January 3rd, 2021

Strange Shame

Blank of the Daleks

Happy tenth day of Christmas, everyone. Three days into the new year and the Daleks have already tried to conquer us with boredom. The new Doctor Who special aired on New Year's Day, "Revolution of the Daleks". How, exactly, it's a revolution isn't clear as Chris Chibnall delivers a premise that essentially pastes together Power of the Daleks, Remembrance of the Daleks, and "Victory of the Daleks". It's pasted together with a depressingly neutered return of Jack Harkness and piles and piles of lifeless, pointless dialogue amongst the dullest companions in the series' history. Also, director Lee Haven Jones shows astonishing lack of imagination, cramming our screens with repetitive closeups and dull locations.

There's a curious lack of extras in this episode considering it was filmed before the Corona virus struck. The press conference at Downing Street conspicuously looks like actress Harriet Walter was standing by herself with some Daleks as the impression of people standing off-screen is never convincingly established.

I'm guessing the show's weak performance in recent seasons led to a massive budget cut. The episode technically marks the Doctor's (Jodie Whittaker) first television visit to Japan except the scenes set in Osaka have absolutely nothing to show for it except a tiny sign in the background of one scene. We don't even see a single Japanese person in the episode.

Chris Noth returns as the sort of Donald Trump parody Jack Robertson and Chris Chibnall takes care to make sure his every single line is repulsive. When it's revealed the workers who cloned Daleks on Earth were "liquidised", Robertson says, "This is a PR disaster". Is that supposed to be funny? Or incisive? What?

I noticed Noth's character is credited only as "Robertson" despite being referred to as Jack throughout the episode. Maybe the makers of the show were uncomfortably conscious of the character's similarity to Jack Harkness (John Barrowman), whose aggressive flirtations and bragging were charming and amusing in 2005. Now people remember liking him but perhaps repress consciousness of why. Returning in this episode, he offers the Doctor only a gentle hug instead of a French kiss. His flirtations are restrained to calling Graham (Bradley Walsh) a "Silver Fox" and suggesting to Yaz (Mandip Gil) he might take her somewhere some day. A far cry from dancing with Rose by Big Ben during the Blitz. How fun this show used to be.

Harkness makes so little impression in the episode that it seems they forgot to make a farewell scene for him and had to settle for some audio obviously added in post-production in which the Doctor hurriedly bids him goodbye and he says he's going to visit a Torchwood character. This comes before Tosin Cole and Bradley Walsh make their farewells because Ryan has finally found his place on Earth. For some reason, Chibnall doesn't feel compelled to have Ryan tell us what that place is. To be fair, I don't particularly care. In a final, cringeworthy scene, the show finally remembers Ryan had a condition hampering his coordination and we see him trying to ride a bike again. I only wish that were the most awkward part of the scene.

I miss Doctor Who.