Doctor Doctor Who Guide

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.

Filters: Series 1/27 Ninth Doctor Television