When you look at Mark Gatiss as a person in many interviews to do with Doctor Who, you see a man with a clear care and passion for the show. He clearly knows what he’s talking about and is capable of capturing the classic series sensibility when he’s at his best. The fact that he’s the mastermind behind the upcoming docudrama about the creation of the show fills me glee.
The more press pictures and behind the scenes content of the drama I see the more excited I get. Which is why it’s so baffling to me as to why his episodes quality wise are so polarizing. For every good episode he writes, a mediocre- bad one is not so far around the corner.
So here are my thoughts on his six episodes so far and what we can really learn from these and likewise himself as a writer.
6. The Unquiet Dead – A Pretty Good Start
This is universally seen as a great story, and why shouldn’t it be? It has all of the classic traits of what makes what we see today as classic Gatiss, the historical setting, creepy villain, atmosphere and strong characters. Not to mention meeting a famous historical figure but taking him into territory you could never imagine him in a premise that wasn’t Doctor Who. Where else are you going to find an author’s entire sense of reality going kaput after finding out that the fiction he writes about is to some extent real?
With this story you have everything that makes a good one, a well rounded and creepy alien that actually makes you think and discusses the morality of whether it’s better to help a dying race of aliens or preserve the human condition after death out of respect. Even Rose to some extent comes across as a nicer person for once thanks to her interactions with Gweneth. Even though her argument against the Doctor is nonsense and they did have to make the Gelth evil to try and poorly attempt to make Rose right, in spite of that never really being her argument to begin with.
But I can’t really fault the episode for that, after all this script probably had RTD’s influence in it after all to make his Mary Sue right. And you should judge the episode based on how well they convey their message, not whether you agree with said message. Overall this is a fantastically well written story with some great characters, villains and is simply a great example of a classic.
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