Doctor Who Review: “Revolution of the Daleks”

Doctor Who‘s next season will be, according to showrunner Chris Chibnail, “on telly straight away,” just as soon as they can finish shooting.

Meanwhile, we have this New Year’s Day Special, with the Doctor, her companions, a pair of Jacks, and the show’s most iconic foe.

Pity none of these can help us with COVID.

Title: “Revolution of the Daleks”

Directed by Lee Haven Jones
Written by Chris Chibnall

Cast
Jodie Whittaker as The Doctor
Tosin Cole as Ryan Sinclair
Mandip Gill as Yasmin Khan
Bradley Walsh as Graham O’Brien
John Barrowman as Captain Jack Harkness
Chris Noth as Jack Robertson
Nathan Stewart-Jarrett as Leo Rugazzi
Harriet Walter as Jo Patterson
Nathan Armarkwei Laryea as Armen
Helen Anderson as Rachel
Sharon D. Clarke as Grace
Nicholas Briggs as the voice of the Daleks
Emily Maitlis as herself (BBC Newsnight)

Premise

The Dalek casement, surviving from a previous episode, becomes the template for automated security devices. Everything goes awry, with the involvement of actual Daleks, the British prime minister, and some returning characters.

High Points

Chris Noth and John Barrowman play an impressive pair of Jacks.

Cole and Walsh shine as Sinclair and O’Brien, and I like the idea of the pair of them heading off on their own adventures, perhaps in the spirit of The Sarah Jane Smith Adventures (no such series had been announced, and the spoiler appears largely because, with the actors’ departures known, we weren’t certain if they would survive.

Low Points

The companions’ dickishness towards the Doctor never really gets addressed. So she was gone for almost a year, their time. You’d think they’d show a little more sympathy for the fact that she was imprisoned for decades, her time.

And speaking of leaving things unaddressed, the handling of Robertson at the end neither gets explained properly nor does it really make sense. It functions as a dark joke/satiric comment about privilege and certain people (wealthy, politically-motivated entrepreneurs born to advantage through wealth, race, and sex, say) and, doubtless, as an opportunity to reuse the character in the future, but it leaves a sour taste.

The Scores

Originality: 2/6

Story: 4/6 The story draws from recent continuity and it moves along and provides entertainment, thus meeting our expectations for Doctor Who. It also features a number of sloppy developments. Not only does the Dalek ship feature its usual lax security, the handling of the rebuilt Dalek casing in the opening, by people who know this thing is dangerous and might be sought by others, is a stretch. They couldn’t spare one security person?

The Doctor’s final gambit relies rather heavily on the Daleks all doing the same thing. While the Daleks are nothing if not predictable, they usually exhibit better strategy than we see during the battle of the Tardis.

Of course, no one on earth, even in positions of power in Britain, recalls the Daleks.

Acting: 5/6 The leads are strong. The supporting performances feel rushed.

Emotional Response: 5/6 The episode moves quickly, given how much it contains. The massacres feel disconnected from the plot; the death of someone, anyone, who we cared about might have helped here.

The emotional interaction of the Doctor and the companions worked better, and an appearance by Captain Jack always promises a good time.

Production: 6/6 This episode brings back a number of past villains in cameo, and features some nice shots of the stair-conquering Daleks in flight.

Effects: 5/6

Overall: 4/6 It’s good to see the Doctor back, even if we have to wait for new episodes, and those episodes will involve the fact that the last season not only reinstalled “The Last of Her Kind” Syndrome, but also made her “The Chosen One.” Some people are okay with these developments. I find them unnecessary, unoriginal in the extreme, and inimical to the spirit of the Doctor.

In total, “The Revolution of the Daleks” receives 31/42

3 replies on “Doctor Who Review: “Revolution of the Daleks””

  1. lost says:

    The Robertson thing is almost certainly supposed to leave a sour taste. I do kind of wonder if they did have some sort of explanation for it and it got cut because it made even less sense.

    As far as nobody remembering the Daleks goes, that’s kind of a meme these days, isn’t it? How did the Doctor put it that time? Something about the human capacity for self delusion? Then again, how do we know someone didn’t raise red flags and get beaten down? It’s pretty clear that politician was as corrupt as they come.

    • JD DeLuzio says:

      Right. There’s “Leaves a sour taste” because it represents an unfair reality and “leaves a sour taste” because they don’t both to explain how it makes any sense in context.

  2. > You’d think they’d show a little more sympathy for the fact that she was imprisoned for decades, her time.

    She never told them, that. I was listening for it, she just apologizes for being gone so long.

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