Doctor Who – Revolution of the Daleks Review

Doctor Who returned to our screens with a New Year’s special, and a special featuring The Daleks no less! Sadly it also features some of head writer Chris Chibnall’s worse aspects, especially some political jabs that were, thankfully, out of date by the time this episode aired, but therefore making them a rather unpleasant reminder. Still, it also featured the proper, full-on return of Captain Jack Harkness, who frankly stole the show! … So let’s take a look!

Synopsis:

As the Thirteenth Doctor marks her days in prison, elsewhere in the universe the Daleks are presented on national television. They are the new Defence Drones, designed to protect the British public.

Left behind on Earth, Yaz, Graham and Ryan need their friend more than ever. Now with Daleks on the assembly line, and a familiar face behind their production… What would the Doctor do?

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

The Good:

Jack bringing back the Squareness Gun… whilst looking terrified.

As I mentioned in the opening paragraph, the major highlight was John Barrowman’s return to the role of Captain Jack Harkness. He pitched it right back to 2005 Captain Jack, way over the top in a good way, and that really helped raise what was otherwise a slow affair. When we last saw The Doctor she was in prison, and it turns out she was in there for a good number of years before Captain Jack got himself arrested for the sake of freeing his friend. The two arrive back on Earth only to find out that it had been 10 months since she dropped her friends back, and they’re not too happy about being left in the lurch (which is rather unfair as The Doctor admits she was in “space prison” which was harshly ignored by her friends…) but soon the revelation that Daleks have been seen alongside… *sigh*, the returning Jack Robertson (Chris North) gives them something to shoot for.

This leads to a split-up, as Yaz and Captain Jack head to an off-the-records facility in Osaka while The Doctor, Graham and Ryan confront Robertson, though they soon bring him to Osaka (for… some reason). Yaz and Jack find a cloning facility making Daleks, and have to deal with a few face-hugger / spider-on-your-back scenarios, which are always good fun to watch. Everyone reunites in time to see poor young technician Leo Rugazzi (Nathan Stewart-Jarrett) being controlled by a Dalek mutant, revealing that the entirely electronic Dalek “Security Drones” that have been appearing across the UK are about to have cloned Dalek mutants teleported into them, leading to a good old bit of Dalek mass slaughter. I enjoy the new Dalek look, for the record, I know quite a few people didn’t… not that it seems to matter as The Doctor’s plan to destroy them is to call in a ship full of actual bronze Daleks, knowing they’ll immediately destroy the “impure” Daleks… which they do! Hooray! … except The Doctor then has to deal with traditional Daleks on Earth, which she manages to do using the spare TARDIS that brought her “fam” back to Earth in the previous episode to trick The Daleks into the ship and then making it implode (which seems harsh given TARDISes are sentient and all that…)

Throw in Jack, Ryan and Graham blowing up the bronze Dalek saucer and that’s the Dalek problem dealt with! Jack heads out off-screen, mentioning in a call he was going to meet back up with Gwen, and then we get a few send-offs. You see Ryan in the 10 months he’s been back on Earth has realised he rather likes being home, so asks to stay behind. Graham, while liking his adventures in space, would rather see his grandson grow up, so he also stays behind. There’s a rather nice closing scene with Ryan trying to ride a bike with Graham’s help again, just like the first scene we saw them in, and the two claim to be planning on using the psychic paper The Doctor has given them to do some Doctor-like Earth saving… While I’m not exactly heartbroken seeing the back of Ryan, I did always enjoy Graham as a character, but I’m happy they both got a good send-off either way.

The Bad:

Given I’ve already covered the rest of Doctor #13’s TV run, this is the last screenshot with Graham and Ryan in it I’ll post on this blog… maybe.

My main complaint is not only bringing Trump parody Jack Robertson back but also creating a Theresa May parody to go alongside him in Harriet Walter’s Jo Patterson. The last thing I want is a reminder of Theresa bloody May, and now he’s finally leaving the White House a Trump parody seems not only over-done, but completely unnecessary. Ugh and some of the lines they have Robertson say, facing up to a large-scale Dalek invasion of his own doing and Robertson worries about his insurance money… come oooonnn. Have him act a little human so I can believe he might exist, the actual Trump would run in fear and deny he had anything to do with it… I imagine. At one point he actually tries to sell-out humanity and join up with The Daleks… I mean, why? That’s just being a bad guy for the sake of it, he has nothing to gain seeing his own race be destroyed. He gets saved by Jack and co. and then we see footage of him in front of the Daleks had been mistaken with him standing up to them and now there’s “talk of his run for Presidency being back on the table”, which, let’s face it, means the Trump parody will reappear as President in the next series or next special, where it will be even more out-of-date and irrelevant.

I also have to say that the story did drag at points. There was a potentially nice chat between The Doctor and Ryan about the former not really knowing who she is any more, but sadly the dialogue was a bit clunky and Tosin Cole is still very wooden and one-dimensional in all his delivery, so it didn’t come off as touching as much as it came off as awkward. There were times I caught myself looking at the clock, showing that mentally I was losing my attention and that ain’t good! Especially for my favourite show, and a Dalek story no-less.

The Continuity:

There was something very pleasingly TRON about the new Daleks… shame we’ll probably never see them again…

Well, this is almost a straight up sequel to the previous Dalek-based New Year’s special “Resolution”, as the Reconnaissance Dalek from that story is the basis for the new Daleks seen here. As already mentioned it also features the return of Jack Robertson from the awfully titled “Arachnids in the UK”. Obviously Yaz, Graham and Ryan having a TARDIS and The Doctor being in prison was how we last saw everyone at the end of the previous episode “The Timeless Children”, and Captain Jack previously met The Doctor’s companions in the story “Fugitive of the Judoon”. Finally the last scene with Ryan and Graham matches their first scene from “The Woman Who Fell to Earth”.

As for non-13th Doctor continuity, Daleks have warred several times in the past, including the Seventh Doctor TV story “Renaissance of the Daleks” and the Eighth Doctor audio “Blood of the Daleks”, which actually saw a human make Daleks by mixing them with human DNA, so very similar to this one. Also in the Eleventh Doctor TV story “Victory of the Daleks” we see some older bronze Daleks that had gone through several mutations being killed for not being pure, though funnily enough the Daleks that killed them were soon written out for looking a bit shit…

There is also a reference to Jack becoming immortal and having his first death at the hands of Daleks in “Bad Wolf / The Parting of the Ways”, and a few brief appearances or references to other species and events that I’m not going to go into…

Overall Thoughts:

What The Doctor doesn’t know if that each of those marks represent a past version of herself she has yet to meet!

Revolution of the Daleks is a mixed bag. It has some highlights (especially Captain Jack) and I liked the new Dalek design (that has now been destroyed…) but there were so slow moments and some really embarrassingly on-the-nose parodies of politicians I’d rather not be reminded of while I’m trying to switch my mind off and watch Doctor Who… I guess a middling score it is then!

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