The Doctor (Eccleston) and Rose (Billie Piper) travel back to Cardiff (an in-joke because that is where the series shoots), 1869. There they quickly find themselves embroiled in alien mystery, and chatting with Charles Dickens (Simon Callow) in The Unquiet Dead.
Written by Mark Gatiss, with an original airdate of 9 April, 2005, this episode showed they could do a period piece, and make it look good, while still playing up the playful new sense of humour that the series leads brought to life.
There are gas-based aliens, the Gelth, taking possession of the recently deceased in Cardiff, and allowing them to walk again. When they encounter the Doctor they attempt to negotiate for the use of humanity’s dead bodies, but there may be something more dire going on, and it may be up to the Doctor and Rose to put a stop to it.
It’s also of note that Cardiff as a location in the Doctor Who universe will become very important and that a young maid, with a bit of a gift, Gwyneth (Eve Myles) will have an ancestor in the 21st century that will be play a part in events to come.
The series, while still, technically, finding its feet, is fun, witty (I love the exchanges between the Doctor and Dickens), and continues to expand the role of the Companion in the Doctor’s world. We get hints of things that will play out in the near future, like the reveal that Rose’s father is dead, the first mention of Bad Wolf and another mention of the Time War.
It’s easy to see, rewatching them now, how one couldn’t help but be taken in by the sheer exuberance of the series. An exuberance which proves infectious. This is the first time the new series has encountered historical personages, and it’s done so well, you know that it’s going to be great for the series to encounter other great people, whether history, past or future, took note of them.
Aliens of London aired on 16 April, 2005 and was penned by Russell T. Davies. It’s the first two-parter of the relaunch.
Sure there are some silly fart jokes in this episode, happily never revisited, as we are introduced to the Slitheen from Raxacoricofallapatorius.
The Doctor returns Rose (who gets a key to the TARDIS!) to her time, mostly, and gets involved with issues in the government as the Slitheen family are impersonating a number of ruling officials and are preparing to seize control, all while faking an alien invasion.
There’s an updated version of UNIT, issues with Jackie (Camille Coduri) and Mickey (Noel Clarke) and more hints of Bad Wolf.
A young scientist, Toshiko Sato (Naoko Mori) is conducting the autopsy on the presumed alien, and this gets her involved in the unusual, and gets her assigned to Torchwood in the near future. There’s also the introduction of an MP, Harriet Jones (Penelope Wilton) who gets involved in the alien mystery… (and fans know how that will play out).
There are so many story threads that are take root in these early episodes, which all add to a great sense of continuity and reality for the universe the show takes place in.
The episode ends with a bit of a cliffhanger with the Doctor, Rose, Jackie, and Harriet facing a possibly deadly confrontation with the Slitheen… tune in next time to find out how that plays out!