|Originally Broadcast 9th April 2005|
Written by: Mark Gatiss
In a nutshell: Showing off, the Doctor takes Rose back in time to Cardiff in the year 1869 where the dead are walking.
Review: This episode is yet another brilliant addition to the new series, obviously having to travel back in time to complete the trilogy of “Present day/Future/Historical” in the journey we’re taking alongside Rose Tyler. After an initial introduction with the Doctor and Rose, where we get the Doc showing off, we go to Sneed’s funeral home. This scene sets the tone of the episode incredibly with such ease, giving us a mix of comedy and horror, which somehow blend together to create a great episode. Sneed’s natural unsurprised reaction to the dead walking is so funny to see and recurs through the opening ten minutes of the episode.
Amongst this we get Charles (Charlie) Dickens played by Simon Callow, a great big name to really show off the new series, it must’ve been a big risk for Callow looking at the shows reputation back in 2004. The character for Dickens is great, starting off miserable and at the end of his life, this episode is probably the best for showing someone (famous) how they can go on and their life isn’t over. By the end of the episode Dickens is completely changed, which is so nice to see, although it’s slightly ruined by our still-not-so-nice Doctor informing us and Rose how he will die the following year. Bad times.
There’s a scene near the end of the episode where the Doctor and Rose are trapped together and get a final ‘last speech’ before they think their about to die. The moment is so well written by Gatiss, I think this is one of the major turning points in Eccleston’s Doctor where he starts to warm up and become more like the man from the classic tenure and less the man how butchered millions in the time war.
Billie Piper is on top form, although she’s not given a lot more to do here than she was given in ‘The End Of The World’, where she acts nice to one of the supporting characters of a lesser class as well as trying to sort out what she thinks is right, stepping up against the Doctor’s ideology in the process. I think Rose is the weakest in this episode, although there is a little bit of repetition with Dickens thinking the whole thing is a conjuring trick, something that gets overplayed and far too old quickly, although still manages to turn up another three or four times.
Eccleston gets to showcase all his emotions again, which is always fun to see, at times happy, at times sidetracked and at other times immensely sad. I say Rose was the same as the previous episode, but looking at it, the Doctor isn’t too different, yet due to all the emotions he goes through in these stories, it’s very hard to notice when this Doctor gets the same writing.
I think I’d rate this one slightly above ‘The End Of The World’ mainly because the supporting cast are so much better, their funny or having their own problems and, importantly, they are all relatable unlike the mass amount of aliens we don’t learn as much about in the previous story. The plot of this episode is also ten times better, as it doesn’t feel like something we’ve had before and creates a true moral dilemma about the recycling of bodies that’s nicely argued on both sides by our co-stars. Sadly the next time trailer doesn’t show as good costumes or plotline in appearance but we shall wait and see…