Doctor Doctor Who Guide

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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