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Doctor Who Revolution of the Daleks

Review by Paul Bowler.

The Doctor and her friends face the return of the Daleks in the 2021 New Year’s Day special Revolution of the Daleks, written by Doctor Who show runner Chris Chibnall and directed by Lee Haven Jones whose Doctor Who credits also include Series 12’s Spyfall Part Two and Orphan 55. Locked up in a high-security alien prison, the 13th Doctor is isolated with no hope of escape. Back on Earth her companions Yaz, Ryan, and Graham are doing their best to continue their lives without her. Its not easy though, especially when they uncover a dark plot involving a Dalek!

When we last saw Jodi Whittaker’s 13th incarnation of the Time Lord in the Series 12 finale, The Timeless Children (2020), she’d been locked up in a space prison by the Judoon following the epic battle with the Master (Sacha Dhawan) and the Lone Cyberman’s (Patrick O’Kane) army of Cybermen in the ruins of Gallifrey. Although Revolution of the Daleks was filmed long before lockdown, we can perhaps sympathise with the Doctor’s plight and her sense of isolation in this friends without idea what’s happening back on Earth.

Meanwhile Graham (Bradley Walsh), Yaz (Mandip Gill) and Ryan (Tosin Cole) have had to adjust to life back in Sheffield while the Doctor is in space jail, and this episode highlights just how resourceful they can be in her absence.

Yaz is still determined to find out what happened to the Doctor, but the gang soon find themselves busy investigating a sinister scheme that’s been brewing with the Daleks. Trouble is, how can they possibly fight a Dalek without the Doctor’s help? Fortunately Captain Jack, played by the brilliant John Barrowman MBE, also makes a return for this New Year’s Day spectacular as the Doctor’s friends prepare to face their greatest challenge of all time!

As well as the welcome return of John Barrowman as Captain Jack, Revolution of the Daleks features a wealth of guest stars including Sex and the City’s Chris Noth who returns as scheming business man Jack Robertson from Series 10’s Arachnids in the UK (2018), making their Doctor Who debut are star of the stage and screen Dame Harriet Walter as a corrupt government minister, and TV star Nathan Stewart-Jarrett (The Trial of Christine Keeler) who plays the young scientist Leo Rugazzi.

Chris Chibnall’s pacy script for Revolution of the Daleks is packed drama, emotion, and bold action-set-pieces. We really become invested in the Doctor’s plight as she struggles with her incarceration, Jodie Whittaker gives a superb performance, and it turns out the Time Lords been in prison for a very long time indeed! Mandip Gill is also great as Yaz, who refused to give up on the Doctor in the last ten months since they returned to Earth in a spare TARDIS, and has almost becomes obsessed with finding her. She also keeps the gang together and takes the lead in their investigation into the Daleks. Fortunately, with with some help from an old friend, the Doctor manages to break out of jail and return to Earth. However, the reunion with he friends isn’t all plain sailing, and the Time Lord is still struggling to come to terms with the fact that everything she once knew about herself has now changed forever.

As you’d expect John Barrowman is quite simply “Fabulous!” as Captain Jack. His guest appearance in Fugitive of the Judoon was one of the biggest highlights of Series 12, and while the Jack who returns in Revolution of the Daleks is slightly older and wiser he’s still every bit as fun and flirty as ever! There’s a lovely scene in particular where Jack talks with Yaz about how she feels about the Doctor, and of course Jack knows all too well the thrill of travelling with the Time Lord in the TARDIS and also how it can feel when the Doctor leaves you.

Revolution of the Daleks not only picks up after the events of The Timeless Children but its also a sequel to 2019s New Year’s Day special Resolution, we get to find out what happened after the Dalek attacked GCHQ, and director Lee Haven Jones deftly balances all the drama, character arcs and Dalek action in fine style. 

This new year themed special of course features the return of the Doctor’s deadliest enemies, the Daleks! Last time we saw a Dalek was in 2019s New Year’s Day special Resolution, which saw the 13th Doctor confronted with a lone Reconnoissance Scout Dalek. Now boasting an updated casing reminiscent of that same steampunk Dalek design, this new glossy black Dalek design makes its debut here in Revolution of the Daleks when a fiendish scheme is unleashed to manufacture “defence drones”, but when the Recon Daleks mutant remains finds a fresh human host and begins cloning itself a new Dalek menace soon threatens the entire world. Even with Captain Jack on their side the Doctor’s friends find themselves  thrown in at the deep end, battling against impossible odds as a mass inter-Dalek conflict unfolds around them, and they must hold off the Daleks at all costs until the Doctor can find a way to defeat both of the waring Dalek factions.

Of course the Doctor eventually uses some clever slight of hand to save Earth in the nick of time help her friends fend off the Daleks, but this New Year’s reunion with her “Fam” will sadly be short lived, as this episode also marks the final appearance for Bradley Walsh and Tosin Cole as Graham and Ryan in the show. Their departure is an especially moving moment, and I doubt there’ll be a dry eye in the house as it unfolds.

Packed with thrills, spills, Easter eggs galore and a few surprises too, Revolution of the Daleks is a landmark event for the 13th Doctor’s era. It’s great to see Doctor and her friends go up against the Time Lords deadliest enemies, the Daleks, before the status quo introduced in The Woman Who Fell To Earth (2018) is changed forever. A spectacular sequence featuring the Daleks that was filmed on the Clifton Suspension Bridge is another big highlight of this New Year’s Day special, we also get to see Whittaker’s Doctor meet Captain Jack at last, there are fond farewells for the TARDIS team, and new adventures ahead for the Doctor and Yaz. Revolution of the Daleks is an emotional, action packed treat. It ties up many of Series 12’s loose ends, whilst also providing a moving coda for Ryan and Graham that beautifully bookends their travels with the 13th Doctor, and nicely paves the way for the next chapter of the 13th Doctor’s adventures. Series 13 will also see the Doctor and Yaz welcome a new travelling companion to the TARDIS when actor and comedian John Bishop joins the cast as ‘Dan’, and the new series will appear on BBC One later in 2021!

Images Belong BBC

About The Author

Hi, I’m Paul Bowler, blogger and reviewer of films, TV shows, and comic books. I’m a Sci-Fi geek, a big fan of Doctor Who, Star Trek, movies, Sci-Fi, Horror, Comic Books, and all things PS4.You can follow me on Twitter @paul_bowler,or at my website, Sci-Fi Jubilee, and on YouTube and Facebook