Doctor Doctor Who Guide

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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