Doctor Who: The Unquiet Dead

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.

Cast

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

Original Airdate

Originally broadcast on BBC One in the United Kingdom on 9th April 2005.

Synopsis

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.

High Point

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: …right

Low Point

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.

The Review

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.

15 replies on “Doctor Who: The Unquiet Dead”

  1. GrimSean says:

    Let me be the first to say…
    I, for one, welcome our new Eldhrin overlord!

    er… I mean, congrats on the promotion!

    • Timeshredder says:

      It’s the end of North American hegemony at B42!

      I just wish CBC aired the eps sooner. By the time I see’em, the discussion here is over!

      • pdavis says:

        Re: It’s the end of North American hegemony at B42!

        I just wish CBC aired the eps sooner. By the time I see’em, the discussion here is over!

        Though I have yet to watch it, we were able to get the episode off of usenet shortly after it aired Saturday. As far as I know it still isn’t airing in the US.

    • Eldhrin says:

      Re: Let me be the first to say…

      I, for one, welcome our new Eldhrin overlord!

      er… I mean, congrats on the promotion!

      Why thankyou :-) I think I irritated everyone else enough sending in the reviews, so they decided to let me post them myself so they could get some sleep.

      Oh wait, did I say that? I meant, so they could spend more time watching and reading and hunting for news to bring you the loyal readers of this fabulous site.

  2. majick says:

    Charles Dickens…
    For those who are interested, Simon Callow previously played Dickens in Hans Christian Andersen: My Life as a Fairy Tale. I found it an interesting, if historically inaccurate, glimpse into the life of H.C. Andersen. I don’t know much about Dickens, but he was portrayed as something of a braggart and quite egocentric. Their meeting takes place some twenty years prior to this episode. I found Callow’s latter Dickens a mostly consistent, aged, version of his earlier portrayal. Good stuff.

  3. max_quordlepleen says:

    Just keeps getting better

    I was pretty impressed with the first two episodes, but to me this one is a
    clear step forward. It had more story than the first two outings, as well as
    great acting. I really enjoy the chemistry between Eccleston and Piper, they
    are great together.

    I recently had a chance to watch “Pyramids of Mars”, the Tom Baker
    classic, on DVD. A lot of similarities between the two episodes, as both seem
    to be an attempt to create a “horror movie” type feel, using stock genre
    elements (zombies in this case, “the mummy” in the other). I think it’s damn
    high praise to say that “The Unquiet Dead” holds up well next to “Pyramids of
    Mars”.

  4. Alexius says:

    Billie Piper
    And, Is It Just Me, Or Is Billie Piper Really Hot?

    • Eldhrin says:

      Re: Billie Piper

      And, Is It Just Me, Or Is Billie Piper Really Hot?

      It’s just you.

      • rune says:

        Re: Billie Piper

        And, Is It Just Me, Or Is Billie Piper Really Hot?

        Hot enough to make it a little bit embarrassing to buy the latest edition of SFX at the airport.

        At least they’ve stopped hiding the bottom part of the F like they used to.

    • Dave says:

      Re: Billie Piper

      And, Is It Just Me, Or Is Billie Piper Really Hot?

      And a fair singer, if you’re into dance-pop.

  5. babasyzygy says:

    Time War
    OK, this is the second time they’ve mentioned the Time War – I understand
    that this was responsible for wiping out Galifrey in the licensed stories since
    Sylvestor McCoy’s Doctor was cancelled.

    I definitely want to know more about the Time War.

    • max_quordlepleen says:

      Re: Time War

      I definitely want to know more about the Time War.

      As long as we don’t have to encounter Crewman Daniels, I’m on board
      with the Time War.

      Spoiler: Eccleston accidentally revealed in a radio interview who the Time
      War was
      founght against, Link to interview. Personally I
      couldn’t resist.. I had to know.

  6. PaulBlake says:

    Great Story…
    Felt very much like The Talons of Weng-Chiang to me. Good to see the Doctor back in historical surroundings with madness going on all around.

    As for the issue of “no story arcs,” why is it being ignored that the episodes are twice as long as previous Doctor Who eps? We are essentially getting both parts of a two-parter in one showing. Later multi-part episodes like this Saturday’s Aliens of London (Leading into World War Three next week) are actually twice as many parts as they seem to be. So instead of a two-parter, the next two episodes are essentially a four-parter.

    God bless Usenet, and God bless superravo for posting the episodes, whoever they are.

    • Eldhrin says:

      Re: Great Story…

      As for the issue of “no story arcs,” why is it being ignored that the episodes are twice as long as previous Doctor Who eps? We are essentially getting both parts of a two-parter in one showing. Later multi-part episodes like this Saturday’s Aliens of London (Leading into World War Three next week) are actually twice as many parts as they seem to be. So instead of a two-parter, the next two episodes are essentially a four-parter.

      Yes, but most of the stories from the old series were four-parters – the two-parters mainly came from the time they experimented with 45-minute episodes. So we still come up short.

    • roseblood says:

      Re: Great Story…

      Felt very much like The Talons of Weng-Chiang to me. Good to see the Doctor back in historical surroundings with madness going on all around.

      As for the issue of “no story arcs,” why is it being ignored that the episodes are twice as long as previous Doctor Who eps?

      Of course an hour long show has gone from being 52 minutes, then down from 45, now down to 42 (once you subtract opening and closing credits and commercials.)

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