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Tuesday, 1 January 2019

REVIEW: Doctor Who delivers best special in a long time.


Returning to Earth on New Year’s Day, The Doctor (Jodie Whittaker) and her companions discover the buried remains of one of the deadliest creatures in the universe. Separated into parts by a Viking army in the 9th century, this merciless killer is preparing to take control of the Earth and destroy everything that lies in its path. A single Dalek is reconfiguring itself and only The Doctor can stop it from tearing Earth apart.

Beginning with a beautifully cinematic and awe-inspiring opening, Resolution hits the ground running with a terrifying first few minutes. The pacing of the script, like The Woman Who Fell To Earth, is spot on and it manages to hit each perfect timing mark necessary. There is never a moment when the episode feels too slow or too quick – either with the main plot of The Doctor facing off against the Dalek or the subplot of Ryan’s attempts to understand his father (Daniel Adegboyega).

Like The Woman Who Fell To Earth, Chibnall’s clear intention is to make the story as much like a movie as possible and it certainly has a cinematic quality to it, lent partly by the scale of the threat that The Doctor and her companions face but also through a combination of excellent camera work and impressive CGI. Seemingly taking inspiration from Gareth Robert’s excellent QuickReads Doctor Who novel, I am a Dalek, the best parts of the story are certainly seeing the Dalek operating without its casing and still being a real threat to the Earth.

By separating the Dalek mutant from its main body for most of the episode, you would think that Chris Chibnall may have made his script less effective. However, by showing how deadly a single Dalek can be even detached from its exterior, Chibnall, in fact, makes the creature much more menacing. During the scenes when it has taken over Lin (Charlotte Ritchie) and is exchanging barbs with The Doctor, the Dalek is much more blood curdling than any Dalek has been for a while.

Whilst the Dalek becomes somewhat more generic once it rebuilds its exterior, it still presents an exciting and dangerous opponent for The Doctor to face off against. The Doctor’s reigning in of her usually sunny disposition demonstrates to the audience the seriousness of the situation that our main characters find themselves in.


The acting from the cast is superb. Jodie Whittaker gets a chance to truly show how steely her Doctor can be and demonstrate that she can tackle her greatest foe any day of the week. The scenes between Jodie and the Dalek are excellent and demonstrate the mutual revulsion and contempt the two find for one another. It is perhaps a shame that more of the episode didn’t see The Doctor battle the Dalek but by keeping them at a distance Chibnall masterfully built tension which superbly paid off when the two met face to eyestalk. Jodie’s Doctor found her feet in her first episode, built in confidence throughout the series and stands tall as a truly great Doctor in this New Year’s Day Special.

Tosin Cole gives an excellent performance as Ryan Sinclair. Ryan’s character has been attempting to come to terms with the loss of his grandmother and cope without her support or his Dad’s presence. Ryan’s attempts to reconcile his feelings of pain from his father and how he has grown as a person together and Cole put his soul into his performance. It pays off an ensures that the subplot doesn’t feel forced or rushed but rather the natural resolution to Ryan’s arc.

Resolution is one of the stand out Doctor Who specials of the past few years. It combines a genuinely interesting reveal, which though spoiled will in the future be as appreciated as Earthshock, Utopia and World Enough and Time, with fantastic directing, an engaging script and a strong cast. Though the series finale wasn’t as spectacular as it could be, Resolution certainly makes up for that. It is a triumph of an episode and the best Dalek story the series has produced in a while. It’s only a shame we don’t all have a TARDIS so we can go to 2020 and enjoy the next series.

Contributed by Will Barber-Taylor

Doctor Who returns in 2020

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