TV Happy New Year! Right, let's get the UNIT dating controversy over with first, the controversy being that there isn't one. According the TARDIS Datacore, the version which exists in the 2040s on Earth-5556 is a shadow of its former self and Alice O'Donnell is a UNIT fan girl in Under The Lake which also suggests that UNIT is still in operation.  Apart from that everything we know about the organisation across media happens before the 1st January 2019 so Chibbers has a pretty free hand in what he wants to do with it, which in this case is to have it on ice presumably as an explanation for why Kate Stewart and the two Osgoods don't appear in this story.

There are a few knotty implications to this.  Who monitors the fifty odd thousand Zygons still living on Earth?  Are there still two Osgoods?  What about the Black Archive?  How does Torchwood factor into this, or C19?  It's shared universe syndrome, add a bit of continuity here watch a morass of mythology seep out at the other end.  The Doctors haven't always phoned UNIT when they've been in the vicinity of some alien threat (especially when the Brig's in Geneva) so Chibbers must be making a point about something here - or setting up a story line for the next series whenever that's being broadcast or indeed a future Big Finish boxed set.

Next of all, how about no one recognising a Dalek despite multiple invasions over the past decade or so?  The implication has been that either because of the cracks or rebooting the universe or some other Moffat fueled merriment (or the Faction Paradox) that Earth is once again a bit surprised about the existence of aliens, thereby sorting out the Van Stattan continuity error amongst other things.  Time has been rewritten and so forth.  It is interesting that throughout this series, humans have in general been less phased about the existence of alien life in general.  Perhaps its a mutable thing, oscillating depending upon the needs of the story.

What are my resolutions?  As I suggested yesternight, lose some more weight and be disciplined about it.  Otherwise, try to catch up on my Who backlog, across audios and novels and blu-ray releases.  I'm trying to have a daily dose of Doctor Who of which tonight's episode will probably be the only example broadcast on television.  Soonish I'll hopefully have something near a complete run of TARGETs and I'm planning a blogging project around that, my other resolution being to stop neglecting this place so much, to post at least something every day.  Yes, I know, I've said that before.

All of which skimming around the surface suggests I'm stalling in my opinion of Revolution, I'm really not.  With a couple of reservations that was a barnstorming hour of Doctor Who with Jodie's Time Lord bursting with such energy her hair seemed to grow and shorten depending on whether she was in the TARDIS or not.  Finally we got to hear her say the big mythology words like Dalek and Skaro and sound like she exists within a wider continuity or context.  As has always been the case with each incarnation, you finally get a feel for the characterisation when the Doctors face their biggest foe and here's Thirteenth fighting against a desperate situation with brio and optimism.

Pitting her against a single Dalek is a good move because it allows for a more focused stand off as per Ninth in Dalek or Twelfth when he entered Into The Dalek.  Unlike those occasions, this was not about the squid fighting their programming, this recon organism, wants nothing other than conquest and is unable to even comprehend benevolence.  However impressive it is to see thousands of CGI pepperpots flying through space, sheer numbers can't make up for watching the calculated a single example lean in to its sadistic nature and embrace its internal superiority.  Under Nick Briggs's vocal control, there are few things scarier than hearing one of these things laugh.

In a nice bookend to the start of the season, we also see the Dalek utilising local materials to fashion its casing.  This hybrid between captured parts and refashioned materials is somehow even scarier than the revived Who's metallic design and also more in keeping with the antagonists orgins than the iDaleks from 2010 (yes, the new paradigm was nearly eight years ago folks and we're still getting over it).  The fact that this sucker is home made will hopefully inspire kids to hash their own together using bits knowing that it doesn't have to look perfect to be canonical.  Meanwhile, collectors of the Doctor Who Figurine Collection have another variation for the shelf.

The episode began well with the three sections of a thing being separated so as not for another terrible thing to happen.  Arguably this is exactly the sort of mcguffin RTD was taking the piss out of in The Last of the Time Lords (something he enjoyed so much he repeated it a year later in Journey's End), making it part of this cross continental, multi-generational effort gave it enough heft that it provided the epic introduction a seasonal episode probably requires especially since it then focuses the rest of the episode back in Sheffield.  You could imagine a prose version of this turning up as a prologue in a wilderness years novel.

Much less successful is the emotional B-plot between Ryan and his Dad.  This isn't a criticism of the performers - Tosin's the strongest he's been all season here and Daniel Adegboyega (who previously played a guard on Torchwood's Miracle Day) gives Aaron a real sense of regret.  It's just that the catastrophic Dad figure has become something of a trope in the Who revival era, with Rose, Martha and Clyde and innumerable supporting characters in between having had to deal with paternal toxicity.  The comparison with Clyde from SJA is especially galling -- the character beats are incredibly similar right down to having the father being possessed by the alien of the week.

All of this also drew away from the A-story and I'd guess that most viewers would have preferred some more of the Doctor doing stuff than one of these too long scenes between Ryan, Aaron and Graham however well performed.  The idea's presumably to tie-in with the episode title, but this stuff simply didn't feel connected enough to the main plot and in my acronym for having humble opinion, Doctor Who's at its strongest with the various plot elements are motivated by the overall story.  The US production model tends be a bit more relaxed in this regard because of the amount of durational real estate which has to be filled.  Doctor Who (ironically) has less time for it.

The love story between the two archaeologists felt stronger because of this, so compelling in fact that I didn't notice the episode didn't have a title sequence until ten minutes in.  Having such a long opening introductory scene is a very classic Who approach and a very welcome change from the latter end of the Moffat era when secondary characters tended to be an after thought.  It's a real credit to Chibbers that he manages to keep their story relevant throughout the hour even after the number of companion like characters who need servicing has doubled.  I'll admit that part of me wishes they'd left in the TARDIS instead.

This was by far the strongest Sheffield set episode of the series and just behind It Takes You Away in terms of quality.  As with most episodes, it'll be worth rewatching just for the dialogue some of which is positively iconic and if not that education.  Clock Jodie's glee in explaining how the microwave parts roast the Dalek and making the scientific jargon sound convincing.  With some of the pressure off being the flagship broadcast on Christmas Day, it seemed happier to simply be the proper season finale which The Battle of Ranskoor Av Kolos could never be and clearly wasn't supposed to.

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