Doctor Doctor Who Guide

We are not amused. We are ecstatic!

The big surprise for this second series of Doctor Who is that actually is Event TV. For the screening of New Earth, I was at a barbeque being thrown by a friend. The whole lot of us broke off from our fun and games on a bright sunny day to watch the programme. I did not insist and none of them are fans, but they wanted to see it. They revelled in the performance of Billie Piper (who as Cassandra reminded us of a man-eater we all know). For the screening of Tooth and Claw, I sat down with my Mum and Dad and we watched it as a family. Yes, Ladies and Gentlemen, Family viewing is back - and here to stay with any luck.

So, Tooth and Claw - was it any good?

The historicals have indeed been kicked up the arse, so hard in fact they have shot right through the roof and are currently heading for the full mooooooon above our heads. The joy of the new series is that it mixes the traditional storytelling of our beloved show with good old Britishness and modern concepts that we are all familiar with.

There was barely time to draw breath in Tooth and Claw from the outset. We were treated to ninja monks (Crouching Doctor, Hidden Wolf, anyone?), fast-paced drama and a typically erratic TARDIS taking the Doctor and Rose to totally the wrong place yet again. I got the impression that even if there was no chemistry between the new Doctor and the ever-reliable Rose, the story would still have carried it off. Fortuanetly for us, the new pairing is proving to be a joy to behold. David Tennant's turn as the Doctor is delightful manic with bags and bags of personality. Watching his scene in the TARDIS as he endeavours to take Rose to a Blockheads concert in Sheffield in 1979, it was easy to forget that this is only his third episode. Has any Doctor ever settled in as fast as David Tennant? (To which the answer of course is only Tom Baker). The rapport and the respect between our two leads is evident and symptomatic of that the series has now hit its stride. These two time travellers genuinely like each other's company and now the Doctor has thrown off the shackles of his guilt over the Time War following his regeneration, he has been imbued with the boundless wonder and excitement of travelling the universe in the way that we all know and love.

"No wonder you never keep still," said Rose in last year's The Unquiet Dead. Indeed - would you??

The more I learn about the Tenth Doctor, the more I like him (Eccleston who?). He has mad fits of realisation, flips out in rude outbursts, loves Ian Dury, loves adventure and revels in the brilliance of a life that has him meeting historical figures and being held at gunpoint. He is immensley likeable, but having said that, I wouldn't cross him. The thought of the Doctor not giving you a second chance if you mess up still makes me unnerved, and that is a character trait that has been long overdue in returning.

The main plot of the trap set by Father Angelo to assassinate Queen Victoria is wonderful car-crash television - you know what's coming and you don't want to look but you simply can't help it. As the residents of the house are chained in a cellar with the werewolf at the same time the Laird is telling the story of it's legend, we all indeed know what is coming and when it does, there really is no time to draw breath. This is Doctor Who without the padding, a Time Lord with no fat and additives, and it shows in spadefulls. The trap within a trap is a brilliant last-minute turn around that at first I thought was just a cop-out, but if you care to look over the episode again, all the clues are there, disguised not as clues but as throwaway lines. Just brilliant.

The werewolf itself is a wonderful piece of CGI that errs on the side of animation at times and reminded me of the wolf from Box of Delights (or what Box of Delights would love to have created had the technology been around at the time). The lycanthropic transformation itself was gruesome and at one point, I questioned wether or not this would be too scary for little kids before remembering that that is exactly what Doctor Who is designed to do - to scare kiddies behind the sofa or their cushions. Mary Whitehouse will be spinning in her grave. One hopes so, anyway.

Add to this the wonderful central performances from the guest cast. 40 years after her first Doctor Who Adventure in 1966's The Faceless Ones (just think about that - an actress returning to a series almost two generations later...madness), Pauline Collins positively shines as Her Majesty. We get a real sense of grief for her lost husband, of the hierarchy of the time and her expectations of those around her and of her steeliness by carrying a gun in her handbag. This is isn't just a characiture of a very famous historical figure, but a real human being. We will never know if it is an accurate portrayal or not, but from what we know of the monarch, one would think it is.

So - the die has been cast. Queen Victoria founds the Torchwood Institute to defend her realm against outside forces - including the Doctor. Do I sense that this will be the thread throughout the series? Will the descendants of the original Torchwood be prepared for the Doctor? And how will - and if - it fit in with the Cyber climax of the series and the Face of Boe's secret (and fit in with the spin-off series)? It's a nice touch with the werewolf recognising Rose as having "a bit of the wolf" in her (Bad Wolf from Series One) - so have we seen the last of Bad Wolf or was that a red herring?

Only Time will tell, it always does....

(And one of the monks was well fit too. Sorry, but he was).

Filters: Television Series 2/28 Tenth Doctor