Mark Gatis has, in the past, been the most infuriating of writers for new Doctor Who. While most of the ‘name’ writers on the series have done precisely what one would expect of them, with Neil Gaiman writing a Neil Gaiman story and Richard Curtis writing a Richard Curtis one, there’s always been the sense that Gatiss could do far better.

His first story for the new series, The Unquiet Dead, was, apart from a few dud lines, one of the better ones from the 2005 series, (though as Lawrence Miles pointed out, it had an entirely unintentional anti-immigration subtext that leaves a nasty aftertaste), but after that, every episode with any involvement from Gatiss either as writer or actor has been nearly universally regarded as the weakest of the year.

It’s very odd, because on paper, Gatiss is the perfect writer for the show. He’s clearly an imaginative, witty writer, as both his work for the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and his novels have shown. He’s also a longtime fan of the show (his first professional filmed work was a direct-to-video series called P.R.O.B.E. which is required viewing for anyone who ever wondered what it would be like if The X-Files were made in Britain for a fiver, and had a middle-aged pipe-smoking woman who used to be The Doctor’s companion instead of Mulder and Scully), and seems hugely enthusiastic to be working on it. Yet a Gatiss episode is now always the one everyone knows to avoid.

This time though, he has done the best work of the series so far.

A horrible disembodied eye in a desk drawer
More after the evil disembodied eye stops looking at you…