Doctor Doctor Who Guide

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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