The third episode of the new Doctor Who bring the audience and the TARDIS crew to the past. Just in time for Christmas, Rose and the Doctor travel back to Naples, read Cardiff. It’s an interesting story with Rose once again questioning things about life traveling through space and time, and a jolly appearance of the famous writer, Charles Dickens.
The story opens with a young man in mourning. The mourning stops once the corpse awakens and then kills the young man. The mortician then proceeds to go after the corpse saying it has happened again. The Doctor and Rose arrive in the nick of time hoping to go to one place and ending up in another. Nonetheless, the land in a place of adventure which sways the Doctor, and they have officially landed in the past, which pleases Rose.
This episode marks a few things of note within the new series. It’s the first appearance of Eve Myles in the role of Gwynth. Eve Myles goes on to play Eve Cooper in the offshoot series of Torchwood. (She continues to play the role until this day at Big Finish). It also is the first historical drama in the new series with Charles Dickens. The actor, Simon Callow, returns in a small cameo in a later episode in Season 6. The final is another reference to ‘Bad Wolf’ which becomes the primary thread throughout the first season. (The first was seen as the ‘Bad Wolf Scenario’ in the previous episode).
Rose and the Doctor begin to unravel the mystery of the gaseous Geth. They are a race destroyed by the Time War like so many others. The Doctor makes it a point to help them. Rose is against them using their dead for two-fold reasons. The first was that it does not respect the dead. The second is she doesn’t remember the dead walking around in her own time. This continues to give the audience exactly how time travel works in the Doctor Who universe and gives the writers an ‘out’ to change the past and future respectively whenever it fits the story.
This episode marks, technically, a third occasion that the Doctor fails to save someone. The first was in the premiere episode when he fails to save people throughout London. He failed to save the Jabe, the tree person, in the last episode, and here he fails to save Gwynth. Tragedy seems to follow the Ninth Doctor throughout his adventures, but he continues to try to help. Oddly, this corresponds a lot with the representations in outside media of the Eighth Doctor who, although he’s a romantic, seems to have tragedy follow him about.
The story ends with Charles Dickens getting a new lease on life, although the Doctor mentions he dies shortly afterwards. Rose and the Doctor make their way on to their next adventure, which lands them back in the present or relative present to the date in aired. And that statement just starts the epic adventure of the next episode ‘Aliens in London’.