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Doctor Who Re-Watch: From Dickens to the Slitheen

Rose and the Doctor in "The Unquiet Dead."
Rose and the Doctor in “The Unquiet Dead.”

Re-watching series one of Doctor Who has been fantastic! And while “The Unquiet Dead” and the Slitheen 2-parter aren’t on my list of all-time favorites, I still really enjoyed these episodes on re-watch. Sure, the farting jokes in the latter get to be a bit much and the Slitheen costumes are a little cheesy but that didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the episodes about aliens in London. Overall, these two episodes were just pure entertainment. Not to mention, great character builders for the Doctor and Rose.

“The Unquiet Dead”

Looking back at “The Unquiet Dead,” I just had so much fun watching this because I love Charles Dickens’ novels. I would love to go back in time to meet one of my favorite literary authors. In fact, it seems like we haven’t had one of these simple time travel stories where the Doctor and his companion come across someone literary (Agatha Christie being the last) in a while. Perhaps it’s time for Jane Austen (explore why she despises Bath), the Brontes and a spooky love story on the Moors or even as far back as Chaucer. It would even be great if Doctor Who explored mythology and folk tales, a look to where the sources of the oral tales originated from. It could be quite interesting. Mostly, I just want the Doctor and his companion to go back to enjoying just going on adventures together. No more out of order stories for a while.

Besides meeting Dickens in a hilarious plot of ‘ghosts,’ what I loved most about this episode was the continual development of the Doctor and Rose romantically. It’s not too in your face but it’s there. The Doctor telling Rose she looks beautiful for instance…

beautiful two beautiful three

Or them just generally having a good time laughing on the Tardis:

Nine and Rose laughing

The joy they share together on their adventure:

doctor and rose having fun

Let’s also not forget the AWESOME rescue in the episode when Rose was kidnapped and the Doctor knocks down the door to get to Rose…

after Doctor knoks down door

…then holds on quite close to her after claiming “I think this is my dance”:

the doctor holds Rose close

I also have to point out that Rose does NOT just do whatever the Doctor tells her to do. She stands up for Gwyneth and for humans in general. But the Doctor being stubborn and clearly traumatized from war and losing all his people doesn’t listen and because he doesn’t listen to Rose’s warnings, Gwyneth ends up dead. The Doctor really does leave a lot of death in his path, but that’s what makes him immensely fascinating as a character. He’s dark but still he has so much goodness within him. Anyway, I really thought Rose showed a lot of strength of character here.

Another great romantic moment is when the Doctor grabs Rose’s hand when they think they might be about to die and tells her “I’m so glad I met you.” “Me too,” she says and they smile.

so glad I met you hand one hand two me too me too 2

I loved this because it is developing their relationship slowly and we are seeing it happen onscreen (I don’t typically like off-screen build-ups). Plus, this was a great hand holding moment. Intertwining of the fingers is much more intimate of a hand-hold. I like it!

Aside from relationship building and nice plot development with Dickens (though it does have some cheese moments), I also appreciated Rose’s empathy for all those around her. She likes to relate with the people she meets in her travels. It is a nice trait to see in a companion for sure. Her empathy also helps the audience come to know the guest characters on a personal level. I really do like the way Russel T. Davies handles characterization.  Overall, a great episode that makes me long for some more simple time travel stories again.

“Aliens in London” and “World War Three.”

Aliens in London

Okay, so these two episodes get a bad rep which I don’t think is quite so deserved. On re-watch, the dialogue is actually pretty funny. Forget for a moment the visuals of the Slitheen or the silly farting jokes (though Eccleston’s reaction as the 9th Doctor is hilarious) that could have easily been done away with. When you look past the campiness, these two episodes are, in reality, well-written and enjoyable to watch.

First of all, what I appreciate about these two episodes is that Rose’s choice to travel with the Doctor has serious consequences when he accidentally brings her back home a year later. She has family and friends she left behind, people who care about her so of course her mother thought she might be dead and Mickey even became a suspect in her suspicious disappearance. Having consequences really benefits the characters in becoming more human and easier to identify with. Including Rose’s family and kind of boyfriend made for a fun time as well, giving them both excellent developments.

The Doctor and Jackie
The Doctor and Jackie

Seeing Jackie slap the Doctor? Definitely one of the best moments in the show ever in my book. In fact, all of the interactions between Mickey, Jackie, Rose, and the Doctor were never boring.

The camp in this two episode arc was surprisingly funny. The alien dressed like a pig?

the pig

It’s so out there it worked. Plus, it is kind of amusing to see Tosh from Torchwood now that I now this is Tosh pretending to be something she’s not.


The ridiculous Slitheen taking over the government was also hilarious, particularly the fabulously comical Penelope Wilton as Harriet Jones. The scene of the Slitheen chasing her and Rose was a riot!

In between the over the top humor (which I clearly enjoyed), the quieter character moments made for some good television. Like “The Unquiet Dead,” these episodes worked to bring the Doctor and Rose closer together. For instance, when the Doctor admits that he has a way to save everyone, Rose trusting the Doctor implicitly even after he admits that he “can’t guarantee” Rose’s safety:

DOCTOR: That’s the thing. If I don’t dare, everyone dies.
ROSE: Do it.
DOCTOR: You don’t even know what it is. You’d just let me?
ROSE: Yeah.

rose tells the Doctor to do it Rose tells the Doctor to do it two

Rose is willing to put her own life in jeopardy to save everyone else’s lives but can the Doctor do it? He reveals his own feelings about Rose:

DOCTOR: Do you think I don’t know that? Because this is my life, Jackie. It’s not fun, it’s not smart, it’s just standing up and making a decision because nobody else will.
ROSE: Then what’re you waiting for?
DOCTOR: I could save the world but lose you.

I could save the world but lose you I could save the world but lose you two

This is a great lead in to the next episode “Dalek” which is one of the episodes I am looking forward to most on re-watch if I’m being honest. The Doctor’s feelings really are developing quite nicely if you start to connect the dots. As a whole, I’d have to say that I really enjoyed these episodes and if you didn’t like the Slitheen episodes the first time around, it does improve on second watch.

Memorable Quotes

better with two

ROSE: But, it’s like, think about it, though. Christmas. 1860. Happens once, just once and it’s gone, it’s finished, it’ll never happen again. Except for you. You can go back and see days that are dead and gone a hundred thousand sunsets ago. No wonder you never stay still.

DOCTOR: Not a bad life.

ROSE: Better with two.

beautiful one

DOCTOR: You look beautiful, considering.
ROSE: Considering what?
DOCTOR: That you’re human.

Dickens and the Doctor

DICKENS: How exactly are you a fan? In what way do you resemble a means of keeping oneself cool?
DOCTOR: No, it means fanatic, devoted to. Mind you, I’ve got to say, that American bit in Martin Chuzzlewit, what’s that about? Was that just padding or what? I mean, it’s rubbish, that bit.
DICKENS: I thought you said you were my fan.
DOCTOR: Ah, well, if you can’t take criticism.

Jackie slaps the Doctor

JACKIE: Then what is it? Because you, you waltz in here all charm and smiles, and the next thing I know, she vanishes off the face of the Earth! How old are you then? Forty? Forty five? What, did you find her on the Internet? Did you go online and pretend you’re a doctor?
DOCTOR: I am a Doctor.
JACKIE: Prove it. Stitch this, mate! (Slaps him).

never been slapped

DOCTOR: Nine hundred years of time and space, and I’ve never been slapped by someone’s mother.

age gap

ROSE: You’re nine hundred years old.
ROSE: My mum was right. That is one hell of an age gap.

flydale north

HARRIET: (shows badge): Harriet Jones, MP Flydale North.

steel wall

DOCTOR: Installed in 1991. Three inches of steel lining every single wall. They’ll never get in.
ROSE: And how do we get out?

Jackie and safety pins

JACKIE: I was going to do shepherd’s pie. All of us. A proper sit down, ‘cos I’m ready to listen. I wanna learn about you and him and that life you lead. Only, I don’t know, he’s an alien. For all I know, he eats grass and safety pins and things.

Thoughts and Questions

This is more of a Torchwood thought, but seeing Gwyneth (Gwen is somehow connected through her family line) reminds me of Gwen and what would happen if this psychic gift were to be passed down through the generations. So if we ever get another season, wouldn’t it be cool if Gwen started having a similar gift? I’ve always wanted the show to go down that route…

rose and gwen

During the conversation between Rose and Gwyneth, I couldn’t help but notice this quote:

GWYNETH: People are flying. And you, you’ve flown so far. Further than anyone. The things you’ve seen. The darkness, the big bad wolf.

How cool is it that “the darkness” really seems to refer more to series four than the end of series one? Even though coincidental, I love when things connect wonderfully. It is also why I personally am a huge fan (ha ha!) of Charles Dickens.

Can I just talk for a moment how brilliant the actress who plays Margaret (one of the Slitheens) is? She is pure, comedic genius in her line delivery. Really looking forward to “Boom Town.”

What did you think of these episodes? Have a favorite scene? Let me know in the comments…



Read the rest of my blog posts from  Doctor Who Diaries.

See what Doctor Who kiss or kisses I included in The Top 65 Romantic TV Kisses

Photo Credits: BBC

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By on February 23rd, 2014

About Autumn Topping

In second grade, Autumn wrote her first story, “The Spinach Monster,” and hasn't stopped writing since. Intrigued by the tales her grandmother told of vampires, witches, and ghosts as a girl, she's always been drawn to the fantastic. Later, Autumn studied English and Creative Writing (continuing her love for classic literature and everything old-fashioned) and graduated with an MA in Children’s Literature and an MS in Library & Information Science from Simmons College. Currently, she co-runs this lovely site and works as a YA Librarian.

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4 thoughts on “Doctor Who Re-Watch: From Dickens to the Slitheen”

  1. Love, love, love all three of these episodes, and your assessment is spot on for all the reasons I enjoyed them in the first place. 🙂

  2. Yet another lovely analysis. 🙂
    And can I also say that I’m a little bit disappointed that this episode is the only time we see Rose use the TARDIS closet to dress appropriately for the time period? I mean, I’m sure she popped in there all the time and grabbed things to wear, but this really is the only time she picks something to wear so she won’t stick out. Even Queen Victoria noted that girls shouldn’t be running about with their legs on display, or something to that effect. I really would have liked to see more of this, if only because I love an excuse to dress up, myself. 🙂


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