*This is a spoiler-free review.*
Doctor Who’s festive special Revolution of the Daleks has been long-awaited by fans – and it doesn’t disappoint.
Considering the chaos that the coronavirus pandemic has wreaked on every industry this year, it’s a bit of a miracle that we’re able to watch a Doctor Who special at all.
There’s no doubt that the cast and crew worked endlessly to make it safe to be on set and, at the end of a horrendous year, escaping it all to watch our heroes fight the Daleks is a wonderful bit of normality and nostalgia.
The episode opens with the fam of four in crisis as the Doctor (Jodie Whittaker) is trapped in space prison, while Yaz (Mandip Gill) is desperately trying to get her back, to the point of obsession.
Graham (Bradley Walsh) and Ryan (Tosin Cole), meanwhile, are more focused on Earth, as strange occurrences start happening.
Of course, it’s the return of the Doctor’s oldest enemy, the Daleks, and the trio – along with the returning Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman) have got to figure out a way to defeat them.
Doctor Who has a history of absolutely mad Christmas episodes, from The Christmas Invasion to The Runaway Bride, but it’s clear showrunner Chris Chibnall, along with director Lee Haven Jones, have played it safe this time around.
From the get-go, the special proves to be a treat for old-school fans, providing everything from references to episodes past, to a couple of heart-wrenching lines that are a quick reminder of the more painful parts of the Doctor’s history.
At the same time, it works as a standalone episode – an essential element of the festive special, which is sure to be watched by everyone from die-hards to first-time viewers.
The storyline is cautious, and could even be called reminiscent of plot points from past Dalek episodes. However, it doesn’t feel like a detriment to the special as a whole.
The Daleks and Christmas can only mean one thing from Doctor Who – a good bit of nostalgia, and it certainly delivers on that front.
The guest stars hold their own, with Chris Noth sure to get under viewers’ skin as the slimy Jack Robertson, while Harriet Walter is great as the oblivious Jo Patterson, although is sure to remind some fans of Penelope Wilton’s Harriet Jones.
The details of Nathan Stewart-Jarrett’s role should be kept under wraps, but his performance is particularly impressive and is sure to be one of the most memorable parts of the episode.
Fitting well with the nostalgia theme, Captain Jack’s comeback was only ever going to be delightful and John returns to the character like he was never away.
Jack is, as always, charming, funny, and a breath of fresh air and it honestly feels like his sporadic comebacks will never get boring.
In short, long live Captain Jack.
Charming immortals aside, by the end of the episode, of course, we’ve come to Bradley and Tosin’s departure, after the pair announced they would be leaving the sci-fi following the special.
Honestly, it felt a little underwhelming – until the last scene, which hits unexpectedly hard. Seriously, have some tissues ready.
It’s a fitting tribute to the bond Graham and Ryan have built up over the series, and the mark Bradley and Tosin have left on Doctor Who.
Although there’s no doubt the pair are set to see tons more success in projects outside of Who, it’s clear they’ll be missed in a big way.
Throughout the episode, it feels as if the writers are trying to ease viewers into Bradley and Tosin’s departure and one happy side-effect is that Mandip really gets to shine.
Yaz has always been shown to be intelligent, but it feels like she really comes into her own this time around, and it’s hopefully a sign of things to come in series 13.
All in all, Revolution of the Daleks is a fun adventure that goes back to the basics of the Doctor and her friends vs the Daleks.
Complete with heartbreaking moments, a legendary villain that’s almost impossible to disappoint, and the joy of Captain Jack’s return, it’s a safe but compelling return to the Doctor’s world.
Revolution of the Daleks airs on New Year’s Day at 6.45pm on BBC One.
Credit: Original article published here.