Ten Thoughts About Doctor Who: Revolution Of The Daleks

Doctor Who: Revolution of the Daleks just aired on BBC One in the UK, and will be on at 8 pm on BBC America in the US. Americans, pop back then. There will be spoilers going forward. Also, know this, I like Doctor Who. I like Classic Who, I like Nu Who – Davies, Moffat and Chibnall – and have even written Doctor Who stories for the IDW comic book line. Some Doctor Who I like more than others, but I have Doctor Who blinkers on. Sometimes I love it, sometimes I am frustrated by it, but I never hate it. Onwards.

1. This Is A Sequel – And The Daleks Are Now The Police

Ten Thoughts About Doctor Who: Revolution Of The Daleks
Credit: Doctor Who, BBC, screencap

More than a follow up to the previous series and The Timeless Children, which saw The Doctor imprisoned by the Judoon for her ancient crimes before she even remembers being the Doctor, it is also a follow-up to the New Year's Day special from two years ago, Resolution Of The Daleks, which saw a recon scout Dalek, defeated by humanity in the 9th century, attempt to send a message to the Dalek fleet about the Earth being invade-able. That Dalek was destroyed, first its case by a microwave oven, then its own alien body, dropped into a Supernova. Graham, Ryan and Yaz returned to Earth in a TARDIS disguised as a detached family house. I am also told that the BBC, rather than streaming it live, put it up fast-forwardable on the BBC iPlayer at broadcast time, letting some sods skip forward to the very end first…

Ten Thoughts About Doctor Who: Revolution Of The Daleks
Credit: Doctor Who, BBC, screencap

Daleks are on Earth, but no Doctor, no UNIT, no Gallifreyans on board to help. And the Doctor in her space prison. But the world turns and the Dalek bits they left behind now have a new home. Doctor Who has always had an interesting portrayal regarding the police – a policeman was the very first character to appear in Doctor Who, she flies around in what looks a Police Box, something often commented over, and has worked with both the police and the world police, UNIT. She currently has a policeman as a companion, Yaz. But in tonight's Doctor Who, the police are the Daleks – and this may reflect certain changing attitudes regarding those meant to protect and serve. It's been a long year.

2. "Good Old JK."

Ten Thoughts About Doctor Who: Revolution Of The Daleks
Credit: Doctor Who, BBC, screencap

 

We have a Doctor in space prison, but she is not alone. We get a run through previous showrunners aliens, with Russell T Davies' Ood and Sycorax, Steven Moffat's Weeping Angels and The Silence, and Chris Chibnall's own Pting.

Ten Thoughts About Doctor Who: Revolution Of The Daleks
Credit: Doctor Who, BBC, screencap

 

Oh yes, and Captain Jack Harkness as well, which is handy. The first meeting of Jack and Thirteen was bound to bring up issues, considering John Barrowman's use of feature enhancing additives.

Ten Thoughts About Doctor Who: Revolution Of The Daleks

Though we have been here before…

 

Ten Thoughts About Doctor Who: Revolution Of The DaleksAnd the Doctor, someone who knows a lot about the fluidity and complexity of gender as a non-binary being is still happy to quote JK Rowling, as she did in The Shakespeare's Code, is an interesting choice, considering. The Doctor is not into cancel culture, she also likes Winston Churchill and Agatha Christie too, and they were awful people.

Ten Thoughts About Doctor Who: Revolution Of The Daleks

Or he did, Captain Jack also trips happily from one genre to another when talking to Yaz, in the 51st Century it's a different ballgame.

Ten Thoughts About Doctor Who: Revolution Of The Daleks

Ten Thoughts About Doctor Who: Revolution Of The Daleks

3. The Daleks Back In Downing Street

Ten Thoughts About Doctor Who: Revolution Of The Daleks

We have government minister Technology Secretary Patterson commissioning a Dalek defence force of security drones, working alongside the police, and pushing her into a newly-vacated Prime Ministership, with a politician's concerns always on display.

Ten Thoughts About Doctor Who: Revolution Of The Daleks

The comparisons to ambition and ruthlessness of current Home Secretary Priti Patel and the former home secretary-turned-Prime Minister, Theresa May and her own "hostile" immigration policies, are clear.

Ten Thoughts About Doctor Who: Revolution Of The Daleks

We see Daleks working on the immigration borders and defending "national monuments" thought we don't get to see a statue. Of course, this isn't the first time we've had Daleks in Downing Street, does no one remember the war anymore? Churchill must have left some papers behind. Lots of flag-waving, just before it gets incinerated. You'd have thought she might have learned from what happened to Harriet Jones. This is the second British Prime Minister to be exterminated by Daleks after all.

4. The Art of The Dalek Deal

Ten Thoughts About Doctor Who: Revolution Of The Daleks

We have the return of the Trump-alike entrepreneur  Jack Robertson, funding the Dalek programme and calling the Dalek programme the iPhone for security.

Ten Thoughts About Doctor Who: Revolution Of The Daleks

Built from the casing seen in Resolution Of The Daleks, his ambition is purely one of business, making deals and betraying whoever he needs to in that service. However, he does have his limits, and growing actual Dalek aliens is something he finds an anathema. Still happy to betray all of humanity later, of course, but not when things get icky.

Ten Thoughts About Doctor Who: Revolution Of The Daleks

And his biggest objection to the big science reveal is about the paperwork involved…

5. Trust The Science?

Ten Thoughts About Doctor Who: Revolution Of The Daleks

That was the creepiest of lines. Because you have the do-gooder scientist Leo Rugazzi in the classic sci-fi mode as defined by Isaac Asimov as "clunk clunk aargh, there are some things mankind is not meant to know". The circumstances that allow for the return of the Daleks are not played for and got, they are accidental, and relying on different people doing the wrong things all at the same time, without the knowledge of the other, and all with their own justifications.

Ten Thoughts About Doctor Who: Revolution Of The Daleks

And we get a reference to another British politician, Michael Gove, Minister for the Cabinet Office, who talked about people having had enough of experts during the Brexit referendum. With Robertson, seeing what Rugazzi has done, declares "This is why people don't like experts".

6. Pure Dead Brilliant

Ten Thoughts About Doctor Who: Revolution Of The Daleks

Now and then, you forget that the Daleks are Nazis In Space. So now and then, Doctor Who has to remind you quite blatantly. And nothing does that better than good old Dalek Vs Dalek battles over the purity of their species. And some excellent shade being thrown as well, reminiscent of the Cybermen/Dalek smackdown from Doomsday. When Dalek fights Dalek, everybody wins. We probably see them kill more individuals in this episode than any other, from the Prime Minister to the people running through the streets before turning on each other. And we get the original Nu Who Daleks back as well as the iDaleks.

7. Bigger On The Inside

Ten Thoughts About Doctor Who: Revolution Of The Daleks

Because this is the kind of thing that drives this episode of Doctor Who. Plot, plot, plot, plot, picking up on previous story strands but then doubling, tripling down to fit a movie into a long episode of Doctor Who – and it kinda works. Emotional sob stuff is mostly left till the end. No cafe talks over microwaves. Everyone has a role to play, even Yaz, Graham and Ryan, and they dive into it with only a momentary quizzical eyebrow raised by Captain Jack. The Doctor is doing what she always does, turning people into weapons, suicide bombers, zealots. I mean, still, they are up against Daleks, but Captain Jack's description of being left by the Doctor eventually does ignore that it's usually for the companion's own good. But at least we get a brand new use for TARDIS Time Lord technology when fighting a foe…

8. The Timeless Doctor

Ten Thoughts About Doctor Who: Revolution Of The Daleks

We get a little of what makes the Doctor tick now, courtesy of Ryan, addressing where she is after The Timeless Children. No idea who she is, what she is, what she has done, and still a fugitive for the intergalactic law. And in dealing with the Daleks, willing to take the biggest risks of all. Have the revelations given her an "anything goes" attitude along with her anger? She would make a good Dalek.

9. Yaz And The Metallic Population

Ten Thoughts About Doctor Who: Revolution Of The Daleks

You can take Ryan and Graeme out of the TARDIS, but you can't take the TARDIS out of them. Ryan may be home with his mates, still trying to ride a bicycle with Graeme, but they have ambitions abroad. There are alien stories to be investigated without the Doctor. And they have a little present which all the spin-off media will no doubt pick up on.Ten Thoughts About Doctor Who: Revolution Of The Daleks

Notably, Ryan is able to gain greater perspective when talking to The Doctor – but Yaz can't see past her presence.  Sleeping in the abandoned TARDIS, angry when the Doctor returned and committing to staying right away, even as Ryan is making his excuses to leave.

Ten Thoughts About Doctor Who: Revolution Of The Daleks

When Yaz does leave, it will be very messy indeed. You won't be able to take her out of the TARDIS at all.

10. NewsknightedTen Thoughts About Doctor Who: Revolution Of The Daleks

Emily Maitlis, the woman who took down Prince Andrew on Newsnight earlier this year, seems to have much less radar when it comes to Jack Robertson, even as he is in line for special honours. Surely she can spot someone dodgy at a hundred paces? You let us all down on this one, Maitlis.

References:

So, so many… we still have Gwen Cooper from Torchwood.,

Ten Thoughts About Doctor Who: Revolution Of The Daleks Ten Thoughts About Doctor Who: Revolution Of The Daleks

Person, man, woman, camera TV?

Ten Thoughts About Doctor Who: Revolution Of The Daleks Ten Thoughts About Doctor Who: Revolution Of The Daleks

And this was a nice reprise as well…

 

Ten Thoughts About Doctor Who: Revolution Of The Daleks
Doctor Who,
with John Bishop, will return later in the year, coronavirus restrictions permitting. He recently caught the coronavirus and he and his wife really suffered with it. I think he needs a Doctor.

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About Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.
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