Doctor Doctor Who Guide

Reviews


List:
11 Apr 2005The Unquiet Dead, by Eddie McGuigan
11 Apr 2005The Unquiet Dead, by Razeque Talukdar
11 Apr 2005The Unquiet Dead, by Greg Owens
11 Apr 2005The Unquiet Dead, by Chris Wacey
11 Apr 2005The Unquiet Dead, by Chris Wacey
11 Apr 2005The Unquiet Dead, by Tristan Stopps
11 Apr 2005The Unquiet Dead, by Mick Snowden
11 Apr 2005The Unquiet Dead, by Simon James Fox
11 Apr 2005The Unquiet Dead, by Iain Bowie
11 Apr 2005The Unquiet Dead, by Martin Montague
11 Apr 2005The Unquiet Dead, by Andrew Blundell
11 Apr 2005The Unquiet Dead, by Tim Mayo
11 Apr 2005The Unquiet Dead, by Charles Quinn
11 Apr 2005The Unquiet Dead, by Colin John Francis
11 Apr 2005The Unquiet Dead, by Joe Ford
11 Apr 2005The Unquiet Dead, by Matt Kimpton
11 Apr 2005The Unquiet Dead, by Nick Edwards
11 Apr 2005The Unquiet Dead, by Archie Hart
11 Apr 2005The Unquiet Dead, by Michael Bentley
11 Apr 2005The Unquiet Dead, by Liam Pennington
11 Apr 2005The Unquiet Dead, by Adam Stone
11 Apr 2005The Unquiet Dead, by Steve Manfred
11 Apr 2005The Unquiet Dead, by Rossa McPhillips
11 Apr 2005The Unquiet Dead, by John Greenwood
11 Apr 2005The Unquiet Dead, by Pete Huntley
11 Apr 2005The Unquiet Dead, by Eddy Wolverson
11 Apr 2005The Unquiet Dead, by Stephen Trimingham
11 Apr 2005The Unquiet Dead, by Daniel Knight
11 Apr 2005The Unquiet Dead, by Gareth Thomas
11 Apr 2005The Unquiet Dead, by Daniel Prudden
11 Apr 2005The Unquiet Dead, by Phil Christodoulou
11 Apr 2005The Unquiet Dead, by A.D. Morrison
11 Apr 2005The Unquiet Dead, by Paul Clarke
11 Apr 2005The Unquiet Dead, by David Carlile
11 Apr 2005The Unquiet Dead, by Paul Hayes
11 Apr 2005The Unquiet Dead, by David Dawson
11 Apr 2005The Unquiet Dead, by Dan Tessier
11 Apr 2005The Unquiet Dead, by Andrew Phillips
11 Apr 2005The Unquiet Dead, by Vicky Hall
17 Apr 2005The Unquiet Dead, by Richard Board
17 Apr 2005The Unquiet Dead, by Richard Radcliffe
17 Apr 2005The Unquiet Dead, by David Lim
17 Apr 2005The Unquiet Dead, by Alex Gibbs
03 Sep 2005The Unquiet Dead, by Nick Mellish
03 Sep 2005The Unquiet Dead, by Billy Higgins
03 Sep 2005The Unquiet Dead, by Ed Martin
15 Nov 2005The Unquiet Dead, by Jordan Wilson
28 Oct 2006The Unquiet Dead, by Adam Kintopf

Now that Doctor Who in his present incarnation is well and truly established in the Saturday evening schedules (this story would be the equivelent to a Visitation or (dare I say it) Genesis of the Daleks in the running order) we can begin to accept the characters and have fun watching them reacte to certain situations.

With Mark Gatiss we know we are getting very faithful Doctor Who - one presumes he was held back a bit from over-continuity in the first instance by RTD - and not a little dark and scary humour for which his books and, more paricularly, The League of Gentlemen is famous for, and he doesn't disappoint. 

Without meaning to deride the story in anyway The Unquiet Dead is Doctor Who by numbers. Scary Aliens, check. Wonky TARDIS, check. Famous person from the past, check. Victoriana, check. It's all there, but, in Gatiss's tale takes on a much more adult and chilling tale. Shades of Horror of Fang Rock abound with possessed humans and blustering Victorian gentlemen allowed Gatiss to push the boundaries of Saturday tea-time telly to the max, and some of the scenes would, surely, have had children scurrying behind their parents in fear. 

As the main guest star, Simon Callow was wonderful as Dickens, and, in what could have been a twee character (HG Wells, anyone?) brought a gravitas, realism and gravitas to the character. 

Again, Billie Piper was spellbinding ... you could turn down the volume and just watch her reactions .. the missed beat and then the accepting "OK" echoing her elder cousin, Sarah Jane Smith. Eccleston is well in his stride here as the Doctor, firing ahead with the power of Tom Baker, but with, sometimes, the dialogue of his namesake Colin, giving him a desperate edge. What are these Time Wars? How is the Doctor responsible? How far will he go to make amends? 

For the first time we get the feeling that this story didn't follow directly on from The End of The World, and that the Doctor and Rose have had at least one adventure in between them. I hope so, because soon, gaps in Eccleston's time are tragically going to be premium real estate. 

For continuity buffs the clues are there... the Time Wars, Rose's comments to the Doctor, and, for the second time the reference to The Bad Wolf. 

Whatever RTD has in store for the Doctor, I for one am salivating like Pavlov's dog in anticipation. Mark Gatiss claims to have waited all his life for THIS moment. He did himself proud.

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With the Doctor and Rose firmly established as characters now, The Unquiet Dead was free to start developing the storyline and chronology of Doctor Who, as well as bring in other Guest characters like Charles Dickens without taking anything away from the main characters.

The first two episodes of the New Series were written by Russell T Davies, but now it was Mark Gatiss' chance to show what he could do. And it turns out he could do a lot.

So what was The Unquiet Dead about? Well the title says it all really. Or does it? The main story goes like this; dead people are coming alive in Cardiff. The Doctor and Rose arrive and find out that the TARDIS got it wrong, again. Instead of Naples in 1960, the Doctor and Rose find themselves in Cardiff, 1969. Meanwhile, Charles Dickens is telling the story of The Christmas Carol to a captive audience, when all hell brakes loose, well some spooky blue spirits do anyway. As the Doctor walks through the streets of Cardiff reading the local paper, he hears the screaming from the theatre and rushes towards it. Rose is knocked out and taken, again and then locked in a room, again, only this time with some not-so-dead people in coffins. The Doctor gets to the house where Rose is, after hitching a lift with the bewildered Dickens, or Charlie as the Doctor called him, he finds Rose and has an encounter with the strange blue spirits. After finding out that a local servant is psychic, the Doctor is tricked into thinking these spirits need help. He later finds out that they are actually yet another hostile race wants to take over the world. It isn't the Doctor however, who saves the day in this story, he's too busy feeling sorry for himself at the thought of dying in a dungeon in Cardiff. No, it's Charles Dickens who gases the place ready for the Psychic to torch it with a match. That's the abridged version.

So now you know the story (you probably did anyway from actually watching it), we can answer the question, did Mark Gatiss achieve what Davies didn't in the first two episodes? Capture the real essence of Doctor Who.

Firstly, the storyline was good. An ordinary situation for film, but with that extra Doctor Who twist, namely the Doctor. In The Unquiet Dead, the Doctor displays some of his more traditional traits such as a callas disregard as to whose carriage he uses. He's funny, focused and has his eye on the bigger picture. The way the psychic servant described the images of 21st century London from Roses mind was brilliant, as was the reaction of the Victorian populous to the Doctor's attitude. This story was altogether more Doctor Who. But what of the presentation?

This episode was directed well by Euros Lyn and he obviously knew what he was doing when creating the atmosphere and setting. The sets didn't look as fake as they did in previous episodes and the monsters actually looked like they were meant to frighten people. The graphics were also much better for this episode, giving the whole experience polished feel. The Doctor regained his somewhat detached mentality, thinking of the greater good before small, short-term morals.

But despite all these improvements on previous episodes, The Unquiet Dead still didn't get deep enough. This is not so much the fault of Mark Gatiss or Euros Lyn, but again the length of the episode and the continuing emotional relationship with Rose, which is too much like the Doctor falling in love. We will have to see over next two weeks, with the first two-part story, if these are the main reasons for the shortfall or whether there is some other factor keeping Doctor Who from getting back on form.

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I enjoyed "Rose" and "The End of the World", really I did. "Rose" was about as good as we could have expected, given that it had to introduce the series' main characters and concepts as well as tell a story, but its breakneck pace and slightly self-conscious "modern"-ness made it a bit hard to warm to for me. "The End of the World" was jolly good fun - sometimes likeably daft, sometimes effectively dramatic - but again it had a pretty slender story that made me wonder if this 45-minute slot was going to work. (And I wasn't hostile to the format - the old series was guilty of some outrageous padding.) 

So I was hoping for a lot from episode three. I was hoping that the pace might settle down a bit - wacky fast-paced fun is all very well, but please, not every week. Similarly, I was hoping for a bit more atmosphere. Oh, and maybe a slightly more involved story. And perhaps most importantly, I was hoping for a few more scares!

Thankfully "The Unquiet Dead" achieved all this in pretty spectacular style. The Victorian nighttime setting took care of the atmosphere; the brilliant script took care of the pacing; the monsters took care of the scares; and the servant girl's psychic gifts, the house's history, the aliens' double-crossing and the character of Dickens gave the story a lot more depth than either of its predecessors.

I thought the Gelth were terrific monsters, too - a great, original idea brilliantly realised. Both the zombies and the gaseous forms were very effective. I hope we see them again.

Simon Callow was great fun as Dickens, but the real star of this one has got to be Mark Gatiss. He has written exactly the sort of Who story I have been hoping for ever since the new series was announced - well-paced, atmospheric, scary, funny, original, the works. He deserves to feel every bit as chuffed as he no doubt does, because this was almost as much of a dream come true to watch as it must have been to write. The jammy swine.

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I was not very impressed with the first two episodes of the new Doctor Who but after seeing tonight's I just have to say…. Hell yes!!!!!! It is one of the best new things I have seen on British Television for quite a while. I am no ‘TV-buff' and I rarely bother watching anything at all so I am not the best judge about the state of current television but this was truly brilliant.

Eccleston was humourous, eccentric, moody and mysterious in all the right proportions and did some excellent work living up to and exceeding the potential showed in the first two stories, which I found rather showy, shallow and contrived as if they were an extended introduction just to prove a point. The Unquiet Dead really hit it for me and if the rest of the series stays as good I will be impressed.

I find the new (well, either previously unused, new or redesigned because as we know there are a few in there) TARDIS console room rather odd though, it is like a sort of cross between the organic spaceship on Farscape and the TARDIS set used in the 1960s Doctor Who movies starring Peter Cushing. There is a sort of half organic, half junkyard feel to the whole thing, which after watching the BBC Three documentary accompanying this series I can see is totally intended but for me you just can't beat the classic 70s/80s TARDIS. I found the 1996 one a little two gothic and Wellsian for my tastes. I was not a huge fan of the wooden/stained glass console room used by Tom Baker for a while either. I have always had a bit of a hatred of mock-Victorian ‘futuristic' technology along those lines, so it is an improvement on the TARDIS as last seen in my own view. I love the way you can see the ‘Police Box' sign, window and even the old police telephone from the inside though, that little touch pleased me immensely.

Eccleston and Billie Piper were fantastic and the supporting cast was superb, the writing (ominously by Mark Gatiss this time out instead of Russell T Davies) was exquisite and gave the perfect balance I have always adored about Doctor Who at its best. I couldn't help but think of my all time favourite ‘The Talons of Weng Chiang' with the Victorian setting and it is these sort of references back and signs of continuity that I feel are important. The new series should be new but should not be so new that is not Doctor Who as it used to be between 1963 and 1989.

I find Eccleston's lines a bit alarming, I have to concede that. It is a much more modern and working class mode of speech and I have to confess to preferring the eccentric, elaborate and often donnish affectations of the scripts where The Doctor was not so readily mistakable for an, albeit rather remarkable, common Earthling.

What I do like is the fact Rose Tyler (Piper) does not accept The Doctor as her superior and is very forthright and blunt in disagreeing with him. Some co-stars in the series have tended to be a little too submissive and overly trusting and I like how this is a more complex relationship in that it is extremely apparent The Doctor and Rose are really different, they see things in very different ways but they do have an understanding, respect and empathy for each other that allows the friendship to work. The relationships in the new series are the one thing that have not struck me as contrived and forced, you can understand how everyone fits together in every scene.

I also must give an entire paragraph to Simon Callow. He is an actor that just becomes a character in such a real way that even though he is a very recognisable person (to me at least) he is ALWAYS the character when you watch him, not many who are so recognisable can consistently manage such a trick. I think Christopher Eccleston and Billie, although good actors, do not quite make that jump. I can't help but see them partially as the actor. Callow's gift is a rare one so I don't expect anyone to live up to such pure brilliance in acting. This is not meant to be negative about Christopher and Billie in any way, only positive about Simon Callow.

This is how I want to see Doctor Who. An excellent plot, brilliantly and believably acted with an unforced but highly effective humorous edge to it. I laughed out loud several times but this did not take anything away from the seriousness and horror of the story unlike Rose and The End of the World where I felt they tried for cheap laughs.

I have to honestly say that it was fantastic and that I am far more optimistic about the future of the series than the first two episodes had caused me to be. If this marked difference is purely down to the writing I think the BBC should hand the series over to Mark Gatiss, who is now even further up in my estimation than he was because of The League of Gentlemen. They should at least bring him in to write more and be a script editor, a role in which he will bring as much ingenuity, originality and humour as Douglas Adams did in that role during the late 1970s. I think Gatiss has an excellent grasp of what Doctor Who was, is and should be.

I am a bit sad about Eccleston leaving now that I have seen his potential in all its glory. The temperament of the ninth doctor is very reminiscent of Tom Baker's portrayal in some ways. I have seen at least one childish sulk, several losses of temper and numerous sudden mad grins in just these three episodes but he also brings something more damaged and edgy and I am starting to think after a couple of false starts that he has nailed it perfectly.

Now, someone please send me a TARDIS (or an untrustworthy Canadian television employee if you can't find one) I want to see the rest of this series. NOW.

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I was not very impressed with the first two episodes of the new Doctor Who but after seeing tonight's I just have to say…. Hell yes!!!!!! It is one of the best new things I have seen on British Television for quite a while. I am no ‘TV-buff' and I rarely bother watching anything at all so I am not the best judge about the state of current television but this was truly brilliant.

Eccleston was humourous, eccentric, moody and mysterious in all the right proportions and did some excellent work living up to and exceeding the potential showed in the first two stories, which I found rather showy, shallow and contrived as if they were an extended introduction just to prove a point. The Unquiet Dead really hit it for me and if the rest of the series stays as good I will be impressed.

I find the new (well, either previously unused, new or redesigned because as we know there are a few in there) TARDIS console room rather odd though, it is like a sort of cross between the organic spaceship on Farscape and the TARDIS set used in the 1960s Doctor Who movies starring Peter Cushing. There is a sort of half organic, half junkyard feel to the whole thing, which after watching the BBC Three documentary accompanying this series I can see is totally intended but for me you just can't beat the classic 70s/80s TARDIS. I found the 1996 one a little two gothic and Wellsian for my tastes. I was not a huge fan of the wooden/stained glass console room used by Tom Baker for a while either. I have always had a bit of a hatred of mock-Victorian ‘futuristic' technology along those lines, so it is an improvement on the TARDIS as last seen in my own view. I love the way you can see the ‘Police Box' sign, window and even the old police telephone from the inside though, that little touch pleased me immensely.

Eccleston and Billie Piper were fantastic and the supporting cast was superb, the writing (ominously by Mark Gatiss this time out instead of Russell T Davies) was exquisite and gave the perfect balance I have always adored about Doctor Who at its best. I couldn't help but think of my all time favourite ‘The Talons of Weng Chiang' with the Victorian setting and it is these sort of references back and signs of continuity that I feel are important. The new series should be new but should not be so new that is not Doctor Who as it used to be between 1963 and 1989.

I find Eccleston's lines a bit alarming, I have to concede that. It is a much more modern and working class mode of speech and I have to confess to preferring the eccentric, elaborate and often donnish affectations of the scripts where The Doctor was not so readily mistakable for an, albeit rather remarkable, common Earthling.

What I do like is the fact Rose Tyler (Piper) does not accept The Doctor as her superior and is very forthright and blunt in disagreeing with him. Some co-stars in the series have tended to be a little too submissive and overly trusting and I like how this is a more complex relationship in that it is extremely apparent The Doctor and Rose are really different, they see things in very different ways but they do have an understanding, respect and empathy for each other that allows the friendship to work. The relationships in the new series are the one thing that have not struck me as contrived and forced, you can understand how everyone fits together in every scene.

I also must give an entire paragraph to Simon Callow. He is an actor that just becomes a character in such a real way that even though he is a very recognisable person (to me at least) he is ALWAYS the character when you watch him, not many who are so recognisable can consistently manage such a trick. I think Christopher Eccleston and Billie, although good actors, do not quite make that jump. I can't help but see them partially as the actor. Callow's gift is a rare one so I don't expect anyone to live up to such pure brilliance in acting. This is not meant to be negative about Christopher and Billie in any way, only positive about Simon Callow.

This is how I want to see Doctor Who. An excellent plot, brilliantly and believably acted with an unforced but highly effective humorous edge to it. I laughed out loud several times but this did not take anything away from the seriousness and horror of the story unlike Rose and The End of the World where I felt they tried for cheap laughs.

I have to honestly say that it was fantastic and that I am far more optimistic about the future of the series than the first two episodes had caused me to be. If this marked difference is purely down to the writing I think the BBC should hand the series over to Mark Gatiss, who is now even further up in my estimation than he was because of The League of Gentlemen. They should at least bring him in to write more and be a script editor, a role in which he will bring as much ingenuity, originality and humour as Douglas Adams did in that role during the late 1970s. I think Gatiss has an excellent grasp of what Doctor Who was, is and should be.

I am a bit sad about Eccleston leaving now that I have seen his potential in all its glory. The temperament of the ninth doctor is very reminiscent of Tom Baker's portrayal in some ways. I have seen at least one childish sulk, several losses of temper and numerous sudden mad grins in just these three episodes but he also brings something more damaged and edgy and I am starting to think after a couple of false starts that he has nailed it perfectly.

Now, someone please send me a TARDIS (or an untrustworthy Canadian television employee if you can't find one) I want to see the rest of this series. NOW.

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With two excellent episodes under our belt, I sat down with a little trepidation to watch The Unquiet Dead, because it was written by Mr. Gatiss. I am not a fan of League of Gentlemen, or most of his other works, but found myself happily surprised by the presented episode.

The story itself was less scary than the trailers had conveyed, but it was neatly put together all the same. The running theme about the Time War is there, and so is a good example of the Doctor's different morality values - even if they turn out to be wrong in this instance! Simon Callow plays Dickens wonderfully, and the twist at the end of the story where the Doctor informs Rose that he will die shortly and so not get to write the story is slightly numbed by the fact that they are encapsulated inside the TARDIS - set aside from the time outside.

My only criticism of the episode is not concerning the story at all - but the way the Doctor's 'northern' accent seems to have also acquired stupid, dumb-sounding northern slang as well! The scene between him and Dickens in the carriage made me squirm - not because it was a slight dig at Doctor Who fans, that sort of criticism/humour I can take after being a dedicated fan for twenty-odd years - the Doctor's use of "Your Brilliant" over and over again, like a mindless dimwit just lost respect from me in the scene. It must also be noted that "fantastic" is becoming decidedly irritating - I'm hoping that he is not going to be bursting out with it in EVERY episode in the season.

I think that the pacing is slightly off with the episodes, there seems to be not much happen at the start - or it is a lecture session for Rose - followed by slightly more active part and then the resolution gets belted out in five minutes near the end! That said, overall the series is shaping up well, and I'm looking forward to next week's episode as the first part of a two-parter! Maybe the pacing will be more traditional, so we have a feel of an un-rushed story climax.

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So, we've had a trip to the present, a trip to the future, and its all been good. Really good. But a trip through the archives shows that no era of Doctor Who has managed to do past, present and future to the same standard. So, it was with a little trepidation that I sat down for The Unquiet Dead. 

I needn't have worried. The standard has been set, and its obvious the series is going to stick to it. My chief concern was that the League of Gentlemen stalwart would overdo the humour, and that Callow's performance would be a tad camp.

Neither fear was justified. Some nice little touches, such as Charles Dickens using the phrase "What the Shakespeare...?", and the Doctor's new classic, "I love a happy medium".

The attention to period detail is superb (after all, isn't period drama what the BBC does best?). The characterisation of Dickens is well-observed, and played with integrity, and the supporting cast is strong enough to suck you into 19th century Cardiff. Excellent make up and CGI work well with the atmospheric lighting to complete the piece.

Again, mention is made of the Time War, with some concerned looks between the Doctor and Rose - subtle enough reference to the backstory of the ninth Doctor, continuing hints from Rose and End of the World, without bogging the show down in a constraining arc-story.

My only complaint for this story is that apart from the historical setting, its a little too similar to Image of the Fendahl for me. That said, had the likes of RTD, Gatiss and Cornell not been influenced by Dr Who in the 60's and 70's, I wouldn't be writing this now.

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The hoo-ha has begun to simmer down, and the dust is beginning to settle, thank God. I've been admitted into hospital recently, with something nasty that made me go a horrible shade of yellow. I was naturally panicked and distraught. How bad was this thing, this thing in my body that made me go this funny colour? Then the doctors in their natty little trousers suits told me I was to stay for a while longer. The discharge date began to run away with itself, as though it hated the thought of my freedom as my bodily functions continued to do their own impression of the colours of the rainbow. To be honest, I was petrified. The discharge date was edging ever closer to March 26th. Someone up there hated me - it was obvious. Nine years waiting, hoping, for new Who, and here I was banged up in hospital with the dreaded lergy ... and yet again would miss that blasted TARDIS.

Just as I was thinking of bribing Gloria the nurse, they let me go. A whole 24 hours before the start of Rose. Not only that, they gave me a sick note. I'm sure it said something about my illness in there somewhere, but all I saw was ROSE, THE END OF THE WORLD, THE UNQUIET DEAD and ALIENS OF LONDON. I would not have to go to work on Saturday night for a whole month. Think about it. Nine years waiting for a month off work to watch the new series. Someone up there is laughing their head off at this sad little man.

This week, I returned the promise to come see my parents in the wilds of Yorkshire at the same time as my brother and his fiancee. We all ate dinner (lasagne), then as usual, sat in front of the television to watch Doctor Who. My Brother and Jo sat on the sofa together with a half-wry smile and chuckled at a couple of the Doctor's jokes, Mum went upstairs as she's never been one for being scared, and I was comedy-glaring everyone who made the slightest of noise. Bloody Hell. This was not Christmas 1869. This was Christmas 2005, surely? I thought afterwards, the ten year old inside me still alive with the ghostly Gelth. My family, altogether, with Doctor Who on the telly. That bloody illness was worth it, just for this 45 minutes of sheer happiness, enthralled in a good old Victorian ghost story Who-style. And what a story. I've heard criticism that these episodes are too slight, but like Charles Dickens may have said, a good story is a good story, regardless. Had this been made in the 70s instead of Talons of Weng-Chiang, it would have been elongated to maybe six episodes with more chases, a secret lair and a few more murders thrown in. But this is the present day, and television story-telling may have changed, but it still serves the production teams who know the tools of their trade, and all involved with The Unquiet Dead so obviously did. Old British traditions like the telling of short ghost stories are alive and well, and still entertaining families, over a hundred years after they came to popular appeal.

Here we have the risen dead, a cadaver animated by ghostly apparitions who strangles her mourning relative, bursts out of her coffin and takes to the streets. Hot on her heels are the undertaker and his servant with the second sight, and not long after, a mysterious stranger and a girl from far, far away. As she wreaks havoc at Charles Dickens' reading and the crowd flee in terror, Rose is kidnapped as all around them, horses pull carraiges through the shadows as the snow falls on gas-lit streets. The whole desperate situation culminates in a seance, then our heroes being trapped in the morgue by the unquiet dead as their time runs out. This, my friends, is pure Doctor Who. We're all fans here, lets skip past the interesting culture now, much of the plot (as it will already be seared onto your brains like a pattern in a circuit board), and the acting of third zombie but one. Never before has this reviewer been constantly on edge with Who moment after Who moment. Basque with me for a while. The corpse rising from the coffin and strangling Redpath. Same manky old woman lumbering towards the screen, only shutting her mouth so we can catch the full evil-ness of her eyes. The Doctor standing away from the main conversations, interjecting only when he could turn everything on its head. The Doctor suddenly appearing in a doorway - was he always there? The conversation with Dickens in the cab. Rose being kidnapped. Allusions to the real nature of the Doctor during a seance to raise aliens. The time travelers trapped in a morgue full of zombies. Saying farewell to Dickens, and saying something that perhaps shouldn't be said. Charles Dickens laughing out loud at the very end.

Yes my dears, Christmas came early this year. One sad little man is very, very happy indeed. And still has Aliens of London to come.

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I was very impressed... finally.

The first episode seemed a mess, the second episode showed promise, but this one felt like a proper programme. One with atmosphere, ideas, acting and everything!

I am not saying it was the best thing ever (it still ranks behind 24, Twin Peaks, West Wing and a couple of other modern shows in my humble opinion), but it bodes extremely well for the rest of this series. It was a stock episode - and nothing of major import occurred - but the general quality was amazing.

My 6 year old was hiding behind her cushion, peeking out at the screen, and she has just been a bit scared after being told to go to bed. This is what we want!

Obviously not scaring 6 year olds willy nilly, but a television show with a bit of intelligence and atmosphere that the family can watch together and enjoy. This is the first time in years that I have watched an early evening show on a Saturday with any form of enthusiasm. I just cannot wait for the Daleks (and hopefully at some point the Cybermen and the Sea Devils).

Tonights episode involved aliens acting as zombies because they could possess the dead through the gases the corpses emit, with Charles Dickens saving the day. Ecclestone has finally learnt to smile without looking like he should be put in a straight jacket and Ms Piper looks good whilst being locked up (2 episodes in a row). The big character actor - Simon Callow - put in an interesting performance and looked like he wanted to be there - keeping the traditions of Dr Who intact. The script was tight, amusing and exciting, the FX convincing and the acting effective.

All in all, fantastic entertainment. Each episode makes me like the new series more and more. 

Can't wait for next Saturday, as it should be.

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A creepy pre credits sequence sets us on another adventure in this reimagined Doctor Who series that would surely have had Mary Whitehouse up in arms. And in the words of the ninth Doctor, I think that's "fantastic!"

It's another great episode with some wonderful lines from Mark Gatiss and beautiful direction from Euros Lyn. Superb performances from all concerned, especially our two leads. Watching it really took me back to Saturday evenings when I was about seven or eight years old (once tonight's episode has finished, I half expected to have to go to bed!)

Christopher Eccleston simply IS the Doctor and watching tonight's episode really made me sad that he's not continuing beyond this season. If only there was some way he could be persuaded. He's funny, he's angry, he's intelligent, he's sad. And he's fallible. But most of all, he's brilliant. Particularly memorable is the sequence in the cab where he explains to Charles Dickens that he's his number one fan. 

And Billie Piper really is an absolute revelation. Brilliant since episode one, tonight she continued to show her excitement at the possibilities of time travel as well as a genuine strength of character that only hints at some more brilliance to come.

This is the third episode of the series...and the third time that a 'recent' war has been mentioned (a "time war"). Is this the Faction Paradox war from the BBC books, ending in the events of The Ancestor Cell? Or is this a different chronology altogether? I'm intrigued at the hints of what may be to come in the series.

And let us not forget the special effects which really are "special". According to Doctor Who Confidential it was one man who created The Gelth virtually on his own...and it's an amazing feat.

But if I were to quibble...and it's only a minor quibble...I might suggest that the pacing was a little uneven. The episode built up nicely, leading to the inevitable confrontation. But the resolution seemed a little too quick...and then the following scenes leading to the close of the episode too long, like padding. But it's a minor nit pick.

I loved it. Roll on next week!

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After two fairly frenetic episodes with little or no time afforded to characterization and depth of plot Mark Gatiss has provided a pacy yet in-depth victorian ghost story certainly on a par with the creepiness of Ghost Light, or the Talons of Weng Chiang.

Fresh from their ordeal in the far flung future (after a brief stop for chips) The Doctor offers Rose a journey into history. Plucking a date from the air The Doctor proceeds to program the TARDIS back to Naples 1860 for the simple reason that he wants to see what happened then. Throwing Rose straight into the action of piloting the TARDIS (you wonder how he coped before meeting her) they materialise on snowy streets. 

As usual the TARDIS is a little wide of the mark...i guess Rose needs some extra TARDIS tuition. Snow not being prevalent in Italy The Doctor examines a newspaper to discover that in fact they have arrived not in 1860 but 1869. To top it all they aren't in Naples but Cardiff, a fact the Doctor seems to resent. 

Of course all is not well, it wouldn't be much of an adventure series if it was and the cold opening is an ample replacement for the show's previous famous cliffhangers. The re-animated dead are genuinely creepy despite not being overly gory. And the gas creatures which inhabit them have a wonderful victorian parlour game look to them. Ok the CG doesn't really gel with the live action but i think a healthy suspension of disbelief can be afforded in this case as straight from the appearance of the re-animated grandmother at Charles Dickins story telling the viewer becomes so entranced with the fate of all characters that any niggles are chiefly redundant.

As with some of the better Doctor Who stories there is a relatively small cast. It benefits from being a later episode as we are now familiar with the Doctor and Rose and the script can concentrate on supporting characters. 

The supporting cast are actually treated as main characters rather than window dressing which "The End Of The World" and "Rose" seemed to fail on. One certainly feels more empathy with Gwyneth when she sacrifices herself for the rest of the world than we do for Jabe. Perhaps this is because she is saving the human race rather than a selection of overly rich aliens, but it seems more likely that the viewer is more sympathetic to a character who influences the plot rather than fills out a crowd scene.

The Unquiet Dead is certainly the best Doctor Who story i have seen for a long time, although i still have a few reservations about the 45 minute running time. While american shows have succeeded in this format i believe that Doctor Who set itself aside from other Science Fiction programmes by taking time over situations. Setting up plots and characters and not relying on a solution to present itself a mere five minutes from the end. Maybe the show would benefit from an hour long running time similar to other BBC Drama serials.

A final comment the Time War arc is shaping up pretty well having been alluded to in two episodes and introduced in the previous but i hope that it will not be the defining feature of all the Doctor and Rose's adventures as it is a bit hard to swallow that every new (or old) race they meet has been affected in such a way.

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Well, after (what I thought was an excellent episode of Doctor Who) 'The End of the World', we come to the third episode of the new series, this time written by Mark Gatiss. It had a lot to live up to compared to the fantastic previous weeks episode, and did it succeed? Well, not quite. The period setting was nicely achieved, and it was great to see the great Simon Callow at last making his long overdue appearance in Doctor Who in the shape of that other great man Charles Dickens, but (this might just be me) I was left yearning for a more futuristic story set on Platform 1. This wasn't a bad episode, but compared to the swift pace of the other two episodes I felt this one was a little bit flatter. There were some wonderfully spooky moments, as there should be in a ghost themed story, but parts of the episode were just too talky in my opinion and were quite boring, and brought the whole thing to a standstill at times, when it needed to be much quicker in pace.

Eccleston is certainly making the part of the Doctor his own, and is very likeable, but even he seemed a bit more restrained compared to the past couple of episodes. There was however some lovely dialogue between the Doctor and Dickens in the carriage, and Billie Piper as Rose is still a revelation. Once again she puts in a believable and strong performance which does wonders for the credibility of the show.

As for the monsters of this episode, the Geith, they were very well realised. These creatures made of Gas were a nice and original idea, and were never more terrifying than when they were occupying a dead person's body. I had flashbacks of 'The Curse of Fenric' when the Geith tried to get to the Doctor and Rose through the bars of the crypt. and the period setting itself brought back vivid memories of 'Ghost Light' , in fact, 'Ghost Light' would have been an appropriate and fitting title for this story! There were certainly shades of Season 26 in this instalment, and I could quite easily have imagined seeing Sylvester and Sophie in this kind of setting!

That is what's so odd, so far this episode has had more 'artistic' nods to the original series than the previous two, and yet I found the first two episodes much more fresher and energetic and new. What I'm saying is, being a fan of the original series 'The Unquiet Dead' should have appealed to me more than the other two, but it didn't! The story is reasonable and the acting on display is first class, even the script is peppered with some splendid dialogue, but altogether it just felt a little flat. 6/10

Marc Platt or Mark Gatiss?...I think Mr Platt's 'Ghost Light' just edges it!

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Having been subjected to intense and prolonged mockery from my wife before March 26th about how useless Doctor Who is and how pathetic I am for being excited about it, the tables have now turned to an almost paranormal degree. There was hardly a squeak out of her for the entire 45 minutes of 'Rose', and we have both now been forced to agree that 'The Unquiet Dead' is the best thing we've seen on TV for a long, long time.

As other reviewers have pointed out: malfunctioning TARDIS, spooky Victorian setting, duplicitous aliens, famous historical figure, frights and atmosphere. In a sense it WAS Who-by-numbers -- but I think older fans needed a dose of that, and this was the right point in the series to do it.

I appreciate RTD's attempts to pep up the Doctor, but I think he's gone too far, and I think Eccleston went too far in the opening episodes. Mark Gatiss's script, on the other hand, was both new enough and Who enough for Chris finally to become the Doctor, 100%. For the first time, I'm actually sad that he's leaving rather than just a little miffed. Here he was occasionally manic, but also grave, with that sense of unbreakable moral fibre that marked the best of the Tom Baker era.

The Ninth Doctor's morality, though, hides something deeper: guilt. Others have already noted that earlier Doctors wouldn't have fallen for the Gelph's deception, but the present incumbent clearly feels he has reparations to make for something (he almost got clobbered by the Nestence Consciousness for the same reason). Here his mistake results in several deaths. This is serious stuff for Doctor Who and I look forward to further repercussions as the series progresses. I also like the idea of alien incursions possibly having been CAUSED to some extent by the Doctor's actions. There's a depth to that backstory that balances the brevity of the individual storylines. They shouldn't get too bogged down in 'continuity' -- that's been the death of many a decent show (the X-Files springs to mind).

I can hardly fault the production of 'The Unquiet Dead'. The CGI was perfect: slightly unreal, echoing all those old fake 'ectoplasm' photos. You knew the Gelph's betrayal was coming, and you knew pretty well how it would look (after Gwyneth had described them as 'angels'), but it still worked for me. Suspense is scarier than mere shock, as everyone from Hitchcock to Val Lewton knew. The BBC's ability to recreate Victorian Britain is a given, but here they excelled themselves with glowing, cinematic photography.

All the performances were superb. Piper is a constant surprise and delight. She is a natural 'reactor' -- first requirement for Doctor's companion -- but is increasing proactive as the series progresses. The girlt-chat with Gwyneth (Eve Myles) was magnificent, taking numerous unexpected turns. Top marks to Gatiss for taking so much time over it in a 45-minute story. Myles was captivating and moving, taking uncalled-for trouble over a 'genre' show -- which was not always the case in the old days, when top actors often saw Doctor Who as a chance to camp it up. Also resisting camp heroically was Simon Callow, revelling in a deeper, darker Dickens. There will be those who think his performance as hackneyed as Dickens's own tired stage act at the start of 'The Unquiet Dead'; they should watch it again.

But congratulations must go to Ecclestone finally, who after all has the hardest role of all. If we like to think of the Doctor as intelligent, brave, infuriating, unpredictable, occasionally getting it wrong and basically being the most human alien imaginable, then he IS the Doctor. For now.

So, another 45 minutes of rapt viewing. Not perfect, but I think you'll find the classic series wasn't either. So good it made me wish I had kids!

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I have chosen Mark Gatiss' script as the first story of the new season I shall review for "Outpost Gallifrey". Not that I have anything nasty to say about the first two episodes particularly (Rose was, well… I'll come back to Rose in a moment, whilst The End of the World is an excellent 45 minutes of entertainment), but because this episode was the one I was looking forward to the most (the Dalek episodes, rather unpredictably, being the second). I love "Doctor Who"'s visits to the past, as it is something the BBC do well. Ghost Light, The Visitation, Masque of Mandragora even The King's Demons all look good and contain solid performances from the actors involved (even if, sometimes, the story itself is weak). The early press shoots covering the filming at Swansea led me to believe that, once again, the BBC was not to disappoint in the recreation of the past. Simon Callow, hundreds of extras, fake snow, horse drawn carriages, night filming, etc. Not only was the BBC doing what they do best, they were doing it with some serious money – on "Doctor Who"! Unbelievable! I thought I'd never see the day. Yes, I couldn't wait for this episode.

March 26th 2005 finally arrived. Not only was it my (and of course, my twin brother, Terry's) 31st birthday, "Doctor Who" also made its long awaited return with Rose (I couldn't have asked for a better birthday present – a whole new series of "Who").

Oh yes, it looked good, and Billie Pier was great, Eccleston not so great (but thankfully, his performance has got better over the next two episodes, so I'm putting his ‘dopey' personality down to post-regeneration stress or something similar), but quite frankly I was gutted. I couldn't fault the production itself, top marks to the special and visual effects team for the Autons, the TARDIS, etc. It was the story I had a problem with – or the lack of it. No wonder some newspapers slated it in the review pages. By all means you had to introduce the basic concepts of the show to a new audience, but leaving only ten short minutes for the Auton invasion and the thwarting thereof was unforgivable. As for the resolution to said invasion, having the Doctor produce a bottle of jollop he whipped-up earlier (in true "Blue Peter" fashion) is just sloppy. As in introduction episode, the BBC should have allowed it to be a bit longer (maybe an hour instead of 45 minutes) to let the story grow naturally alongside the ‘now-this-is-the-TARDIS' scenes, I feel Rose would have been a better tale for it. Then again, what do I know? A mate at worked loved Rose, he found it hilarious (especially the ‘cork-in-Auton-head' scene) and loved every second of it and is quite willing to watch the rest of the series. He praised Billie on her acting, but thought Christopher was (his words not mine) "a complete twat" though.

I was more impressed with The End of the World. Not only had Eccleston's performance mellowed (although my mate at work is still stating, "Can't stand him, when's Tennant taking over?"), the story had the luxury of the full 45 minutes to play with. The scene between Rose and Raffalo (Beccy Armory), in my opinion, is worthy of a mention. Nicely played by the actresses concerned and proof that, even at 45 minutes, "Doctor Who" can still find time for lovely character driven scenes such as this between the action set-pieces. Incidentally, my work mate thought Rose was far better than The End of the World, which just goes to show that every audience members taste is different (he also isn't a fan, so I'd say his views on the show probably are of more importance than mine). However, with a much happier heart (I'd be very worried if every episode was as bland as Rose), I eagerly awaited ‘the-one-with-Charles-Dickens'.

First the pre-credit sequence. Brilliant. If I don't hear of any complaints about the show being too scary for the little ‘uns, I'd be very disappointed. Despite the wide variety of aliens on display in the previous episode, none of them really provided much scope for terror, but then again that was the whole point of that episode. Hey, they may look different from you and me, but that doesn't mean they mean you any harm.

Now walking cadavers – that's exactly what "Doctor Who" is about; turning the everyday into something terrifying, and you can't get more commonplace than a corpse.

I've now accepted Christopher as the Doctor; he is on fine form in this story. His scenes between Simon Callow and himself are superb. Billie just keeps better and better though, the realisation that Rose really does think Gwyneth (Eve Myles) is stupid is played beautifully. Despite the time-travelling, the modern girl from London may think she knows it all, but in reality she knows nothing. This spoke volumes about both characters.

Simon Callow is spot-on as Charles Dickens, but as he's played the role many times, I expected nothing less than perfection.

Yet what impressed me most about this episode is that no-one hams it up. From the leading roles right down to the extras (sorry…. supporting artistes), not one is thinking,"It's only "Doctor Who" let's mess about a bit". What could've easily been made-up actors badly grunting in an over-the-top way (as witnessed in many poor zombie films), the final moments of the episode genuinely held some tension.

Ah yes, the final moments! If anything the 45 minute format has proven is that the story endings are rushed. In Rose a handy virus was used, in The End of the World the Doctor pulled a lever to save the day, in The Unquiet Dead…

… let's just say that once you learned very early on that the Gelth are made of gas, it didn't take a genius long to work out how they were to be defeated. It was no surprise when the obvious did occur. Just as obvious as mentioning silver bullets early in Battlefield or Hexachromite gas in Warriors of the Deep for instance. I was hoping for the obvious not to happen, but alas I had my only disappointment with this episode in this respect. However, to get to the obvious solution was an eventful and excellent adventure that I can forget this small detail. It will be interesting to see if the episode denouements become a lot more detailed and cleverer in the two-parters though, as they will have more time to tell their stories.

More well produced tales like this please. A triumph for the BBC!

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Another fine episode and from a production point of view one of the most atmospheric pieces of television ever filmed. The gorgeous location work, chilling and subtle effects and beautiful lighting combine to make this is an absolute treasure on the eyes. 

Any doubts that others writers than RTD could pull of his unique style of Doctor Who are quashed with this glorious historical episode. You have everything that the first two episodes had, the fantastic production, the witty lines, the mentions of the ‘War', the engaging narrative but this episode has the bonus of being the closest to what we fans recognise as Doctor Who. Rose clearly borrowed wholesale from Spearhead from Space and various other Doctor Who stories and was truly Doctor Who but its modern day setting gave it a new edge. The Unquiet Dead has to compete with gems such as Talons of Weng-Chiang and Curse of Fenric as Doctor Who has always had a great track record when popping back to the past, historical re-enactments being the BBC's greatest triumph in my eyes. To Mark Gatiss' credit he has delivered a smashing story, expertly squeezed into fourty-five minutes without squandering his location or period or any depth a historical can offer. This is everything Mark of the Rani should have been and half the length at that. 

It is shocking just how out of place Christopher Eccleston's Doctor is in the Victorian era considering how perfect his previous selves have fitted it. It is another layer to this intriguing new Doctor that marks him out as something very different to what we are used to. My friend Matt is having troubles with his accent, this very northern sounding Doctor proving a bit normal to be totally believable but I am finding his portrayal more and more interesting every week. Gone is the grinning loon from Rose as Eccleston grows into the role and discovers what the show is capable of and he is replaced by a far more balanced character, one who is capable of growing very angry suddenly (these sudden bursts are shocking and accentuate the fact that this is an alien we are dealing with), who can turn on the charm (“You're brilliant, you are!”), make quick decisions (as he does here with the future of the Gelth) and remain very humane (“I'm so gold I met you…”). He dashes about Victorian Cardiff (the location itself involved in a number of brilliantly time jokes at its expense), every inch the hero right up to the touching climax. 

I hope Rob Shearman was not too pissed off at Gatiss stealing wholesale his idea of the ‘little person' saving the world from Chimes of Midnight? It is so important that the new series is concentrating on characterisation over special effects. Oh you can have as much spectacle as you want but you can fill the screen with as many pretty pictures as you want but if there is no story to follow or characters to care about you will lose your audience as soon as the eye candy wears off (and trust me that high can lose its novelty very quickly…ever seen The Phantom Menace?). Wisely, Gatiss populates his episode sparsely and takes each of them on a journey, which climaxes in very different ways (murder, suicide and life affirming glee!) but which satisfies in each case. 

Whilst Dickens is clearly the centrepiece for the episode I found Gwyneth even more interesting because it was somebody I knew nothing about. Cute references aside, we all know Dickens story (and his stories…) so it is easy to predict just where his character is going (as touching as that was) but Gwyneth surprised me a lot. In one superb scene she looks into Rose's mind and has a frightening look at the future and the tone of the scene shifts several times. First, its hilarious girl chat that highlights the difference in culture between the two women which is then deepened when Gwyneth spots the cars and planes and noise of the future and then it gets REALLY scary as the Doctor reveals her part to play in this crisis. A great scene. Her relationship with Rose takes on real depth when it becomes clear that she is vital to the climax and Rose's firm admonishment to the Doctor (“She's not going to fight your battle!”) shows you how close they have become in such a short time. It was Rose's reaction to her death that affected me the most, as she starts to learn the responsibility of time travel and the fact that you cannot save everybody. 

If Rose's relationship with her spotlights Gwyneth it is the Doctor's slack jawed reaction to Dickens that reminds you meeting this man is an EVENT. And what a disappointment he is. At first. Simon Callow plays up his scepticism to such an extent he would make Dana Scully proud and yet retains the dignity and good humour of the character. You really want to shake the man and tell him this is really happening and to pull himself together! But his vital role in the climax redeems him totally and his final line and little swagger just make the episode. The Doctor's invasion of Dickens' life is given real weight and Rose is afforded a look at just how their adventures can change peoples lives for the good (Dickens) and the bad (Gwyneth). What I loved about Callow's performance was the humour he injected into it, his immediate turn around in opinion about the Doctor's character when he starts raving about his books is hilarious and his drunken speech summing up the truth about the Gelth similarly chucklesome. And his line when he is surrounded by zombies at the climax must rank as one of the best lines in the series yet. Having such a big name gives the episode real weight but it is the performance that counts and Callow does a predictably wonderful job. 

It's Christmas! The TARDIS landing at Christmas! Dontcha just love it when Rose steps in the snow as if to confirm all this magic is real. The Beeb have pulled of a real Victorian Christmas with fantastic detail and I was clapping so loud when I first saw the TARDIS land I woke the dog up! There is something wonderfully atmospheric about a ghost story at Christmas it is real shame it couldn't have been shown then (maybe they'll repeat the episode over the festive season…I'd watch it!) and my advice is to tape it and watch it again with all the lights off when its dark. Brrr…it takes a whole new level of creepiness…

Was it too scary? I doubt it, kids are used to so much nastiness on telly these days but this mix of spookiness and the fantastical might catch those of the more faint hearted. The pre-credits sequence was excellent for grabbing the attention and preparing us for the episode ahead but my personal favourite scare came at the end when the corpses started springing up en masse… it was like something out of Shaun of the Dead except it look really stylish! The theme of the dead rising is always a winner and I am more interested in hearing what the adults thought because I fairly certain the idea of corpse possession would affect them more. 

This was an excellent spooky fantasy, which probably would just be pipped by The End of the World if it wasn't for that gorgeous production which pushes it into a league of its own.

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It's a tradition in Doctor Who that, while futuristic episodes cost the Earth and look appalling (because everything has to be made from scratch), so historical ones are dirt cheap and glorious, because the Beeb has been making Victoriana since before Victoria, and can do Period Drama with its eyes shut. So after the budget-bursting End of the World, the most expensive Dr Who story ever made, what better way to mend the purse-strings than a good old-fashioned dollop of Dickensian mimsy? The answer should be obvious, at least to anyone following the spectacular trends of the series: a dollop of Dickensian mimsy with ruinously expensive CGI ghosts!

Enter The Unquiet Dead - a frightening tale behind the scenes as much as on them. As the first story in the new season not to be penned by series-creator Russell T Davies, fear was rife that the scripts wouldn't meet the high quality of what had gone before. Rumours abounded that League of Gentlemen founder Mark Gatiss would overdose on humour to the detriment of plot. Worries wafted around that the poe-faced historical setting would turn off viewers expecting a science fiction series.

In the event, as usual, fears were unfounded, rumours baseless, and worries... not a worry. Mark Gatiss was a Dr Who fan long before he was a surreally sinister sketch writer, and delivers a punchy, powerfully plotted story, with if anything more of a strait-laced and traditional approach than Russell T's breakneck paciness. After Rose and The End of the World, in fact, this feels almost shockingly slow to start with, a real slice of nostalgic, period Who, replete with Victorian mannerisms, dodgy skullduggery and ill-advised sideburns. For the first time the Doctor is given a chance to actually think, deducing what's going on and developing plans rather than leaping to a conclusion from a standing start, and the plot itself manages to feel surprisingly multilayered for what is still only 45 minutes.

Endearingly set in Cardiff as a nod to the city that hosted the season's location filming (and even more endearingly actually shot in Swansea because Cardiff has the wrong sort of cobbles), The End of the World has the same glossy, big-budget look viewers have come to expect from this series. While the exterior work perhaps feel slightly cramped, due to the small number of appropriate locations available, interiors are lavish and convincing, while the wardrobe, props and make-up department does sterling work recreating victorian aesthetics. What really sets this apart from stock period drama, however, is of course the special effects, here realised as a combination of genuinely creepy make-up effects and cgi ghostliness. The latter in particular is extremely effective - cgi being an, ahem, perfect medium, for ghosts, who aren't supposed to feel exactly real in the first place and so can afford the slight unreality that still inevitably goes hand in hand with computer graphics. There are perhaps moments that could have done with some more work - the ghosts' visual development throughout the story, for instance, could have been more obvious, and a central plot-revelation effect near the end could have been handled with much more subtlety, for instance by being omitted entirely - but these really are quibbles. Just compare this to the terrifying, er, blinking pixels, of The Awakening and see what 20 years of technology can do for art.

It almost goes without saying now that the performances are rock solid, Christopher and Billie pulling off their effortless chemistry, and Simon Callow veritably wallowing in the chance to play Charles Dickens as an actual character rather than a cipher. Much of this is due to the strong, balanced script, with ongoing hints at a plot arc running under the series continuing to intrigue, while the incidental music, so heavily criticised in Rose, here seems genuinely to lift rather than distract from the drama. All in all, a terrific episode, at once tremendously different to what has gone before, and utterly in tune with it. It would be hard to deny at this stage that the show has the width and the depth to sustain many more than its 13 episodes... And that, judging by the stunning 'Next week' trailer, things can only get better.

Oh, and the Doctor finally comes out in favour of carrying donor cards. As the proud owner of three kidneys and a second-hand liver, I can only applaud.

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I suppose I should admit from the outset that I am extremely partial to a bit of pseudo-historical Doctor Who, 'The Curse Of Fenric' and 'The Talons Of Weng-Chiang' being two of my all-time favourite serials, to name but two, so it is safe to say I had been looking forward to this episode of the new series with baited breath. I was not to be disappointed as Mark Gatiss' script delivered and the production team created an episode that will almost certainly stand up to the test of time.

All of my doubts from watching 'Rose' and 'The End Of The World' regarding the 50 minute stories being too short to deliver a real story with twists and turns have been instantly dispersed with 'The Unquiet Dead'. Everything about the plot was classic Who. The Doctor and Rose arrive in the nick of time to witness a shocking supernatural scene and get involved in the thick of things all in the first 10 minutes of the story before unravelling the mystery of what is going on to the corpses that are walking the streets of Cardiff. It was intriguing, surprising and well-plotted - the first story to lay claim to any of those three adjectives in this season so far in my opinion.

What's more, the script also stayed entirely within the characterisation of the two leads that Davies created in the first two episodes of the series. Rose is wide-eyed and questioning of the worlds she is travelling to, but feisty, headstrong and willing to question the Doctor's morals whenever she doesn't agree with his methods. The Doctor meanwhile is touched by those who are innocent and is venomous to those who are not, totally in keeping with his behaviour towards Cassandra in the finale of 'The End Of The World'. Christopher Eccleston's performance remains intriguing and unique - never before has the Doctor been played with such wide-eyed innocence and enthusiasm when meeting historical figures from the past like he is when he meets Dickens here. Eccleston's energy and vigour in playing the role is intoxicating and I was just thrilled to be caught up in the moment with him. At the same time, Billie Piper is with him every step of the way. She has a better acting range than the majority of the companions from the first 'era' of Doctor Who and is giving meatier scripts to work with. She can express anger, fear, humour and excitement all at the drop of a hat and always in good measure to the requirements of the character and the script.

The supporting cast were superb through and through, with the standout being Simon Callow as Dickens. His performance as the man gradually dissuaded from his own beliefs to accept a completely alien possibility in his world was devastatingly effective.

For all my criticism of the plots of the first 2 episodes, their production was spot on, so the fear was always that when a story was well-plotted, the production might suffer, but that was not to be the case. While not as dramatically edited and directed as 'Rose' and without all the huge special effects sequences of 'The End Of The World', the realisation of the spirits was effective and did what it needed to do.

I have to say, I don't think there has been a 'weak' episode in 2005 yet, but for me this really was the pinnacle of the series so far, right up there with some of the best stories of the classic years. Everything fell into place excellently and as I'd hoped for from Mark Gatiss, a man who I thoroughly respect and admire. Here's to more of the same.

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Doctor Who goes back to its roots with a horror story set in a period setting. Classic Who and nicely realised by all concerned.

Doctor Who always works best with strong supporting characters that are convincingly written and well acted. A fact that arises I suspect from only having the Doctor and companions as true repeating characters. As viewer we need more characters to watch so the one time only characters gain an importance that they would not have in an episode of Star Trek for example…but forgive me I digress so back to The Unquiet Dead

This episode excelled in strong supporting character. Simon Callow was a most credible Charles Dickens playing him with real depth as a once brilliant and creative man who has slowly been reduced to feeling that for all his brilliance his creativity had run dry. His psychological turn around by the end of the episode put a smile on my face. Here was now a man who had again remembered what it was to live and that life was ever full of possibilities and wonder. Something that Doctor Who itself taught me many years ago as a young boy.

Further mention should go to Eve Myles as Gwyneth who put in a very strong performance as the telepathic maid. Her speech to Rose regarding the future as she could see it in Rose's mind literally had the hairs on the back of my neck standing up. Great script and so very well delivered.

The relationship between the Doctor and Rose seems a little deeper than I would expect given their time together but the chemistry between then whether fighting or agreeing is riveting.

This episode seemed to manage more depth with the story line but I do miss the multiple episode format and I believe that the storyline depth suffers as a consequence. I can easily imagine that the reason behind the walking deep would have taken a full episode to emerge in the old days however lets be happy for what we have – great special effects, terrific acting and new Who episodes!

The effects were good and ranged from full flying ghosts to simple gas flares. The sonic screwdriver was seen again but only in passing. Personally I have no issue with that but now isn't the time to debate that! The Victorian era was nicely portrayed and the snow looked real! 

All in all a very good episode.

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The mystery of Dr Who is back. This has got to be the best new who episode yet. This episode written by Mark was the one I was eagerly anticipating 18 months ago and what a great on screen script it is. 

A pre credit sequence to proud of, capture the viewer instantly with a terrifying death, and the rise of the old lady from the casket - que music brilliant! 

I just love Chris and Billie now – what chemistry they have, and so lovely that Rose's journey is continuing with all her first's simply lovely. What a lovely scene where Rose steps outside the tardis and puts her foot in the snow a touching moment that reminds the viewer how exciting this all is. 

The leading 5 actors in this episode are fantastic, Simon Callow is amazing as Charles Dickens in a performance that captures pure brilliance throughout a very quick paced story. 

Gwyneth was particularly well cast, and her scene with Rose and what she could see in her mind of London and the death of her father reminded me of the good old days of pure brilliant story telling. 

Mark has allowed each character to grow quickly and I found myself caring about Gwyneth's fate as much as Rose. How touching to see the Doctor kiss her before her self sacrifice. This Doctor is certainly not scared to show his emotion and this is what makes Chris so brilliant to watch. 

More on Chris... just how many variations of character can he get in one episode, every week I have laughed in and his gripping stage presence absorbs you totally. 

The gas ghosts are also sheer brilliance, turning again something every day into a monster and making it work. The fans of Ghostlight must all be saying YES! 

Overall the series is moving from strength to strength capturing emotion happiness and adventure all in 45 mins. My only criticism has to be that it's all over so quickly and I just want more. Oh well, another 6 days until the next episode... can't wait!

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Doctor Who fans may be choking on thier jelly babies, but the show is hurtling at great speed through its very modern incarnation. My personal initial doubts are fading, as each show fits into its new form in very much the same way as each actor becomes suited and comforable in their own role. "The Unquiet Dead" was, indeed, a very modern take on an ear the Doctor has found himself in before, and those of a certain age may indeed be wondering why a character here didn't start singing about monkeys in a zoo and carting Rose off to Java....

"The Unquiet Dead" was the third in what must be seen now as a trio of introductory episodes - one modern day, one far future, one recent past. In this darker, more sinister episode - thanks to the writing of one member of The League of Gentlemen - the Doctor and Rose stumble into 1869 Cardiff on Christmas Eve, and straight into a tale of gaseous aliens in need of a home. The usual moral dilemmas abounded here, and in an episode with a good pace and a strong supporting cast, the story was not quite over until it was definately over; an improvement on the first two which seemed to rush to the conclusion.

Christopher "Fantastic" Eccleston is really enjoying his role, or so it seems, which makes his consequent announcement the more of a puzzle. If fans now accept that "Volume I" of Doctor Who finished with "Survival", this is very much "Volume II", starting when Paul McGann woke up in a morgue and now continuing with a character just as bubbling and with just a twinkle in his eyes for the ladies. In "The Unquiet Dead", the hint seems to be regeneration has caused the usual haphazard TARDIS navigation technique to be completely forgotten, and it is with great humour that Chris manages to persuade Rose, and the audience, that he can travel around space and time in a machine he obviously can't quite control. It was with great charm the Tom Baker direction in-joke was used to get Rose through the maze of the TARDIS and into a 'wardrobe'. 

In this episode, computer graphics again were used but unlike episode 2, here there was really only one creation - the Gelf. Here, the use of technology really helps the show, and the genuinely disturbing sight of people with ghosts coming out of their mouths was very well executed. With great charm and class, Charles Dickens found himself in a most un-natural story and it seemed like Simon Callow really enjoyed taking his own most famous characterisation into a whole new world. Unlike the first two episodes, this did not hurtle towards a conclusion, and I felt the genuine sorrow and guilt felt by the Doctor and Rose were well communicated. For here, Rose is now almost certainly not going to give up on this new life and her conversation with Gwynedd was another chance to show how her character is related to Ace in her modern take on a very bizarre new journey.

This "Volume II" Doctor is, from these past reviews alone, certainly causing some dedicated fans to break their celery sticks in two and demand the dead of Russel T Davies on a stick. Now my own initial doubts are subsiding, I hope others will see how this new regeneration has helped what was a very modern idea in the 1960s become a very contemporary idea in the 21st Century. For, surely, taking the Doctor this far is everything fans wanted. "The Unquiet Dead" shows that stories we have seen in the past can come into the future without being ripped up and ruined.

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After the first two excellent episodes of the new series I sat down to watch the third episode expecting the same standard of story and I wasn't left wanting.

A lot of people aren't warming to this 45-minute single episode stories but I am rather a fan of this format and I believe that this is the first episode that really used the format to its fullest. You had a story with a beginning, a middle and an end, all present and correct here. The excellent pre-title sequence sets up the story very nicely and it flows along quite well. The two-part stories will allow for a slower pace of storytelling but in this episode they have proved that the 45 minute single episode formatdoes work.

I must admit that the story was not half as scary as I had been led to believe it would be. Although how scary it can be when it is aimed at a family audience at 7pm on a Saturday evening it was probably about what I would have expected. I am enjoying the recurring themes of the Time War that will proliferate in this season with all the mentions of the 'bad wolf' etc. It is just the right amount of information to get the imagination flowing about what the war was about and how it ended like it did etc. Certainly it will be interesting so see how they do conclude this ongoing plot arc.

The acting in the episode was also of a very high standard with all of the people putting in sterling performances. Simon Callow was perfect as Dickens in a role that he was born to play. The fact that Callow is a renowned expert on Dickens means that he must have been impressed by Mark Gattis' take on him. Indeed Dickens in this episode has a lot to do and is a very memorable character. I like the reference to his novels and the last scene was superb! Also impressive in this episode was Eve Myles as Gwyneth who was, apart from Callow, one of the many highlights of this episode. Her scene with Rose was a lovely, well written scene which perfectly contrasted the life's of the two, similarly aged girls.

Chris Eccleston and Billie Piper were also excellent in this episode and I am really warming to Eccleston's take on the Doctor. He is a very interesting Doctor as you are never too sure what he is going to do and the ambiguity of his character is refreshing. I also love the way that he can go from being very flippant to being deadly serious in the same sentence. He handles the humourous scenes very well and I laughed out loud at the scene in the carriage with Dickens. I thought it was a perfecly judged scene and well played by both Callow and Eccleston. I also loved the line when the zombies are about to break through the gate "I'm going to die in a dungeon. In Cardiff!".

Again Billie plays Rose as the Doctor's equal and they have some good, very intense scenes together. Every week she is suprising me with her excellent performances. I hope she continues to do so.

My only criticism of this episode is that a lot of it seems very similar to the previous episode. I mean the scene between Rose and Gwyneth is very like the scene in The End of The World between Rose and the plumber. Also in both stories Rose is knocked out and locked in a room where something nasty is about to happen. You also have the main female character in the episode sacrificing themselves at the end.

All in all an excellent episode and shows that the new series is going from strength to strength.

Roll on next Saturday.

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This is the one. This is the episode, the story, the moment, where I felt at the end that the series was truly and completely back in all its former glory, and with much more besides. With this one, they complete the present-future-past cycle of the first three episodes, and they do it with tremendous style, with what I think is perhaps Mark Gatiss' best "Doctor Who" story he's ever written... the only one possibly better was his first, "Nightshade," and I can't be sure of that now since it's so long since I read that.

So, what was it that did this for me? Well, right out of the gate we have a tremendous pre-credit sequence leading into the electronic scream and the opening theme that was the equal of any of the best traditional cliffhanger endings, with an already scary-looking dead grandmother turning glowy-blue, snapping her grieving grandson's neck, the undertaker rushing in and trying to close the lid on her, her busting out of her coffin and then out onto an utterly perfectly designed Victorian-era nighttime street with snow all over the place, screaming straight into camera. Now _that's_ how you start an episode!

And then we have a nice and traditional story structure which Gatiss is usually very good at, where you take a few interesting elements, mix them together in the special Doctor Who mixing bowl, and out comes a delicious concoction. Here it's Victorian times (has the BBC ever done this wrong?), Charles Dickens played by Simon Callow (has he ever got this part wrong? (no)), a creepy undertaker, a young servant girl with second sight, and some aliens that look like they're ghosts. If these were all the elements of a book or a Big Finish audio, one such as myself might cry "cliche" or "we've seen it done before", but it's something else entirely to see it all realized on-screen in such a convincing way and by such tremendous actors. What might have been bad for the goose was terrific for the gander this time.

In fact, this was very, very much like watching a Big Finish story come to life before your eyes... like a cross between Gatiss' own "Phantasmagoria" (with the ghosts and the seance) and Rob Shearman's "The Chimes of Midnight" (with the servant girl and the class issues), and perhaps a bit of "Bloodtide" as well only with Dickens playing the part of the brilliant man in the middle instead of Darwin.

That's what made this a double joy to see. Oh, and "Medicinal Purposes" too probably, only with Christopher Eccleston instead of David Tennant. :)

If I have one teeny, tiny criticism of this story, it's that it was perhaps a bit too Big Finish-like in places. I say "teeny tiny" because the only people this affects are those who've listened to all the audios a lot, and specifically, the Eighth Doctor and Charley ones, because at times this seemed more like an Eighth Doctor/Charley story than the Ninth Doctor/Rose stories we've had so far. Specifically, I'm thinking of the scene where the Doctor talks with Dickens in his coach and blathers on and on and on about his books. He should be enthusiastic about meeting Dickens, but it seems like more of a McGann Doctor trait for him to keep running on and on and on with his sentences like this than an Eccleston Doctor trait to me. But again, this is probably just me! And a Ninth Doctor/Rose relationship that's a lot like the Eighth Doctor/Charley one is not something I should be complaining about really, since that will be a near guarantee of mainstream success, imho. (and the ratings for this week would seem to confirm that this is already happening)

As for the science fiction part of the story, I loved it to pieces. This is partly because in that slush pile story of mine I mentioned last week in the "Dreamtime" review (the one with the steamboat on the Mississippi), I had also planned to reuse the time-rifts-cause-hauntings-and-psychics device that Gatiss used here. (He beat me to it, the rotter. :) ) I say reuse because this was all Chris Boucher's idea back in '"Image of the Fendahl," that time fissures are to be found in every haunted place like Fetchborough, and was the reason Mother Tyler (oo! I hadn't spotted the name similarity till just now....heywaitaminute....) was psychic having lived on it all her life. (ooo... and could this somehow tie into this Big Bad Wolf thing that keeps getting mentioned? hmmm.) The rest of the idea, of the aliens being composed of gas, was not a million miles away from the situation in "Fury from the Deep," where the weed fed on natural gas, but sort of turned on its head, and glued together with the ghost and cadaver-possession theme, and like I said before, this new combination in the blender worked out really very well.

One brilliant touch to the storytelling was Gwyneth having already been dead when the Doctor offered to set off the explosion for her and the way that it was played. At first, you might just think that this Doctor let her do her self-sacrifice just because she asked to... but upon closer inspection on a second viewing, you can tell she really was dead (the glazed look on her face, her non-reaction to the poisonous atmosphere that forced Rose and Dickens out, and the Doctor checking her pulse) and he wasn't lying after all. But on that first viewing, you might just think that he was being a bit more selfish than usual... especially given the "damaged" issues we learn he's dealing with since last week. It's clearly that which motivates him to blunder in and help the Gelth even though all he knows about them is what they've told him... just the fact they're also refugees from the Time War was enough to turn on his pity bones and do what they asked of him. He clearly feels some responsibility for it, as this was probably also the reason he decided to give the Nestenes a chance back in "Rose" rather than just tip in the anti-plastic from the start.

And I really also love the farewell scene to Dickens, where he keeps stopping them and asking questions, and the Doctor gets to tell him his works will live on "forever." That's such a wonderful idea... imagine being able to go back in time and tell your favorite person in history how much they meant to you and to the future as a whole... like being able to show Abraham Lincoln Mount Rushmore or something. That was tremendous.

And now my extra-special mentions for some little details that I haven't seen remarked on much if at all yet. First is in the sound design, where if you now listen carefully to the interior TARDIS scenes, you can now hear the late 70s-to-80s-era original TARDIS interior humming sounds mixed in underneath the new more TVMovie-like sounds. This is especially evident during the Dickens farewell scene as the Doctor and Rose look at him on the scanner. They've also taken pains to play in the fully-restored TARDIS dematerialisation sound and let it play a good long while. That's also great. But best of all is a really, really, really neat touch from the special effects department.

Look carefully at the TARDIS as it's disappearing... look at the little bits of snow that've gathered on the sills of the panels on the police box... as the TARDIS fades away, that snow _doesn't_... it instead starts to fall to the ground, and then gets whipped up in a swirl by the wind! There's only one word for that: Fantastic!

My overall rating for this... 9 out of 10. I really want to give it a full 10, but I'm in that awful position already of having to hold off on using it as I suspect I'm going to need 10 later in the season. How about 9.2 for this one?

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I'll be honest with you. I am yet to see a story from the new series which I've felt the same way as I did watching 'Robots of Death' or 'The Curse of Fenric'. I shouldn't say so as we're only three episodes in but that's how I feel. The new series is good, but there's something missing. Perhaps the fact that CE is leaving also leaves a bitter taste...

Although, now you mention it, this has been the best episode so far. A good plot, well acted and scary. Simon Callow was brilliant as Dickens and I enjoyed the character of the maid, Gwenyth. The scene between her and Rose was a joy to watch, and reminded me of the scene where Leela undresses in front of Vince in 'The Horror of Fang Rock'. Brilliant stuff. Although I did feel her vision of Rose's world could have been omitted at the script stage. 

The 19th century was well realised, especially the interior scenes and the special effects were what we have come to expect these days. The exteriors may have been quite cramped as one reviewer put it, but the story was well executed. 

I thought to myself during the episode - "What a cop-out! The aliens are nice!" but my spine tingled when there was a lovely twist to the contrary. I just would have liked the resolution to be strung out a bit more, given more time to breathe. 

Aside from those quibbles, it was good but I've seen better. But we are only three episodes in....

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This is the first historical story of the new series, and I think that this episode, really shows off Doctor Who's ability to tell a good story.

I have always believed throughout the original series that episodes which were set in the past always looked better than the ones in the future. I believe this to be the case for two reasons, firstly, the past has already happened so we are able to be more accurate. Secondly, the BBC does period drama so well. 

This story was no exception. It had more of a plot to it than the previous two stories and had a more serious tone. We know now how the characters are thinking and what their personalities are. This means that the writers can start writing stories, rather than be constantly trying to justify each character's actions.

In this story, the writers continue the theme of a dark secret which the doctor has. A darker side to the Doctor was developing at the end of the original series and it is nice to see that that feature has been retained. It helps to keep viewers coming back for more, week after week.

As usual, the special effects were excellent, and in my opinion were better than in the previous two stories because they were more subtle, and the story was perhaps less dependent on special effects, which allows the acting to show through more.

I believe that the opening sequence was also better than in the previous episode. I though that the pre titles sequence in "The End of the World" was a little too long as an opening sequence, this one got straight to the point and had more of an effect.

The detail and intricacy of the make-up and costumes was also very important for me. I admit that it is unlikely that we will be seeing men in rubber suits in this new series, but the costumes throughout the series upto this point have been totally convincing.

Again, I think that his week's was an excellent story, the best so far and I can't wait for the next episode, because I believe that the new series has just got into full swing and can only get better.

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A mixed bag this one. Script wise, the best of the series so far. Mark Gatiss brings together a much sharper vision and brings out the mysteriousness of the Doctor far better than RTD has managed so far. Such things as the Doctor silently overhearing conversations, arguing with Rose over morality are some of the best moments yet. This is a Doctor, like the first, who follows his own laws. Yet this is the second time in three episodes that the Doctor has had to be rescued by someone else, Firstly Rose herself when an Auton grabs hold of him and now Charles Dickens.

First things first. Simon Callow made this episode, he blew everyone else off screen. I don't think there is another actor out there who could currently portray Dickens. Callow has the perfect attributes to do so, it was unfortunate then that this episode was a clunker for Billie and that Eccleston degenerated into the worst mugging and ham acting I have ever seen in the cab scene. Billie, who was fantastic last week, here descended into a kind of expressions by numbers type of acting, she did redeem herself in a couple of scenes, such as the seance, where she was genuinely naturally performing and I felt like I was watching Rose rather than Billie attempting to be Rose.

There are a couple of things that stand out as being repeated in each episode, like they want to drum it into us, firstly, Rose keeps going on about things only occurring once and no one being there to see them, or other comments of that ilk. it's feeling repetitive now. Also Rose, apart from always befriends someone who is going to die: Clive, blue plumber girl, Gwyneth, with the latter two all that has happened is that she has shown her inability to adapt, she keeps trying to turn the world to how she see's it rather than as it is. While this may be realistic for an inner city girl with only a gymnastics award to her name, if it continues it's going to become very predictable and boring. Even Leela adapted to time travel better than this. The assistant is there to show us the wonder of a new world with fresh eyes, not keep trying to turn it into something normal, because it's not and never will be. This is part of what this series of Doctor Who has lost.

I've worked out why this series bugs me, the cinematography is too crisp and clean. I don't know what it's shot on, digital film or what but the atmosphere just doesn't feel right. The special effects this week were again wonderful, the Geith were truly fantastic and wonderfully rendered but great effects do not a great show make if the overall atmosphere is wrong. It simply did not affect me, whereas perhaps a bit more soft focus or grain in the film, a bit of fog on the sets could have tightened things up considerably.

And yet another gripe about the format length. 45 minutes (to an hour) has established itself as the proper length for sci fi serials in the US and there, it works. It feels like 45 minutes. On Doctor Who it feels like 25 minutes. Something about the pacing, the amount of work to do closes down the time. It just doesn't seem to work. The American shows also have ad breaks which are perfect for mini cliffhangers. What I would have done for a cliff hanger after the Geith turn evil, the Doctor and Rose locked in the dungeon, Sneed dead and Charles Dickens running for his life. It was perfect.

Britain has not produced any proper sci fi in years (suddenly after Dr Who they've redone Quatermass), when was the last great piece of home grown sci fi? Neverwhere? The Tomorrow People (90's version) I think we've lost the knack which is why several aspects of Who borrow from Buffy or Star Trek and I think that's wrong, we have, or had our own way of doing things and used to be far more succesful at sci fi than America ever was.

Rant out of the way this episode was enjoyable for Mark's script, Callow's wonderful Dickens and the fantastically realised monsters, there were a few memorable scenes from Eccleston and that was it. The stage manager character was wasted, I've worked with Wayne (who played the character) and he's a fantastic actor and very funny. His first (and only) scene sets the character up and then he disappeared (see him out of focus on the right of the stage as the ghost attacks). Why did he exist in the first place? Is there a deleted scene somewhere? Surely he'd be out looking for his star. What was the point of this character being in the show, standing around for two scenes doing nothing? especially when I know Wayne is a very talented actor.

Also since when did the Doctor become Wales o phobic. Funny lines and of course tongue in cheek, but still cheap jokes and depressing to a Cardiff born Welshman. Especially considering the hospitality Cardiff has shown to the show. I should perhaps be grateful that a tv series even acknowledges the existence of the place. (Having a Welshman running the show being a huge boon)

Overall 8 out of 10. A really strong script that shines through any criticism I can make. Also Simon Callow is just a joy to watch (There's gonna be a problem if the guest stars keep outshining the regulars) I can imagine how scary this story would have been if it had been produced in a manner befitting British rather than American sci fi.

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Of the first three, I can honestly say that it was the episode I was least looking forward to, yet it was the episode that reminded me most of the ‘classic series,' and the one I enjoyed the most overall. I even had my Who-sceptic fiancée on the edge of her seat. "Wow" is all I can say!

Well, I can elaborate on "Wow" - Gatiss' script is further proof that the series can work exceedingly well in this format; it reminded me so much of a Hinchcliffe/Holmes/Tom Baker era four-parter, only made bite size for today's audience. I also love the idea of the pre-credit sequence, it sets up the stories beautifully and serves as a wonderful teaser - it means we still get that "cliff-hanger feel" as the action kicks off and the howl of the music kicks in even though over half the episodes in this series are stand-alone stories. 

However, to get it out of the way first, I did think the plot had weak parts, particularly in the first half of the story – Rose's kidnap by Mr. Sneed and Gwyneth for example – it seemed to have only been put in merely to build up to the scene where Rose is trapped with the ‘unquiet dead', and to compensate for the lack of a ‘real' villain initially. I also thought the Doctor walking in and the dead just stopping their advance on Rose was a bit feeble and detracted from their menace somewhat, though I would argue that the ‘zombies/gelth' or whatever you will call them weren't what provided the story with it's moments of genuine horror, they were just a gimmick. Thanks to some classy writing, the real horror came from the human element, from our own limitations.

After all, when you come right down to it, the story was about the Doctor and his relationship with Rose and to a lesser extent with the sceptical and world-weary Dickens. Gatiss picked up seamlessly where Davies had left off, exploring in depth Rose's wonder and confusion about being able to visit the past (and for new viewers explaining the mechanics of time travel and timelines etc.) as well as perhaps sewing the seeds of attraction between the two – "You look beautiful… considering" and "I'm so glad I met you." Wonderfully and tastefully done in my opinion, at least thus far! Most importantly of all, their relationship evolves in this story Rose was proved right, and the Doctor wrong. I'd assume that most of the audience too was sharing Rose's reservations about the Gelth. This I think will prove crucial to the dynamic of the series – it's not going to be "The Doctor always knows best," it looks like there will be occasions where Rose knows best, where the Doctor can learn from her. I loved how at the start of the story the Doctor was just in awe of Dickens – totally tongue-tied by this famous historical figure, obviously a literary favourite of the Doctor's – yet by the stories end, the Doctor had opened Dickens eyes to the wonders of the universe, given him a new zest for life and the satisfaction of knowing his books will last forever. In turn, Dickens makes the Doctor realise that a Timelord he may be, and a very clever and experienced once at that, but there are still some things of which the Doctor knows nothing. Once again, the Doctor teaches, the Doctor learns.

As for the main blood of the story, it had all the key "Doctor Who" elements, with the lovely gothic touch of Mark Gatiss that had "Season 14" written all over it. The atmosphere was very "Talons of Weng-Chiang" I reckon. The dead rose from their caskets, but aha! It was aliens taking them over. Of course, the lines between good and evil aren't as black and white as they were in the seventies – though they ultimately proved hostile, the Gelth did have our pity as like the Nestene and the Timelords, they appear to have been on the losing end of this "Time War;" the intrigue around this catastrophic war growing each and every week. It is interesting to note that it was referred to as a "TIME war", and that the Doctor made a point of telling Rose that her "cosy little future" can come unravelled… Is this what happened to Gallifrey? Were the Time Lords "undone"?

Charles Dickens, portrayed admirably by Simon Callow, would have stolen the show with his witty repartee with the Doctor were it not for the character of Gwyneth, touchingly played by Eve Myles. The scenes where she looked into Rose and saw the future were the best of the episode for me – and her sad demise at the end of the story left me with a lump in the throat. From watching this episode Eccleston's Doctor seems to also share the 5th Doctor's vulnerability – a quality that made the 5th Doctor one of the most endearing of all the Doctors and produced some of the most poignant moments in the series' initial 26-year run – Adric's death, being forced to kill the Silurians and Sea Devils… Here it was Gwyneth, an innocent, a "little person" who saved the world and died, paying for the Doctor's miscalculation and his inability to solve the situation another way.

The script also had a couple of lovely little touches for the fans – I thought it was hilarious how the Doctor seemed so pleased with himself for changing his jumper. After all, it's a really big deal to a Timelord who rarely changes his clothes – I don't think his first, second, fifth, sixth, seventh or eighth incarnations ever changed their outfits! Sure, they changed they coat or cloak every once in a while, but a jumper… no chance in hell! The jumper appearing identical to the one he wore before only added to the humour! I think Terrance Dicks was right when he called the Doctor a "very smelly old man."

There were some great comedy moments too – Rose accusing Mr. Sneed's hands of "having a wander"; the Doctor's derogatory remarks about Cardiff (where the series was filmed); the Dickensian quotes littered throughout the script… it was just another triumph all round. The effects, once again, were also spot on, and the location filming in Monmouth and Swansea was beautiful, especially in the snow.

A wonderful, touching, funny, and scary story, set in a winter wonderland and encapsulated by one of the closing lines from Dickens to the Doctor:

"There are more things in Heaven and Earth than dreamed of in your philosophy. Or yours, for that matter Doctor."

Last of the Timelords, brilliant, funny, fast and flawed. The 21st century Doctor!

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Episode 3 and how far have we got. Back to basics with a Doctor Who story we can all recognise. Ghosts who aren't supernatural, meticulous period setting, the Doctor burrowing through mystery and danger and a historical figure thrown in for good measure.

I loved this episode. I'd been waiting for Eccleston to settle down and settle in to the part. I'd been waiting for the uninitiated to be catered for and brought up to speed with the format we all have loved since childhood and this is where it happened. I have to admit to an anticipation of Mark Gatiss' writing as a relief from RTD's relentless comic post modern creation from eps 1 & 2 which, although sought to brilliantly reinvent the format for a new generation, sometimes smacked a little of self congratulation and rested too much on a manic humour which grated occasionally.

Before the episode, I felt a change would be as good as a rest in the writing department and I was so right.

The pacing was better in the 45 minute slot and we were treated to a great 'A' story of Victorian zombies, beautifully realised alien life forms, well served new characters and a career best turn from Simon Callow. Just the attention to detail in Dickens' life and sensibility was worth the airtime alone. 

Doctor Who at it's best deals with characters changed by meeting the doctor and Callow's Dickens was a faithful well researched revelation.

The character of Gwenyth, played out with appropriate Victorian sensibility, brought to life with a captivating performance and the mystery of her final fate was engaging and captivating.

Altogether, just enough plot for 45 minutes and not the hell for leather of eps 1 & 2 which felt like (especially 'Rose') the skeleton of a SciFi plot used to propel the characters through some genre based visually arresting eye candy for an audience raised on later Star Trek series and the output of Joss Whedon.

Then we have the slow building 'B' and 'C' plot. What a revelation to see the role of the assistant played out at its logical speed and inevitable conclusions. Sometimes you're shown something that makes you realise you should have known the truth all along and the growth of Rose Tyler is just that. Played out through all the stages she goes through; the shock, excitement, trepidation, doubt, uncertainty and glee of being a traveller in the fourth dimension. All given enough time, thought and shading, and I look forward to this delicate progression made flesh by the brilliantly talented Miss Pipper. The assistant we all needed but didn't know!

And finally, the even slower paced 'C' plot. The time war. It feels like a season long story arc in its earliest stages, or could it be planned for on an even longer timescale?

Gallifrey is gone, the war 'touched all the higher life-forms' and the truth and consequences must come out. With Rose as the continuing witness to the revelations, we can only wait with baited breath at the story unfolding and look forward to the final pieces of this multi-dimensional jigsaw puzzle.

I have my own speculation as to where it's heading, but I sincerely hope that I am wrong so the surprise of how exciting and imaginative the true answer will be a joy to behold.

So, well done Mark Gatiss. A dream come true with passion, sincerity and most of all, success.

Christopher, Billie and production team, keep it up, we're all counting the hours too each episode and thanks for bringing back that Saturday night feeling into our lives again!

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Expectations were high for this Victorian gothic horror written by Mark Gatiss and guest starring Simon Callow as Charles Dickens. But did it pass or were our expectations too great?

No doubt there will be obvious comparisons with The Talons of Weng Chiang so lets get them out of the way first. The Unquiet Dead certainly shares Talons' potent mix of horror, drama and comedy, as well as boasted some impressive location filming at night, Here however, a foggy sinister London is replaced by a busy, snowy and equally sinister Cardiff.

It also concentrated on creating atmosphere, tension and character and the pre-credits sequence was spine-tingling and effectively designed purely to scare the audience! The episodes slower pace did make me wonder halfway through, if some of the younger and newer viewers would be getting frustrated by the lack of action, in comparison with the first two episodes.

However, the seance scene was spooky and the joke about a "Happy Medium" was wonderful. The climactic scene in the mortuary boasted some wonderful special effects, especially the Gelth turning nasty, plus some more horror to scare the kiddies, as the corpses came to life and killed Mr Sneed.

Rose's scene with Gwyneth in the parlour were particularly well paid by the actresses concerned. Eve Myles managed to make Gwyneth a sympathetic and tragic character without being pathetic. Billie Piper's performance was similarly excellent here, successfully conveying her horror and objection to the Doctor's idea of helping the Gelth by using corpses, which was a neat little subplot and another way of broadening Rose as a proper reasoning character, rather than just a cipher. Even her kidnapping and bundling into the hearse which could be construed as being a traditional and cliched plot device was turned on its head as Rose later stands up to Mr Sneed and accuses him of wandering hands…

Simon Callow's portrayal as Charles Dickens was superb. Callow could have hammed it up for all its worth or played it for laughs. Fortunately, he gave us a very subtle and melancholy performance showing Dickens at first, as a tired old man but then after his encounter with the Doctor as someone whose outlook on life has gained new momentum.

The last scene with The Doctor telling Dickens his work lives on was very touching and well played by both actors.

Any bad bits? Well, who in their right mind would seriously ask a corpse who rises from his coffin, "Are you all right?" I certainly wouldn't and as a Funeral Director myself. In fact, I have to say that The Unquiet Dead has probably done for my profession what Terror of The Autons did for Policemen!

Cracking episode though guys… Keep it up!!

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Sure, the production values were very high, and this called to mind the glories of season 14. But in terms of story and characterisation, I think 'The Unquiet Dead' was more 'The Ultimate Foe' than either 'Talons' or 'Ghost Light'.

I say this because, other than running around with a grin on his face, what did the Doctor actually DO? In terms of solving problems and dispatching enemies, he was pretty useless. It was his mistake to let the gas creatures through into our world - a flaw following from his obvious sympathy for another near-extinct species, but a misjudgement all the same, and an embarrassing one considering his earlier moralising to Rose (a 'different morality' - dangerous territory). If this is what it means to make the Doctor more sensitive and human, then it is not necessarily a good thing. Then he told Rose that he would not leave the servant girl while she was still in danger, but in fact he let her kill herself to get him out of a problem he created! (Incidentally, this reminded me of the end of Revelation of the Daleks, when the lamentable sixth Doctor is unable to resolve the situation and similarly relies on another sympathetic character to take the rap.) Also, did he lie to Rose about her being already dead?? And then it was Dickens and not the Doctor who had the idea of turning up the gas lamps to save the Doctor and Rose from dying.

I have felt with all three episodes so far that there are traces in the Doctor's character of something very dark and powerful - no doubt forged in him by his experiences of 'the war'. (I was not happy with the vindictive way in which he killed Cassandra - would any previous Doctor have done that?) This has the advantage of making him more mysterious - even to us old hands - but it comes at a high moral cost, which risks compromising the integrity of the character.

Good things: Simon Callow's performance, afore-mentioned production values, Billie Piper still good. The theme of 'its not ghosts, its (pseudo) science' was a welcome echo of earlier episodes (The Daemons etc.).

Iffy things: this script was less tight than previous ones (why the seance? why did the creatures reveal their true intentions before making sure the servant girl was not in a position to stop them?) and less playfully ironic in its self-references. Some moments just a but too 'Buffy'.

The resolution was too quick - reminiscent of the Davison two-parters. And there was a problem of scale. The gas creatures were going to take over the world, but they only seemed to threaten a handful of people in one house. I suppose the same criticism could be levelled at 'Image of the Fendahl', but then IotF had twice the time (i.e. four 25 minute episodes) in which to build up a credible threat.

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With 'Rose' we saw an 'invasion Earth' style story with lots of action and witty dialogue. Then along came 'the End of the World' and we were pitched into a futuristic action style story with arguably even more laughs than Rose. Both were in my opinion great 45 minute episodes full to the brim with 'excitement, adventure and that sort of thing'. Episode 3 had some tough competition on 9/4/05!

At the end of the day, 'the Unquiet Dead' has come out top of the first three episodes in the new series. Why? Read on...

The script was beautifully written from Mark and his dialogue sparkles all the way through. All the guest cast are given lovingly crafted characters. Like in the days of Bob Holmes, each character has a story to tell. Particuarly touching was Gwyneth's tale to Rose where we learn a little of her tragic background. Add Dicken's to the mix, superbly played by Callow (he's great in anything he does), and you have a story laden with very interesting and very believable characters. You feel for these people and share their grief and unhappiness along the way. Who doesn't feel shocked and hurt when the Doctor tells Dickens to 'shut up'?

The Doctor and Rose are perfect yet again. The Doctor takes a bit of a backstep as we learn a little bit more about Rose. Again she's visibly excited about travelling. But here we see a little bit more of Rose's caring side. Her close conversations with Gwyneth (we learn that Rose's Dad is dead), her outrage over the Doctor's suggestion of using human corpses as Gelth body substitutes and her feelings of loss for Gwyneth and the news that Dickens is soon to die 'he was so nice' are superbly handled by Billie. The Doctor may take a back step in what we see and learn from him, but the bond between the pair is surely the closest a companion duo has ever been. 'I'm so glad i met you...' and Rose replies 'me too'. When i heard this i nodded with agreement.

Victorian settings always work in Doctor Who. I don't know why, but they do. Perhaps the BBC can make them so more convincingly? Watching this was like stumbling into part 7 of 'the Talons of Weng Chiang' only this time the atmosphere was so much better. This is not the only root to the shows past in this story. The Doctor meeting Dickens is similar to the Doctor seeing George Stevenson in 'the Mark of the Rani. The Doctor gives them confidence at the end of both stories. Did i even hint subtle similarities to 'Remembrance of the Daleks' at times? The undertakers behaviour to Redpath ('i'll be in the other room if you need me') and the line 'i think its gone a little bit wrong' is very similar to 'i think i may of miscalculated'. It's these little touches that make this so much like Doctor Who!

The story itself? Its very simple, but then again it has to be at only 45 minutes long. The Gelth need bodies as their's were lost in the Time War. The Auton's planet was destroyed in a war the Doctor couldn't save, so was Gallifrey and now the planet of the Gelth... the look on the Doctor's face when the Gelth reveal about their roots sais it all! So they're stealing human cadavers rather like the Zygons stole human bodies from Victorian London in 'the Bodysnatchers'. 

There is nothing to criticise 'the Unquiet Dead' on. Its job was to tell a good story and it does these exceedingly well. It looks good, sounds good and is superbly acted and directed throughout. It is also genuinely frightening at times and is easily the most eerie since the end of the Hinchcliffe era. This is truly deserving of the title 'classic' so far in the series. Well done to all those who contributed to its creation... WELL DONE! 10/10

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After going to the future in episode 2 it was obvious that the Doctor and Rose would be travelling to the past.

I'm a big fan of the new opening sequence, I think it really builds up the episode, especially in this one where we see the old woman walking out of the house screaming and then all of a sudden the Dr Who screech comes in, just brilliant!!! Everytime I watch that part I feel a tingling up my spine. However there are some things which I really didn't like.

How can a man who arranged what I consider to be the best Dr Who theme yet be so bad at the incidental music. Murray Gold, not happy, the music is terrible, in some places the music doesn't fit the atmosphere or direction of the story, and in other places it just sounds so terrible and synthesised.

Up to know I really haven't been impressed with the new Dr Who series, I liked the first episode for the fact that we are following Rose's adventure rather than the Doctors, but it was still very ordinary, the second episode was just a joke, I mean trees with teeth and breasts. But the Unqiet dead is certainly a journey back to the good old days of Dr Who. In fact when I think of this episode I think of the Hinchcliffe era, which I consider to be one of the best in the entire series. For the first time we have a story which, even though it is fiction, is actually made to be believable. I absolutely hate stories in science fiction which are so fiction that they aren't worth watching. This episode is fantastic, Simon Callow is brilliant is Dickens.

I said it before and I'll say it again. I really don't like the new TARDIS, think it is the worst design ever. In episode 2 we saw the Doctor using a bike pump and a bell when controlling the TARDIS, I know this is suppose to symbolise that the Doctor has used anything he possibly can to repair segments of the TARDIS, but I think this is going to far. I also thought that when the Doctor gave directions to the wardrobe for Rose to get changed we could've seen Rose in the wardrobe looking through clothes, and perhaps bumping into Colin Bakers jacket maybe, and saying 'Who wears this rubbish'. A note to the writers, maybe some more links between the original series and this one would help, I really think that there isn't enough.

The acting in this episode is by far the best so far, the directing is excellent. I know that this is a small thing, but I like when at the end the TARDIS dematerialises and all the snow that was on it falls off, thought that was brilliant. However, maybe it is just me, but why does the TARDIS have fluroescent lights in its windows? They didn't have them back in the 1950's, to me this just makes it look false, especially since you can see the where the lights end.

Overall a fantastic episode, want to see more stories from Mark Gatiss, just thought that the music really let it down. I also want to see some stories on other planets as well, Earth isn't the only planet around.

Before I finish off, has anyone noticed that the Doctor uses his new sonic screwdriver (which I hate, love the old sonic screwdriver, WHY DID YOU CHANGE IT!!!) like a stylus, like in episode 2 which he was trying to unlock a few rooms etc. The sonic screwdriver is a great concept, but there is such a thing as overuse.

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I am very happy to say that at last here was an episode which felt like an actual story, which was structured well, had very well-developed incidental characters, was truly frightening (especially the screaming lady walking towards us - the most scary scene in the series post-Gothic era; as was the lady glowering at Dickens in the theatre), and was very well directed, scored and realised. The Unquiet Dead is certainly worthy of the old Who cannon, and is, particularly due to Simon Callow's central performance, verging on a classic.

From the very opening scene this story reminded me of the old series - Horror of Fang Rock etc. - with the banter of two costume characters a little bewildered at events beyond their comprehension. Very nicely lit with excellent sets (or were they real places?) and a convcining atmosphere .

Mark Gatiss has provided is with the first truly memorable script in the new series. It is very well-written, with some extremely memorable and poetic lines and asides from Dickens - even the Doctor's slightly nerdish praise for him in the carriage proffers genuinely witty lines for those young viewers studying English Literature to pick up on: 'That American part in Martin Chuzzlewit....was that padding or what?' Hilarious. Equally erudite was the Doctor's reference to the ghost story, not Scrooge but the less well-known The Signalmen. Gatiss avoided pretention here by seeming to know what his characters were talking about, and this kind of didacticism, especially literary, is very welcome in a show which began as a partly educational programme, and is truly needed in escapist shows in this philistine day and age.

Gwenyth was an extremely well-developed character, which was quite extraordinary for an incidental character in a 45 minute story. Her visions of the future were poetically written, and her prudishness at Rose's sexual innuendos was authentically done. This was a very believable 1869 Cardiff. Certainly one could detect shades of Ghost Light in this story, though it offered a much more traditional and less precocious plot than Marc Platt's consumate but patchy and often infuriating season 26 tour-de-force. The zombies were realised in traditional Who-style - but my congratulations to the director for creating a truly terrifying and haunting series of moments regarding the Gelth-possessed old lady which almost reminds me of forgotten classics like The Woman In Black. This is just the sort of scariness the show seemed to lack post-Gothic era (bar Kinda) and is just what is needed to pull viewers in, especially the younger, rather than the trendy gimmicks of the previous episodes.

The Doctor was far more satisfyingly portrayed in this episode; of particular note was his very alien and slightly unsettling defence of the Gelth's right to possess human corpses to Rose, which one can imagine the early Tom Baker asserting with wide-eyed amorality. The seance was inevitable, fitting and brilliantly done. The effects for the Gelth are the best ever seen in the show regarding anything ethereal and the twist in their motives was satisfying.

Gwyneth's self-sacrifice is a very memorable moment and very well done. The finale was brilliantly exploited to include references to The Mystery of Edwin Drood - again, literate but not pretentious. The old Who cliche of bringing the historical figure into the TARDIS was nicely avoided (if only it had been so in the otherwise brilliant Black Orchid). The Doctor and Rose watching a bemused Dickens on the monitor seemed to make me believe more in the TARDIS than the previous episodes, perhaps because it harked back to old scenes - it is also quite nice to have the monitor on the console now. The ending was extremely well done and Dickens was convincingly re-energised from his pessimistic outlook on life by the end; a genuinely satisfying and moving conclusion; the protracted nature of the ending was also reminiscent of that of Talons of Weng-Chiang, and gave a highly satisfying closure to the story, which lingers well in the mind. Gatiss, being a writer by true vocation, inevitably put in the line of Dickens asking the Doctor, with visible trepidation, if his books will live on, and is elated to hear that they will 'live forever' - however long that is; this is made poignant from the fact that in the previous episode we saw the Earth explode - however, the Doctor obviously means 'forever' in the sense that his books live on his own mind, a time-traveller who, relatively speaking, possesses a sort of immortality. Brilliant and poetic. Any writer will relate to this egotistical question of Dickens's, as immortality of output is consciously or unconsciously what most writers and artists covet.

Any humour present in the script was underplayed and thus genuinely funny: from Dickens' hilarious dismissiveness as to the seance and his well-mannered sense of urgency on turning on the gas at the end to dispell the Gelth. Excellently scripted and an exceptional performance from Callow. The Doctor's line about having been in all sorts of times and places but now to die in a 'prison cell....in Cardiff' was excellently timed. Dickens' comment about the Doctor looking like a Navvy was very apt and describes this incarnation's sartorial appearance quite well given the period context.

Criticisms: ideally could have done with perhaps a second episode to really milk it and flesh it out, however, this is the first episode so far to succeed in structure in 45 minutes; the unleashed Gelth in the theatre do remind me of the ending of Raiders of the Lost Ark a bit too much; though the scene ended up proffering some of the best lines in the episode via Gwyneth's vision, the earlier part of the Rose/Gwyneth parlour scene was far too long and inapproriate given the nature of the show and the episode itself, and I did cringe at Rose's 'smile and nice bum' line which felt to me completely out of place in Doctor Who - though one supposes that society having changed much in 16 years, we do have a much more sexually literate teen population. But this is all. These criticisms are relatively par of the course for any Who story - unlike those I divulged for the two previous episodes - and overall The Unquiet Dead is exactly what we need from the new show: a story which is properly developed and explained, with memorable characters and lines, genuinely frightening and compelling, properly explained by the end, and well concluded. If only the series could sustain this standard of story, I might eventually be tempted to say, Who really is back.

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‘The Unquiet Dead' is the first episode of the new Doctor Who series not written by Russell T. Davies, instead penned by League of Gentlemen star and Doctor Who fan extraordinaire Mark Gatiss. Gatiss has, in my view, a fairly good track record with Doctor Who, having written the excellent ‘Nightshade', the hugely enjoyable ‘Last of the Gaderene', ‘Phantasmagoria' and ‘Invaders from Mars', and the flawed but entertaining ‘The Roundheads'. He also wrote the dire ‘St Anthony's Fire', but mercifully that isn't relevant here, since ‘The Unquiet Dead' is really rather good.

I'm coming to the unfortunate conclusion that Doctor Who is not suited to the forty-five minute individual episode format, since it seems to suffer from the same slightness of plot that has blighted two twenty-five minute part Doctor Who episodes right back to ‘Inside the Spaceship'. Thus far, we've had a glimpse at the defeat of an alien invasion of Earth already in progress, and a whodunit with no real suspects, and the references to the Time War, which so far has been mentioned in every episode including this one, suggest that the real agenda of the season is to unfold subplots leading to an almighty climax. Which is fine, and the characterisation has been great, but I'd like a bit more plot on a week-by-week basis. I hadn't fully realised this until I watched ‘The Unquiet Dead', which fills its running time rather well. The plot is distinctly linear, from the opening as zombies run amok in nineteenth century Cardiff, to the climax which involves a big explosion, but it develops nicely over the course of its allotted running time. 

The BBC is famous for being good at period dramas, and Doctor Who has exploited this fact many times during the past. It works just as well here as it did back then, and Gatiss script exploits the details of the period nicely, with the Gelth hiding in the gas pipes that feed the ubiquitous gas lamps of the era. Director Euros Lyn does a fine job of the episode, making good use of the horror delivered by Gatiss' script in a way that makes me keen to find out what the younger audience members made of it all; we get zombies, ghosts, and two on-screen deaths, not to mention all the eldritch screaming. Interestingly, having kept the Steward's and Jabe's demise off camera in ‘The End of the World', here Lyn shows us Sneed's neck being snapped, and the scene is quite creepy as a Gelth immediately enters the freshly cadaverous undertaker. Perhaps what is most striking about ‘The Unquiet Dead' is that all of this makes it feel more traditional than the preceding two episodes, with Gatiss tapping into how everyone remembers the Hinchcliffe era to be. There is much that is familiar here (most notably Rose being trapped in a room with two animated corpses and screaming at the top of her lungs until the Doctor rescues her) but it all works so well. It is easy to predict where the plot is going, and it comes as no surprise whatsoever when the Gelth prove to be hostile. It also comes as no surprise when the story ends with a big fireball, something I was expecting from the moment that the Doctor realises that the Gelth are made of gas. Nevertheless, the journey is tremendous fun and the story unfolds at a cracking pace. 

Gatiss once again proves adept at handling characterisation, and continues to develop the relationship between the Doctor and Rose. There are moments that might make long time fans uncomfortable, such as when the Doctor tells the freshly changed Rose, "Blimey, you look beautiful, considering." She asks, "Considering what?" and he replies, "Considering you're human." Later he tells her, "I'm glad I met you", and she replies, "Me too", and there's a frisson to these scenes that suggest this might end with the Doctor taking Rose on the console. This is not helped by the fact that the TARDIS now seems to buck and shudder during flight, since when it first materialises in Cardiff, there is a cut to the interior, where the Doctor and Rose are lying on their backs on the floor, looking exhausted but happy. Draw your own conclusions. Eccleston is very good here, and I've got used to him in the role now, so much so that lines such as the appalling pun "I love a happy medium" and his worried "I think it's gone a little bit wrong" both just sound to me like the Doctor I know. 

This aside, ‘The Unquiet Dead' sees Rose further subjected to culture shock, as she shares a charming scene with Gwyneth in which she is stunned at the servant's wages, schooling, and reticence in discussing bottoms. This is actually a great scene, as Rose gets to reach out to another human being and talk about everyday life in a way that she probably can't with the Doctor, and it takes on a more dramatic edge as Gwyneth uses her gift of second sight to see Rose's world; she's both fascinated and terrified by the vision. Most notable however is the discussion of the Gelth following the séance. Rose is appalled by the idea of giving the dead to the Gelth, prompting the Doctor to sternly tell her, "it could save their lives." When she objects further, he tells her that it is "just like recycling" and asks her, "do you carry a donor card?" Failing to articulate exactly why she objects, she annoys him to the point where he snaps, "It's a different morality, get used to it or go home." It's the sort of reminder that the Doctor isn't human that has cropped up in the first two episodes of the series and harks back to the "Sometimes you don't seem…" "…human?" scene in ‘Pyramids of Mars', and Christopher Eccleston brings an intensity to these moments that is highly effective. But there is also plenty of wit, such as when they first arrive, and the Doctor tells Rose that he's got the time and date wrong. She doesn't care, until he tells her "It's Cardiff" and she looks disappointed. For which I can't blame her. Later, the Doctor, facing death, indignantly notes, "I've seen the fall of Troy, World War Five… I've pushed boxers at the Boston tea party. Now I'm going to die in a dungeon. In Cardiff!" This is of course part of the series' tradition of mocking the Welsh, which dates right back to ‘The Web of Fear', and which I am most impressed that Russell T. Davies and BBC Wales have decided to continue. 

The Doctor also gets to meet Charles Dickens, which is possibly the best thing about the episode. Gatiss provides some sparkling dialogue, including the great moment when Dickens' driver asks his employer, "You want me to get rid of him?" just as the Doctor tells Dickens he's a genius, and Dickens quickly reconsiders, "No, I think he can stay." Amusingly, the Doctor criticizes Dickens, prompting the rebuke, "I thought you were fan", to which the Doctor replies, "Oh well, if you can't take criticism", which is almost certainly a nod to Doctor Who fans everywhere. Speaking of which, Gatiss gives Dickens the line, "Doctor? You look more like a navvy!" which nicely sums up my reservations about the Ninth Doctor's wardrobe, as is presumably the intention. Aside from providing comic relief, however, Dickens is a superbly written character in his own right, and Simon Callow's performance is exemplary. Dickens goes through real character development as the sights he witnesses forcibly open his mind, and he goes from trying to find rational explanations and becoming depressed early on, to taking a great joy in what he's learned by the end. Callow and Eccleston work very well together, and get some great scenes. One of the best is in the funeral parlour, as Dickens plaintively asks, "Can it be that I have the world entirely wrong?" and the Doctor gently tells him, "Not wrong, there's just more to learn." In fact it is Dickens who gets to save the day, reasoning that an excess of gas will draw the Gelth out of their hosts and having the courage to return to the morgue and thus save the Doctor and Rose. His farewell scene is extremely touching, as he cheerfully announces, "This morning I thought I knew everything in the world, now I know that I'm only just starting." Poignantly, the Doctor reminds Rose that Charles Dickens died in 1870, and by this point we've got to know the character well enough that the moment is genuinely saddening. However, his obvious delight when the Doctor tells him that his books will last forever is touching. 

The two other main supporting characters also work well. Alan David is perfectly cast as Gabriel Sneed, a man who chloroforms and kidnaps Rose but is by no means a bad man, just someone striving to cope with unusual challenges. As for Eve Myles' Gwyneth, she is both well written and acted, and again we get to know her enough during the episode that her sacrifice has some emotional weight behind it. The fact that she keeps going beyond death in order to save the day is an effective touch, giving Dickens the chance to point out to the Doctor that he too has things to learn. Overall, ‘The Unquiet Dead' is very successful, and easily my favourite episode of the new series thus far.

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Greedily gurning, the Dr rushes in where humans fear to tread,

Recklessly indulging his ‘fix' to confront aliens-this time the dead!

Ecstatically emphatic to enigmatically elucidate, and educate

All of HIS opinion, ignoring Rose's advice to seal a maid's fate.

Tut Tut TimeLord! Your character is written to complicate??

Etheral effects nicely impressed on the Victorian set, fittingly dressed.

Xtras a plenty ensured a busy Cardiff reality, ripe for gaseus stiffs compressed.

Peculiar ‘hammy' tongue lolling out of mouth zombies sometimes looked wrong

Effecting occasional ‘corny' cadavers which weakened make-up most strong.

Controlling editing of varying blue and white faces needed on the dead throng.

Tightly and effectively written

Analysing Dickens' life with Christmas Carol juxtaposition. 

That, like Ebenezer, he found meaning and deliverance from his melancholy.

Immediately to my mind the JOURNEYING THEME of life's folly

Ongoing, runs like myriad streams; Dickens', Roses, the Doctors too, 

Nicely meandering and full of refreshing promise the whole

Series through!

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So after an adventure in the present day and a trip to the far future, we finally get our first episode of the new series to be set in what has always been one of the most fruitful areas for Doctor Whoscriptwriters' imaginations – the past. Perhaps surprisingly, given how well the series always seems to work in the time period, this is only the fourth time that the TARDIS had landed in Victorian times in the TV series proper. While it's certainly no Talons of Weng-Chiang, it is a damn good episode, and easily carries on the high standard set out in the first two episodes.

The setting, I have to say, looks marvellous. It has become something of a cliché to say that the BBC is good at creating historical settings in its drama programmes, but it's true. That fine tradition of costume dramas serves the production team well here as they create a perfectly convincing 1860s Cardiff – well, as convincing as it can be given that none of us have ever been to that time and place to be able to compare it! Euros Lyn's fine direction shows off the mocked-up Victorian streets to their fullest, and even though this was obviously done on a tight series budget rather than that of a film or lavish Sunday night Andrew Davies serial, it never feels small or enclosed or anything less than epic. I think the snow probably helps to add a great deal to the atmosphere, of course, but throughout Lyn's direction is never less than accomplished, and it's a shame this is his final episode of the season. I hope he returns next year.

What is nicely small and contained this week, however, is the guest cast – there are only three roles of any great significance, those being Alan David as Sneed, Eve Myles as Gwyneth and of course Simon Callow in the role he was apparently born to play, Charles Dickens. All three are superb – David bringing just the right balance of comedy and the macabre to his unfortunate undertaker; Myles having a lovely combination of innocence, spirituality and instinctive intelligence; and Callow… Well, what can I possibly say about Callow that hasn't already been said? The transformation of Dickens from world-weary author despairing of the state of his life and career to reinvigorated adventurer with a lust for life is one of the highlights of the episode, and the ending as he strides off with a, of course, "God bless us, every one!" is delightful. It makes it all the more bittersweet and sad that the Doctor, Rose and of course we in the audience know that sadly he'll be dead within the year, but at least he got this life-affirming glimpse at the greater picture of the universe before he went.

Much of the excellent of the guest cast comes from the script they've been served up with from Mark Gatiss, who provides an interesting contrast to the first two episodes as of course he's the first writer apart from Davies whose work we've seen in the new series. The script is a delight – full of lovely one-liners from all of the characters, with Sneed being particularly well-served. His knowledge and love of Dickens and his work also shines through, and even if having him say "What the Shakespeare is going on?" may be historically dodgy – the expression ‘what the dickens?' apparently pre-dates the author by some centuries – I don't think anybody cares, as it's the line of the episode for me.

There's plenty of good material for the Doctor and Rose as well, with Rose's delight and wonder at finding herself in a history she has only read about or seen on television being particularly well-conveyed. Once again, however, one of the highlights for me are the little hints and suggestions about the wider picture of the season we keep getting. Rose's reaction to discovering that they're in Cardiff was intriguing, and I'm sure there's going to be some sort of link between her and Cardiff picked up on later in the season, judging by it. The Gelth's mention of the ‘Time War' is the third episode in a row when what is presumably the same conflict has been mentioned, and the Doctor's look when the war is mentioned does indeed suggest that this was the conflict which destroyed his home planet. I love this sense of mythology building, and I hope we continue to get these teasing suggestions throughout the rest of the season. Gwyneth seeing a ‘big bad wolf!' in Rose's mind also picks up on what seems to be another on-going theme, so there's plenty to keep those who follow all of the episodes interested without ever threatening to alienate more casual viewers, which is surely how good episodic drama series should work.

The Gelth's involvement in the Time War provides a nice explanation for why the Doctor is to quick to trust them and wants to help them. This seems to be a more battle-scarred Doctor than we've seen before, still reeling perhaps from the loss of his planet and his people, and eager to help a race who seem to be in the same situation as himself, lost and alone, and suffering from the effects of the same conflict. Of course it turns out that he is too quick to trust them which leads to the drama of the episode's conclusion, as the Gelth flood through into our world and only Charles Dickens can save the day.

I must admit I did find it a bit disappointing that the Doctor simply seems to give up when faced with the crowd of Gelth-possessed bodies, being more keen on mourning the fact that he's going to die in Cardiff of all places than actually trying to do something about it. It would be nice if the Doctor could be a little more pro-active at saving the day, but as the episode ends so well I think I can forgive it this, as long as it doesn't happen too often.

Poor Gwyneth dies, and with another sense of mystery – if she was dead in that archway, how was she speaking and seeming alive those last five minutes? It's left unexplained, apart from a Shakespearean quote from Dickens of course, but her death is very affecting, particularly as she'd been so likeable. The scene where she points out that Rose thinks she's stupid just because she's from a different time highlights what I think many of us subconsciously end up thinking about people who lived in generations prior to ours.

The nice little coda to the episode, of Dickens asking the Doctor about the future and seeing the TARDIS dematerialise, is structurally unnecessary perhaps, but I wouldn't get rid of it for the world. It was a little uneasy when I first heard Dickens was going to appear in this episode as Doctor Who often works better in the shadow of actual history and real people rather than confronting them head on, but his appearance worked perfectly and the ending to the episode is one of the best we've had in the whole series I think. The new series seems to be developing a habit of nice little coda endings if the past two episodes are anything to go by, and that's not something I think I'll complain about as it all adds wonderfully to the characterisations.

In short then, another terrific piece of all-round entertainment, and another example of this new series failing to put a foot wrong so far.

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Victorian England. A setting of some of the Doctor's best stories like The Talons of Weng Chiang and Ghost Light. Can this possibly live up to those Who classics?

The story starts off with the body of an old woman being taken over some ghostly creature in the undertakers of Gabriel Sneed, which is effectively realised and quite genuinely spooky. The CGI effects are quite simple, but convey the whispy creatures well. From the outset the tone of the story is given; a Victorian horror story about body possessions.

After the awesome opening titles and best rendition of the opening theme Doctor Who is ever likely to have we go to the Doctor and Rose inside the TARDIS. They're having trouble controlling the machine and it seems to shake around quite violently. This Doctor seems to be having lots of trouble with his time machine; a result of the War perhaps? The TARDIS eventually lands. The Doctor tells her they are in Naples, Christmas 1860, and tells her to dress for the occasion. He points her to a room in the TARDIS where she can find the appropriate attire. From what I've seen of this new TARDIS control room I've seen no other doors that lead to the interiors of the ship, but I suppose I'm nit-picking now. The banter between the Doctor and Rose is exceptional; I'm suddenly realising that I've NEVER enjoyed Doctor Who this much. Of course they are nowhere near Naples in 1860, but that's just another quirk of this near series which made me laugh. The TARDIS landing nowhere near it's destination never seemed funny before.

We meet a lot of interesting characters as the story progresses at a break-neck pace. Charles Dickens, here in Cardiff to read extracts from his books. Gabriel Sneed, undertaker and kidnapper of Rose in the first 10 minutes. There's Gwyneth, Sneed's assistant with psychic powers. This is what Doctor Who does better than any other programme; creates believable and complex guest characters that we come to know. That they are all effectively realised in just 44 minutes is a miracle. 

And from then on the plot follows the route of identifying the mysterious gaseous aliens, the Gelth, and trying to understand their motives. At first they appear to be benign. All they want is to allow the few that have survived the Time War to inhabit the bodies of the dead so they can survive. The Doctor wants to help them and thus comes into conflict with Rose, who finds the whole notion of allowing the dead to be compromised in such a way completely abbhorent. Billie Piper puts in an excellent performance here. Her outrage in genuine. I'm finding myself being more and more engaged by Billie's acting. Never has a companion been this good.

Of course the Gelth are far from benign. Or maybe they just want to survive and will do anything to achieve that aim; things in Doctor Who are less than black and white, and the Gelth are prime examples of this. Are they evil just because they want to kill every human being on Earth so they can inhabit their bodies, being as it's the only way they can survive? You may think so, but things are a lot more complicated. The Gelth once had human bodies but they were destroyed in the Time War, the war in which Gallifrey was destroyed and possible the Nestene homeworld. Did the Doctor have something to do with this, we wonder. Is this new Doctor much darker than we have been lead to believe? 

In the end the Gelth are stopped from entering Earth through the portal they created through the body of the wonderful Gwyneth, who sacrifices herself in the process. Rose's friendship with Gwyneth was very moving and her reaction at her death and the notion that she will never be remembered for saving the world is touching. But do I have to be concerned for Rose's mental state though. If she gets this upset over every death she sees she'll be in the loony bin by the end of the season.

The location work is beyond excellent. You really feel that you're walking the streets of Cardiff, Christmas, 1869. The mood is there; the fashions are there. It's just perfect. The acting is top notch, especially from Simon Callow as Dickins. He was a very engaging character and his initial scepticism at the Gelth was highly amusing, even when confronted by several of the things flying around his head! Special mention must also go to Eve Myles as Gwyneth. She was a wonderful character and I was genuinely upset at her death. Mark Gatiss did a wonderful job giving her such depth in such a short time.

Then there's the brief mention of the Time War. It looks like a lot of planets have been affected by this. I know this is going somewhere and I'm eager to find out exactly what. I'm also a little saddened. If the Doctor is the last of his race then that means that Susan and Romana are dead, maybe even Leela too, if she was still on Gallifrey at the time. I doubt these characters will be mentioned in the future as it would be too much continuity to explain, but I'm still worried about this; what are the fates of these characters? 

So there we have it. Was it better than The Talons of Weng Chiang and Ghost Light? Definately. This is what Doctor Who would've been with a better budget; the best Doctor Who has ever been.

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This has to be, quite simply, one of my favourite Doctor Who stories yet.

Oh, yes, reasons.

Well, for one, Simon Callow as Dickens. Who'd have thought an actor, as talented and well thought of as he, would take a guest appearance in our little show? Just goes to show how seriously it's being taken. And what a performance from him! Played with such conviction, Dickens what utterly convincing, far from the caricature that Doctor Who often made of historical personalities.

Billie's performance was, again, totally convincing. Now her character seems more settled in as a time-traveller, but she still displays perfect wonder and excitement, and, when needed, believable anger when confronting the Doctor. For all that the hype surrounding her suggests, Rose isn't cutting edge because she stands up for herself, saves the Doctor and fights her own battles – Leela was doing that back in the 70s – but because she is written and played as a normal person. She reacts in a perfectly understandable way when confronted with body-snatching aliens.

This counterpoints her with the Doctor, who behaves in a bizarre, but entirely logical, way when dealing with the Gelth. His sharp yet justified snap at Rose to get used to a different morality underlines this incarnation's view on the world. ‘It could save their lives,' he says of the corpse-stealers, and he's entirely right. It's a point that is in no way diminished when the aliens turn out to be villainous after all. Even then, the Doctor is regretful that they have to be destroyed to save humanity. As with the Nestene, he first tries to negotiate and agree terms, showing empathy for a people desperate to survive; and also, it seems, guilt for his part in the mysterious war. With Cassandra, in the previous tale, he showed no mercy, killing her in retaliation for her greed-inspired murdering.

In this and other aspects of his performance, Eccleston continues to impress, and it is a great shame he'll only have one season in which to build on his character. His evident delight in meeting Dickens is a joy to behold, and I must confess, I've always had a soft spot for dreadful puns. Also enjoyable to watch is his growing fondness for/attraction to Rose, which thankfully is subtle enough not to alter the focus of the stories, merely to add a frisson of something new.

The effects were possibly the best so far, perhaps because they didn't try to achieve the impossible. The Gelth were genuinely creepy, and the scream truly horrible, something that the ‘other' 9th Doctor's story, Scream of the Shalka, was missing. The Victorian setting was one of the best aspects, evoking a wonderful Christmassy atmosphere. Although I had hoped the Doctor would don appropriate period clothing, he actually didn't look as out of place as I had feared. Rather than being weirdly futuristic, he instead came across as more of a scruffy traveller, muscling in on proper society, which is exactly what he is.

All in all, the perfect Christmas episode. It's simply a pity the production team didn't know they'd be having a Christmas special when they produced it – how can they top that?

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We've seen the Ninth Doctor in a contemporary setting, and we've seen him in a futuristic one. So how does he fare in the past?

Rather well, actually.

The BBC have always known how to pull off period settings with considerable style, and The Unquiet Dead is certainly no exception. It looks absolutely gorgeous. However, Doctor Who has never been about cosmetics – it's about tight scripts and scary monsters, and this episode has both. The story is simple enough to be told in a half hour episode, but this allows for a more sedate pace, and a chance to build atmosphere and character. There is a huge two hander scene between Gwyneth and Rose in the middle of the episode, which fleshes out both characters enormously, whilst still being relevant to the plot and the ongoing arc story. It's beautifully played by the two actresses involved, and in a delightful reversal from The End Of The World, Rose is the cause, not the victim, of culture shock with her awareness of the future.

The Doctor also has some wonderful scenes, where he not only accepts the alien Gelth at face value, but extends the hand of friendship to them. His solution to their plight is sickening for Rose, and makes us stop to think about his moral values. Clearly this Doctor sees the big picture far more clearly than we or Rose do, and it's a superbly written scene which emphasises his alien-ness so effectively, without ever feeling forced.

The Gelth themselves are a simple, yet effective creation. The CGI isn't awful (for the second episode in a row) and the walking dead would give nightmares to most adults, never mind children. The scene where the zombies trap our heroes in the cellar is easily the biggest behind-the-sofa moment of the series so far. Doctor Who has become genuinely creepy for the first time since Androzani.

The biggest delight for me, though, was Charles Dickens. Simon Callow effortlessly justifies his status as one of the top British actors of the day, and stands head and shoulders above the rest of the (excellent) guest cast. His rapport with The Doctor is a delight to behold, and his scenes in the carriage with his number one fan made me smile from ear to ear. Dickens gets all the best lines, too, my personal favourite being “What the Shakespeare…”. 

If the rest of the series can maintain the incredibly high standard of this episode, I fear I'm going to run out of superlatives by the end of April. I don't award 10/10 lightly, but this is the second time in as many episodes I find myself doing so.

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I'd been enjoying the new series so far but this episode broke the trend. 

Firstly, can I point out something for the benefit of all would-be sci-fi writers? 99.99999% of all history involves no famous people whatsoever. The Charles Dickens character added nothing to this episode and using a historical figure is a lazy plot device which allows the writer to forego establishing a character the audience can connect with. It also stretches credibility that Dickens just happens to be in the same place and time that the TARDIS accidentally materialises. The scene where the Doctor tells Dickens how great he is was excruciating and had no sense of reality. Frankly, hardly anybody in literary circles cares about Dickens now and it's hard to believe that anyone will in another thousand years, so the fact that the Doctor has even heard of him shows appalling cultural bias. Britain is not the centre of the universe. 

The special effects were lovely to look at, but it felt as if the plot had been designed specifically to let the BBC FX department show off. Special effects are not the point of a series, they are window dressing. And even at £1 million an episode, the BBC is not Lucas Film and any special effects done on a licence budget are always going to come off as cheap. 

This was the second episode in a row that had Rose banging on a door yelling "get me out of here." Billie Piper has done a great job in capturing Rose's sense of wonder, but three episodes in, the character really needs to become more three dimensional. 

Similarly, I'm concerned about the direction that the Doctor is being taken in. Eccleston's performance in "Rose" was spot on, but more recently there's something worryingly ordinary about both the performance and the character itself. I suspect there's been a conscious move to try and make the Doctor more "human" and it's becoming irritating. For example, it strikes me as entirely wrong and ridiculous for the Doctor to be constantly apologising for things (for the fact that Charles Dickens will die, for rescuing Rose from her life as a shop girl, for the death of various supporting characters....the Doctor's seen too much death to be taking it so seriously). 

I hate to say this, but this episode has the overall feel of very obviously being written by a fan. Whilst Russell T Davies is, of course, a fan of the previous series, he's a good quality writer who conceal this in his writing and approach the job from a neutral standpoint. Mark Gattiss doesn't manage this. The insertion of Charles Dickens wreaks of a desperate attempt to bring credibility to the whole venture - something you might expect from someone who's spent his life defending a Who obsession. But next episode is a Russell T Davies product, so hopefully it will see a return to previous standards.

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I may have been critical of the previous episode, The End of the World, not because it was such a terrible story - it wasn't, and it does contain several stand-out moments - but because I felt it lacked dramatic impact (even if, as Adric would say, it tried so hard). Creepy, macabre and suspensful stories have always been my favourite in Dr Who and I feel no shame in admitting that the much-lauded Phillip Hinchcliffe era with Tom Baker is my favourite in all the series (in addition to a healthy smattering of other good stories, of course). So, how does The Unquiet Dead stand up against predecessors such as these, and indeed against the previous two installments from Russell T Davies?

In short, it stands up very well. Clearly it is a story more directly comparable to the old classics. This by no means confers immediate status - in fact, it can make it even easier to pick out "faults" - but The Unquiet Dead manages to succeed in its own right, regardless.

It helps to have a script tailored more to the 45 minute format, one that actually seems to fit this time (the first two being uncomfortably tight squeezes). This is achieved because we are now used to the two regulars, the setting is less exotic - more quickly idenitifiable - and the guest cast is kept to a minimum, eschewing the plethora of superfluous characters so evident in TEotW. All this even allows the pace, previously so frantic, to settle down - as it had to for a story set mostly within an old funeral parlour.

Our three main human guest stars all perform well (acting has been a real plus for this new series so far). Simon Callow makes a memorable Charles Dickens, but I would like to specially mention Eve Myles as Gwynneth, who seemlessly conveyed a charming combination of innocence, modesty, intelligence and beauty.

The Gelth were suitably Whovian villians. Nice to see them turn nasty on everyone at the end, highlighting the need to temper goodwill with caution. I also enjoyed the Doctor and Rose disagreeing on some important issues - not just a minor spat over his reluctance to reveal his origins - with the Doctor promoting a broader if unsentimental morality perfectly in keeping with his scientific and alien background. Some people are complaining that this Doctor lacks compassion, but the Doctor has often shown to us a slightly darker side of himself when the stakes are high, most evident perhaps in the early William Hartnell years, also in Tom Baker (take another look at Pyramids of Mars). Even Jon Pertwee could be abrasive. I like to see the Doctor operating at a slightly different level than most of us; that's what makes him so different from most TV heroes, and the more writers/producers try to humanise him, the less interesting he becomes.

It did faze me initially when Charles Dickens saved the day instead of the Doctor. Yet a significant part of this story was focusing on this man, by all parameters enlightened, intelligent and reasoning, wrestling with concepts far outside his usual sphere, and finally coming to grips with them. For such an important historical figure such as Charles Dickens not to have anything constructive to add would have rendered his inclusion an unnecessary curiosity and forfeited his character arc. There is also precedent for the Doctor playing a more subordinate role (we have to go back a bit, but right up to Tenth Planet it was often Ian or Ben solving problems and swinging into action. I haven't heard too many complaints about The Crusades, and the Doctor did precious little in that fine story compared to his later incarnations).

Amongst all this, the running subplot of a Time War is slowly gathering momentum. It sounds most intriguing. Not having read any of the New Adventures books, I have no idea what it bodes. Let's hope it's played out effectively, as big ideas can be two-edged swords.

Next week, our first two-parter, with a preview that certainly whets the appetite. For now, we seem to have a series in good hands, with two fine regulars performing effortlessly off each other, enthusiastic writing and decent technical specs.

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As the weeks approached DW 2005 kick-off, I began to look forward to some stories more than others. I recall it being so way back in the 1980s, as DWM provided previews of upcoming episodes. Of the 13 stories preparing to dazzle in 2005, the 2 that really stood out were the Dalek episode (which will be episode 6) and the Victorian one.

I only really need to look down the list of my all-time favourite stories, to show that a Victorian setting usually means brilliant Doctor Who. I really empathize with Mark Gatiss when he waxes lyrical about this period of History. It truly was a momentous era, and one where the good and bad of Human Behaviour thrived. It’s a time that has been partially romanticized, thanks to the efforts of Conan Doyle and his contemporaries. I’m sure it wasn’t as gloriously atmospheric as the majority of Fiction presents it nowadays. Nonetheless I love my Victoriana, however idealized it has become.

It’s lovely to see the wonder on the 9th Doctor, and especially Rose, as they arrive. That first step into the snow from the TARDIS was wondrous – and a glorious moment amongst many. Billie Piper looks lovely in her Victorian garb, and it’s an interesting contrast to other Doctors to see the 9th Doctor look so out of place here.

First and foremost The Unquiet Dead is a classic ghost story – one that thrives in such a setting. Getting to the heart of the matter with setting it at an Undertakers enforces this. The ephemeral presence is brilliantly depicted – showing how FX can enrich a brilliant story. For it all to work though, the basic has to be that brilliant script. Thankfully my faith in the talents of Mark Gatiss were fully justified. I was looking forward to this and the Dalek story more than any other simply because I have loved the stories of Gatiss and Shearman in the past. 

The story is rich in characterization, and replete with horror and humour. This works because of Christopher Ecclestons “more impressive with every episode” Doctor. His objective, amongst many other things, was to counter the scares with the Doctors reassurance. Thus the monsters are scary, but the Doctor is our rock – with him with us we need not fear too much!

The whole production really gives us a superb Victorian Ghost Story. From Make Up, through Scenery, through Costumes – it’s all here – exactly as I like it. It’s the night-time too, adding a further creepiness to proceedings. The direction was as quick and precise as its preceding episodes. Here though there just seems to be so much more style. I am looking forward to watching it late at night with the lights off – it will be splendid!

Another highlight of the episode is the inclusion of Charles Dickens. I was fascinated by Simon Callows portrayal. Knowing a little about Dickens (he represents the Victorian era better than anyone) this was a fine inclusion. Thanks to Callows knowledge of Dickens (his one man Dickens play aired on BBC that same night) it is clear he understands the part. It’s the best depiction of Dickens I have seen in any production. There’s a weariness to him at the start, as befits someone who will be dead within a year. Yet the wonder emerges by the end, with a strong allusion to Dickens own Christmas Carol. Additional supporting players also are impressive and don’t let the side down one bit. Gwyneth particularly stands out, particularly her selfless nature.

Billie Piper continues to be exceptional as Rose Tyler. It seems so far this season that she has been in more scenes than the Doctor – and as she is our guide that is okay. The delightful chat with Gwyneth in the back room. The aforementioned wonder at emerging in the past. She is clearly just as much of a star of Doctor Who, this time round, as the title character.

Brilliant characters, impressive storytelling, exceptional production values – it’s no surprise that millions are flocking back to Doctor Who. For a fan who has been with the show since the mid 70s, it’s all rather amazing and magical. This series above all else is capturing the wonder just beyond our doorstep. It’s capturing the glorious ideology that we all can be incredible in our own world. Whether it’s the end of the world, or in the past, the references to us now are everywhere.

I doubt this series of Doctor Who will better this, because it’s magnificent Doctor Who. Then again I wouldn’t bet on it. This series is going beyond expectations. Mark Gatiss and the production team have truly achieved greatness here – that is lovely to behold. 10/10

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Count me among the very few who have never read, heard nor seen any of Mark Gatiss's previous work. Yes, I know – I'm a heathen. But on the basis of this episode alone, you can be sure I'll be borrowing past episodes of League of Gentleman from my local video store. The Unquiet Dead is a return to the gaslight-powered horror-tinged atmosphere that worked so well in the Talons of Weng Chiang. 

A story like the Unquiet Dead is going to fail or succeed based on the performance of its actors. So it's a foregone conclusion that Simon Callow's performance as Charles Dickens was absolutely brilliant. Charles Dickens easily equals Jago, Litefoot and Duggan as one of my favourite supporting characters. I'd never met Charles Dickens, but if I had, I do believe he would look like Simon Callow.

The biggest completely out-of-left field surprise performance came from Eve Myles (Gwyneth). Along with Charles Dickens, the character of Gwyneth is the true heroine of this story. She willingly sacrifices her own life to stop the Gelth from passing through the rift. Equally as important, she forces Rose to question her own class prejudices.Her performance is subtle, beautiful and deeply heartfelt. That's three for three in the "great supporting actors" stakes (Yasmin Bannerman being the other). 

Murray Gold's incidental music (both here and in EOTW) is a humongous improvement over that heard in Rose. It's extremely subtle, and at times deeply moving, particularly towards the end during Gwyneth's final scenes. What it shows is that Gold can write very good music for the serious dramatic scenes, but he does tend to go over the top (not to mention have the subtlety of a sledgehammer) when a little levity and silliness is required.

Once again, we have an extremely strong and powerful ending:

"My books Doctor...do they last?"

"Oh yes."

"For how long?"

"Forever."

Only three episodes in, and they've already produced an episode which I now absolutely must place on my "All Time Favourites List". It remains to be seen whether this wonderful and entertaining story can be topped. Time will tell.

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I knew this would be good. As far as I could tell, only a very small contingent of fans had outright hated The Unquiet Dead. After its UK broadcast, even those who’d sneered at the first two episodes had conceded that this was better quality. I did my usual thing, first watching it with the family then by myself in the dark. On both occasions, I could very quickly tell I was watching something special.

The pre-title sequence blew its predecessor out of the water – the traditional Holmes/Hinchcliffe opening we’ve missed so much. And of course, the BBC keeps up its tradition of making the Victorian era look spot-on, even in the new Millennium. Director Euros Lyn pulled off last week’s The End of the World with panache, but has surpassed himself with The Unquiet Dead. And Mark Gatiss… what a wonderful writer! I’ve heard plenty of shocking things about Russell T. Davies’ writing style, and though I’d defend him to the hilt after The End of the World, in my opinion he still doesn’t come near Gatiss’ clear understanding of how to write for Doctor Who. I mean, he just got it so perfectly right! Let’s have a look at the evidence, shall we?

Well, I’ve already mentioned the pre-titles sequence, haven’t I? Well, in classic Who tradition, we then move the action into the TARDIS, for a bit of Doctor-Rose banter. And of course the ship’s gone off-course, it’s the sodding TARDIS, innit? Some modern thoughts have been injected into the script, such as Rose’s contemplation of turning back the clock, but soon we’re out in Victorian Cardiff… and doesn’t it look superb. Hard to believe this was filmed in Summer. This is the BBC in its element. When we enter Charles Dickens’ dressing room, we are treated to what is possibly the most sober scene in Doctor Who so far. Even the “turn of the Earth” scene in Rose and the plumber scene in The End of the World were faster-paced. And it’s refreshing. Simon Callow as Dickens clearly relishes this role, and is taking his time with his delicious lines.

Then, after a beautiful recital of an excerpt from A Christmas Carol, we’re straight into the action, with a packed theatre terrorised by a gaseous creature. In their own characteristic manner, the Doctor and Rose slip into the action… and Rose is very quickly kidnapped. I let out a cheer – Rose has had her first kidnapping scene! Welcome to the growing family of Who companions, my dear. So the Doctor hijacks Dickens’ carriage – with Dickens inside – and “the chase is on”. What wonderful dialogue Gatiss has written for the two of them. And what wonderful chemistry they have together. Once we’ve reached the undertakers’, we’re treated to a brief reprisal of the previous episode’s “Rose trapped in room with evil thingy” scene. (There was sort of one in Rose, too – is this becoming a running gag?) Once she’s rescued, we have a discussion in the drawing room that immediately evokes memories of Ghost Light. For me, that’s a good thing. Rose’s conversation with Gwyneth expands on her conversation with the plumber in The End of the World… but gives us so much more. Gwyneth is psychic… there’s a darkness inside Rose’s mind… she’s seen the Big Bad Wolf… I suddenly adore Eve Myles.

If you didn’t think this episode could be more Hinchcliffe-esque, check out the séance, and the first appearance of the Gelth. This scene gives both Eve Myles and Simon Callow another chance to shine. And more references to the “Time War”. I got goosebumps when Rose and the Doctor shared a glance. I thought, they know. So the Gelth need to survive, and Rose can’t grasp the concept of “recycling” dead bodies. Here’s a very interesting moral debate, unheard of in Doctor Who of old. And a very intriguing notion, whatever your stance. Gwyneth, of course, wants to go along with it, and we all cheer, because we can see the Gelth deserve a chance.

When Gwyneth stood beneath the arch, suddenly I got a chill. I had a horrible feeling something was about to go very wrong. I jumped when the Gelth became a demonic creature and began to multiply. This was the most frightened I’d been while watching Doctor Who since the “Ratkin” scene in Ghost Light. And that was a long time ago. When Charles Dickens saved the day, I knew this was exceptional writing – Gatiss had brought this character on a full journey. Rare for a “celebrity cameo” (both cast member and character), especially in Doctor Who. Gwyneth’s sacrifice – and the Doctor’s revelation to Rose that she was already dead – almost brought a tear to my eye, as did the news that Dickens was not long for this world. When we came to Dickens’ closing line, I felt like applauding. Even my cynical Who-hater of a younger brother (sixteen) blurted out, “That was a really good episode.” I know countless people have already mentioned their family and friends saying things like this, but this was the first time my brother had been positive about the show. So that was nice.

Even after only two viewings, The Unquiet Dead definitely goes on my Top Ten list of favourite Who stories. Pretty high too, I’d say. Kudos to the production team – writer, director, cast, crew – for creating such a piece of perfection. Hinchcliffe, Holmes… eat your hearts out.

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When 'The Unquiet Dead' was first broadcast, it felt good, and it felt great. In short, it felt like Series One had reached its peak already, three episodes in. Of course, this was arguably not to be and later episodes proved themselves to be just as evocative in terms of appreciation, but despites this I still think that there is a strong case to be made for hailing 'The Unquiet Dead' as the best of the best in Series One.

'Doctor Who' has the most remarkable formula, in that it can dip in the past and future with equal ease and get away with it, and here is a good example of the show doing just that. If everything looked fine and dandy in 'The End Of The World', then things are positively glowing throughout 'The Unquiet Dead'. Christopher Eccleston and Billie Piper seem to be having a whale of a time prancing around (or, perhaps, swanning off) in Victorian Cardiff, and their enjoyment adds to the undeniably joyful ambience that presides over this episode.

Visually, everything simply feels Christmassy- the snow looks crisp and cold, the ghostly blues and red of the gaseous Gelth by contrast look so stunning against the dark and brooding backdrops that the episode as a whole is a veritable treat for the eye. When they said they were bringing 'Doctor Who' back, and they were going to try their hardest to make sure it looked great, I bet they had this episode in mind. In terms of looking so blissfully aesthetically pleasing, 'The Unquiet Dead' is not beaten throughout Series One.

Whilst I found Euros Lyn's direction a little stale in 'The End Of The World', here it looks truly brilliant. The exterior scenes sweep in and out and about, giving Cardiff a grand and appealing guise whilst the interiors are nicely contrasted between the large and comfortable main rooms where the richer reside, and the cramped relative squalor of the servants' whereabouts.

Just observe the difference between the grandiose wide shots of Charles Dickens' horse and carriage trotting down Cardiff, and the cramped tight shots of the smaller and more haunting cellar in Sneed's house. It's visual moments like this which set scenes far better than any dialogue could ever do, and full points must go to both Euros Lyn, and the unsung hero of the New Series, the Director Of Photography: Ernie Vincze BSC.

Murray Gold's incidental music for 'The Unquiet Dead' perfectly compliments the visuals and the tone of script, with the rousing music following the explosion of Sneed's house being the highlight of it. There is arguably too much music, but when it is as good as it is here, there is little room for complaints.

Mark Gatiss' script is thankfully every bit as impressive as the visual interpretation of his words. The dialogue literally crackles, with the interaction between the Doctor and Rose managing to perfectly capture the relationship thus far exclusively established by Russell T. Davies; their banter throughout is evocative of older Doctor-companion partnerships, whilst also managing to tie in with the new direction for such a pairing. The Doctor's comments concerning Rose's Victorian costume perfectly captures this, and that is merely one moment in a story full of such delights. For me, however, the stand-out moment has to be Rose's first footstep into Victorian snow; her acting, the direction, the music, the sound effects and Gatiss' expert handling of the situation is a real lump-in-the-throat moment. You suspend your disbelief- you believe you are there.

The plot in 'The Unquiet Dead' is great too. Zipping along at a pace hitherto unknown to 'Doctor Who', the plot manages to tell the story of an alien invasion attempt, the hierarchal status of Victorian England whilst also charting the re-birth of Charles Dickens' youth. Beginning 'The Unquiet Dead' with a sombre and depressive Dickens and ending it with a reinvigorated and blissfully optimistic one gives the episode as a whole the same sort of positive feel.

Gatiss writes for Dickens so well that you can see why Simon Callow seems as happy as he is to be playing the character. His writing for the other cast is superb as well. Gabriel Sneed and Gwyneth are both instantly recognisable and well-realised characters, and the pairing of the two of them works very well indeed. As well as Dickens' story, this is Gwyneth's also. Her journey from hapless Servant girl to Saviour of the World is both touching and natural, and never feels forced. If only all writers could pull off such feats with perfection.

Perhaps best of all is the fact that 'The Unquiet Dead' boasts- without a shadow of a doubt- one of the greatest openings to a 'Doctor Who' story ever: possessed dead body kills man by breaking his neck, knocks out an Undertaker then screams out her gaseous innards in a very real sense. Cue title sequence. Brilliant!

In all, it is hard not to see why all the fuss was generated over this episode. The acting is brilliant; the script is strong; it is visual stunning; the episode throughout is aurally pleasing too with every sound effect and musical note being perfectly placed in the overall scheme of things. When the TARDIS dematerialises at the conclusion, you can see tiny flakes of snow tumble off the windows of everybody's best loved Police Box. It's little moments like this- such tiny attentions to detail- which raises this high up in the pecking order of quality throughout Series One. The general consensus was correct- 'The Unquiet Dead' really is on par with as good as it ever got.

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One of the great things I'm finding about trying to reflect upon the new (although I suppose it's not actually "new" any more, is it?) series of "Doctor Who" after a second viewing of the episodes this summer is that my natural propensity towards objectivity isn't compromised.

As a fan, I would always want to like the show, rather as you will your sports team to do well (even when, like mine, they invariably don't) and to write about it in positive terms. Hey, I would try to find nice things to say about "The Creature From The Pit", "Nightmare Of Eden" and "The Horns Of Nimon" . . .

In my profession as a journalist, I suppose (albeit subconsciously) I try to look for a more-balanced view. In doing so, though, I have reached the objective opinion that "Series One" is a great piece of television! And, when the time comes to pick the juiciest plums from the individual stories, "The Unquiet Dead" must take high order up the tree.

At this point, it's worth making an observation about Russell T Davies's contribution to this third episode. I'm sure Davies doesn't need me (or anyone else) to defend him, but I have read some opinions suggesting his stories were the weakest of the series. I think the salient point to be made is that ALL the stories in the series were Davies's vision. It was his idea to take the Doctor and Rose from the far future, and plunge them back in time the next episode. Introducing Charles Dickens and the 19th-century setting was Davies's call, as was making the alien characters of gas.

It was a fairly-significant push in the right direction for the writer, and I believe it was a similar scenario for all the other non-Davies-penned episodes. Others contributed – greatly – but this is "Russell T Davies's Doctor Who" even if his name isn't listed as writer. That said, "The Unquiet Dead" author, Mark Gatiss, used the momentum from that push, and fashioned not only a terrific piece of "Doctor Who" but a great example of well-crafted TV drama in its own right.

Period costume dramas seem to be a speciality of the BBC, and this was no exception. You could almost feel the love of the costume and set designers pouring through the TV screen. To the viewer, this was 1869 on the screen. Job done. But could the script match the quality of the setting?

No doubts on that score. And, unlike the two episodes beforehand, "The Unquiet Dead" didn't feel as if it had too much to cram into the 45-minute format. It got off to a great start with the pre-credits sequence. The Gelth-ridden old woman, eerie white light pouring from her mouth, striding towards camera was an enduring image, not just of this story, but the whole series. This was a genuinely-scary scene, and there were a few in this story – fantastic!

The pre-credit scenes (another successful break with "tradition") have generally been of a tremendously-high standard – it's hard to believe many casual viewers wouldn't stick around on the basis of those first few moments, to see how the rest of the story panned out.

Simon Callow's portrayal of Dickens was predictably brilliant, and his early interaction with The Doctor in his carriage a beautifully-written piece, expertly delivered by Callow and Christopher Eccleston – two of the finest actors around. Gatiss (and Davies) must have been thrilled to have such artists bringing the words to live.

Not to be outdone, Billie Piper's Rose continued to bloom in a fabulous period costume, and her one-on-one scene with the ultimately-tragic Gwyneth was another example of the type of high-quality dialogue we have come to expect from this series – even just three episodes in. And Eve Myles as Gwyneth was so good, even in this exalted company, she nearly stole the show from the lot of them.

And then there was the Gelth. They may have sounded good on paper, but could have looked disastrous on screen. Cue shiver down the spine at the shimmering tin-foil aliens of "Invasion of Time"! However, another pat on the back for the visual effects team. I can't imagine this was a simple process, but they made the Gelth into convincing ghostly images without degenerating into cartoon – a fine line which they didn't cross.

The Doctor's over-eager willingness to "pity" the Gelth and use Gwyneth as a "bridge" to bring them to Earth was an example of how this incarnation of the Time Lord's judgement is more flawed than his predecessors. We come to learn in later episodes that his role in the Time War (although I hope we never find out exactly what that role was) has left him on a kind of guilt trip.

It's also interesting to note that again, it wasn't the Doctor who actually does the Earth-saving – Rose did the business in the first episode, and it was Gwyneth and Dickens this time. In fact, you could reasonably argue the Doctor was actually responsible for Gwyneth's death!

An early spoiler for "Series Two" suggests that Queen Victoria will feature, and it's good to hear these historical trips appear to have a role in the series's future. If it's anything like as good a journey as for "The Unquiet Dead", we're in for a great ride.

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Filters: Series 1/27 Ninth Doctor Television
 

Was The Unquiet Dead ever going to be anything other than a massive success? A period setting that the BBC has managed flawlessly for decades, Simon Callow, and Mark Gatiss writing it; come on, it was a foregone conclusion!

One thing immediately striking about the opening of this episode is just how traditional it feels, establishing the setting and the guest characters before allowing the TARDIS to materialise. This is probably the best way to do things with the short episode format as the alternative of starting with the Doctor and Rose means that we have to take time to discover the setting at the same pace that they do, which takes time. It also gives us the sense of unknown, as an old lady's body mysteriously and terrifyingly comes back to life, as well as showcasing the brilliant period detail and flawless acting from the principal members of the guest cast. What's notable though (and I'm only saying this because I had Gatiss pegged as a comedy writer) is that while the episode is very witty it isn't actually funny; the wit is jet black and brings more of a gasp at its grotesqueness rather than a laugh. Also, the pre-titles sequence of the new series allows for a kind of mini-cliffhanger and nowhere is this used better than here, as the lady strides towards the camera streaming glowing gas from her mouth. It's almost enough to make you forget that the cliffhangers are largely missing from the series now.

The TARDIS scene after the titles shows the Doctor struggling to keep his ship from falling apart, which seems at odds with the much more controllable time machine that the new series presents. It is much more in keeping with the less predictable TARDIS of the original series, although the cynic in me says that Gatiss simply couldn't find a reason for the Doctor to actually want to go to Cardiff. Gatiss's traditionalist philosophy can also be seen from the slightly later scene where the Doctor stops Rose from going out in 21st century dress; it reminded me of Leela complaining about having to wear period clothing in The Talons Of Weng-Chiang and Horror Of Fang Rock. Although far from cosy viewing (you know, what with the walking corpses and all), The Unquiet Dead feels like 'real' Doctor Who (well, my definition of 'real' anyway) and therefore of all the episodes of the new series is the most oddly comforting. But maybe that's just me.

I'm not going to beat about the bush: Simon Callow as Charles Dickens is hands down the best guest actor in the new series. I put him up there with such original series luminaries (oh man, I love that word) as Ian Hogg in Ghost Light and Simon Rouse in Kinda. It’s a bit unfair really having his first scene opposite the stage manager as, while not exactly a bad actor, Wayne Cater just cannot cope up against such foil. It's like watching someone lay siege to a castle with a rolled up newspaper. That and his sideburns make him look like a hamster. However, this scene showcases Gatiss's clear love for the period he's writing about, with naturalistic but authentically Victorian dialogue (I know these things) and it's easy to see why he was the first person Russell T. Davies contacted to write the episode set in the 19th century.

The first sight of the Gelth is magnificent, a clear homage to Raiders Of The Lost Ark. It is this kind of effect where CGI is in its element; the smooth gloss it produces is appropriate for the effect it is trying to create for once, and there's no need to create a semblance of realistic organic movement within the swirling shapes, which is where CGI tends to fall down (see Spider Man). My only real criticism is that Gatiss gave them names far too similar to the comedy monsters in Red Dwarf, but that's hardly something I can hold against the episode itself. In terms of scariness the Gelth are too familiar looking to be truly frightening (Gatiss did say that their design was based on the traditional Victorian image of a ghost), but when on the other hand they come pouring out of a corpse's mouth...

The 'fan' scene in the hansom cab is fun but inappropriate in the circumstances really since Rose has been kidnapped. Still, it could be worse, Dickens's line of "what the Shakespeare?" is clever given that the now-antiquated phrase "what the Dickens" has its origin in Shakespeare (maybe someone could tell me which play). The zombies that attack Rose gurgle like drains in true George Romero style but on the whole the sound effects on this episode are outstanding, although not having a 5.1 surround system I can't fully appreciate the swirling sound of the Gelth whipping all around the room.

After this it gets very plotty, and this is really where Gatiss shines as a writer. He is able to combine characterisation and exposition together in a single line of dialogue, making the most of the 45 minute format. The scene where Rose and Gwyneth chat to each other in the parlour enhances both their characters at the same time as advancing the plot, and is one of my favourite scenes of the new series simply because it is executed with such virtuosity. For example, we get to learn about Gwyneth's life and character and also about Rose's world and her deceased father - importantly, we also get to see how she still makes mistakes through culture shock three episodes in. Three episodes in to her time on the show, Sarah Jane Smith was mucking in with the Exxilons like the best of them. This kind of scene shows us how much better paced this episode is than Rose and The End Of The World. Almost incidentally, and as a consequence of this characterisation, we learn of the rift and Gwyneth's psychic powers that govern the rest of the episode. In writing terms then, full marks for style and efficiency. Also it is interesting to note Gwyneth's observation that "you've been thinking about him [Rose's father] more than ever”, which is a neat pointer towards the revelation of Rose's whole agenda in Father's Day and shows how the episodes all link together. Following this, the revelations about the time war expand on this plot arc that trickles gently and subtly through the series. Russell T. Davies may be seriously lacking as a writer for the programme, but as a producer he can't be faulted.

The Gelth's betrayal is extremely frightening, and I found it genuinely unexpected. The zombies come out in force giving the audience its monster fix (again, a tradition), but how they ever thought they'd get away with a PG certificate is beyond me (then again, Pyramids Of Mars and Attack Of The Cybermen got away with Us so it's swings and roundabouts really). Unfortunately the Doctor's lack of involvement in the story's resolution (a trend of the first half of the series) doesn't truly satisfy, and how the dead Gwyneth is able to move and talk could do with more of an explanation. Usually I'm not to concerned with pseudo-authentic explanations for fictional, fantastical concepts but in cases like this where it really doesn't make much sense I feel we do need something.

The 'man reborn' coda is slightly cheesy, but I'll let it go as it's nothing terrible and this is a very good episode indeed. Its strengths are in its production and particularly the writing, as I feel that Euros Lyn is a slightly bland director, continually taking the path of least resistance (although nowhere near as ham-fisted as Keith Boak). I'll leave the episode with that beautiful image in my mind of the snow staying in a police box shape as the TARDIS dematerialises, before fluttering down to the ground - did I just call Lyn bland?

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After the draining Rose and The End of the World (2005), we’re presented with an awkwardly-titled ‘period drama’ piece: The Unquiet Dead. It benefits from comparatively slower pacing, and a satisfying linear plot – a pleasant change, indeed. Now traveling into Earth’s past, The Doctor (Christopher Eccleston) and Rose Tyler (Billie Piper) meet a world-weary Charles Dickens (an excellent Simon Callow); and the ethereal Gelth (chillingly voiced by Zoe Thorne), engrossed in their newfound habit: body-snatching. 

Although the hero-of-the-title is reduced to secondary character status again, - a suspiciously-recurring plot device… - it works. Callow’s character is the more developed – by the story’s end, he’s a changed man; psychologically reborn. He still has a promising future ahead, though we’re told it’ll be short-lived. His ‘co-star’, however, is annoying this time round. Eccleston’s dialogue is too on-the-nose, and his performance more over-the-top than previously. The Doctor – all of them - is usually the only character I completely devote my attentional resources to. I watch Doctor Who for The Doctor first and foremost. In counter-argument, we can now draw conclusions on the intriguing traits writers have enthused Doctor #9 with up to this point. He’s fallible - he was “useless” in Rose’s finale. He’s vulnerable – his troubled past manifests itself in End of the World. Here, he’s both, and with a darker, morally ambiguous side: fueled by an erroneous (optimistic?) presumption, he treads in ethically dubious water in dealings with the Gelth. Furthermore, after Gwenyth’s (Eve Myles) exit, he could – dare I say – actually be interpreted as lying to Rose’s point-blank questioning. A grey and unresolved moral dilemma: do the ends truly justify the means?

Rose’s journey continues. Again, she’s confronted by a cross-generational interpersonal culture shock in her exchanges with Gwenyth. Coyness is obviously exempt or non-existent from her semantic memory… This cathartic outburst suggests she’s relieved to be able to talk to someone her own age and gender – not demographics The Doctor encapsulates this incarnation.

Gabriel Sneed (Alan David) is well cast: an amusing individual, who isn’t essentially a bad egg. His interchangeable use of the word “stiffs” and euphemism in “the dear departed” still makes me smile!

The dialogue is lovely in places. I’ve always loved exchanges that roll pleasantly off the tongue. Mark Gatiss writes well. Good to see the precarious TARDIS on form, too. 

No review of Unquiet would be complete without at least an allusion to the impressive atmosphere and special effects – cracking stuff. This is effectively a period drama; it’s a BBC production; the BBC is renowned for its period dramas. You do the deductive reasoning. Effects-wise, The Gelth are well-visualized, and this is probably the grizzliest entry to date: zombies, ghosts, bone-breaking, neck-snapping, a generally eerie atmosphere… The pre-title sequence alone sums it up, with Redpath (Huw Phys) and his ‘unquiet’ grandmother, Mrs. Peace (Jennifer Hill). Unsettling to the unhardened, I’m sure.

In honesty, I didn’t enjoy TUD on first viewing, – namely because I was unprepared for the significant reduction in pace – but repeated viewing has done this near-masterpiece justice in my eye, although The Doctor himself lets us down. Sadly, next episode will arguably ‘restore’ the status quo… ***[/5]

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‘The Unquiet Dead’ is a fun little story. Its plot is straightforward, but nicely so, and it really feels like ‘Doctor Who’ again, with its obvious nods to the horror-based stories of the Baker/Hinchcliffe years. From the lighting of the candle in its very first moments, this story is an exercise in gothic style, and an affectionate homage to the traditional British ghost stories of Christmases past. I found it extremely entertaining throughout.

But it’s not *only* a style piece – its main strength, actually, is its wonderful characterization. Gwyneth is a great character; sort of in the tradition of ‘Image of the Fendahl,’ which the script obliquely refers to (just like in that story, the haunting is caused by time rift), she’s a psychic whom the Doctor scientifically accepts as the genuine article. Her scenes with Rose are very carefully written, revealing much about both characters. The moment when she reveal she knows that Rose thinks her stupid, and Rose’s reaction, are beautifully played by both Eve Myles and Billie Piper. This is a good Rose story in general – the “Better with two” flirting at the outset is irritating, but we continue to see the new companion’s wonder at, and difficulty with, the concept of time travel (I like the way she clings to the idea that she can’t be killed before she’s been born). Piper manages some excellent comic moments as well; my favorite: “Who’s your friend?” “Charles Dickens.” “Okay . . . .”

And speaking of Dickens, the novelist makes a wonderful, almost Robert Holmes-ian Doctor Who character. I doubt I’m the only fan who thought he’d make a good companion! One always walks a thin line when dramatically treating an extremely famous public person, even one from before the era of recorded sound. But despite the obvious fun Mark Gatiss has with the character’s Victorian diction, his script keeps ‘the Great, Great Man’ very down to earth, and of course Simon Callow’s performance is as charming and meticulously considered as one would expect. (And watching him re-create one of the writer’s famous dramatic readings is an added treat.) Dickens also benefits from the plot, figuring out how to push the Gelth from the room with the lamp gas, and living up to his reputation as a Victorian freethinker by coming to embrace his new consciousness by the end of the story.

The Gelth make nice villains – a terrible menace, yes, but they’re not entirely unsympathetic, even after their true aggressive nature is revealed. And the fact that they look like the ‘Christmas Carol’ ghosts is of course a nice touch of Dickensiana on the part of Gatiss and the production designers.

In fact, if there’s any real problem with this story of all, it’s that the treatment of the Doctor is a little bit disappointing. His getting the TARDIS coordinates wrong is nothing new, but he also totally misreads the Gelth’ s motives, and tries to force Gwyneth into the ‘spirit gate’ position that ultimately kills her (although some have suggested that the Doctor invents this idea to shield Rose from knowledge of Gwyneth’s self-sacrifice, and I suppose that’s possible). More than that, he simply takes Rose’s hand and resigns himself to death when cornered by the reanimated corpses; presumably he really would have been killed if Dickens didn’t show up at the last moment to rescue him. 

But these are small problems – overall, I actually like the Ninth Doctor’s fallibility, and Christopher Eccleston certainly gives it his all here, as usual, even if he’s a bit OTT when gushing about Dickens’s work. All in all, this is simple story, but a little Christmas jewel – one of the best Ecclestons by far.

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