The Unquiet Dead

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This topic contains 7 replies, has 8 voices, and was last updated by  tardigrade 3 years, 9 months ago.

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    Craig @craig

    The Doctor and Rose travel to Victorian Cardiff on Christmas, 1869 where there have been sightings of strange gas-like creatures. They team up with Charles Dickens to investigate Mr Sneed, a man who runs a funeral parlour where it seems that corpses have come to life. It is revealed that the gaseous Gelth have entered Cardiff through a Rift, and wish to survive by taking over the corpses.

    The Krynoid Man @thekrynoidman

    I think this may be my favourite Eccleston story. It’s either this or the Empty Child. What I like about it is that it’s an interesting take on the Victorian ghost story, in fact it’s one of the few times Doctor Who has tackled the supernatural (as far as I am aware). This is also the first episode I can also remember finding really scary when it was first broadcast, so that’s probably why I’m so fond of it.
    As I believe I have said elsewhere, at this point in the series I thought Rose was a fairly likeable companion who had good chemistry with the Doctor. The scene between the two of them when they think they are about to die is wonderfully performed and shows how close their (platonic, as it should be) relationship was. It’s the moment between them I remember most.
    Rose’s scenes with Gwyneth are what I feel gives the episode it’s heart, and really make us care for Gwyneth at the end when she sacrifices herself. Charles Dickens’ character arc in the episode also adds to the core of the story and Simon Callow gives a memorable performance as well. You start to forget that he’s an actor and really believe that he’s the actual Charles Dickens.
    Honestly, with both this and Cold War, I don’t see why Gatiss’ writing has had such a negative reception with Who fans.

    I’d write more, but I find it more difficult to write about why I like something as opposed to why I dislike it. I guess I’m just a miserable so and so.

    Anonymous @

    @craig and @thekrynoidman

    hello! I hate that everyone is asleep by the time I get to posting! I too was freaked a bit by this one they looked super spooky.  I don’t really care for scary things the images stay with me. But the daleks and such don’t bother me because they don’t look scary (even in the inside…that’s just sort of squishy and brain like…) And sigh yes I do love the clothes in this episode. I also adore when there are “writers” on shows as I am a Lit geek too (and a Star Trek fan and my TNG fave is Times Arrow where Mark Twain was on!!)  but I digress. I can’t help it I’m full of sugar from a Pinterest fail that was still ok to eat but looked bad ….  GET IN MY BELLY!!!

    I also like how gwenyth comes back later as a torchwood staff member and that the torchwood series starts with her.


    Anonymous @


    You start to forget that he’s an actor and really believe that he’s the actual Charles Dickens.

    Now that you mention it, whenever I think of Charles Dickens, the only image that pops into my head is this episode. 😕

    We agree on a episode. Nothing much to add to what you said, but here is my favorite part.

    The Doctor: Fan. Number one fan, that’s me.
    Dickens: How exactly are you a fan? In what way do you resemble a means of keeping oneself cool?
    The Doctor: No, it means “fanatic”, “devoted to”. Mind you, I’ve gotta say, that American bit in Martin Chuzzlewit, what’s that about? Was that just padding or what? I mean it’s rubbish, that bit.
    Dickens: I thought you said you were my fan.
    The Doctor: Oh well, if you can’t take criticism.

    Btw, sorry for pointing out how we disagree so much. I’m not criticizing. Just different opinions, but still wanted to say it was good even without agreeing.

    That is my favorite quote from this story. I just wanted to riff off of the criticism line. The fan part is just so the quote makes sense. Ignore that part. I’m not your number one fan!

    *sarcastic voice* I don’t know what you’re talking about writing some things better.

    Cath Annabel @cathannabel

    My favourite episode so far.  This is spooky, referencing the old-fashioned ghost story, lots of literary in-jokes, Rose once again connecting with the downtrodden young women of whatever era or species that she encounters on their travels, but facing up to the culture clash between the two, plus Gwynneth’s genuinely moving self sacrifice.  And Simon Callow thoroughly enjoying himself and as others have said above, really inhabiting the role of Dickens.  The idea of meeting him at this late stage when he was weary, a bit disillusioned, lonely, wondering if his life’s work had really amounted to anything – I wanted to grab his collar and say yes, yes, your life’s work resounds still in the 21st century, both in terms of literary worth, an d in terms of his championing of the downtrodden and exploited and invisible people in society.  I’m a huge Dickens fan and loved this portrayal – I found it truly touching as well as funny.  I have generally rated Gatiss’s episodes, not sure why they aren’t popular with some.  This was the momen t I fell in love with new Who, and even the farty aliens that followed couldn’t make me fall out again.

    PhaseShift @phaseshift
    Time Lord

    Are we filling in the blanks for Doctor 9? Hell yes, good suggestion @cathannabel.

    I watched this in the run up to Christmas for the first time in a Marathon of Chrimble episodes. For the first time I counted this one in the Christmas specials. It isn’t one, but it is. Watching it, I couldn’t help thinking that the early rushes of this may have sparked the thought in Jane Tranter that “A- this is going to work” and “B- This would be perfect for Christmas. Russell – can we have a Christmas special?”

    This was the momen t I fell in love with new Who, and even the farty aliens that followed couldn’t make me fall out again.

    I’ll agree completely. I wrote that I was still trying to gel with the pacing and style of the new series, but this one seemed to strike a chord in me as well. It’s our first trip to the past, Victoriana, and Simon Callow turning in a brilliant guest performance. As Dickens. Fighting alien Phantasmagoria. Yep – we are in “only Doctor Who could attempt to get away with this” territory. 😀

    Callow is seen as something of the authority on Dickens and Producer Phil Collinson was responsible for enticing him into the role I believe. He does a lot of one man shows inhabiting Dickens (a couple have been shown on BBC 4) and Collinson used the pretense of having him “review” the script to entice him into the part. As I’ve said before, the bigger actors who appeared in the first series deserve some credit for embracing the project. There were preconceptions hanging from the late 80s (accurate or not) and it was a leap of faith for them, because the show could have ended up some kind of embarrassment for all they knew. Callow was the first one to really go for it.

    @fowl (welcome back Barnable) has highlighted my favorite scene. The look of pleased vanity on Dickens face as the Doctor “gushes” always makes me laugh. The end is curiously optimistic for Dickens (given the deaths involved), and then we get the Doctor explaining to Rose that this is really the last Christmas he’ll see. It’s that curious bittersweet aspect that the best Who episodes can summon up.


    Honestly, with both this and Cold War, I don’t see why Gatiss’ writing has had such a negative reception with Who fans.

    I’m a big fan of Gatiss in both performance and writing, but I don’t think he’s written a killer script for Doctor Who yet, which is disappointing. His stuff is usually middle of the pack for me, every time he writes. This is the first episode of the new series that I thought “Ah yes… very good”, but then it was overshadowed by Dalek, Fathers Day and The Empty Child two parter, which all raised the stakes considerably.

    I think his “problem” (if I can call it that) is that he’s possibly more invested in legacy and what I’d call revisiting the past than other writers. If I can expand:

    During the Gap years we had the novels to supplement us (Virgin and BBC Books). He was most definitely a “trad” writer in that group (there were various divisions in the novel writers, trad(itional) v rad(ical), gun v frock, etc). His new stuff was often lackluster, and his real strength seemed to be capturing the essence and dynamics of old eras while giving you his spin on them. So you had the 2nd Doctor The Roundheads which is a rare historical that is pitch perfect. You had Last of the Gaderene for three which is just about the most Pertwee thing you could experience. It’s condensed Pertwee with great characterisation and some reflections that make you think “Ah – that was what those years were all about”. That is really a great skill in spin-off media. Wallow in nostalgia and make you look at the era in a new light.

    Then look at his writing work on Randall and Hopkirk (which updates The Avengers aesthetic), The League of Gentlemen (a love letter to past Horror), his work on adapting MR James and First Men in the Moon, and the fact that all his scripts for Doctor who have been set in the past and heavily reference other peoples approaches. I think Gatiss is brilliant at capturing the past, but I think he struggles with the present, and possibly may struggle in developing a forward looking approach to the show if he was selected as showrunner. He isn’t an initiator of ideas, if you will. His strength is an adapter and interpreter. Cold War and Crimson Horror are easily his best scripts for 11, because he’s had time to consider what has happened and the performance before, I think.

    Which really doesn’t matter at the end of the day, but I think it’s just an attempt to explain why I rarely get excited by his name in the credits.

    winston @winston

    I just rewatched this one and I still enjoy it quite a lot. I like the mix of real people in a fantasy world, fact v fiction. So seeing Dickens battling aliens in the gas lines , Churchill with a Dalek  or Queen Elizabeth 1 getting married to the Doctor makes me happy. The episodes where the Doctor meets historical characters real or fiction ( Robin Hood ) are some of my favourites in part because they are ridiculous , in a good way. In a timey wimey way.

    tardigrade @tardigrade

    Continuing my rewatch and finding details I’d forgotten – in that case that Eve Myles made an early appearance in this episode prior to her regular appearance on Torchwood. Good to see her here as Gwyneth, a distant relative of Torchwood’s Gwen.

    An enjoyable episode and the idea of including Charles Dickens was a nice one. He did actually travel around and do readings of his works, especially A Christmas Carol in his later life, so that’s more historically accurate that a modern viewer might appreciate, thinking that might have been something he would have felt was beneath him. A book tour seems to have been a different thing in those days.

    The CGI and the ghost story is fairly solid, although the denouement is pretty obvious before it arrives.

    A couple of niggles. Firstly seeing the Doctor again in the series seemingly resigned to dying, which seems a little out of character with how he’s always been in a crisis, although maybe you could argue he’s fairly fresh from the Time War and may not have the same determination as normal. And secondly what looks a lot like flirting from Rose towards the Doctor. Long time viewers would know that the Doctor’s relationships are platonic, but it’s not clear that Rose (or new viewers) would, and she does have a boyfriend, ineffectual as he may be, back home.

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