Doctor Doctor Who Guide

Tooth and Claw is not a bad Doctor Who story, but it is one that could have and should have been so much better. It does have a lot of good things going for it. There was an excellent monster which looked fairly frightening. The cast as a whole put on a good performance and were convincing in their roles. The setting looked nice and managed to feel fairly authentic from a historical point of view (Alright as a Scot with an interest in history I did have some issues with some parts of the plot, but no more than I have done with any number of period dramas). Together these elements had the potential to make a classic story.

And therein lies the problem: Tooth and Claw is not a classic episode of Doctor Who. A number of minor defects combine to spoil it. Firstly the opening with the monks went for spectacle rather than substance and logic. Why train the monks in martial arts rather than arm them with conventional weapons or brute force? The Kung Fu proved totally irrelevant anyway as the monks abilities were not really eluded to again. Indeed the monks just disappear from the plot after Father Angelo is killed. Equally why on Earth would Victoria knight the Doctor is she was going to banish him and Rose. What happened to them? Why did they not attack after the wolf was defeated? This to me smacks of a script in need of another draft.

Another negative is the ending came across as a laboured and I thought it was an unsubtle way to set the ground running for a future story arc and next year’s spin off. In my opinion, it would have been far better to hint at what was to come, by leaving the name of the house seen, but not spoken and to have omitted Queen Victoria’s final remarks completely. The Bad Wolf arc worked so well because we had no idea those words meant. This episode has completely blown any suspense over what Torchwood is.

A further problem and one which I fear bedevils too many of Russell T. Davis’ scripts is the nature of the humour. There is nothing wrong with a bit of comedy in Doctor Who, but too many of Davis’ stories attempt to get laughs via silliness. The Slitheen were an obvious example of this and here we have a ridiculous conclusion about the Royal Family being werewolves and an increasingly annoying running ‘gag’ about Rose trying to get Victoria to say we are not amused. Oh yes and Rose’s attempt at a Scottish accent…. Other writers like Stephen Moffat have struck a perfect balance between humour and drama, with the lighter side of their stories being far wittier and more intone with the rest of the piece.

I don’t think Russell T. Davis is a bad writer and he deserves credit for turning Doctor Who into the most talked about BBC programme. Moreover, he has some wonderful ideas and can write excellent stores when he puts his mind to it, but I do wonder if he is overstretching himself. I suspect that by writing several episodes on top of executive producing two series he is not giving himself the time to fine tune all his scripts.

Nonetheless, Tooth and Claw was better than most T.V. programmes and my criticism of it is just a sign that I have come to expect great things from 21st Century Doctor Who.

Filters: Television Series 2/28 Tenth Doctor