Doctor Doctor Who Guide

Way back in 1981, after his opening series as Producer had been aired, John Nathan-Turner gave the first of his annual Doctor Who magazine interviews. When asked at the end of the interview what he’d like to see in future stories, he said he’d like to see an adventure featuring a Werewolf. As I’d always found these creatures very creepy indeed, I kept my eye out for a story featuring them, and low and behold along came The Greatest Show in the Galaxy in 1988, and Doctor Who’s first Werewolf, in the form of Jessica Martin as Mags. But although the transformation was quite effective and pretty scary in an old Hammer Horror type of way, the resultant beast failed to impress, being more or less a green skinned woman with hair stood on end and a mouth full of fangs, not to mention the sequence being over as soon as it had started.

So naturally, when I heard that this series of Doctor Who was to feature a Werewolf I was enthusiastic, but hesitant, after all, its last attempt hadn’t been wholly successful, and even big budget films had rarely got the beast right; American Werewolf in London had a brilliant transformation, but a pretty dismal Werewolf and the effort in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban was pretty much the same, good transformation, but a beast that looked like a strategically shaved poodle!

So what of Tooth and Claw? Well, the TARDISODE alone put the fear of God into me, which served me right for watching it alone at half past twelve at night before I was about to go to bed. But the very best Doctor Who stories always tend to be the ones with what I call the “Wouldn’t Wanna Be In Their Shoes” factor, basically a situation you really would not want to be in yourself! Off the top of my head I can only think of the Doctor’s predicament in Alternative Earth in Inferno and being on the Games Station with that trigger happy Dalek army about to attack in The Parting of the Ways that made be think I really wouldn‘t want to be there. Now I can add this story to that shortlist, there’s no way I’d have been within a hundred miles of Torchwood House given a chance!

The story itself, while using most of the mythology of Werewolf folklore and it’s setting of an old house in the middle of nowhere is straight out of every horror cliché there is, but it’s application in this story into the world of Doctor Who and the way the overall plot was woven was almost perfect, with the exception, as has been mentioned by others, that the Monks outside the house appeared to vanish without any explanation. A brief addition to the script stating that they had fled, once the werewolf was destroyed, would have helped towards making this a near perfect script. But as this was my only niggle towards the plot, there can’t have been that much wrong with it.

David Tennant and Billie Piper, as usual, gave their all, and yes, in parts they do behave like a couple of unruly children, but didn’t some of the best Doctor/Companion relationships? And the scene where the Doctor was frantically trying to work out Albert’s plans to save his wife was played to perfection. The guest cast were also very strong, from Pauline Collins’ superb portrayal of Victoria, who I was glad to see didn’t become a Doctor friendly goody goody in the story, as Charles Dickens had done in the Unquiet Dead - anything but, to the always dependable Derek Riddell (I especially liked the line where the Queen told his character, Sir Robert, that he was her Sir Walter Raleigh, a part Derek Riddell played in The Virgin Queen, which appealed to the pedantic side of my nature).

In fact, the whole production was well executed; from the stylish direction of Euros Lyn, whose skills as a director seem to improve with every story he handles, through to the music, which didn’t initially seem to feature any themes we’ve heard before in the series. A superb opening cliff hangar, a truly chilling conversation between Rose and the Host (for me, the scariest part of the episode) leading up to the excellent transformation.

A well paced episode, punctuated with good “breather” scenes, such as the sequence in the Library. If the rest of the series continues in this trend then we’re in for a treat. I know everyone’s opinions are different, and wouldn’t it be a boring world if we all thought the same way, but I have to say that it just boggles my brain reading some of the forum pages on this site, that there are STILL some “fans” who slated this one. Perhaps for you few people, Doctor Who has had its day. May I suggest Heartbeat or The Royal as being more your cup of tea?

For me though, I have to give this a very rare 10/10!

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