RogerBW's Blog

Doctor Who 2/11.11: Resolution 15 January 2019

Chibnall continues to do far more than his share of the writing, but manages a thing that hasn't happened for a while: an end-of-year special with an actual story, rather than a sequence of scenes showing off how cool the protagonists are.

It's not even particularly tied to the idea of the new year, other than taking place then; there's none of the sluggish generic sentimentality that the Christmas specials increasingly pumped out, and I think it was a good idea to move it away from the Christmas Day slot in order not to disappoint people who'd come to expect that.

Of course, then we get:

"I always think I'm rid of them. Never am."

Yeah. Well, they were certain to be brought back eventually, weren't they, dusted off yet again, shocked back into life and wheeled out to do the same old thing they always do? But until this point I had been enjoying this season's courage in not taking the easy option of bringing back old foes.

The morning-after-the-first-kiss setup is frankly manipulative; yeah, it works, but it's crude. Also crude: bringing back Ryan's father, and expecting us to care about him all of a sudden so that when he's put in peril at the end of the episode it's supposed to matter. (And all that stuff with the microwave oven which seemed as though it ought to be leading up to something, but the final result could have been done just as well by rummaging in the TARDIS bits box.)

So basically the writing grade is Standard Chibnall, which isn't all that great, but isn't as bad as some previous seasons have been. The cast does a game job but they have very little to work with. At the end of it all, it's just another episode, nothing like as good as the show can get but nothing like as bad either.

  1. Posted by Michael Cule at 11:55am on 15 January 2019

    I liked the Dalek-on-my-back idea and rather despised the fact that he felt he had to say this was a special 'scout' Dalek to explain why they had never done that before.

    I understood why he felt he had to write out UNIT and liked the political dig he got in with it but I got irritated by the bit where the Dalek zapped the soldiers to death. It seemed to be put in to emphasise how unprepared and helpless Earth governments were... but why was the Dalek diverting from its path just to kill some soldiers? It was flying off to get in touch with the Fleet and just had to land to do a bit of random extermination?

    I got the feeling that Ryan and his dad reconciling was the bit that Chibnall really wanted to write. He gave it more screen time than the other elements, certainly.

  2. Posted by RogerBW at 12:22pm on 15 January 2019

    When that scene with the soldiers started, I was expecting it to be the first step in setting Earth's forces against each other. But in the end it was just a scene to look cool and use up the budget, with no significance to the story.

    (If you want to say "it's effortlessly superior to the military forces of Earth", it's much easier to restrict them to dismounted infantry. Start scaling up and there's no end to it. Even that AFV – a Scorpion, I guess – just invites speculation about what happens if there are two AFVs.)

    And while I could understand draining all of the country's power in order to send a signal, what in the name of the Black Goat is draining all of the country's communications supposed to mean? Answer, an excuse for a throwaway joke.

    The reconciliation felt to me, well, like most Chibnall heartstring-tugging moments: cheap and contrived.

  3. Posted by Ashley R Pollard at 05:47pm on 16 January 2019

    I thought it was inevitable that a Dalek would appear in one episode. IIRC it's in the contract, otherwise rights revert to Terry Nation's estate.

    Happy to be corrected if I'm wrong.

  4. Posted by Owen Smith at 05:52pm on 16 January 2019

    The Ryan's dad stuff was indeed highly annoying. Predictable, but annoying. I just wanted them to skip it and get on with the story.

    The stupidity of using an AFV as the largest thing to attack the Dalek really annoyed me. If they wanted to show that properly, having a Challenger tank hit it with the main gun would have fitted much better. We may be British but enough of the population has seen real tanks on TV (on Top Gear for example opening a safe) to know that wasn't one. In the McCoy days Ace used to take out real Daleks with an RPG-7, yet here some home made mild steel is supposed to be better?

    I don't understand getting rid of UNIT. It's such a huge waste of potential future story lines, thrown away for the sake of one weak joke. All they had to do was have the doctor not call UNIT, logical consistency has never been an issue for Dr. Who.

    To me a much better episode for showing how tough Daleks are is the 2005 first season NuWho episode "Dalek". Bullet time shots showing bullets melting before meeting the Dalek's armour, overhead shots showing the weapons section rotating independently, other exciting shots I've forgotten. It was so good it had me cheering. Alas none of that has ever been repeated, to the detriment of how menacing Daleks seem. Oh and the Russel T Davies era Dalek just looked so damned good, like a Dalek that Apple and Aston Martin would have co-designed with all the screwheads on the coach worked lined up.

  5. Posted by RogerBW at 08:42am on 17 January 2019

    Ashley, as I understand it it's much more complicated than that. Certainly Terry's estate always tries to demand creative control over their appearances (much as Terry did when he was alive), and there's always a need for negotiation, and there were a lot of lies told when the series was revived, but the actual details don't seem to be public. If you have a solid source I'd be happy to know more.

    Owen, remember that this is the same TV-watching population that mostly didn't laugh at reports of "tanks helping secure Heathrow" when what was being talked about (and shown) was lightly-armoured reconnaissance trucks with machine gun mounts. I suspect that to a lot of the population one military vehicle is very much like another. At least this one had tracks and a gun.

    Also, I'm sure UNIT will be back next time some scriptwriter decides they have a use for it. As some guy said, logical consistency has never been an issue.

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