HomeAll postsDoctor Who s01e03: Unquiet Dead

Doctor Who s01e03: Unquiet Dead

doctor who series 1-4 box setA review by Nalini Haynes
  • Director: Euros Lyn
  • Writer: Mark Gatiss
  • Stars: Christopher Eccleston, Billie Piper, Alan David

They’ve been to the future. Now the Doctor (Christopher Eccelston) is taking his new companion Rose (Billy Piper) to the past. He aims for 1860 but misses by 9 years; he aims for Naples but gets Cardiff instead.

A morgue is having problems with corpses animating (think zombies) while Charles Dickens is in town, preforming A Christmas Carol on Christmas Eve.

As historical episodes go, this has elements of fact to which the script gives more than a nod, utilizing Dickens’s history and novels to great effect. I lost track of how many of Dickens’s novels were referenced in the story. The Doctor also seems remarkably well-informed about Dickens himself; one wonders if Mark Gatiss, the writer, is the huge fan the Doctor claims to be.

The zombies themselves are inconsistent. One corpse awoke to murder her loving grandson then arose to attend Dickens’s performance because she’d been anticipating the performance before she died. Some definition of world order would have improved the story: are they aliens in control of empty flesh or are they humans come back to life? Decide!

When I first watched this ‘zode I remember thinking “Ooo, Talons of Weng Chiang” because horses, carriages and dresses. At about 45 minutes, the ‘Unquiet Dead’ is far shorter but still uses the culture clash with lashings of historical references.

The review copy is on bluray. I think bluray is better than DVD but it wasn’t recorded in a compatible format nor was it intrinsically remastered. The image, although not bad, lacks the clarity and detail normally associated with bluray presentations.

I enjoyed ‘Unquiet Dead’ the first time I watched it. Now I’ve seen it maybe 3 or 4 times in total; it holds up well to re-watching. Although not a traditional Christmas episode, set on Christmas Eve it’s well worth adding to Seasonal Celebratory Viewing.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 4/5 stars

My review copy is part of the Doctor Who series 1 – 4 box set on bluray.

Last time I posted a Doctor Who review to relevant Facebook groups there was a fascinating discussion on Facebook about the series in general, adding so much depth in terms of background, understanding and various points of view to the story. Please, PLEASE feel free to comment here. I’d love to host a similar discussion here, where everyone can share.

Nalini is an award-winning writer and artist as well as managing editor of Dark Matter Zine.


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