Squandered Potential And Haphazard Pacing
It’s hard to know where to start with Doctor’s Who’s New Year Day special, Resolution. With the promise of an old enemy returning to the fray and expectations at an all-time low, the bar seemingly couldn’t drop any lower for show-runner Chris Chibnall. While early parts of the episode show promise, somehow Doctor Who squanders its potential with inconsequential plotting, the return of Ryan’s Dad and yet more political agenda-driven scenes. Between the generic score and the questionable parasitic/hybrid storyline, Resolution feels like a filler episode at best and one of the worst Christmas Specials since Doctor Who returned at worst.
The story begins with a prologue explaining how, back in the 9th Century, an ancient creature was cut into three parts and buried at separate points across the world. Or at least it would have been but for one of the travelers being shot with an arrow and mugged. From here we skip forward to present day where an archaeological dig in the sewers of Sheffield have caused the parts to psychically come together again, bringing with it the return of a deadly enemy for The Doctor to contend with. To make matters worse, Ryan’s Dad is back, ready to make amends.
Herein lies the biggest problem with the episode. In a bid to try to give Ryan more characterisation, this hour-long episode splits its run-time between long, predictable segments of Ryan and his Dad talking with the return of one of The Doctor’s iconic villains. What we’re left with is essentially two plots in one, with one feeling very much like Doctor Who and the other feeling like something ripped out of Hollyoaks. With the one character who had the biggest problem acting last season. The Dalek story begins as a nod to the Daleks In Manhatten episode during Tennant’s run as The Doctor, teasing the return of a human/Dalek hybrid. Thankfully, this storyline isn’t rehashed and instead The Doctor is forced to go up against her old foe as The Dalek redesigns itself out of scrap metal in a very questionable look.
All of this builds toward a climactic finale with the whole gang coming together to thwart this deadly foe, with help from a trusty microwave oven and Ryan’s Dad. This then results in one of the most contrived, forced exchanges between two characters I think I’ve seen in quite some time as Ryan is ready to forgive his Dad and move on as they stop the Dalek together.
The political agenda writing is back with a vengeance too, and this time it comes in the form of our relationship with technology and Brexit. The latter in a telephone exchange where we’re told UNIT has been shut down due to financial austerity. The former, from a scene I’ve actually gone back and rewatched three times to make sure I wasn’t imagining things. With wooden acting and an unblinking face, a woman and her family bemoan their Wifi being switched off, monotonously declaring now they’ll have to have a conversation together. This one scene may well go down as one of the worst I’ve seen from a show of this calibre for quite some time.
Now, it’s something I’ve touched on briefly with the series as a whole but with the departure of composer Murray Gold, the music in the show hasn’t had the same magical touch to it from before. Most of Season 11 failed to inspire much in the way of audible resonance and Resolution follows suit. During the show’s hour-long run time, generic action themes and orchestral segments void of emotion really take you out of the action. Combined with the pre-2000 CGI thrown in during the Dalek fight, Doctor Who’s production standards have really fallen quite a long way, which is odd given the more cinematic feel to the camera work we’ve been graced with.
Much like the Dalek itself, Doctor Who is a shell of the show it once was. I take no pride in seeing Doctor Who sink to the level it has but compared to previous specials and seasons of Doctor Who, Resolution proves one thing – Chris Chibnall cannot write. The characters are lacklustre and the plot poorly constructed, hampered by inconsistent pacing. It’s a such a shame too because Jodie’s Doctor has the potential to really push Doctor Who to higher heights than ever before but there’s too much here, even with this special, to ignore and look past. What a shame.