TV Review: ‘Doctor Who’ 2019 Special – “Resolution”

New year, new dangers…

d who - resolution

The Doctor (Jodie Whittaker) and her friends welcome a new year as a deadly threat to humanity looms (image credit: BBC, used for illustrative purposes only).

Starring:  Jodie Whittaker, Tosin Cole, Bradley Walsh, Mandip Gill, Daniel Adegboyega, Charlotte Ritchie, Nikesh Patel, Nicholas Briggs

Written by:  Chris Chibnall / episode directed by:  Jamie Childs & Wayne Yip

What’s it about?

The Doctor faces a new challenge from an old enemy as a new year on Earth dawns…

In review

In a break from tradition by foregoing a festive edition of Doctor Who on Christmas Day, the BBC instead brought viewers a special hour long episode for New Year’s Day (and the only new Doctor Who for 2019 with series 12 due to air in autumn 2020).  In “Resolution“ Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor once again faces her oldest and greatest enemy when a lone Dalek mutant, buried on Earth centuries prior is revived and blazes a path of terror as it sets about constructing a new armour casing and fulfil its plans in summoning a Dalek invasion fleet.

Jodie Whittaker’s debut series has been interesting if a little uneven (despite a strong premiere) and although “Resolution“ gets off to a sluggish start it shifts into higher gear as it moves into its second half.  It may not be the best Dalek story but it’s still a good one and like Steven Moffat before him, Chris Chibnall gives us something fresh and unusual from Doctor Who’s most iconic monster.  Although the Dalek creature itself is separated from its casing and weaponry it doesn’t diminish the threat of the Doctor’s enduring adversary and demonstrates the intelligence and ingenuity of a resourceful and dangerous foe (its MacGyver style method of constructing a new casing undoubtedly being a highlight of the episode) as it controls, or ‘pilots’ an unwitting human host (archaeologist Lin, played by Charlotte Ritchie) to accomplish its mission. Kudos should also go to voice artist Nicholas Briggs who continues to bring the Daleks unsettlingly to life, never failing to succeed in conveying the pure evil and ruthlessness of the alien menace.

Jodie Whittaker continues to make her mark in the role of the Doctor with an enthusiastic and quirky performance, she perhaps comes across a little too energetic at times but non-the-less continues to prove her worth as the titular lead character of one of SF TV’s most beloved series.  Facing Whittaker’s Doctor with the Daleks early on in her run is a wise move as it always provides the opportunity for any actor in the central Doctor Who role to bring their talents to the next level and a test of the resolve of any incarnation of the character.

There’s also a bit of social commentary thrown into the mix as we learn that the operations of UNIT, the security and defence organisation with a long association with the Doctor, have been suspended due to funding – a victim of the uncertainties of Brexit?  It’s also a bit of a shame (and a missed opportunity) as the prospect of teaming Jodie Whittaker up with Jemma Redgrave’s Kate Lethbridge-Stewart surely has a lot of merit.

Ryan reconnecting with his estranged father serves to further flesh out not just Ryan himself but also his ‘gramps’, Graham and their relationship.  Tosin Cole and Bradley Walsh both turn in solid performances (and guest star Daniel Adegboyega is also effective as Ryan’s father, Aaron) and whilst those scenes threaten to drag out the pace and verge on being a little soap opera-y they still have narrative importance and facilitate emotional pay-off in the final act.  Consequently there’s less for Yaz (Mandip Gill) to do in this episode (supporting the argument that the TARDIS may have been overcrowded this season) but she still has a part to play and gets her own moments to shine.

The climax of “Resolution“ (capably directed by Jamie Childs & Wayne Yip) is a tense and exciting affair, with great special effects, well-staged action scenes and reasonably tight drama with a poignant and satisfying outcome.  With Whittaker and Chibnall’s first full season in the bag, capped off with this enjoyable New Year’s Day adventure here’s hoping that the series hits a more consistent stride next year.

The bottom line:  An entertaining special to round off a hit and miss debut season for Jodie Whittaker, “Resolution” renews the threat of an old menace that raises the stakes for the Thirteenth Doctor and her friends.

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7 thoughts on “TV Review: ‘Doctor Who’ 2019 Special – “Resolution”

  1. Great review. I agree, Resolution rounds off Jodie Whittaker’s good, if a little uneven, first sereis in the role of the Doctor. Series 11 has overall been a successful run for the series, and hopefully series 12 will build things further. Lets hope we see some more classic monsters return as well 🙂

  2. Really fascinating review, Chris. I like how you balance out all the good and bad in this one. I also had to look up what the Dalek creature looks like and… wow… That’s one ugly thing. I am however glad it wasn’t a complete flop and that there were some things that were worth sticking around for. The social commentary part was also intriguing; I’m not sure if it’s actually common in this show to have them or if it’s a rare “gift” to run into them on some episodes though. Again, great review, good sir! 😀

    • Thanks Lashaan, the social commentary element is generally always a part of Doctor Who – it’s a bit like Star Trek in that sense but in this case it was a little bit more on the nose (it seemed pretty obvious to me they were referencing the current Brexit situation).

  3. Another solid review that echoes my thoughts on the special. This was a more grounded version of a Dalek than some of the outlandish episodes we’ve seen and thus was more interesting.

    One thing you pointed out that is becoming apparent is that the show is a bit crowded. I half expected Ryan’s father and the guest stars to join the Doctor at the end. There are a couple of hints that the show may shed a Companion or two, but we will see.

    • Thanks very much, it’s funny that you can get other shows such as Star Trek with a cast of half a dozen or so main characters but for some reason Doctor Who becomes a bit messy one there’s more than two companions plus the Doctor. It’ll be interesting to see where things go in the next series.

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