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Doctor Who 2005-2017 : The RTD & Moffat Years

Started by daf, May 03, 2021, 09:09:11 AM

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Just read that in the novel of TUAT, Paul Cornell retcons the sexism as The First Doctor making fun of The Twelfth Doctor's perception of him.

Mister Six

Everyone, myself included, seemed quite excited when The Unquiet Dead aired, what with its lack of burping bins and Britney Spears montages. Simon Callow as Charles Dickens! A minimum of daft gags! Zombies, back before they were played out to absolute fuckery and back again! This is what Doctor Who is meant to be!

Watching it now, though, it's probably the least impressive and entertaining of the opening salvo. The plot is a pretty basic A-then-B-then-C-then-D affair that almost happens in real time and provides little in the way of surprises; Callow's Dickens is a bit broad and hokey but not in a way that's campily entertaining, just occasionally vaguely unconvincing; and it all reeks of a squeezed budget - some of the sets (especially Dickens' dressing room) look sparse and staged, the dialogue sounds echoey and amateurishly recorded in places, and though a bit of effort is going into composition and camera positions, they apparently haven't quite figured out how to light the smeary SD digital video that's being used (I think - film didn't used to look this bad, did it?).

Not that it's bad at all - in fact, I think it might end up being my favourite Gatiss script after The Crimson Horror. I don't generally get along with his stories much, and I think it's usually down to two things: first, he has a tendency to rely on really crap CITV-level jokes and a hokey pantomimey atmosphere (the bloke shaking his fist at the fleeing Germans in Victory of the Daleks, the shit Tom-Tom gag in Crimson, everyone laughing at the naff joke at the end of Cold War, absolutely anything involving Robin cocking Hood), and second, I find his stories to be primarily focused on fairly humdrum by-the-numbers Doctor Who plotting with near-zero emotional weight, and what emotion there is confined to some easily ignored B-plot.

But this one is played more or less straight, with just a splash of humour that doesn't feel try-hard or out of place[nb]Dickens' "What the Shakespeare?" and the response to The Doctor's "I'm from up there" being "Brecon?"[/nb] and Dickens is quite sensitively portrayed and decently tied into the main story, so that his renewed lease of life feels like the conclusion to a decent little episode arc rather than something Gatiss crowbarred in because RTD kept telling him off (yes, I remember you, racist dad from The Idiot's Lantern). It's not a classic, nor terrible, and while it's not really worth revisiting except for a completist rewatch, I don't begrudge its existence.


By the by, I'd completely forgotten that Rose's primary trait in the early episodes is a compulsion to make small talk with servants and low-level workers. She'll be doing it again when she talks to Kurt from Teachers in 10 Downing Street next episode, won't she? Trying to remember where it crops up again after that. Minor soldier in Dalek? Satellite worker in The Long Game?