It’s strange how your tastes change over time – for ages I always said, whenever anyone asked me, that Dalek was my favourite ep from Series One but now I say that this one is. I find myself more and more liking those stories that are a bit more tongue in cheek, which is surprising given my disdain for anything produced by Graham Williams. But then again, I’ve always had a thing for all that cod Victoriana and pseudo Sherlockian stuff, so perhaps it’s not so much of a surprise after all that I find myself liking this.
Written by Mark “Sherlock” Gaytits and featuring the shagtastic Eve Myles doing her Torchwood audition as well as the wonderful Simon “Being An Actor” Callow, this is the first of the new breed of pseudo-historical stories – the Celebrity Historical. The notion of the Dr & Rose as time tourists is a believable one, who wouldn’t want to go back and witness the great events of history, or just go to a Beatles gig? You wonder why the Classic Series never entered this sort of storytelling territory, the closest we ever came to it was a glimpse of Shakespeare in The Chase, and even that was on Dr Who’s Time Telly, not in person.
It’s essentially a zombie story years before The Walking Dead hit our screens, only these are zombies animated by the gas-like Gelth, who are nasty pretending to be nice, and they’re not the only deceivers playing that game in series one… Victorian Zombies is a great, steampunk-y idea that treads the ground that Penny Dreadful would occupy years later, only not so graphically. Never mind Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter this is Charles Dickens, Fearless Zombie Killer!
There’s very little to lose from this one, but it can get tightened up a little bit with our first cut coming at the end of the Sneed & Gwyneth scene to let it end on “She’s 86 – she can’t have got far!” We also lose the two Tardis scenes involving Billie Barbarella getting her frock, so that we get introduced to Dickens and then Billie & Chris leave the Ship. The next cut comes at the start of the Rose & Gwyneth scene where they get all girly and that’s it, after that there’s nothing else that needs the chop, bringing this edit in at just under 40m.