Thursday, September 5, 2013

Doctor Who 50th Anniversary: The Unquiet Dead

Doctor Who: 
The Unquiet Dead 
By Mark Gatiss 

“You're from London. I've seen London in drawings, but never like that. All those people rushing about half naked, for shame. And the noise, and the metal boxes racing past, and the birds in the sky, no, they're metal as well. Metal birds with people in them. People are flying. And you, you've flown so far. Further than anyone. The things you've seen. The darkness, the big bad wolf. I'm sorry. I'm sorry, miss.” 

The Unquiet Dead was a Christmas themed Doctor Who adventure that has all the charm of the recent Christmas stories.  Even though it wasn’t aired on Christmas Day it sure would have been at home if it was.  The story takes place on Christmas Day in Cardiff to the dismay of The Doctor and Rose as they were hoping for Naples instead.

Things get quite better as The Doctor and Rose hear a scream in a theater that just happens to be hosting a performance of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens himself.  He is doing a one man show telling of his classic Christmas Story and that is where the strangeness happens as the dead seem to have risen and one seems to be in attendance at the performance.

The Gelph is the culprit and they are a gaseous creature that uses the bodies of the   dead to walk around.  But their intentions are not what they seem and with the aid of a maid with a peculiar mental power named Gwyneth it’s up to Rose, The Doctor and Charles Dickens to save the Earth from the Gelph.

Mark Gatiss wrote this wonderful story which is the first story to take place in the past since the show returned and the first to see an actual person from history since Colin Baker’s Timelash.  The story is also very traditional and harkens back to old style monster stories from the classic series. Well in a way as it does use that same old trusted and true formula.

The Unquiet dead is a pretty neat ghost story that uses the ghost theme of Charles Dickens A Christmas Carole.  Especially when the old lady is in the audience while Dickens is performing his classic book and her face lights up like Marley’s ghost did at the door knocker.  That scene was pretty good in itself as the Gelph was floating around and The Doctor and Rose come scrambling in to try and help while everyone was running for their life. 

Love the interaction between Charles Dickens and The Doctor.  Love how The Doctor reassures Charles Dickens that he is relevant and that his books will be remembered for future generation after he is gone.  It is such a touching scene and one that just has that Christmas spirit.  Plus you have to love the comical scene where The Doctor is gushing over Dickens claiming to be his number one fan and then go right in and criticize one of his works.  It is a classic moment in its self and one that makes The Unquiet Dead memorable.  Plus it is Dickens that figures out what to do and save The Doctor and Rose at the end proving how intelligent he really was.

The Unquiet Dead has so pretty good effect also especially when the Gelph are floating around Gwyneth going from blue to evil orange.  It was a pretty cool scene with them flying around the cellar going into the dead bodies and beginning there invasion.  I guess in a sense it is the closest that Doctor Who has come to a zombie story as that is what it looked like when the dead bodies were attacking Rose and The Doctor in the cellar where they locked themselves in.   

Sometimes the simpler stories work out really well and The Unquiet Dead is pretty simple and really has nothing complicated to it.  It is generally a monster of the week adventure where The Doctor shows up and saves the day.  I like this kind of stories from time to time and they are fun to watch as there is not much to follow and they are good to watch after a long day to help unwind.  The Unquiet Dead may not be one of the greatest stories of all time but it is a pretty decent story and one of the better ones in the Christopher Eccleston era.
Grade B

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