Doctor Doctor Who Guide

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!

Filters: Series 1/27 Ninth Doctor Television