Doctor Who: Revisiting RESOLUTION - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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Doctor Who: Revisiting RESOLUTION

Tony approves of Junkyard Chic.

It’s a fan-based fallacy that you don’t really become the Doctor until you face off against the Daleks. Yes, the First Doctor faced them immediately, and if he hadn’t, the show is unlikely to have survived. Yes, the Second Doctor too faced them immediately, and the Fourth Doctor wandered about their creation myth in his first season. But Jon Pertwee didn’t meet them till his third season. Neither did Peter Davison, when he was en route to a Spectroxy fate staring at Nicola Bryant’s cleavage. Sylvester McCoy, like Pertwee, had a first season entirely Dalek-free – and his encounter with them at the start of his second season marked a radical re-think of the show’s tone, as well as his Doctor’s.

The thing about doing a full series of Who using no returning villains (or in McCoy’s case, just the one), is that it’s a gamble you have to nail. It can be a brilliant way to create new villains that people want to see again and again, as in Season 7 with both the Nestenes/Autons and the Silurians becoming firm favourites, and also delivering The Ambassadors of Death and Inferno into the bargain to drive the show’s new direction home to viewers. Or it can be Season 24.

The number of people clamouring for a return engagement with the Bannermen or the Tetraps probably speaks for itself there.

Resolution has the feel of Thirteen’s Remembrance of the Daleks – after a ropey first series in terms of villainy and Doctoral definition, it’s an attempt to bring the new Doctor into focus.

The initial voice-over exposition is tedious and plodding, but then it actually starts to settle to something – geeky couple discover odd thing, accidentally re-animate Dalek. High-quality mutant visuals, all to the good. Perhaps better than both is the treatment of the caseless Dalek trying to find its way to safety, and from there to subjugation of the planet Earth. The way it’s written is intelligent, and the combination performance from Charlotte Richie as Lin and Nicholas Briggs as the Dalek voice makes the pepperpots of terror scary again in a way they haven’t been for a while. What’s more, the Doctor’s actions in this story feel inherently Doctorish again, as they did on too few occasions in Series 11, especially when she declares ‘Me and a Dalek – it’s personal,’ and ‘I learned to think like a Dalek a long time ago.’

Where Resolution falters, it falters in pacing. The whole Dalek-trying-to-get-back-to-a-casing-and-kill-us-all thread is excellent, fast, adrenaline-driven stuff. Having the mopey father-son discussion cut and pasted into the middle of all that is like driving down the motorway at 80 miles per hour and suddenly slamming on the handbrake.

And the humour. Oh dear gods of ancient Skaro, the humour. The tired, torturous business with UNIT being suspended and replaced by a call centre – no. The entirely under-introduced family who now have to have a conversation with each other – no.

The Junkyard Chic Dalek? Yes, pretty cool for a one-off, and it made sense within the arc of the story. At the time, it seemed impossible that it would be a re-useable redesign of the Dalek, but if you think of it as the ‘Special Weapons Dalek’ of the story, it’s a rather fun addition to the army of on-screen Daleks.

And the Doctor. Ohhh the Doctor so very nearly works all the way through, only to be undermined by the script at the very end, when, having Done Something Clever, and Done Something Brave, Chris Chibnall can’t let the Doctor have her victory, but instead transfers it to Ryan’s dad in a schmaltzy ‘love conquers all, I’m still here for you son’ ending that presumably adds an extra layer of nose-tapping relevance to the ‘Resolution’ title.

Resolution overall is one potentially really good Dalek story cut-and-shunted with an episode of angsty British soap in a way that absolutely shows every cutting-point and shunt-shock, and tries to sell itself to us on the basis that cut-and-shunts are a good thing. The pacing therefore has the front legs of a cheetah and the back legs of a duck, leading to a desperately uneven feel. But it’s a mark of the uneven nature of Series 11 that this still has the essence of a Remembrance of the Daleks moment – a subtle redefining of this Doctor’s character, honed in the fire of meeting her first Dalek, which, we hoped, would lead to bigger and better things in Series 12, once the training wheels came off and the Thirteenth Doctor was allowed to encounter a more fundamentally dangerous universe.

Tony lives in a cave of wall-to-wall DVDs and Blu-Rays somewhere fairly nondescript in Wales, and never goes out to meet the "Real People". Who, Torchwood, Sherlock, Blake, Treks, Star Wars, obscure stuff from the 70s and 80s and comedy from the dawn of time mean he never has to. By day, he runs an editing house, largely as an excuse not to have to work for a living. He's currently writing a Book. With Pages and everything. Follow his progress at

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