Broadcast Date: 01 January 2019
Written By: Chris Chibnall
Featuring: 13th Doctor, Graham, Ryan and Yaz
Bringing back a favourite monster to the show and tightening up the script and cinematography, “Resolution” may well be the best Doctor Who episode set in the present day under the helm of Chris Chibnall.
*Warning: This review contains some spoilers”
One of the biggest strengths about “Resolution” is that the writing and cinematography felt sharper immediately, from the explosive battle that signposted the mythology of the episode at the start. Since the TARDIS crew are facing a particularly nasty Dalek, the added action sequences make sense. However, even the parts where The Doctor (Jodie Whittaker) and the cast discussed the situation saw an improvement in this. Gags regarding the TARDIS breaking Graham’s favourite chair upon landing and a frustrating phone conversation with a lady in a military call centre also felt like they got to the point a lot quicker than they would have done in other episodes in series 11.
As one of Doctor Who’s most iconic and memorable villains, the Daleks nonetheless have overplayed since the show’s revival in 2005, with not much changing over the past decade that have been that successful. Viewers have seen Daleks take over the minds and bodies of others to make them their slaves, but the idea of the creature’s squid body attached to the back of a terrified human whilst it uses them as a vessel was one of the most memorable images in this episode – more so than the reconstructed Dalek armour itself. Again, the camera cuts and effects add to the psychological horror of these scenes, making them more effective than they would be without them. The increase in body count also makes this episode feel much darker than most of series 11, making it feel stronger as a result.
While the Dalek was running amok in and around Sheffield, Ryan (Tosin Cole) is surprised by the arrival of his father, who has kept his distance throughout the series, not even attending his mother Grace’s funeral. The best aspect of Chibnall’s era of the show so far has been how he has centered episodes around the home life or problems the TARDIS crew have. This episode sees some great scenes between Aaron (Ryan’s father) and Ryan, and between Aaron and Graham. Another benefit about getting rid of much of the waffle in the script that plagued certain parts of series 11 is that scenes like this can still be placed into an episode where there is a lot going on but still feel sharp and full of that trademark Chibnall down-to-earth feeling. It feels like Chibnall and the rest of the writing team are starting to learn from what wasn’t so successful in their first season, which gives me more hope for the future.
Though this is consistently one of the best episodes of Chibnall’s tenure so far, particularly for one set in the present day, it is not a completely perfect run. Poor Yaz (Mandip Gill) completely sinks into the background, with a pair of archeologist guest characters and Aaron having more input than she has, whilst Graham (Bradley Walsh) is sidelined for most of the middle act of the episode. Even with so much going on, three companions still feels one too many in parts; I have not seen the TARDIS so crowded in the climax of the episode since every companion (and Jackie Tyler) joined the Tenth Doctor back in “Journey’s End”. Also, whilst it is a bit of a gag and a reason to back up Aaron’s presence in the episode, the microwave gag did feel out of place in the crux of the episode. However, this is consistently stronger than most of series 11 and I enjoyed watching this episode, even if it did take me almost a year to get around to it!
“Resolution” could well be the Doctor Who episode that is the turning point of the show with Chris Chibnall at the helm. The action, script and cinematography feels much tighter and more to the point, allowing the episode to flow better and include many more important lines and pieces of character development, as well as bringing a fan-favourite villain in a new and terrifying guise.
Star Rating: 4.5/5
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So that was my last review of the eleventh series of the modern-day revival of Doctor Who. But more posts relating to the show will be coming out soon, as series 12 begins with “Spyfall: Part 1” on New Year’s Day 2020. If you want to look at all of my Who reviews in one place (including audio books), then click on the link here. Below is a video previewing the new series of the show and I hope to hear from you soon in upcoming reviews!