The Doctor Who New Year and Christmas specials have always had a fine line to tread. On the one hand there are the casual viewers, just looking for some holiday entertainment, and on the other Whovian’s, who are not known for the most forgiving of fandoms. Luckily this year writer and show runner Chris Chibnall managed to get this balance right.
Revolution of the Daleks was fantastic fun throughout; a dark horror that effortlessly mixed in moments of action, pathos, and comedy. Director Lee Haven Jones kept a good pace and let the story reveal itself in a natural progression. The moments with the unshelled Daleks controlling or attacking people might feel a tad like the Alien franchise, but were still horrifying. There were some great references to the Who universe. Jack mentioning Rose almost felt like a warning to the current companions and it was nice to have Torchwoods Gwen given a nod. Hopefully this means some new Torchwood Big Finish stories are on the way.
The episode also took moments from previous Dalek invasions. The initial Dalek attack was very reminiscent of the one in The Stolen Earth episode. The fighting between the two Dalek factions reminded me of the 1988 story Remembrance of the Daleks. Luckily these moments feel more like homage to the past rather than a lack of new ideas.
This was of course the swansong for companions Ryan and Graham. I will miss them both. Ryan because I feel his arc has not even had its surface scratched; there is so much more for that character to give the viewer. Graham was always my favourite of Jodie’s three companions. I will miss his funny comments. I do feel their final scene was a nice touch. Their arc has come full circle and they’re better people for it. The Doctor gifting them psychic paper does offer the chance of a spinoff or even a future cameo. Who wouldn’t want to watch these two investigating trolls in Finland?
As always John Barrowman gave his all too playing Captain Jack. I have missed his flirty confidence in the show. He and Jodie’s Doctor had some great interactions and hope he returns soon. The moment when he made Graham feel uncomfortable was one of the shows comedic highlights.
Post credits we were treated to the reveal of a new companion Dan, to be played by British comedian John Bishop. I could almost see Graham handing over the witty older man baton. John’s dramatic roles have been limited to a few episodes of serials like Skins and the Accused, plus a few small British films. I’m still hopeful that he’ll be as much as a revelation as Bradley Walsh or even Catherine Tate’s Donna.
Despite taking a couple of cues from another franchise and previous Who episodes Revolution of the Daleks is a fun horror filled action packed ride. With the quality of this episode and season 12, series 13 is looking promising already.
Marks out of 10: 9