The Doctor and Rose visit Cardiff in 1869. Needless to say, there’s something rather odd going on, and they soon end up in the middle of it.
Christopher Ecclestone as the Doctor
Billie Piper as Rose Tyler
Alan David as Gabriel Sneed
Huw Rhys as Redpath
Jennifer Hill as Mrs Peace
Eve Myles as Gwyneth
Simon Callow as Charles Dickens
Wayne Cater as the Stage Manager
Meic Povey as the Driver
Zoe Thorne as the Gelth
Directed by Euros Lyn
Written by Mark Gatiss
Originally broadcast on BBC One in the United Kingdom on 9th April 2005.
Having seen the future, the Doctor decides that Rose should see the past, and takes the TARDIS to Cardiff in 1869, where gaseous life forms are possessing the bodies of the recently deceased.
Doctor: I got it wrong. It’s not 1860, it’s 1869.
Rose: I don’t care
Doctor: And it’s not Naples
Rose: I don’t care
Doctor: It’s Cardiff
Rose and the Doctor about to die. Firstly, we know that they won’t (the curiosity was maintained by how they were going to escape, as is usual in these situations, but really), and secondly, I didn’t think the Doctor’s reaction to his imminent demise was quite fitting with the character I thought he had.
Zombies have been done. And done. And done again. These weren’t normal zombies though. The plot twist was also not entirely surprising, but was extremely appropriate. Old elements, but it felt quite new. For originality, I give it four out of six.
About the best effects we’ve seen so far. The Gelth looked great, and all the computer-generated effects were blended into the live action footage extremely well. The only thing is that glowing things should perhaps cast just a little bit of light on their surroundings, shouldn’t they? Five out of six.
The story was interesting, poignant and with a twist, some self-sacrifice and a healthy dose of tragedy. It would have been better if they’d not used Charles Dickens but instead an anonymous person of the time, as this felt forced and inappropriate to me. Gwyneth’s part in the story was excellent. The ending was slightly rushed, but we’ve got used to that, and in all honesty I’m not sure they could have timed it any differently. Five out of six.
All the cast acted well. I couldn’t quite get past the actor playing Charles Dickens, as he still seemed to me to be the Master of the Revels from Shakespeare in Love. No complaints really. Five out of six.
Gwyneth’s situation is quite enough to provoke a strong emotional response, even without adding everything else on top of it. Five out of six.
The camera work was faultless, the editing nigh on perfect, sound beautifully done and the overall design was lavish and appropriate. I particularly appreciated the zombie makeup. A worthy five out of six for production.
Overall an impressive episode in an already impressive series. This one has to be the best so far in terms of sheer interest and enjoyment. Five out of six, and a round of applause.
And that leaves an impressive total score of thirty-four out of forty-two. If the series continues like this my misgivings about single-episode stories are going to prove unfounded, because this week they showed that they can pull it off. Of course it doesn’t have as much depth or meaning as a story like The Curse of Fenric, but if you delved much further into this episode’s subject matter it would probably be terrifying.