A Holiday Special for Doctor Who
My son has recently gotten into Doctor Who (Yay!) randomly through the animated Dalek YouTube series that I posted a review for recently. With this being the case, I have tried to look for some of my favorite Dalek episodes for him to watch, and especially ones where there is lots of action and plenty of talking by everyone’s favorite evil space squids. looking through an episode list for the Jodie Whittaker seasons, I noticed that the recent New Year’s special featuring the Daleks was not part of the Amazon season packs that I had purchased.
As you all know I am way behind on this current generation of the show simply because I’m not a gigantic fan of the showrunner (Chris Chibnall) at this moment and I am slowly slogging through it. truthfully, I have actually enjoyed quite a few of these episodes, but stupid things happen in various episodes that make me consider waiting until the 60th anniversary run up to be honest. Love them or hate them Davies and Moffatt at least took pretty good care of the show, something I cannot say for the current administration.
“The Doctor is locked away in a high-security alien prison. Isolated, alone, with no hope of escape. Far away, on Earth, her best friends, Yaz, Ryan and Graham have to pick up their lives without her. But it’s not easy. Old habits die hard. Especially when they discover a disturbing plan forming. A plan which involves a Dalek. How can you fight a Dalek, without the Doctor?”
In many ways this is a competent Dalek episode in that it crosses all the Ts and dots all the Is that you would expect in such an episode, but it almost plays it too safe. in many ways, this comes across a lot like a lot of Dalek episodes in that the focus of the narrative is that they have been pushed to the brink of extinction and some random occurrence causes them to clone themselves and re-create a new wave. We all know these new Daleks will then be killed by the end of the episode, making them simply exist as a way to sell some new toys. This has happened about every five years since the show came back, starting all the way back in 2005 with the episode simply titled Dalek. I would consider the Daleks my favorite Doctor Who villain, but much in the same way I grew tired of the Borg in Star Trek, I sometimes grow weary of new episodes because they seem to re-tread old ground far too often.
At its core, this felt like an older Dalek episode in a lot of ways, which is definitely a good thing, and the new designs are pretty cool looking. I’m still not sure how I feel about their new ability to take over people’s minds being a common thing they now do, considering that never really happens in previous episodes (that I recall). I lean towards liking it, because it gives uncased Daleks a way to be menacing on their own. John Barrowman as Captain Jack Harkness was cool to see, especially since he returned to form as the more care-free version of himself and not the bitter, depressing old man we saw in Torchwood.
This was generally a good episode until The Doctor unveiled her plan to stop the Daleks by the utilization of a SECOND TARDIS, she apparently just happened to have in her back pocket in order to implode it killing all of the Daleks inside then sending it into the void of time. There’s a lot to unpack here, so bear with me. Why would The Doctor have access to a back-up TARDIS? Yes, they escaped Gallifrey in one, but when did she put it in the “main” Tardis? The last time we saw it, it was basically Yaz’s house. Half of the episodes in the past twelve years revolve around moments where The Tardis Crew is stuck somewhere due to The TARDIS being shut down, or gone, temperamental etc. If this was even an option, why was it saved for this random situation? Moving on from that to our next topic:
WHY WOULD THE DOCTOR MURDER A TARDIS? The Tardis isn’t just a machine. It has been established that The Tardis is a sentient life form for decades now. Going back to even the classic series, the audio dramas, the books, and most notably in the very much Canon show, especially in The Doctor’s Wife. The Doctor hates to take any lives, so why would she do this? My answer is That Chris Chibnall is a poor choice for showrunner, and this exemplifies it.
I don’t want to be THAT GUY, sitting around my house furiously watching the show that I love, but annoys me now, only to gain ammunition for the multiple Internet wars that I plan to engage in. This sort of bitter disappointment in the show is something that annoyed me when I got back into the Doctor Who fandom in 2005 and all of the classic series fans were furious about every little thing that Russell T. Davies created or did. But, and that’s a big but, with plot holes as egregious as this one, it’s hard to stand by and defend anything about how this was handled.
Up until that point, I was about to say this was one of the better Dalek episodes that have been released in the past few years. Now that I’ve seen the totality of the episode, I still think it’s a good episode with an absolutely bafflingly bad ending. It’s one of those endings that they’re going to have to jump through hoops to fix later in the show if the show wants to keep going. They’ve had bad endings before, in Victory of the Daleks, The Doctor convinced a robot that he’s a human and made him feel love to save the day – I cringed, but it was okay. This is much worse for a multitude of reasons. In many ways, the Chris Chibnall era of Doctor Who reminds me of lot of Star Wars: The Last Jedi in that it’s not inherently terrible but makes so many bad choices that it comes close to actually ruining the show in the long run. Chibnall Makes careless writing decisions that have no regard for established lore, and if the show has any sort of continuity consultant, they should honestly be let go for allowing that to go through.
I suppose if it all leads to a situation where The Tardis didn’t actually implode and we have a future episode where The Daleks are commanding one as a warship, I might be less salty on this. That still doesn’t excuse The Doctor’s malicious action, and I feel my armchair writing is not likely to happen.
This was a decent episode that was ruined for me. Sure, some of the acting comes across as stiff, which is odd because it’s from actors I know don’t usually do that. Captain Jack was a sight for sore eyes, and we see one of the pivotal moments in the show regarding companions leaving The Tardis Crew. These are all things that should make the story stand out and be memorable, but it will always be overshadowed for me. What a shame that such a baffling plot device was put into the story, and especially as a Deus Ex Machina that magically saves the day. I will soldier on and watch more, but stuff like this makes it rough.