TV Review – ‘Eve of the Daleks’ (Doctor Who)

SPOILERS ALERT!!!

Hello everyone! 🙂

Welcome to ‘Bradley’s Basement’ blog and I’m Tim Bradley!

Here we are in 2022 and we’re talking about the New Year Day’s Special of ‘Doctor Who’ called ‘Eve of the Daleks’. I’ve been looking forward to this special episode since the last episode of ‘Flux’. I’m surprised that ‘Eve of the Daleks’ wasn’t actually released on New Year’s Eve before the end of 2021.

The reason why I bring that up is because most of the special takes place on New Year’s Eve itself in 2021 – possibly where Covid-19 never happened, since it never gets mentioned (though this is a self-contained episode where a small group of people are involved with fighting the Daleks and such). 😀

Mind you, most Christmas Specials occur on Christmas Eve itself in the build-up to Christmas Day, so I suppose I shouldn’t make a big deal that this special was released on New Year’s Day rather than New Year’s Eve. Some specials can be half-and-half on two days like the 2021 ‘All Creatures Great and Small’ Special.

Anyway, this is where we have the beginning of the end of the Thirteenth Doctor era of ‘Doctor Who’. I’m saddened it’s coming to an end, as for the most part, I’ve enjoyed Jodie Whittaker’s take on ‘Doctor Who’. I hope we will be given a fitting swansong finale for her particular era of the show.

I am disappointed that we haven’t been given a proper Christmas Special to be included in the Jodie Whittaker era of the show. It might have been given in comic stories and such, but not on TV. Surely, Jodie Whittaker’s era could’ve had a Christmas-filled episode, perhaps based on ‘The Polar Express’.

I’m not sure what things are going to be like when Russell T. Davies takes over the show again and whether we’ll have proper Christmas Specials like in his old era. I’m sure RTD will have more ideas for ‘festive’ specials compared to how Steven Moffat and Chris Chibnall have delivered their specials.

‘Eve of the Daleks’ is the third time that Chris Chibnall has given us a festive ‘Doctor Who’ special involving Daleks. The first was ‘Resolution’; the second was ‘Revolution of the Daleks’; and the third here is ‘Eve of the Daleks’. I’m not counting ‘Part One’ of ‘Spyfall’ since that was not a festive special.

It’s great to see Jodie Whittaker back as the Thirteenth Doctor along with her companions Mandip Gill as Yaz and John Bishop as Dan. I’m glad John Bishop’s Dan gets to have a few more TARDIS adventures following the end of ‘Flux’ and it was interesting for him to have his very first encounter with Daleks.

In the special, the story takes place at ELF storage…somewhere…in Manchester, apparently. A woman called Sarah, who works at ELF storage (and owns it, I believe) is working late on New Year’s Eve and her only customer is Nick who turns up to drop off a Monopoly game, much to her irritation.

Actually, now I come to think about it – ELF storage?! Does ELF stand for something? I mean, you could’ve easily had ELF storage be a link to the North Pole or something where Santa, his elves and his reindeer live. Maybe Nick Frost from ‘Last Christmas’ might have made a return in this special. 😀

The Doctor, Yaz and Dan meanwhile attempt to reset the TARDIS in order to remove the damage and anomalies caused by the Flux. They hope to spend time at a beach on another planet until the TARDIS has fixed itself. Instead of ending on a beach however, the trio end up in ELF storage itself. 😐

Unbeknown to the TARDIS trio and to Sarah and Nick, a time loop is created around the ELF storage building. This time loop was created by the TARDIS, I believe, and the Daleks managed to sneak in. Very soon, Nick gets exterminated by a Dalek in a corridor. Sarah gets exterminated by a Dalek too and so do the Doctor, Yaz and Dan. Shock horror! 😮

And then the opening credits start. I’m not even kidding. All that I’ve explained about Sarah and Nick and the TARDIS trio arriving before getting exterminated by the Dalek happens in the first nine minutes and the opening credits show up. I’d forgotten that we had not had the opening credits yet!

After the opening credits, the time loop resets itself and the TARDIS trio, Sarah and Nick sense something is wrong. Once the five characters meet up with each other, they gradually work together in order to figure out how to escape the ELF complex before the time loop closes and they’re dead.

Now I was expecting this episode to go in the route of what ‘Star Trek: TNG’s episode ‘Cause and Effect’ did with the main characters being in a time loop and things getting reset before our heroes work out how to get out of the loop to cheat death. It doesn’t quite work in that way for this story. 😐

Oh, don’t get me wrong. There are familiar elements involved, but when the time loop resets, it’s like a minute later when everything restarts. So the first time our heroes go back to the beginning, it’s 23:52. Second time, it’s 23:53. Third time, it’s 23:54. Fourth time, it’s 23:55 and so on and so forth!

Some might find this a challenge to get their heads around when it comes to watching the special the first time. Me personally, I found it rather compelling as it adds to the tension of what’s going on when the Doctor, Yaz, Dan, Sarah and Nick are trying to get out of the loop whilst the Daleks are killing them off. 😐

Talking about the Daleks, I found them really good in this special. Voiced once again by Nicholas Briggs (who I’d like to thank for replying to my latest letter in Big Finish’s ‘Vortex’ magazine about ‘Timeslip’), the Daleks are operated by their veterans Barnaby Edwards, Nicholas Pegg and Jon Davey.

I found the Daleks well-written in this adventure in terms of their dialogue. They’re better written compared to the dialogue they had in ‘Destiny of the Daleks’ (which I saw recently). Some of their phrases about ‘not being fair’ were quite chilling, especially when Chris Chibnall is writing them here.

The Daleks also happen to be the Dalek Executioners. Not sure if they’re connected to the Dalek Executioners from the ‘Time Lord Victorious’ series, but you can make your judgements about that. They’ve put the Doctor and her friends in their time loop in order to exact revenge upon the Doctor.

The Daleks blame the Doctor for allowing the Dalek war fleet in ‘Flux’ to be destroyed in the final event. The Doctor tells them it was the Sontarans who tricked the war fleet in being destroyed, but the Daleks still blame the Doctor nonetheless. The Daleks blame the Doctor for anything, don’t they?

In terms of the guest cast, Aisling Bea plays Sarah. I’ve seen Aisling Bea before, as she played the mother character Carol Mercer in ‘Home Sweet Home Alone’. I’ve seen that film once on Disney+, but I wonder if Carol and Sarah’s characters are both the same person in this ‘Doctor Who’ TV story.

Sarah’s quite a control freak. Not like Clara Oswald mind. She also seems mean-spirited at times, especially when she’s receiving calls from her mother, Pauline McLynn as Mary, on New Year’s Eve and how she treats Nick. Yaz and Dan remark that Sarah is being a bit harsh on Nick during the special.

I’m not sure what the setup between Sarah and Nick is in the special, as I think it’s meant to be in a romantic sense, especially by the time we get to special’s conclusion. But I don’t know. Sarah might not be the easiest person to be with, especially when she’s complaining about a certain ‘Jeff’ of hers.

She clearly doesn’t like it when the Daleks are in the ELF complex and likes to keep things in certain order within the storage units. Gradually, Sarah comes to trust the Doctor, as the fivesome work together on breaking the loop and escaping the Daleks when their trail of death becomes so severe.

I enjoyed Adjani Salmon as Nick. I’ve not come across Adjani Salmon a lot in TV and film, but he seems to be a good actor and the character he plays in Nick seems nice enough. It’s interesting to see Nick seemingly crushing on Sarah, even though she doesn’t quite return the same feelings as he.

Nick seems to place items in his unit at the ELF complex that once belonged to…his former girlfriends; I think that’s what he said. I’m not really sure if that’s the case. Most of the items range from shoes to binoculars to…a stuffed budgie (I think), which Dan picks up – it could be a toy budgie.

It’s interesting that Nick has an interest in Sarah at the ELF complex, since he’s quite a nice chap whereas she can be rather mean-spirited. Then again, I once fancied girls who probably weren’t in my league and didn’t match me, so I can’t blame Nick for liking Sarah in that kind of manner here. 😀

Jodie Whittaker continues to be excellent in this ‘Doctor Who’ adventure. She’s full of energy in playing the Doctor, attempting to save Yaz, Dan, Sarah and Nick from the threat of the Daleks trying to kill them off. There are moments when she can be angry in some pretty stressed out moments. 🙂

This special does address something that’s been going on regarding Yaz’s relationship with the Thirteenth Doctor. This ‘Doctor Who’ story is the first one to explicitly establish Yaz’s feelings towards the Doctor as being romantically inclined. Quite frankly, I think this was a long time coming.

Now let me be clear about this. If Chris Chibnall was setting up this thing about Yaz and Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor being in a romantic relationship with each other, I wouldn’t be too bothered by that. It’s actually an intriguing direction that the series has been going in since Jodie Whittaker’s debut.

I’m not sure if that was the actual intention behind Chris Chibnall’s writing in that Yaz happened to be LGTB or LGTB+, however you want to interpret it. I’d like to think Chris Chibnall has been working it out throughout his time on the series in terms of how he’s developed the Doctor and her friends. 🙂

I mean, the series could’ve easily had Yaz and Ryan together, but clearly Chris Chibnall didn’t go in that direction. The fact we’ve seen Yaz accompany the Thirteenth Doctor from beginning to end so far showcases what her character journey has been about and how we’ve been getting to know her.

For a long while, Yaz has arguably been underdeveloped in Series 11 to 12. From ‘Flux’/Series 13 up to here in ‘Eve of the Daleks’, this is where I think Yaz’s character is established. She has romantic feelings for the Thirteenth Doctor and I don’t think it’s a major issue in terms of her development. 🙂

I like how that’s been developed throughout Yaz’s time in the series and it makes sense in it being gradually developed rather than have it be rushed and forced upon us compared to…well, how Nyssa and Tegan might be a romantic couple in ‘Farewell, Sarah Jane’ (that’s not actually confirmed).

Now, where this goes from here in the series, I’m not sure. It might be not explored so much in the grand scheme of things concerning the Thirteenth Doctor is coming to an end in her last two stories in 2022. I don’t think that the Doctor would exactly return those feelings that Yaz has for her here. 😐

The Doctor’s not like that in terms of a character. We’ve seen that (to an extent) in how the Tenth Doctor interacted with Rose and how the Tenth Doctor interacted with Martha. Even in the ‘Doctor Who’ story ‘The Aztecs’, the First Doctor wasn’t committed to a romantic relationship with someone.

It’ll certainly be interesting to explore when it comes to the final two stories of Jodie’s era. Whether it will be explored in those last two stories or whether RTD will carry it on if Yaz (and maybe Dan) continues to travel in the TARDIS with the Fourteenth Doctor, it’s yet to be determined in this regard.

It’s interesting that Dan brings it up when he notices Yaz’s feelings towards the Doctor as being kind of ‘obvious’. It’s also interesting Dan mentions it to the Doctor and it doesn’t click in for her. Then again, the Thirteenth Doctor has been known to be socially awkward at times during the TV series. 🙂

Thankfully, all is well in the end as the five heroes escape the building where a firework display occurs. The Doctor, Yaz and Dan return to the TARDIS and Sarah and Nick go off in a taxi together. Jonny Dixon as Karl from ‘The Woman Who Fell to Earth’ also makes a return cameo in this special. 🙂

‘Eve of the Daleks’ has been an enjoyable romp of a Dalek adventure featuring the Thirteenth Doctor, Yaz and Dan. I don’t know if this tops up on ‘Revolution of the Daleks’ the previous year, but it’s been a fun adventure and it does showcase intriguing aspects about a couple of the main characters.

Also, for Dan facing the Daleks in this adventure, I think he coped rather well. 😀

I’m currently looking forward to the next ‘Doctor Who’ special featuring the return of the Sea Devils. I went “Oh yes!” when I saw them. My Dad went “Oh no!” when he saw them! 😀 My Dad’s not too keen on the Sea Devils, you see. Hopefully they’ll be better in the upcoming special compared to their previous TV appearances.

Stay tuned for ‘Legend of the Sea Devils’ by Chris Chibnall and Ella Road sometime in early 2022!

Thanks for reading!

Bye for now!

Tim. 🙂

4 thoughts on “TV Review – ‘Eve of the Daleks’ (Doctor Who)

  1. Timelord 007

    Thing is if Yaz sticks around and the Doctor regenerates into a middle aged male will Yaz still share a romantic interest? Tbh i don’t think Doctor Who needs lovey dovey soapy romantic subplots with the Doctor, the Doctor is a alien, by all means have gay companions & relationships but the Doctor can change gender so would a gay character still love the Doctor if he changed gender? & how would that work?

    Personally i think Yaz is going to die now, two episodes left & i think RTD will want introduce his new Doctor & companions so this arc has been a little late to the end of the Thirteenth Doctor era, it’ll be Yaz dies & the Doctor never said how she felt regretful scenario i think.

    Overall it was ok, Sarah was annoying bit full on & the plot didn’t really add much overall, The Daleks are annoyed at the Doctor killing millions of Daleks…erm didn’t the Seventh Doctor cause mass genocide when he destroyed Skaro? Wouldn’t that have angered them?

    As always a detailed balanced review Tim

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Tim Bradley Post author

      Hi Simon.

      Good to hear from you again.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts on ‘Eve of the Daleks’. I think your comments about Yaz and the Doctor are fair. I’m not sure what’s going to happen regarding that arc they have and how it’s going to turn out in the last two episodes of Jodie’s era. You may well be right in that Yaz will self-sacrifice herself as well as the Doctor ending up becoming a male instead of a woman in the fourteenth persona. It depends on what plans RTD has for his new era of the show. I’m getting a sense things will be crammed in the final episode, especially with what’s been going on in the Thirteenth Doctor era with the Timeless Child stuff and such. I hope it won’t be disappointing. We’ll just have to wait and see.

      On a side note, compared to how Chris Eccleston, David Tennant, Matt Smith and Peter Capaldi’s Doctors tended to get sexualised moments in their eras, I’m surprised Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor didn’t get sexualised moments since…you know…she’s a woman. It doesn’t help when she’s stuck in that Thirteenth Doctor costume for most of the time of her show, but it’s interesting Chris Chibnall hasn’t gone in that direction. It would’ve been interesting to see, especially if perhaps Jodie Whittaker ended up in a frock or a dress in any period of Earth history to blend in, but then again the Doctor’s not altogether one for trying to blend in to any environment or time zone he/she visits.

      Thanks again for sharing your thoughts on the special.

      Tim 🙂

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      Reply
  2. Williams Fan 92

    Great review Tim.

    I have to say that I enjoyed this special. It had flaws don’t get me wrong. I thought Sarah was rather annoying and unlikable as times. I liked the special in all other aspects. I’m not sure what will happen between the Doctor and Yaz, especially since we’ve only got two episodes left of the Thirteenth Doctor era to go. I agree that it was better handled than how RTD handled Nyssa and Tegan in ‘Farewell, Sarah Jane’. Although to be fair to RTD, it might not have been entirely his fault. Maybe thirteen minutes was all he was allocated. I think they should one day a ‘Farewell, Sarah Jane’ special edition that’s twice the length of the original.

    Adjani Salmon was great as Nick as were the Doctor, Yaz and Dan. It was also nice to see Pauline McLynn from ‘Father Ted’ in the special. I am really looking forward to seeing ‘Legend of the Sea Devils’ on the BBC’s centenary. I wonder if we’ll ever see other classic monsters return such as the Terileptils and the Yeti.

    Tomorrow, I’ll comment on your review of ‘The Dalek Invasion of Earth’. I will say in advance though, that my thoughts will come from reading the Target novelisation as opposed to the tv adventure. You said you owned ‘The Essential Terrance Dicks’ Vol. 1 on Kindle, which is how I’ve been reading the novel, albeit physically rather than digitally. Have you started reading it yet?

    Take care, WF92.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Tim Bradley Post author

      Hi Xavier/WF92,

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts on ‘Eve of the Daleks’. Glad you enjoyed it. It does have flaws but it’s better than other ‘Doctor Who’ festive specials I’ve seen. Yes, Sarah was quite annoying and unlikeable at times. I guess the special was playing to Aisling Bea’s talents as a comedian, which didn’t quite work in the end. I don’t know what will happen with the Thirteenth Doctor and Yaz as their relationship probably won’t be explored much in the last two episodes and it might all be in a mad rush. Yeah if RTD was given more time to write ‘Farewell, Sarah Jane’, maybe more could’ve been explored with Nyssa and Tegan. At least we’d have some explanation for how Nyssa ended up with Tegan in Australia following ‘Terminus’ and the older Nyssa stories by Big Finish.

      Oh yes! Pauline McLynn was in ‘Father Ted’. I didn’t realise that until you mentioned that. Must remember that when it comes to doing the update on this review. I’m fascinated as to what the Sea Devils will be like in the next special, hopefully by Easter time.

      Looking forward to your thoughts on ‘The Dalek Invasion of Earth’. Not had a chance to check out ‘The Essential Terrance Dicks’ Vol 1 on Kindle yet. Been busy with other books and novelizations. Hope to check it out soon.

      Many thanks for your comments.

      Tim 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply

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