved that the Thirteenth Doctor will need to change as the series progresses.

In many ways, Resolution finally laid bare the primary issue with Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor, an issue that has plagued several great Doctors early in their tenure – she is almost impossible to take seriously, due to her child-like personality and bumbling nature. For a now-2000 year-old Gallifreyan Highborn the Doctor seems to have suddenly reverted back to the mind of a child in this recent regeneration – we have seen this happen before, as the Third, Seventh, Eleventh and Twelfth Doctors all started out with unstable or ‘silly’ personalities when they first appeared, and mellowed as their time on the show went on. Having a silly Doctor can work with the more whimsical episodes but when facing a threat like the Daleks the whimsicality has to drop and a serious tone must take over, otherwise the audience doesn’t stand a chance of taking the show seriously. As introductory seasons go, Series 11 certainly presents the Doctor as likeable, and Jodie Whittaker does a fantastic job with the scripts, but it doesn’t give fans much to go on in terms of the Doctor’s drives and ethos other than the generic ‘I like to save the day’ trope.

For this reason, the Thirteenth Doctor will have to undergo a dramatic personality shift as her tenure continutes. Undoubtedly this is what Chris Chibnall and the other lead writers have planned, but it would have been nice to see some hints as to what direction they want to take the character in Series 11 itself, to give fans who are unsure about the Thirteenth Doctor’s current characterisation some reassurance that she will mature as time goes on. The Eleventh Doctor, often regarded as among the most child-like Doctors, got a scene in his second episode, The Beast Below, in which he is confronted with an ethical dilemma so heartbreaking that the bumbling child-like exterior fell away and we got to see the darker side to the then-new Doctor early on. So far in the Thirteenth Doctor’s run we have had is a vague over-arching theme of family, which could foreshadow a dramatic plot development later in the show (such as the death of a companion) and another pseudo-theme of the Doctor accepting responsibility for her actions through the Tzim-Sha arc. These are interesting points that can be built on in Series 12, but are ultimately not enough on their own to shore up the Thirteenth Doctor’s lacklustre character development.

Overall, Resolution is a great episode that gives fans hope for big improvements in Series 12, but it is by no means perfect and, although fulfilling its role of bringing the Daleks back to our screens in a big way, it perhaps tried to be too many things at once by cramming nearly half a series of sideplots into a 50 minute story. Hopefully the future will prove Resolution to be a key turning point in the Thirteenth Doctor’s tenure, and now that Chibnall’s ‘pilot’ series is over we can look forward to a bigger, better and more bombastic Series 12 after what we saw from the New Years Special.

Read More