Doctor Who: Series 13 (or 38 depending on how you count): Episode 1: Revolution Of The Daleks by Chris Chibnail (review).
‘Doctor Who’ is back and she’s been imprisoned by the Judoon. While waiting for the latest season to start, you do have to wonder what the Doctor is arrested for? I mean, outside of the Time Lords, there are very few time travelling species. I doubt if the Daleks or Cybermen would want the Doctor handed over to the local space judiciary. Also, what crimes is she guilty of? Is it for all her regenerations or the section of time she is currently in? This really does need some exploration.
OK, warm-up over, the first section of this review will contain SPOILERS but at the end I’ll go to COMMENTS where I’ll just give comments. Which won’t contain so much of them. Try to watch the 75 minute episode first of all. I’m putting some details in the right places as it answers some questions I raised.
The remains of the surveillance Dalek hijacked instead of going to a secret depository. Leo Rugazzi (actor Nathan Stewart-Jarrett reworks the chassis for Jack Robertson (actor Chris Noth) who in turn is selling it to the latest female Technology Secretary, Jo Patterson (actress Harriet Walter), as a means to stop riots. Do we really have that many in the UK? You would have thought there might be some apprehension considering how many times the Daleks have tried to conquer the Earth to the pepper-pot shape.
Meanwhile, the Doctor (actress Jodi Whittaker) has been imprisoned for some 17 years by the Judoon for 7000 offences and evading the Judoon. This does raise some odd questions. I mean, why hasn’t the resourceful Doctor tried to escape? She’s surrounded by tech and doesn’t make a move to get around it, let alone improve her repetitive diet and the availability of chalk. Considering how in early regenerations she has made a good argument for her decisions to law enforcers of her own people, why not the Judoon or the people they are answerable to? All right, she has been mulling over the revelation about her own background as given by the Master in the pervious story over a year ago but the Doctor is a Time Lord/Lady of action, it does seem a bit crazy for her not to escape.
Back on Earth, Yaz (actress Mandip Gil) has been trying to work out how to fly the TARDIS having been left with an ID coding so they are recognised by it. Graham (actor Bradley Walsh) and Ryan (actor Tosin Cole) go to see her and show footage of the new Dalek prototype and they need to stop it. Not successfully when they confront Robertson whose security escorts them away.
Back to the prison, it has taken 19 years for Jack Harkness (actor John Barrowman) to get to the cell next to her after committing crimes to get interned. They escape and back to the TARDIS.
Leo Rugazzi shows Robertson a clone of the Dalek he’s created and told to incinerate it, except he’s later taken over by it instead and over in Osaka, Japan, creates a clone factory to breed more organic Daleks.
The Doctor returns to Earth and finds 10 months have passed as the TARDIS doesn’t return her to exactly after she left and hears about the new Daleks and has the means to get to right places.
They go to Robertson who shows them the 3D Security Drones, not Daleks, pointing out they don’t contain any organic matter. He doesn’t know about the factory in Osaka where Jack and Yaz have gone to investigate and discover the cloning factory and get set to blow it up.
A lot of meantimes here as Patterson becomes the new Prime Minister and then introduces the drones who use water cannons than a disintegrator weapon. Let’s have a ‘however’, at the factory, all is revealed and the Dalek clones are sent to the drones and their extermination program begins to take over the Earth.
Now we get to DEEP SPOILER.
The Doctor calls the Dalek Death Squad to destroy the new Daleks. They leave but Robertson stays and tries to convince the Squad of his benefit to them. Harkness, Ryan and Graham see Robertson’s betrayal and telling them the Doctor called them.
Part 2 of the Doctor’s plan is for Harkness to go to their Squad ship and destroy it. Ryan and Graham volunteer to help him.
Should I tell you what happens next?? Nah! If you’re reading here before watching, then you can go and watch it for yourself by now on Netflix or something.
The thing about modern storytelling and something we should be used to is scene jumping and making assumptions that certain events happened in things we missed. Take the Doctor and Harkness arriving back on the TARDIS. She gets her clothes back but no sonic screwdriver but where does Harkness get his time watch back from? There had to be a stopover on the way to Earth to get it and presumably his own clothes. You would trhinkshe would at least have had time to manufacture another sonic screwdriver or whatever she calls it now. Hey, its TARDIS where time is no obstacle and we have to assume something like that happened that way. I doubt if Harkness concealed his watch the same way he kept the device he used for them to escape. They also missed a line when Harkness meets the Doctor and should have said, ‘You’ve changed’ when they met. After all, he hasn’t met this regeneration yet nor expressed any surprise. In fact, he still refers to the Doctor as a ‘he’ in his chat with Yaz.
Patterson’s rise to PM doesn’t appear to based on the drone reveal so we aren’t privy to how she became Prime Minister. You would have thought she would have been privy to UNIT’s files on alien invasions as part of her brief.
There are a lot of stops for character scenes, well four anyway and one where you have to ask where the rest of the people in TARDIS went. The two significant ones are where Harkness explains to Yaz what its like travelling with the Doctor. The other is Ryan with the Doctor explaining how much he’s matured in the 10 months she’s been missing.
In many respects, Jack Harkness is the Doctor’s weapon and does all the dirty work for her and is essentially more the planner than instigator and probably more the travel guide, speeding things up with the TARDIS. I hope show-runner Chris Chibnall makes her more up front in the season to follow. The Doctor really does need to make her more pro-active.
Speaking of which, the Doctor and Harkness are also escaped prisoners of the Judoon, whom we only see in flashback to the previous episode, so have another crime to add to their list. There really ought to be some resolution to this or she’ll end up back in the clink sooner or later. I’m not asking for a simple explanation here just a clever resolution than dismissing it out of hand and going on. If it was such a serious threat that the Doctor stayed locked up for 17 years (presumably based on terrestrial years), the Judoon shouldn’t be under-estimated that they won’t try to do it again.
Considering what Jack Harkness says to Yaz, it does seem odd that he decides to stay on Earth than hang around with the Doctor. Maybe he’ll pop up again
Now, the above shouldn’t denigrate too much from the main story. The basic plot of Daleks getting a regenesis is something we’ve seen in the past, even if the Dalek Death Squad has not. Presumably, all of this interference with their own DNA and adding human DVA impurity has been frowned upon on high and the Doctor got wind of it in some lore we haven’t seen. Everything else revolves around that and how things are resolved. The rest has been the resolution of the TARDIS crew changes which have all been sorted with some logic that goes back to when they were first assembled and no doubt going to be explored later in the year with its abbreviated 7 or 8 episodes, depending on whether you include this extra-long episode. Certainly 75 minutes does give a lot more breathing time in the story, soaked up mostly by the character scenes than plot development. If I want to see any areas for development is in plot. Again, the Doctor really needs to be more pro-active in the stories.
Take a deep breath and awaiting the time for the next season to begin.
© GF Willmetts 2021