New Year’s Day Special
The Doctor Who Christmas Special has been a huge part of the BBC (and indeed UK TV in general) Christmastime schedule since the series was revived in 2005. But 2018 marked the first time they hadn’t done one since then, which meant that 2018’s Christmas TV schedules felt there was a big gap in them.
Instead though, there was a special episode broadcast on New Year’s Day. This was quite clever in one way, as series 12 isn’t going to be ready for broadcast until 2020, so this way they are going to be able to say that Doctor Who was on in 2019!
Series 11 had no monsters/aliens which had been in earlier series, while ‘Resolution’ had the ultimate Doctor Who antagonists, almost as associated with the show as the title character, and who are expected to be seen every series even if it is just a cameo. None other than…
… The Daleks! Their comeback was never explicitly stated, but there were rumours in the press (which were probably “leaked” deliberately), and the official TV trailer had the voice of the Daleks saying “Exterminate!” at the end.
The episode begins with a flashback introduction going back to the 9th century. Human rival armies joined together to defeat a common foe. The joint army became known as The Order of Custodians, and the foe became known as “the impossible opponent”. In the end, the opponent was defeated – though it was a very close call. Its body was cut in three pieces and buried in separate places around the world. One piece went to the South Pacific, one went to Russia, and one went to England.
Unfortunately, the person carrying the set of remains to be buried in England was murdered by robbers, who had no idea of the significance of what he was carrying. So his body and what he was carrying were covered by ground over time, until they were dug up in an archeological dig in what was now present day Sheffield.
The bag carrying the parts of the monster is exposed to ultraviolet light, which wakes it up. It then teleports the remains buried elsewhere, and reassembles itself as a whole.
The TARDIS team get a signal to come back to Sheffield, specifically to the sewers where the archeological dig is taking place.
The two archeologists there are Lin (Charlotte Ritchie) and Mitch (Nikesh Patel). Lin finds a tentacled creature on the walls!
By the time the TARDIS team arrive, the creature has gone, leaving behind slime. They think it must have gone into the water, and as that is the sewer system it could be anywhere in the city!
It turns out to be closer than they think. It has attached itself to Lin, and is controlling her. She tries to fight against it, but it is too powerful at this point.
The TARDIS goes back to Graham’s house. Someone starts ringing his doorbell. It is Ryan’s father, Aaron (Daniel Adegboyega). Aaron says he wants to “turn over a new
leaf” as it is New Year’s Day.
Ryan and Aaron go to a cafe to talk. Ryan is still angry with Aaron for abandoning him when he needed him the most – after his mum died, and for not coming back after
his gran died. Aaron says that sometimes by the time you realise you’ve made a terrible mistake the damage is done. So he chose to run away. Ryan doesn’t see this as a valid excuse, unsurprisingly.
The Doctor runs some DNA tests on the slime, and finds to her horror that it is Dalek.
Meanwhile, DalekLin has researched information about Earth’s defences and is now speeding down the motorway. She is stopped by two police officers, kills them both and
steals their police car and uniforms.
Yasmin brings Mitch into the TARDIS. He knows the story of the Order Of Custodians, which gives the Doctor more information. She manages to track the Dalek and Lin down – they are together. She figures out that the Dalek is using Lin to move about. It also manages to send an electric shock back to the TARDIS. This is a particularly advanced Dalek!
DalekLin goes to a weapons research company, kills the security guard and steals a weapon. It is a Dalek death ray which was being held at the facility. Then she goes to a farm, kills the farmer and starts welding using scrap metal. The Dalek is making itself a new casing, which it needs to do as it is weakening from being outside of one for so long, so Lin is finally able to fight it off. But by now it has its armour and more weapons. After an encounter with the Doctor, the Dalek says it will summon a whole fleet of Daleks, and flies off.
The army has been called to fight the Dalek, but they are no match for it, even with a tank! It kills a lot of them, makes its way to Government Communications HQ, kills some more people, and intends to use the satellites to signal the other Daleks to come and invade Earth.
The TARDIS team, plus Aaron, Lin and Mitch, come in, put the parts of a cheap microwave which Aaron had been trying to sell onto the Dalek, which heats up and fries
the Dalek’s casing! The casing is destroyed, but the Dalek itself is still alive, and takes possession of Aaron. It wants to be taken back to Skaro by the TARDIS. The Doctor says she agrees – but as we all know by this point, the Doctor lies. Instead she takes it to a sun going supernova. The Dalek is sucked into the sun, though it’s a close call as Aaron almost goes with it until Ryan pulls him back.
The title of the episode ‘Resolution’ was apt for a New Year’s Day episode, as resolutions are something people make on the 1st of January (which they more often than not break or forget about by the 1st of February, if not sooner).
The episode was directed by Wayne Yip. I really liked a lot of the Dalek related visuals in this episode. The Dalek remains being buried in sand in the island of the South Pacific cut with another set of Dalek remains being buried in snow in Russia. A hologram when the Doctor is talking to DalekLin is in a cold blue light when she is talking to the Dalek, and in full colour when she is talking to Lin. The vision of a melted steel casing of the Dalek was good too.
After we had the Doctor constructing a makeshift sonic screwdriver “with added Sheffield steel” in ‘The Woman Who Fell To Earth’, now we have her arch nemesis using the same method to make a casing. The Doctor isn’t a fan of the Dalek’s new look though, calling it “junkyard chic”.
The TARDIS team mention they have just seen 19 New Year’s Eves in a row. They seem to be in a good mood, but I can’t help but think of the ‘Itchy & Scratchy Land’ episode of The Simpsons, which includes a bar called TGI McScratchy’s “where it’s constantly New Year’s Eve”. Marge says to a waiter “it must be wonderful to celebrate the New Year over and over and over!” – but the waiter is suicidally depressed, and it turns out the bar gets a lot of people attempting to jump off the top of it.
We discover in this episode that UNIT has been “suspended pending a review”. Money has been pulled out of it, possibly due to Brexit!
I was a bit shocked to find out that Aaron was Grace’s son! I had assumed that Grace was Ryan’s maternal grandmother, not his paternal one. That makes Aaron not attending Grace’s funeral even more callous than I thought! Not coming over to support his son is one thing, but Grace was his own mother!
I liked the Doctor referring to a doorbell as “an intruder alarm”.
The joke with a family having to talk to each other because the internet went down was… a bit lame, to be honest.
I get the whole purpose of the Daleks is to be crazed killers, and that you need to have high stakes etc, but the way this episode had such a predictable pattern of introducing characters for no other reason then to kill them off right away and shove them aside got very irritating. Especially as they established one of them was gay almost immediately before he got killed. Lin didn’t seem to give much of a toss that she’d been used as a tool to murder a bunch of people either. Yes, I know it wasn’t her fault, but, still.
All that aside though, this was one of the most enjoyable episodes in a while! It was great to see the Daleks back again. (Well, one Dalek anyway). The monsters had been the worst thing about series 11, so having an old favourite back was good. Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor vs. the Dalek was a highlight, and the sort of thing that was missing from series 11.
It is a shame there’s going to be no more Doctor Who until 2020 though.