|23 Apr 2006||Tooth and Claw, by Anne Murray|
|23 Apr 2006||Tooth and Claw, by Calum Corral|
|23 Apr 2006||Tooth and Claw, by Richard Walter|
|23 Apr 2006||Tooth and Claw, by Thomas Payne|
|23 Apr 2006||Tooth and Claw, by Alan McDonald|
|23 Apr 2006||Tooth and Claw, by Joe Ford|
|23 Apr 2006||Tooth and Claw, by Simon James Fox|
|23 Apr 2006||Tooth and Claw, by A.D. Morrison|
|23 Apr 2006||Tooth and Claw, by Billy Higgins|
|23 Apr 2006||Tooth and Claw, by Jason Wilson|
|23 Apr 2006||Tooth and Claw, by James McLean|
|23 Apr 2006||Tooth and Claw, by Paul McCormick|
|23 Apr 2006||Tooth and Claw, by Paul Regan|
|23 Apr 2006||Tooth and Claw, by Robert Lawson|
|23 Apr 2006||Tooth and Claw, by James Tricker|
|23 Apr 2006||Tooth and Claw, by Stephen Booth|
|23 Apr 2006||Tooth and Claw, by Paul Berry|
|23 Apr 2006||Tooth and Claw, by Eddy Wolverson|
|23 Apr 2006||Tooth and Claw, by Steve Manfred|
|23 Apr 2006||Tooth and Claw, by Tavia Chalcraft|
|23 Apr 2006||Tooth and Claw, by Mike Eveleigh|
|23 Apr 2006||Tooth and Claw, by Robert F.W. Smith|
|23 Apr 2006||Tooth and Claw, by Steev Thulin-Hopper|
|23 Apr 2006||Tooth and Claw, by Piers de Mel|
|23 Apr 2006||Tooth and Claw, by Steve Hoare|
|23 Apr 2006||Tooth and Claw, by John Byatt|
|23 Apr 2006||Tooth and Claw, by Paul Clarke|
|23 Apr 2006||Tooth and Claw, by Paul Hayes|
|23 Apr 2006||Tooth and Claw, by Darren Ball|
|23 Apr 2006||Tooth and Claw, by Michael Hickerson|
|23 Apr 2006||Tooth and Claw, by Tom Miller|
|23 Apr 2006||Tooth and Claw, by Geoff Wessel|
|23 Apr 2006||Tooth and Claw, by James Leach|
|23 Apr 2006||Tooth and Claw, by Kenneth Baxter|
|23 Aug 2007||Tooth and Claw, by Shane Anderson|
Not too sure about this one. Very mixed feelings about it. There were good bits of it and there were not so good bits of it and I canÂ’t decide which outweigh which.
At the beginning I thought I was watching the wrong show or that we still watching those stupid BBCÂ’s snippets they have between programs like the ones they have where the Salsa dancers are dancing in the rain. I know the show has progressed a lot but it was almost as if RTD had overdosed on Champagne as he suffered from writers block after the success of the first series, fell asleep then woke up and decided that the history of Queen Vikkie should be crossed with Crouching Tiger Hidden Tiger and decided to add a werewolf into the mix for the hell of it. DonÂ’t get me wrong the dialogue between Rose and The Doctor was fantastic but in some scenes both main characters seemed to interact woodenly with the other people in the story.
There is some other praise to be given Pauline Collins as Queen Victoria was exceptional except for the last speech about making Torchwood Institute, I think that was added later to tie up the creation of Torchwood and I donÂ’t think it worked that well here but we will have to wait and see how well it works later in the series and how they integrate Torchwood in the stories. I also think the Host was excellent he was very creepy and it was good that it was brought back into the story that Rose was the bad wolf and I also think excellent acting was shown by Lady Isabella and Flora the maid. Shame the same canÂ’t be said about Sir Robert who was dull as dishwater and had the chance to bring more of a presence to the role.
I also think some kudos should be paid to The Mill for the excellent werewolf which was better than other efforts I have seen in other shows and also for the really scary change from person to beast though I am guessing the Costume department was on holiday (The judo suits were just too red and so out of place in the scene. That was probably the point but still I donÂ’t think it fitted well with the episode). All in all I donÂ’t think the episode will top the list of all time best episodes though it was better than The Long Game from last series. In hope RTD looks at this and learns not to throw too many things together in one episode; either that or I will re-watch it and decide that my tablets had made me all funny and thrown my perception off.
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Tooth and Claw was going back to the old hammer horror route and it had some genuinely scary scenes in it. Going back to Scotland for the second story of the new Doctor brought back reminders of "The Highlanders" and the Dr's nod back to Jamie McCrimmon was neatly done. The We are Not Amused scheme was a bit of a laugh. The reference to Bad Wolf was a neat bit of continuity with Rose and you wonder if this might lead on further again later in the series.
Getting used to David Tennant as the new timelord is intriguing and this business about going to an Ian Drury in 1979 was an unexpected start which would have gone over the heads of many of the kids watching though the Mums and Dads would be happy. Quite zany, and at least we got the Dr and Rose spinning around the console before the bumpy landing.
I did like how Queen Victoria turned the tables on the Doctor at the end and took a dim view of his escapades with Rose.
I found it a bit inconceivable though that the Queen could turn so quickly after knighting the Doctor and Rose. Eh? While the twist was a good one, I don't think the knighthood bit was necessary as it was a bit of a severe flip?
I definitely enjoyed the episode and the wolf was highly impressive. Pauline Collins made a good Queen Victoria and the way she treated Rose was intriguing.
There were some great scenes which really built up the tension as the wolf was on the loose. Very psychologically scary without seeing any blood! Clever stuff as it was all in the mind when the Dr and friends could hear the wolf lurking but they did not know where from. The transformation into the werewolf was quite horrific and the Who team can be justifiably proud of their efforts.
One minor issue with Tennant is he seems to spit out the dialogue at a ferocious speed sometimes, and as a Scotsman, even I have trouble understanding him!!!
I got a lot of enjoyment out of the episode because of its high production standards, the creepy wolf scenes and of course, the scary cage and those big brooding eyes of the wolfman.
Rose's attempts at a Scottish accent were funny. Hoots mon indeed!
But overall, I felt the programme was dark, atmospheric with some of the usual snappy dialogue we come to expect. The acting of the Scots was particularly good (Tennant included!) and the taking over of the mansion was an impressive.
All in all, a silky fun production with some good acting and great effects, setting us up neatly for next week's back to the futuresque K9 return.
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Two stories into the new season with the promise of Sarah Jane Smith and K9 to come, Tooth & Claw sees mention of another former companion as the Doctor assumes the identity of "Dr James Mcrimmon" of the lands of Balamory ("What's the story in . . . ??"). Yes - some typical RTD contemporary jokes come into this rather untypical RTD script - The Muppet Movie, Ian Dury and the Blockheads and Margaret Thatcher also get a mention in the first 10 minutes! This is a very dark story contrasting with the season opener "New Earth". The very classy looking opening daylight shots of the slow motion fighting monks and the Doctor and Rose's introduction to Queen Victoria leads into mainly night and dark interior shots - ideal settings for the werewolf!
This is a tight story fitting quite nicely into its 45 minute format with a small but convincing cast and, in true Doctor Who tradition, lots of corridor chases. A slightly less than usual invasion concept - the monks plan to take the monarchy from Queen Victoria and a suitable trap is laid with the Doctor and Rose becoming unwittingly involved. DT is totally centre stage again, commanding a fine performance - especially his curiosity and fascination in the werewolf. A slightly more casual look too with no tie and an open necked blue shirt under the suit.
The comedy is there - Rose is determined to win her £10 bet with the Doctor that Queen Vic will say her infamous catchphrase - but is pleasantly restrained to allow the action to take place. And the action is convincing with some good morph scenes for the werewolf and some good fight scenes. This is adult DW at is best and, as writer Steven Moffat DW Confidential later alluded to' the fear factor very close to a later screening time, The late Mary Whitehouse will no doubt be turning in her grave!!! Unlike many others, I love the incidental music - I think it is so far more effective than the very repetitive electronic background of the 1980s.
There is much for everyone in this story - because the plot is not too complicated it leaves for the suspence to take lead. And then, just as the references to Torchwood have been building up, a revelation at the end that Queen Victoria herself set up the organisation that will play an important part for Captain Jack and indeed the Doctor in coming months.
One week to go to K9 - am I enjoying this run so far? Affirmative master!!
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This is the episode I've been waiting for. Simply and utterly amazing. This beats most of my favourite Doctor Who episodes to the top spot, and so it should. When Liverpool won the football 2-1 I breathed a sigh of relief as I awaited what I thought would be another average RTD story, and oh how I was wrong!
The story starts with a bang as a group of monks with a hint of Quientin Tarantino style directing, raid Torchwood House in 1979 and inprison the house keepers in a basement with a caged Werewolf. The werewolf is his human form is almost as scary as his moonlight inspired appearence; the washed out colour of the whole episode makes it seem movie-like and very dark and eerie.
Pauline Collins as Queen Victoria was playing the part brilliantly and brought a sense of normality to the story which was later broken by the discovery of her late husband Albert's invention, which by the way was a great plot twist.
One niggle though - I think that the Doctor and Rose are getting far too confident of themselves. They are laughing at atmospheric and creepy scenes as if they are under the assumption that they will definately solve yet another mystery, and will continue travelling through time and space. This was the best thing about the new series. It seemed as if the audience were learning the wonders of time travel at the same time that Rose was. As Queen Victoria rightly mentioned that this was not the time for jokes.
The ending was the worse part for me. The Doctor EXILED!? This hasn't happened since the Jon Pertwee years. The story ended as if Victoria hated them both; which was clearly not the case throughout alot of the episode. It was a nice twist with the whole Torchwood Institute idea and the "Werewolf-blood"; which just so happened to occur a day after Queen Elizibeths 80th. Are we to believe that our Queen turn into a hairy beast every full moon?
Anyway, overall a thrilling episode that scared me (and I'm not a coward to admit it). The direction, the writing, the scenery and the massive link the ending had to future episodes. See my New Earth review and I will have mentioned how I believed RTD can not write Doctor Who stories. I go back on that. This just goes to show how good Doctor Who 2005-6 really can be.
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Phew! Well thank Gallifrey for that ...
Firstly, some irony. Russell T Davies mentioned in an interview that he wasn't supposed to write this episode - the writer who was commissioned ended up leaving out the werewolf and monk aspects and so the original script was passed upon.
I'm glad, since it's proven that he IS a Who-writer.
This was the best Davies-penned episode (with the possible exception of The Parting of the Ways) so far. Indeed, it was one of the finest episodes of new Doctor Who overall. Maybe Russell should write historicals more often.
The story was the tightest piece the much-maligned writer has produced for the show - very traditional Doctor Who in many ways, from the 'Doctor ingratiates himself right into the situation' opening, through the 'hiding from the monster' moments to the Doctor's final realisation of how to save everyone. And it didn't feel even slightly compressed into the 45 minute timeslot. In essence, it was the anti-New Earth. And it was all pulled off with aplomb - no unnecessary pop culture references (the royal family gag was actually funny), no random running around to fill time (a werewolf in a claustrophbic house is far easier to buy into than dull zombie patients in a future hospital which looks uncannily like a modern exhibition centre) and a real sense of danger throughout.
Kudos also to the production team on this one - the entire episode was beautiful, full of rich, dark colours and moody lighting. The direction, too, was excellent - from the cinema-style acrobatics of the monks (entirely pointless, but great fun) to the tight shots of the characters in danger and the chaotic fleeing from the werewolf.
And effects? My, oh my ... The werewolf is by far the finest special effect Doctor Who has EVER had. Clearly CGI but intricately detailed and possessing of a terrifying realism.
Both David Tennant and Billie Piper (in a much more traditional companion role) acquit themselves well, and Tennant's manic incarnation (great jerky cuts when he starts to work everything out) is becoming more Tom Baker and less Peter Davison every week. His very-human wit and chemistry with Rose is tempering this nicely, though.
An all-round success, then. Where I winced a little and peered at my watch once during New Earth, Tooth and Claw held me riveted, a smile spread across my face throughout.
And a few more clues about the arc, to boot. Rose's aspect of the wolf might not be finished with, and it looks like Torchwood is a lot more sinister than just a new stomping ground for Captain Jack ...
THIS is where season 2 begins.
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What can I say? Absolutely everything I look for in Doctor Who and more. There were a few minor blemishes here and there but the overall package here is impressive it would get tops marks from on any viewing. Whilst it may not be the best Russell T Davies script yet (his witty lines were lost amongst all the atmosphere) it was great to see him trying something totally different (ie not a soap or a space opera) and pull it off with real style. If horror aint your bag bugger off, but I love horror and this was without a doubt one of the finest Doctor Who has ever dished up.
It all starts out so brilliantly with that dynamic opening. Aside from The Unquiet Dead has their been a better pre titles sequence yet? The way Simon commented gruffly Its not like Doctor Who at all made me beam with delight, he is not used to being swept of his feet by such fancy camera and stunt work but this is exactly the sort of thing the show can achieve now that it couldnt before. I was dazzled by these balletic yet arse kicking monks and their raid on the house was truly terrifying. The slick camerawork not only adds a great deal of energy and style but also doesnt really let you look at the damage these guys are causing so the kids can be scared but only with the implied violence of what is going on.
Hop to the TARDIS for some more rock and roll fun (I love how Russell has introduced more music into the world of Doctor Who, it could often be something of a drab show so it is nice to see the TARDIS spinning through the vortex to some groovy music). David and Billie have a fine rapport already and like the best Doctor/companion teams (Second Doctor and Jaime/Third Doctor and Jo/Fourth Doctor and Sarah/Seventh Doctor and Ace) it is clearly they are absolutely in love with each other and their adventures. The running gag throughout the episode is great and a lovely postmodern touch. The Doctors accent slipping between Scottish and English is another fine choice, its a shame he should slowly regain his natural voice because Davids natural accent is too sexy for words. The best Doctor moment in the entire episode: When he sees the werewolf for the first time
it is not the reaction you would expect when a slavering beast is tearing from a cage and trying to kill but it was 100% the Doctor. Rose isnt exactly idle either, proving her worth when she manages to escape her manacles and turn the serving staff into a fighting force.
What I was amazed by was how well this episode adhered to the clichés of horror and yet still managed to seem fresh and interesting. Lets face it, a spooky house, people being chained up with a monster, a full moon, the monster escaping and rampaging through the house
these have been done to death in every film, TV show and book you can think of. Maybe it was the crazy ninja monks or the fact that the werewolf was an alien (his story enhanced beautifully by the TARDISode), maybe it was the inclusion of Queen Victoria or the fact that answers to defeating the creature were scattered around the house and well built into the structure of the episode, but this werewolf story managed to be both scary and a wee bit different to those you have seen before. Certainly it tops the other science fiction shows I have watched attempts to pull it off. Buffy was a bit post modern with Phases, an embarrassing costume and far too many gags spoiling what could have been a scary episode. The X-Files offered up Shapes which did have a genuinely chilling transformation sequence but it was tacked on to a ruthlessly boring episode that hardly featured the creature at all.
The direction was right on the nail, astonishingly classy for television and the sort of standard the show needs to maintain if it wants to stay at the top of its game. What impressed me most was how far they were willing to go to scare the audience, there was a few moment in this episode where I was scared so I dread to think what the kiddies went through! The way the episode builds towards showing us the monster, manoeuvring Rose into its path just in time to see it turn is perhaps the best build up for any monster since Terror of the Zygons episode one. The creature in the cage was frightening enough with his silky voice and horrid tar black eyes but once his skin began to stretch and tear
brrr! The actual werewolf was fantastically designed but just cartoony enough to let the kids know they are watching television. Frankly the scariest moment in the entire episode was when the Doctor and Rose are trapped inside a room and the wolf is prowling around outside, purring and growling. Not knowing where he is was much scarier than actually having him right in your face! The biggest cliché comes when one guy says Aha the danger is over, Ill just investigate over here before he gets yanked up to the ceiling and savagely torn to pieces. How many times have I seen that before
and why does it keep getting used? Because it works and its damn funny! And scary!
The inclusion of Queen Victoria makes the episode far more than the monster fest than it could have been. Pauline Collins turns in a surprising performance with none of the gravity I was expecting but with much humanity and grace. Colour me impressed. RTD tries to pull of his surprise ending again, almost exactly the same as what he did with The Christmas Invasion having an authority figure and the Doctor who have been acting friendly suddenly at odds with each other in a most dramatic way. Its not quite as good because we dont know Victoria as good as we knew Harriet Jones but it still comes out of the blue. Its always nice to have a bit of history in Doctor Who and the regulars reaction meeting the famous Queen is a delight. There were some lovely touches like Alberts death being utilised as part of the plot, the giant telescope, which made the episode much more thoughtful than the run-around it clearly is.
Any complaints? Well the running time again I suppose. Does this story feel rushed? Not really because it is basically a bunch of people running around a house and this time RTDS has wisely confined one bloody great idea to the episode rather than chucking a thousand at the wall and hoping that some of them stick. But saying that I still feel these 45 minute stories would benefit from being an hour long, just so you can flesh out the characters a bit more, maybe add a touch more detail. These New Series episodes are being praised for being far faster paced and exciting compared to the drab, slow moving old Doctor Who TV series but they cant really help that having to squeeze in as much plot in half the length! What Im missing is the exploration of ideas, the new series has imagination in abundance but we are not have the opportunity to explore these crazy, wonderful ideas in any great depth in case the kids fall asleep so well just have another action set piece instead. The only story that had managed to marry the modern day need for crazy action and the old series joy at exploring the bizarre (and adequately delve into the characters) is The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances. Had Tooth and Claw been as long it would probably feel overstretched but just fifteen minutes more to allow us to find out a bit more about the monks, see the household in operation before the invasion, look a bit deeper into the history of the wolf, it would be just as classy but all the more rich.
But I refuse to complain, this has been one of my favourite episodes so far and on the strength of its broadcast viewing, easily my most exciting experience with new Who. The production was sparkling, the writing crisp and the show is clearly still firing on all cylinders after the over stuffed New Earth. Compelling viewing for all ages and a real shit scarer for the kiddies.
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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).
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A strong and brooding opening to this episode with a shot of the windswept highlands was slightly undermined by the proverbial contemporary filmic cod-Celtic pan-pipe incidental music jarringly reminiscent of the rather intrusive and annoying score of the Lord of the Rings trilogy (the worst aspect to an otherwise well-realised trilogy). Nevertheless, this was a strong opening with a noticeably gothic tinge, and sufficiently intriguing to keep one watching. It was palpable from the beginning of this episode that this is RTD's personal answer to the new Who-style pseudo-historical cannon set up dextrously by Mark Gatiss's The Unquiet Dead. The mood of both episodes is similarly subdued and moody (apart from some incongruously farcical elements to early scenes of Unquiet Dead), befitting the dim lighting of the Victorian scenarios. The shots with the monks infiltrating the castle are a little far-fetched and overtly Matrix/Crouching Tiger influenced, sitting very incongruously against the bleak 19thc. Scottish setting, but despite the slightly annoying disorientation of camera angles during these scenes (so typical of modern TV, re Green Wing and even aspects of the recent adaptation of Bleak House), they served their purpose in a peculiar, very Un-Who-ish way, and I was glad to see were largely confined to the opening of the episode.
Much as I love Ian Dury, I found the TARDIS scene rather absurd and typical of RTD's obsession with pumping the new Whoniverse full with allusions to popular culture; where Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick is a track much more palatable than the atrocious Toxic in the End of the World, the Doctor's comment on loving the Muppet Christmas Movie is on the other hand another annoyingly callow reference which doesn't say much for the new Doctor's taste in films, which is ironic as Tennant's incarnation, with his black-rimmed square glasses and scattered hairdo, looks more like an art house film critic. I think attempts to make the Tenth Doctor rather light and fun-loving should be kerbed as soon as possible, as he has more potential than that and there's no need to undermine the intrinsic genius of the character by trying to counter-balance his intellectual powers with kitsch pop-kultur fetishes. Mind you, Ian Dury is a good choice if you're going to insist on the new TARDIS console CD-option - but wouldn't classical music, or the jazz of McCoy's incarnation, be a little more enigmatic? The sheer mundanity of a timeless Sherlockian character choosing, out of all the places and times to visit, an Ian Dury gig in 1979 Sheffield is, to say the least, absurdly unambitious. We now have a further insight into RTD's musical taste - but I'd rather know about the Doctor's.
I liked the fact that Tennant adopts his native accent actually, something I wasn't too sure about prior to the episode, but it does suit him, and he comes across a bit like a bohemian Alan Breck Stewart who's detoured via Brighton on his travels, suddenly stumbling back into Kidnapped - but with Queen Victoria! RTD's obsession with what he terms as historical 'celebrity' is seemingly superfluous generally, and although it was a different writer who penned The Unquiet Dead, one is led to assume RTD specified to Gatiss to make sure a famous historical figure was included. This is unnecessary really and seems a little patronising: as if he assumes the only way the 'chavs' of today will pay any attention to an historical setting is if it is dominated by a famous figure from that period who'll they'll instantly recognise. It's more of a Hartnell-era trait (cue Marco Polo, The Crusade, The Romans, The Gunfighters et al), and something which tended to fizzle out later in the series; but arguably the most impressive of all historical or pseudo-historical Who stories were ones which nicely skirted round any famous figures, only hinting at their contemporaneousness, i.e. Pyramids of Mars, Masque of Mandragora (only just), Talons of Weng-Chiang, Horror of Fang Rock, Black Orchid and so on. Having said all this, I commend both Gatiss and now, for only the second time (the first was on aspects of Parting of the Ways) RTD for both stories' authentically convincing portrayals of said historicals, Dickens and now Queen Victoria. Though it takes a little suspension of disbelief to accept an actress synonymous with the Liverpudlian persona as an austere Victoria Saxe-Coburg Gotha, I have to say Pauline Collins pulled it off fairly well and was arguably one of the highlights of this story; her spiritualistic speech to the Doctor was very well handled by Collins, delivered in a subdued and powerful manner which hinted at the depths of moroseness so intrinsic to this perpetually mourning monarch. The speech also hinted at the long-dormant scriptural abilities of RTD, for only the third time in Who in my opinion (the other two occasions being the Doctor's speech about time in Rose and the restaurant scene in Boom Town); the only other time I witnessed his skills in this regard significantly were during bits of Casanova, smug and implausible though it was.
The less said about Rose in this episode the better. I'm so sick and tired of the 'character', if it she is a character; she's served her purpose now, I think it's time for her to go and for a new companion to step in. Her sole function in this episode seemed to be trying to get Queen Victoria to say 'we are not amused' - ironic really, because we weren't. Or at least, I certainly wasn't.
The initial location shots with the Highland Regiment escorting Victoria were nicely filmed, and throughout there was an air of military authenticity (in terms of uniform detail etc.) that harked back to the Douglas Camfield school of Who. 'I'm Dr Jamie McCrimmon' was a nice touch too. In all surface senses then, Tooth and Claw (a rather fatuous title) is a solidly depicted pseudo-historical; it looks and feels pretty much as it should, despite the odd misplaced haircut or two, and multi-panoramic camera direction; and in many aspects kept to the traditional Who pseudo-historical format in terms atmosphere and period detail. However, there is something about the gas-lit dinginess of Victorian settings which lends itself very easily to 'atmosphere' - it'll be interesting to see how things are handled in The Girl in the Fireplace. Not another Casanova I hope.
The supporting cast all act extremely well, obviously schooled in the Bleak House-earnestness of acting. The scenes with the pallid lycanthrope of unnervingly large brown pupils (reminding me of John Hurt for some reason) in his cage were very well directed and genuinely disturbing (on a par with the screaming lady in Unquiet Dead); so too were the transformation scenes excellently shot, albeit almost identical to those in American Werewolf in London and the superbly affecting Company of Wolves. The CGI realisation of the werewolf itself was also well done, probably helped by the darkly lit setting, and it was a nicely sinister touch to have the beast walking about on its hind legs.
What lets this episode down however is the trademark RTD Scooby-Doo-style run-a-round plot device, which rather takes the edge off what up until then is a nicely crafted, genuinely suspenseful build-up of storyline. And it is in the storyline also that the episode rather flounders, as it isn't very clear what the storyline actually is. It seems about 300 years ago a strange comet crashed into the nearby glen; that ever since there have been rumours of a werewolf in the local vicinity; that it turns out this werewolf is descended from an alien and now wishes to infect Queen Victoria so as to turn the British Empire into an Empire of the Wolf; and that somehow the late Prince Albert was knowledgeable of all of this and thus made sure to keep cutting down the diamond in his wife's possession so as to keep it refined as a sort of protective talisman. Mmm. I'm not quite sure where the monks fit in to all of this, but then I'll need to watch it a second time to get the full gist I suppose. The mistletoe was an interesting touch and a nice turn on the usual silver bullets and garlic. The Doctor's lightning-quick explanation that the werewolf's lack of resistance to the sap of mistletoe was somehow related to how it was trained by the monks was quite interesting in a sense, but again not really explained properly. And this is where RTD still seems to flounder: in properly explaining the background to his 'plots'. Mind you, this was a constant problem with the Cartmel era, especially regarding such scriptural vagaries as Ghost Light (striking though it was in some scenes).
Talking of which, in many ways, albeit mainly superficially, Tooth and Claw seems to share much in common with Season 26's motifs: we have essentially a curse relating to a werewolf, cue Curse of Fenric and its original title, The Wolves of Fenric; then we have what seems like the housemaids from Ghost Light's Gabriel Chase present in identical garbs; there's also an uncanny similarity to Marc Platt's plot, in which an alien is intent on destroying the 'Crowned Saxe-Coburg' in order to take over the British Empire. And the title Tooth and Claw itself brings back memories of the motifs of Survival.
Overall though, on first viewing this was an infinitely superior effort from RTD to last week's sub-standard post-modern Time and the Rani, the achingly grating New Earth. Tooth and Claw is easily the best episode RTD has written so far, despite its many flaws, and one just hopes to God that he will continue to make similar efforts in the future. Tooth and Claw is the first true consolation for the plotlessness of Rose, the idiocy of End of the World, the scatological farce of Aliens of London, the one-dimensionality of Christmas Invasion, the juvenile dullness of New Earth and the all-pervading tedious soap of the Tyler set. It is not nearly as good as it could have been due to too much emphasis on 'action' and monster-dodging over real plot and depth, but it is still RTD's best episode to date and is in itself worthy of the old Who cannon. It is also the first episode in which I think Tennant's Doctor shines: he is fairly charismatic, witty and affecting, and ironically I find him more impressive with a Scottish accent - not such a controversial possibility when one recalls McCoy's rolling r's. For the first time since his rather slapdash debut in The Christmas Invasion, the true Celt is finally surfacing in Tennant's Doctor (perfected by McCoy's brooding harbinger of doom in Curse of Fenric). I'm still not convinced by Tennant in the part, but in Tooth and Claw he's getting a damn site nearer to convincing me. He'll just take some getting used to - but he needs more space to develop, so for goodness' sake can we have less of Rose from now on and more of the Doctor please.
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I had a few issues with New Earth, but expected Tooth and Claw to restore my faith in the belief that Series Two could be the finest in Doctor Whos rich history, and Im pleased to say Russell T Davies second script for the 2006 season did just that.
Firstly, although Im not sure it was terribly essential to the plot, I really enjoyed the pre-titles fight sequence. When you think of some of the staged combats in years gone by (which, relatively speaking, werent actually that bad) and in other TV shows, particularly low-budget soaps, you can appreciate how awful and false such scenes can look.
But Davies obviously decided if we were going to do it, we might as well do it properly and the high-flying monks were as dramatic an opening to an episode as were likely to see. It was up there with the start to The Unquiet Dead, which I thought would take some topping. Im no film expert, but the fast-moving, inter-cutting of scenes really made this sequence stand out.
There werent many hugely-original ideas in the script but, as they say, originality is no excuse for mediocrity, and I would rather see a few old ideas woven together intelligently rather than a totally new idea which didnt work. The ingredients for Tooth and Claw did sound promising. Aside from the kung-fu monks, Queen Victoria, a spooky castle and a werewolf were an intriguing mix.
I also enjoyed the TARDIS getting the date wrong again. The omnipotence of the Doctors ship towards the end of the last series didnt sit too well with me, as you always have the nagging doubt that they can always look into the heart of the TARDIS again to save the Universe. I much prefer the randomness of the TARDISs workings.
Also nice not just as a Scot myself! to hear David Tennants own accent in the early part of the episode. I was disappointed that Tennant wasnt given the go-ahead to play the Doctor with his Scottish lilt throughout his tenure. I thought it would have followed on neatly from Christopher Ecclestons lots of planets have a North if the Doctor had a regional accent once again and it could have easily been explained away in the script.
After a key role in New Earth, there was a lot less involvement for Rose here, although we tend to take Billie Pipers general excellence for granted now. Tennant was very Doctor-ish in places indifference at the TARDIS being 100 years out, delight at introducing Queen Victoria to Rose, thrilled by the sight of the werewolf, and the typically-manic piecing together of the method to stop the beast! Tennant doesnt appear to have Ecclestons vulnerability this is an altogether more-confident Doctor (akin to his other predecessors) and it will be interesting to see if any chinks develop in his armour.
Pauline Collins was as fantastic as Queen Victoria as we all knew she would be that was always going to be a given. The bet I can get her to say We Are Not Amused running gag was a tad predictable, but they just about got away with it.
Best of the rest of the supporting cast for me was Ian Hanmores Father Angelo. He rather reminded me of Scarman in Pyramids of Mars - very chilling.
Billed as one of the scariest-ever episodes of Doctor Who, Tooth and Claw didnt disappoint in that department. As well as the Menacing Monk, the pre-werewolf incumbent of the cage was one of these moments which could give kids (and a few adults!) nightmares for weeks. As ever, no blood but a few close-ups on the beasts gnarling gnashers were genuinely frightening.
The actual transformation into the werewolf was terrific the sort of effect which lingers in the viewers memory. Another triumph for CGI! And, yet again, we must remember this is achieved on a TV shows budget rather than a movie. There was a hint of American Werewolf In London about it, but thats the point it looked like a film effect.
The werewolfs escape from its cage and its bounding along the corridors were also impressive. Despite the obvious cost restrictions preventing too many screen minutes of the creature, that actually made its appearances all the more memorable. Really loved the scene with the Doctor and the werewolf on either side of the door.
As we often say about these 45-minute episodes, theres only so much you can cram in but this one seemed more evenly-paced than New Earth, and the conclusion seemed perfectly plausible. Enjoyed the suggestion that there remains a hint of the wolf about the Royal Family, and the reference to Torchwood at the conclusion was also reasonable and a reminder that we have many treats to come this year!
Following on from the unresolved appearance of the Face of Boe last week, it will be interesting to see if this type of teaser is going to be a regular occurrence the danger for casual viewers is there will too many unresolved threads, but exciting titbits for the fans nonetheless.
Summing-up, a thoroughly-enjoyable episode, which will stand frequent rewatching. Likely to figure in the high rank at season end, of all the new Doctor Whos so far, Tooth and Claw is probably the episode which would have sat most readily in the classic series as well as the 21st-century version. And thats no bad thing. A wee bit of something for everyone . . .
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Much better. Much much better.
Well, that said, episode one was good. The ingredients of a sound story were all there but for me personally just let down a bit by being told too fast and time wasted on the silly camp bits- too much bodyswapping made basically unconvincing by being too fast and silly. This one contained no such letdowns.
We knew from the trailers that the werewolf at least was going to look good.So, as I sat desperately hoping that the football wouldn't overrun too much, I was looking forward to this. Euros Lyn showed his mettle on THE UNQUIET DEAD, the first classic episode of series one. In my view he did even better here. Given another great gothic script, we got another great gothic delivery.....
Starting at the start- fast and furious opening that set things up nicely. Enter the Doctor- some may moan about use of psychic paper to ingratiate him at every turn but it's a decent device for a story that has 45 minutes and it doesn't avoid all trouble. And it is a nice change from all those -doctor-arrives-and promptly-gets-suspected-of-whatever's-just-happened openings that became so predictable in the old series.
The period tone was nicely set with dismay at Rose's attire-shades of Tom Baker's attire. Rose, as a born again history groupie, was clearly desperate to hear her Majesty say "we are not amused" though the joke did wear thin after a while. I hope also she isn't going to get captured every week. Though the way she led the others was effective.....
Cue the build up of the mystery and then the revelation of the wolf. Bog standard horror stuff really, but superbly executed. The Doctor's admiration of the wolf's beauty was classic. And, unlike last year's dismal slitheen chases, as the creature hunted the tension never let up. The stoicism of the various characters was good, and the queen gets to shoot a monk!
And so eventually we get to the end. The handy device was there to resolve things, but unlike some previous ones in ROSE or END OF THE WORLD it was effective because in context with the overall mystery, having been set up in the past by Albert.
I would have liked a little more about the past reasearch, the coming of the alien to the monks, their subsequent relationship over the years, and where the heck all those other monks guarding the house vanished to! They were wearing misletoe, so it can't have killed them all! Where did they go? But enough was given by inference for it all to make sense so it didn't end up like one of those McCoy stories where you had to know what was cut in order to understand the plot.
All in all another of DR WHO's classic horror pastiches. Nice to have a TV werewolf tale after getting them in spin off media. LOUPS GAROUX is in my view one of big finishes' best so nice to see werewolves in the show itself. TOOTH AND CLAW was a prime example of the updated format working well. IN 1985 ROBIN OF SHERWOOD delivered episodes like this that were cracking wilst season 22 presented worthy stories that often dragged due to ill-structured 45 minute episodes. Here the 45 minutes slot works, though I still like the longer stories when they appear.
And so, though not a massive K9 fan, SCHOOL REUNION looks good. Onwards.....
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Tooth and Claw is an exceptional piece of drama. The direction is virtually perfect, the atmosphere is oozing and the acting is top notch. You cant fault the flawless production and the story has a confident depth which shows Russell T Davies doing what some fans suspected he couldnt; good old fashioned suspense and terror.
Overall, this Scotland based Victorian tale has close associations with Series 1s The Unquiet Dead; its style, historical context and pacing are slightly similar. Tooth and Claw is a little more dynamic than Gatiss tale. This doesnt mean the dynamic is to the detriment of the stories historical depth. In fact, this story has even more confidence in its depiction of the Realm of Queen Victoria than perhaps the Dickensian scene of The Unquiet Dead.
The opening however, certain betrays the the episodes general ambience; a very slick brawl akin to Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. Some may find this a little jarring with the rest of the story, I personally had no problem with such. Doctor Who is, in its essence, a very eclectic show which borrows, twists and parodies from a variety of styles. The fight scene makes for a confident and aggressive opening which certainly peaks the adrenaline and curiousity. The following scenes monster tease makes for a good introduction cliff-hanger as the show moves into the theme sequence.
The monster is - as the title suggests - a Wolf, or more specifically, a Werewolf. Doctor Who has stepped into the classic monster genre on several occasions. This is nothing new in that respect, however the focus of the plot remains closer to the monsters myth than any science fiction twist. The science fiction is there, just not too prominent.
The Werewolf is well realised, both as a wolf and as the human host. In fact, the scenes leading up to its transformation are as spellbinding as the revelation of the beast itself. The use of sound is also very powerful. Indeed the most atmospheric moment is the sound of the beast hunting for a way into the room in which the Doctors trapped in. I can almost guarantee a room of silent, spellbound viewers as that particular scene plays out.
The other monster or heroine (take your pick) is Queen Victoria. Shes played by Pauline Collins, a lady who the elderly fan may remember from the Troughton adventure The Faceless Ones. Collins is a versatile actress and barely recognizable in the role. As well as being well acted, the character is indeed well written. Im not particularly versed in the character of Queen Victoria, so I cant attest to the writers skill at capturing her historically, but she comes across as a deep and unpredictable character within the story.
Im afraid some of the episodes weakest elements come from the two leads. Im sorry to say after a previously strong episode for Miss Piper and Rose, Tooth and Claw proves to be her most annoying outing ever. This is by no means an attack on Billies acting; shes as solid as ever, nor is it an attack on the writing of Rose who remains equally believable. But thats the problem; she is too real, and real people are often annoying. Few would argue that as a person, Rose is perfect. She is both cocky, rude and occasionally manipulative. In this story, some of these negative characteristics are used for story humour that results in Rose becoming distractingly annoying.
If there is a blame finger to point, it invariably has to be at writer Russell T Davies. Davies seems to overuse her in the initial set up to this story. Her constant attempts to get Queen Victoria to declare We are not amused (for a bet with the Doctor) is not only tiring, but intrusive. Comedy is indeed subjective so Im sure some viewers found it funny, but I just found the gag did not warm me to Rose at all. Queen Victoria is a great historical character and to have the companion constantly mock her seems to belittle the Queens dignity irrelevantly. We dont see too many versions of Victoria played on the small screen, so I was curious to see how she was portrayed. Victorias introduction and continuing scenes felt as if they were being constantly interrupted by what I can only call companion heckle. It wouldnt be so annoying if it was once, but its almost continual for the entire first act. So while I can picture the character of Rose behaving just like this, within the narrative it feels way too intrusive. Humour is subjective, and in Tooth and Clar its laid on a little too thick as it sours the story for those who were not so easily amused by Roses hilarious antics.
Furthermore, as viewers are still keen to quantify this new Doctor, this continual gag keeps pushing Rose into the spotlight and the Doctor into the background. At this early stage of the tenth Doctors career, I think viewers are more keen to watch him than Rose, who dominated much of the last series - and rightly so as that was her introduction season. We now have a new Doctor and for the second episode in a row, Rose is very much at the forefront.
Thankfully, this balance alters as the pace kicks up a notch. The Doctor moves to center stage and we get to see Tennant in action. Well, sort of. As with New Earth, Tennants Doctor seems surprisingly inactive, in a way similar to Davison. There is no doubt you feel his presence, but you dont feel the control that Eccleston had. In the context of this story, this works to its advantage; you dont want the Doctor in too much control as you risk diminishing the hack and slash power of the werewolf. I am, however, looking forward to an episode in which the Doctor is a little more in the spotlight and a little more proactive, as he was in The Christmas Invasion.
Nevertheless, Tennants acting and dialogue are spot on. Its this reviewers hope he gets a little more proactive screen time in future episodes. He does a great deal of running away in Tooth and Claw, which again, is good for the suspense, but one feels an urge to see the Doctor get a story in which he has a more central dynamic. Thats not to underplay some great moments in this story, from his first encounter with the Werewolf to the scene in which he runs for the books, Tennant IS the Doctor.
The ending is particularly worth a mention. We have a strong scene for Queen Victoria that almost makes up for all the hassle she and the audience suffered from Rose earlier. It is also an audience reminder that in victory, not all necessarily ends well. The Doctor and Roses banishment from the realm was a surprise and a superb character turn for Victoria. Furthermore, the walk back to the TARDIS has a great nostalgic feel to it, very reminiscent of the end of one of my other favourite (Scottish) Who tales, Terror Of The Zygons.
So overall, aside from some slightly in-your-face Rose Tyler moments and a rather inactive Doctor, this is another solid and enjoyable romp for Series 2. A good script, some well implemented genre bites (watch out for the tiny but fun homage to Alien 3) and a story brimming with tension, Tooth and Claw is the perfect journey into Who horror.
Just where did those monks pop off to?
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.well I should admit that I've never cared for the Russell T. Davis episodes and so was pleasantly surprised at how much I found myself enjoying the first half of Tooth and Claw. And then it all went so wrong - unsurprisingly, around about the same time that the characters stopped running from the wolf and started talking. Why was the diamond constantly re-cut if its only purpose was to be thrown on the floor at the last minute as opposed to, oh I don't know, say, forming an intricate part of the telescope; where did the monks go when they still had the house surrounded with guns; why did Queen Victoria knight the Doctor and Rose only to banish them from the kingdom immediately afterwards; why did we have to listen to the world's worst, most blatant and completely unnecessary plug for Torchwood (incidentally, if Torchwood has been around for 100 years, how come we've never heard of it before, despite the Doctor working for UNIT both in the old and NEW series); why did Russell think 'we are not amused'' was a funny running gag; how was the house supposed to be a trap for the werewolf when nobody knew about it; and where did the monks get their matrix-like kung-fu abilities from?
On the plus side, the direction by Euros Lyn was fantastic and led to some genuinely tense and scary moment (really looking forward to his upcoming episodes), the production values were amazing and even the CGI looked very good, the acting from the guest cast was of a high standard and the opening banter between the Doctor and Rose was genuinely funny.
I'm still finding it hard to get used to David Tennant as the Doctor as he occasionally comes across as too manic and/or smug but I suspect this is more to do with the script than David's abilities as an actor. Hopefully he'll mellow out a little as the series progresses, much like Christopher Eccleston. It was a shame that after last week's performance Billie Piper returned to being the annoying giggling schoolgirl. If nothing else, New Earth showed she had a much broader range than many have given her credit for, and it was disappointing to see her being given little more than the annoying companion role again (though in the effective 'escape from the wolf in the cellar' scene she did get to be far more proactive).
Ultimately this was an episode carried by atmosphere and taut direction, not by a marked improvement in RTD's ability to write actual Doctor Who as opposed to his ultra-fast paced, sexed-up, over the top, pantomime version. I'd like to quote RTD from the series one boxed set booklet: "
And I had nothing to do with the show's return. That was decided in some as-yet-undocumented discussion between Lorraine Heggessey, the controller of BBC ONE, and Jane Tranter, Controller of Drama Commissioning". So, thank you Lorraine and Jane for bringing back such an amazing, imaginative and exciting show. Now if you could just stop Russell from writing any more episodes you'd make a lot of fans very happy indeed.
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This episode oozed sheer quality. The opening teaser was perhaps one of the best since the show has returned to our screens; anyone who turned over after seeing it needs their pulse checked. From then on, Tooth and Claw demonstrated what a superb writer Russell T Davies really is. The script crackled with wit and energy, and the all of the performances were up to the task.
Pauline Collins was brilliant as Queen Victoria, and her exile of the Doctor was a neat twist at the end of the show, as opposed to a somewhat cheesy back slapping sequence which could easily have taken place. I never fail to be surprised at the twists RTD's scripts take; what can seem a light and fluffy piece - such as New Earth - can suddenly take a serious and moving turn. Victoria's influence in regards to Torchwood was well done and I'm quite intrigued by the possible "anti-Doctor" stance the organisation may well take.
Billie Piper as Rose didn't really have much to do here, though the mention of "the wolf in her" is interesting; is the Bad Wolf storyline truly over? Despite this, as usual she displays
Of course, then there is the Doctor himself. David Tennant really seems to have found his feet by this story, even though the Doctor himself is still feeling out the elements of his new personality ("am I rude?"). His mercurial performance as our favourite Time Lord builds on what was shown in last week's New Earth, and surely must cement him as one of the best actors to take on the role (and yes, I love them all!). There seems to be general complaint that the Tenth Doctor is too flawless and perfect. The theory seems to be that this is deliberate on the part of the writers, and that he Doctor is being set up for a fall. Whether it's true or not, David Tennant's interpretation of the character seems far less vulnerable and more "Doctorish" than his immediate predecessor. I'll be eager to see how his version of the Doctor develops as the series goes on.
The werewolf itself was an incredible piece of work by The Mill; it easily rivals anything seen in similar genre films or television shows. Not once did I recall thinking "that's a good piece of CGI", but rather "look at the werewolf!". The saying that if a special effect is good, you won't even realise it's a special effect, really came into effect here; I thought of the werewolf as a character, not as a collection of pixels - the suspension of disbelief was quite easy to accomplish in this episode.
Speaking of which, Tooth and Claw really pushed the boundary in what has been seen so far in terms of actual horror in the series; the transformation sequence in particular seemed quite disturbing (but in a good way!), and scenes with Rose and the other prisoners trapped with the "host" also had an unsettling quality. I found it interesting that we had the sound effects of victims being ripped apart by the wolf, yet last year a similar such sound effect in The Empty Child (when Richard Wilson's character succumbed to the nanogenes, and his face deformed into a gas mask) was cut from the transmitted show.
Frightening, thrilling, funny, stylish and moving; only in our dreams did we believe that Doctor Who could have returned in such an amazing way. Any minor plot holes really aren't worth thinking about; the Doctor is back! Tooth and Claw demonstrated everything that's right about the new series and I have a feeling the best is yet to come.
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Since this series was announced I have been very excited. I looked forward to New Earth with great anticipation, only to be dissapointed. Perhaps this was just a weak opening episode? Perhaps. so would Tooth and Claw be any better? it certainly looked good on the trailers, and the tardisode gave a nice little taster. So would it live up to expectations?
It was definitely an improvement on New Earth, but compared to Series one and the Christmas Invasion, it just lacked that magic sparkle. I can't quite put my finger on it, but there is something missing from these new episodes; They fail to enthrall. There were a few good set pieces, but overall Tooth and Claw was flat and uninteresting.
I think one of the problems, as with New Earth, is that the story was too fast paced. It just rushed past, many details, such as the "monky monk monks" being forgotten about by the end (another was the Viscum Album imbued doors, which the werewolf broke through 5 minutes after we were told it couldn't).
Tennant, although a supremely talented actor, failed to impress me as the Doctor, and Billie Piper, as Rose, was all too familiar with the new Doctor all too soon. A complete contrast from her uncertainty over the entire first series and the Christmas Invasion (for instance what was the point of the whole "i tell you what... WEREWOLF!" bit?).
I will continue to watch the new series, as i am awaiting some fantastic episodes. i only hope that the other writers will produce the sort of quality stories that i came to expect while watching the Christopher Eccleston series, as RTD's first two offerings have left me cold.
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Well done RTD! I thought hed be on safer ground with a pseudo-historical and indeed he was: the overriding impression is of a very traditional Who tale, scary, suspenseful, atmospheric, and thoroughly enjoyable. The blistering pace is par for the course these days but despite that it all flowed rather well from the superb opening scenes as a more(traditionally) vulnerable Tardis gets it wrong and lands 100 years earlier than intended, with the Doctor and Rose stepping out onto the windswept highlands for a meeting with Queen Victoria herself!
My wife was very annoyed by the flippancy of the running gag of Rose betting the Queen will say she was not amused but to my mind Victoria was treated rather well by RTD, particularly when expressing her grief and longing to be re-united with her late husband Prince Albert. I thought that might be the cue for RTD to take his usual pop at religion but this time he restrained himself somewhat.
There is a great rapport building between the Tenth Doctor and Rose. Though Sarah travelled with the Third Doctor in his final season the real rapport was between herself and Tom Bakers incarnation, peaking with stories like Pyramids of Mars and here the same thing is happening with David Tennant and Billie Piper. The little exchanges between the two at the start and at the end (when discussing whether the Royal Family were werewolves)again felt very traditionally Doctor/companion. The Royals are certainly getting the RTD treatment of late- one moment theyre on the roof with the PM having to step in to do the Christmas broadcast and now theres the prospect of them changing into werewolves during the next full moon.
The setting was suitably atmospheric, the supporting cast excellent and the CGI werewolf fine. Particularly effective was the scene with the Doctor and the werewolf listening on opposite sides of the wall.
David Tennant is superb as the Doctor in this story, several notches up from New Earth and again he takes the lead in resolving the crisis rather than relying on others with Rose reduced to the more traditional helper/companion role, further emphasising the restoration of the Doctor as the central figure in the season.
An excellent story which gets better with each viewing.
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Let me begin by saying all the Russell T Davies detractors are missing the point. I am 41 years old I can vividly recall the Pertwee and Baker eras. I even remember Patrick Troughton episodes as a child. If I was a 10 year old now I would be wetting my pants in anticipation of Saturday. This is the Dr who I have been waiting all my life for the BBC to make. Having said that though the first two episodes of the "new season" have been a little disappointing.
My gripe with "Tooth and Claw" is it just didn't make sense. If you viewed the Tardisode for this story you would know a comet crashed on a Scottish moor 100 years ago although this is mentioned in the story it would have made a good pre credits sequence rather than the one we were presented with. Although monks doing martial arts in slow motion looks good in the context of this story it was somewhat silly. A little exposition would have been useful. Where did these monks come from?. Why were they in thrall to a werewolf?. This was just not explained. So the household staff are rounded up and placed in a room with a mysterious cage which it is revealed contains a man. In the middle of the day he would have just been a scrawny looking man in a cage not a werewolf so why did the staff scream? Man in a cage not scary, especially if locked up.
So the Doctor and Rose arrive in 1879. Loved the adoption of a Scottish accent. Would it really be so wrong if the doctor had a permanent Scottish accent?. He had a Manc accent and that was acceptable so why not Scottish?. Pauline Collins fantastic as Queen Victoria as well. Hope the doctor and Rose didn't have a long walk to the house. The Queen could have let him ride in the carriage rather then make him walk.
My second gripe with this episode concerns the Werewolf plot line. So the Werewolf is supposed to be alien rather then a traditional werewolf. Is Russell doing a Joss Whedon here and playing fast and loose with Werewolf mythology to suit his story. An explanation of this would have been useful. So are all werewolves alien or just this one?. The Doctor has encountered them before but he didn't explain where or why. It may have explained their aversion to mistletoe and the power of moonlight.
Loved the Werewolf transformation and the werewolf itself. In fact will go as far as to state that was the best werewolf I have ever seen. The designers got it right there. They obviously took notes from "Dog soldiers" and came up with a truly scary werewolf. The producers of "Buffy the vampire slayer" could take notes a guy in a monkey suit is not a scary werewolf. That one most definitely was. A huge man-like wolf fulfils the criteria.
The chase around the house ending with them holed up in one room with the big bad wolf outside was fantastic. If I had been my 10 year old self I would have been hiding behind the cliched sofa. It ticked all the boxes on that score.
So why did I feel a sense of disappointment at the end?. Mostly because I Felt this was a story that deserved a whole hour. 45 minutes was not enough for Russell to flesh out the story so left massive unexplained holes. The same thing could be said of episode 1 as well. Make Dr Who an hour and a half long and have done with STRICTLY COME DANCING FEVER. It deserves it. Can't wait for next week.
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When I reviewed New Earth on these pages last week, I had made the comment that Russell T Davies seemed to concoct his scripts from a shopping list of ingredients and then create a semblance of a plot by simply joining the dots together. One of my initial fears about Tooth and Claw had been that same worry, that it was a case of throwing in Queen Victoria, a Werewolf and some Monks and hoping that that was enough to divert an audience for 45 minutes, distracting attention away from the scantily dressed plot built up around it. Well for once I am glad to have been proved wrong, for virtually everything that New Earth did wrong last week, Tooth & claw did right this week.
Tooth and Claw on paper is of course probably the most traditionally old fashioned Doctor Who story since the Unquiet Dead, and while I wouldnt for one minute suggest that this should be the template for all new Doctor Who, it certainly proved that the old Doctor Who formula can still hack it in a twenty first century context, without being drowned under a deluge of camp humour and pop culture references.
The humour for the most part was very witty and well handled, although what the Royal family (allegedly viewers of the new series if you believe the tabloids), would make of the various jokes at their expense is anybodys guess, is Russell T Davies a republican by any chance?
It is amazing that the series has took quite so long to do a werewolf, and after one false start, Mags in Greatest Show barely counts, we finally got a bonefide Doctor Who werewolf, and very well executed it was too. While I am sure someone somewhere will make the critiscism that it looked too CGId, I would remind them that this is television and the fact that Doctor Who is getting this standard of effects work at the moment is an achievement in itself. Despite shots of the creature being used sparingly, one was in no doubt that the creature was a feral force of nature. The effective two shot of the doctor and the Wolf separated only by a wall, was an image that certainly stuck in the memory, and I am sure for younger viewers this story provided many a behind the sofa moment.
The fact that the wolf was given a credible science fiction background also worked in the storys favour without ever becoming bogged down in technobabble. Particularly well handled as well was the way the separate elements of the Queen, the Monks and the Wolf were tied together in the story, it could so easily have been written as coincidence that all three happened to end up in the same place, but each element had a pivotal role in advancing the story.
Queen Victoria once again proved a worthy addition to the new series rollcall of famous historical figures, and just as Simon Callow so ably did last year, Pauline Collins managed to tread the line remarkably well between portraying the theatrical aspect of the character most audiences would identify with, while adding just enough depth to make the character a living breathing person. That Doctor who is reintroducing these historical figures, which have often been poorly handled in the old series, can only be a good thing if they can maintain this calibre of actor. If only one child in a hundred gets the urge to look through a history book after watching, then the series is still fulfilling that educational remit it started with over forty odd years ago.
So to David Tennants second full appearance as the Doctor, last week he breezed through the whole story with an air of confidence that firmly cemented him as a Doctor, whether he will become a definitive Doctor remains to be seen. Tennant didnt set a single foot wrong in Tooth and Claw, but has still not had a defining moment which has firmly established him in the part. Tennant has a tough call, he has the unenviable task of stamping his mark, on what for the last fifteen years has been a guest rather than a star part (McGann, Richard E Grant, Eccleston not to mention the Undound and comic relief Doctors) and which has fundamentally destroyed the identification most people built up with the character during its first twenty years. While Tennant has all the attributes to make a great Doctor, he still needs that defining moment, that will to us older viewers at least allow us to sit up and say this is the Doctor and not just a Doctor.
While Tennants Doctor may have been slightly underwritten in this story, I have also felt a subtle shift in the character of Rose. I was a huge fan of Rose during season 1 and the Christmas Invasion, but certainly in the last two stories, the character has had very few defining standout scenes, not that any of her stuff in this story was bad, but all of a sudden Rose seems to be less vital and more just a standard Doctor Who assistant and I am puzzled as to why this change has suddenly come about.
The revelation that Queen Victoria laid the seeds for Torchwood was an unexpected but welcome surprise. It will be interesting to see where the Torchwood theme is going this season and whether it will lead to a bone fide role for the organisation in the story arc, or whether it is all just an extended set up for the spin off series.
So all in all, a welcome return to form for the series after a rather uneven opener, a traditional Doctor Who story which while not really breaking any new ground, touched all the bases it needed to keep both the fans and the casual viewer happy. With some truly cinematic production values, and a Russell T Davies script that for once didnt compromise the integrity of the show, Tooth and Claw I am sure will be fondly remembered by fans and viewers alike for many years to come.
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For two years running Russell T. Davies winning formula has succeeded spectacularly. Establish the characters in an episode where they deal with a threat at home, fling them into the far distant future for an outer space romp and then send them into the (relatively) recent past to face a supernatural monster! The third step in that master plan, Tooth and Claw has to be one of the best episodes produced since the rebirth of Doctor Who. It has the headline Queen Victoria!; it has the wonderfully realised monster; it has intriguing characters and most important of all, it has a Doctor that is in his element. Add to the mix some of the best direction that the show has ever seen, and the audience is left with a non-stop 45-minute rollercoaster ride!
By what power? The hand of God?
No. The FIST OF MAN!
Tooth and Claw begins with one of the best pre-credit sequences ever. In any show. I cant remember who it was (Steven Moffatt I think?) that said what elsewhere is called plagiarism in Doctor Who is called homage, and in the opening minutes of this episode the show pays homage to some of the best Kung-Fu movies ever as well as stuff like The Matrix. The fight sequence is simply sublime; it is brilliant performed, shot and scored. The contrast between the red of the monks robes and the pale background is absolutely stunning, and both Ian Hanmore as Father Angelo and Ron Donachie as the Steward are awesome. The pre-credits sequence also introduces to us whatever is in the cage, giving us that brilliant cliff-hanger substitute as the screams of Lady Isobel tear into the opening title music.
The energy of Doctor Who is unbelievable. Even in the opening TARDIS scene, neither of the main characters stays still for a second. The Doctor is frantically hitting his rhythm stick onto the TARDIS console to the sound of Ian Drury, whilst Rose is skipping around after him wearing what looks like an updated version of Sarah Jane Smiths Andy Pandy outfit from The Hand of Fear! The time travellers arent slow to get caught up in events as they stroll straight out of the TARDIS and into Queen Victorias guards! Im sure that David Tennant appreciated the chance to play the Doctor without his affected mockney accent, just as Im sure that Billie Piper was glad that she didnt have to keep up the comical hoots mon nonsense for the remainder of the episode! The psychic paper plays its usual effective lets save two episodes of padding role in quickly establishing the Doctor as the Queens Royal Protector and were away, with a little bit of fanwank - Doctor James McCrimmon thrown in for good measure! I bet Frazer Hines was chuffed!
Ignoring for the moment the wonderful performances of the regulars, the supporting cast of Tooth and Claw is absolutely first-class, with the possible exception of the rather wooden Captain Reynolds (Jamie Sives). The obvious standout performances are Derek Riddell as Sir Robert McLeish and Pauline Collins as Queen Victoria. Forced to commit treason and obviously plagued by guilt, McLeish is a character that the audience really can feel sympathy for, especially when his quite obvious hints about all not being well fall upon deaf ears! Doctor Who fans may be familiar with Pauline Collins from her role as Samantha Briggs in the Patrick Troughton story The Faceless Ones a story in which she enjoyed several scenes of flirtation with a certain Jamie McCrimmon
Her portrayal of Queen Victoria couldnt be any further away from Samantha; Collins conveys the Queens intelligence, bravery and steely resolve brilliantly, aided and abetted by Russell T. Davies well-written and well-informed script. I was particularly impressed with the scenes in which her (well documented) grief over Prince Alberts death is addressed; between them Davies and Collins have really nailed the character. Her killing of Father Angelo is particularly well done. The shaking of her hands and her flustered disposition make both Angelo (and the audience) think that she wont shoot him, but as her actions prove the Queen is a formidable woman.
Every full moon the howling rings through the valley
this is a man who becomes an animal.
Ultimately, Tooth and Claw will be primarily remembered for the Mills superb C.G.I. werewolf which is an astonishing piece of work for a TV show. When the Doctor first looks upon the creature, he remarks that it is beautiful and hes right on the mark I dont think Ive ever seen a better-realised werewolf anywhere. In classic Doctor Who fashion it is used sparingly (and cost-effectively!), the mostly implied presence of the creature making its brief, visceral appearances even more terrifying. It also means that the fast-paced story has a little time to breathe; much of the brilliance of Tooth and Claw comes from how Davies focuses on the reactions of the humans to the werewolf rather than on the creature itself. This also allows the writer to cleverly set up the work done by McLeishs father and Prince Albert the wolf trap as it were something that may have suffered were this merely a story about a werewolf on the rampage, killed by an unimaginative silver bullet. Such a story produced as well as this and with a cast as good as this would still have been spectacular, but written as well as it is Tooth and Claw is just amazing.
I also enjoyed Roses brief conversation with the werewolf host prior to his transformation. His calm voice a soft, eerie sort of Scottish burr really makes the skin crawl, especially when he talks about his plans for the Empire of the Wolf. This is no mere mindlessly violent creature it is an alien life form with a sinister purpose. Big Finish fans may have caught the allusion to Marc Platts 2001 fifth Doctor audio play Loups-Garoux, when the creature remarks that Rose (like Turlough in that play) has the wolf in her. Although here this isnt explored any further, it alludes to a possible sequel and also helps illustrate how confident Rose has become. Now she is certainly the Doctors equal, even in arrogance. She barks orders at her fellow prisoners, makes conversation with the werewolf host she even repeatedly tries to annoy Queen Victoria into saying we are not amused. From the Queens prophetic words at the end of this episode, it appears that our time travellers may be heading for a fall.
Books! The best weapons in the world. This room is the greatest arsenal we could have!
The base under siege story angle is one that has worked very well for Doctor Who in the past, and it has never been done better than it is in this episode. Monks shooting at you on the outside, a werewolf hell-bent on tearing you apart inside fantastic! I love the claustrophobic library scene: the visual of the Doctor and the werewolf both sniffing at opposing sides of the wall is unforgettable, but even more impressive is the story itself. Davies again takes the opportunity to show us just how sharp Queen Victoria is; shes the only one to notice the Doctors accent bouncing back and forth between Scottish and mockney, her growing mistrust of him becoming more and more evident. I found this interesting because it really goes against Doctor Whos storytelling convention; Doctor Who stories normally begin with the Doctor on the outside, slowly worming his way into a position of trust with the authorities. In this story, its precisely the other way around.
Sometimes stories as good as this suffer from cop-out endings that leaves viewer unsatisfied, and I had a horrible feeling that the mistletoe was going to be such a cop-out. Luckily, the resolution is one of the strongest elements of the story. The Doctors epiphany about the suspiciously rubbish telescope, the diamond, Prince Albert and McLeishs father is beautifully acted and shot; Euros Lyns sharp cutting really encapsulates the Doctors rapid train of thought. The wolf crawling across the glass ceiling is an outstanding set piece, as is its ultimate demise in the light chamber. I was pleased to see that McLeish is given a chance to redeem himself, sacrificing his own life to buy the Doctor some time, and also that the Doctor and Roses killing of the werewolf isnt out-and-out murder; the host actually pleads for them to turn up the brightness and free it.
I think that scene where Queen Victoria knights both the Doctor and Rose really demonstrates everything that is good about Davies writing; everything that is good about this new series of Doctor Who. In less than two minutes, Davies takes us from chucking at Rose becoming Dame Rose of the Powell Estate to frowning with concern as the icy Queen exiles both her protectors from the British Empire.
you consort with stars and magic and think it fun. But your world is steeped in terror and blasphemy and death and I will not allow it. You will leave these shores and will reflect, I hope, on how you came to stray so far from all that is good and how much longer you can survive this terrible life.
The Queens words emphasise what I referred to earlier, the Doctor and Roses growing confidence and how they literally laugh in the face of danger. Moreover, they also leave the doors wide open for a sequel as we think that Queen Victoria was bitten by the wolf, and we dont know for sure whether she is in fact genuinely reacting against the ungodly Doctor and his feral child or if she is in fact being influenced by the loupine cells she may have been infected with. After all, she was certainly defensive about the splinter of wood that supposedly cut her. Nevertheless, her words dont seem to have any effect on the Doctor and Rose who laugh all the way back to the TARDIS about the possibility of the 21st century Royal Family being werewolves, contrasting beautifully with the scene of the mourning Lady Isobel talking to the deadly serious Queen about the setting up a certain institution we may be seeing a lot of in the future
I sincerely hope that the fantastic script, great performances and first class production of Tooth and Claw will silence many of naysayers who were quick to condemn the light-hearted romp that was New Earth. For me, Tooth and Claw was almost flawless; one of the best that Davies episodes has penned. The only thing I would pick on is that he missed the perfect opportunity for a Bad Wolf quip!
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It was said many times that the new series has taken some of its lead in characters and writing from shows such as "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "Angel". Now that's been taken one step further and we have an episode that's got "Angel"-like subject matter, and more startlingly, a much more modern directing style never before seen in "Doctor Who," one which fits this story perfectly and gives a real shot of adrenalin straight to the heart of the production.
Though different directors came and went last season, it felt as though all of the episodes were following a "house style," which kept any one of them from looking too different from any other. Depending on the producer, this wasn't something the original series always did... often those directors were left to put whatever style they wanted into it. Euros Lyn seems to have been let off the leash here on "Tooth and Claw" (sorry), and we open with a wire-work martial arts sequence that wouldn't look out of place in "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" or a Tarantino film, not just because it's wire-work martial arts but also because it's been differently lit and graded and shot at different frame rates than usual to get that "flicker" look going and to sometimes go into slow-motion. The camerawork throughout the rest of the episode is similarly uncoupled from the house style and allowed to go wherever the most tense shot is, with the biggest "signature" moment of this being the one where the Doctor and the werewolf are listening for each other through the wall of the house's study. Murray Gold on the music has clearly been given different orders this week as well, as he matches this change of style with a total makeover of his own, producing what is by far his best score for the series. I very much hope these are standing orders and that this trend will continue in future weeks, both on the directing and the music. This was the best directed episode of "Doctor Who" since Graeme Harper last worked on the series. (oh and look, here _he_ comes again in a couple weeks... eek)
This plot seemed a lot tighter this week too. Often in the new series (and no, it's not just in RTD's episodes) certain details get glossed over for fear of putting brakes on the plot (and judging by the popularity of the series with the general public, this seems to be a good tradeoff), but in this episode I couldn't see any weaknesses or holes at all.... with the possible exception of the question of what happened to all the monks outside at the end, but with both the wolf (the object of their worship) and their leader dead, I suppose it's an easy dot to connect that they'd have legged it, though it would've been nice to have one shot of them doing so. But everything else... the set-up of the telescope and the diamond, the mistletoe, the nature of the wolf as a slow-acting infection from another planet, the monks coming to worship the wolf and the Host, the conspiracy between Sir Robert's father and Prince Albert... it was all laid in like a perfect jigsaw puzzle and paid off beautifully in the end. It reminded me a lot of the story in a "Tomb Raider" video game, or more precisely, another one called "Eternal Darkness" which also involved a telescope in a large spooky house. Oh, and it was all very tense and scary all the time too.
With everything that was going on, what with Queen Victoria, the kung-fu monks, and the werewolf, it was still the Doctor and Rose that came through with the finest moments in the story. The Doctor's best has to be when he goes all Giles on us and gets everyone to help him look up what the werewolf is in the library, but he has plenty of others as well such as going native with his accent or when he's suddenly being rude and checking himself, or when he bonds with Queen Victoria over how those who are gone never talk to us from beyond. That last exchange is just dripping in significance to me, given what we know the title of the second-to-last episode is going to be. Hmm. Rose's best moment is when she takes charge down in the cellar when everyone's chained up in front of the caged Host and takes it upon herself to ask it where it's from and so on, and then when she verbally slaps everyone else for just staring at the werewolf and instead gets them all to pull on the chain simultaneously so they can get away. Another thing that was dripping with significance was how the Host could spot the Bad Wolf within Rose... and we thought it was all over. Whether it was planned that way from the start or whether RTD has realized he really did need to explain the Bad Wolf stuff a bit more I can't tell, but whichever it was, it still works. The pair together also get a warning shot across their bows, so to speak, in the form of Queen Victoria telling them to leave and never return because, as she puts it, they treat all this terror and misery that's being inflicted on people as something fun. Again, I'm sensing a running theme that's going to hit them hard later in the season. Still, after the riot act she reads them, I wonder if they're tempted to vworp over to Washington, D.C. after this and look up that document that goes "we hold these truths to be self-evident..."
Victoria herself was the most fully-formed character of the guest artists, and very well-written and performed she was too. I think Pauline Collins hit the note just right here. She's not too stern in the quiet moments and incredibly tough and strong in the sense she's famous for in the harder moments, such as when she tells the Doctor to leave and then decides to set up the Torchwood Institute, or of course, when she shoots the Father of the kung-fu monks. I do love the idea of her being bitten by the werewolf and passing it on the rest of the royal family... as Rose says at the end, "oh my god, they're werewolves!" I would love to be a fly on the wall around the royal television sets when the real royal family saw this.
And I should spare some words for the werewolf itself. This was as good as TV CGI gets, and was everything it needed to be to make the scenes work and be scary and dynamic. This is not, however, to say that it was perfect... CGI itself still has a long way to go before it will ever look completely photo-realistic to my eyes I think, but of all the techniques available to tell this story, this was the best choice, and it worked well enough.
I think I'll say 9 out of 10 for this one. I'm tempted to go 9.5 or 10, but I have a feeling that there's going to be even better stuff to come, and I better leave myself some room on the scale.
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Tooth and Claw' was an episode of two halves. The first half was, on the whole, a chilling, beautifully filmed & nicely paced horror story. The colours, in particular, were absolutely gorgeous! I loved the two carriages at the beginning each carrying boxes with secrets, and the build up to the monster reveal was masterfully handled & extremely scary. The scene where chained Rose talked to the being in the cage was a lovely partial inverse of the scene from 'Dalek'.
Victoria (Pauline Collins) was reasonably well characterised throughout the first half. Her speech about the dead was both moving & apposite, and I loved her robust response to Rose's state of dress, though I can't see why she didn't have her shut up in a cupboard for impertinence *long* before the end.
The second half, on the other hand, was at best a mildly entertaining run-about-corridors-screaming romp. I was very amused (if one can use that word) that the 'Confidential' episode quoted someone saying that monsters are scarier in the imagination -- when will they learn that cgi creations lolloping around corridors just don't cut it? All that "bullets won't stop it" dashing up & down stairs felt far too close to 'Dalek' & 'The Parting of the Ways', while the Monster Repellant^TM mistletoe was reminiscent of the Vinegar Is Your Ally trick they pulled on the Slovene (though I did appreciate that Isobel got to do a bit more than scream). And surely they could have cut just one of the "we are not amused" jokes [pretty please?] to shoe-horn in a bit of "Our Werewolf From Outer Space is unique because..." at some point.
And then the final minutes -- simply naff in so many ways. The big & clunky engineering solution was great fun, but, like Rose, I'm a little at a loss as to quite why it worked (let alone how Sir Robert's father & Albert figured it all out). The Christian imagery of the dying alien left me a bit bewildered. And let's not even mention the knighthoods, Victoria's sudden mindswitch, the tasteless royal family jokes & that And We Shall Advertise Our Forthcoming Series scene.
I've not yet adjusted to Tennant's Doctor. He feels much more old school than Eccleston's potrayal, which should be reassuring but actually feels retrograde. Meanwhile, Rose was reduced to traditional Companion fare: info dump catalyst, character in jeopardy & atrocious comic relief.
Putting both halves together, one of the better RTD episodes (not saying much) but a bit too much of a 'Batman Begins'/'Hound of the Baskervilles'/last year's Dalek episodes/'Buffy' mishmash for my taste. (And just *where* did the Scottish monks learn those moves?)
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Wonderful. What a terrific episode. Rather than begin at the beginning, I'd like to highlight one particular scene.
The Doctor, Queen Victoria, Sir Robert and Rose are trapped in a room with a ferocious werewolf sniffing around outside, temporarily by the intelligence of a dead man, Sir Robert's late father. Robert himself is despairing; they have no weapons, he fears for his wife and feels that he has betrayed his Queen. The Doctor does not despair. They are, after all, trapped in a library. They have weapons. Donning his reading glasses, he attacks the shelves and throws a book at Rose. "Arm yourself," he says.
I loved that scene. It was one of those 'goosebump' moments that excellent 'Doctor Who' can provide...and I believe 'Tooth and Claw' to be excellent 'Doctor Who'.
I'd say this was Russell T's best script to date, surpassing last year's concluding two-parter. The Host scenes were particularly chilling, with Tom Smith giving a brilliantly scary performance. An effective contrast to the earlier scenes with the Doctor and Rose that were full of humour and zest. Some great dialogue as we discover that the Doctor is fond of Ian Dury and 'The Muppet Movie' , but clearly not fond of M Thatcher. (my kind of hero!)
I laughed out loud at Roses awful scottish accent ("oot and aboot" indeed) and there was obviously another level to the humour from the scottish David Tennant's pained reaction. ("Don't do that...no, really.") There is a lot going on in these 45-minutes, and my admiration only grew on second viewing. (First time around, because of all the sound and fury, I'd missed a few things. For example, the "70% water...can still drown" line.)
Due to the general high standard, direction doesn't get mentioned all that often, but I'd like to commend Euros Lyn for his brilliant work on this story. As for the acting, it was pretty faultless. Pauline Collins gave us a prickly, brave and not particularly sympathetic Quuen Victoria. The presence of the Doctor and Rose clearly disturbs her, and I found this subtext surprising and spot on. I don't want 'the establishment' to be comfortable with the Doctor, and vice versa, so I thought his 'banishment' worked very well...I certainly didn't see it coming. The Doctor and the 'status quo' do not go together...and so the Doctor is instrumental in the instigation of Torchwood; terrific.
David and Billie have developed into a very good team; she'll let him know when he's "being rude" , for example. I liked the way he called the 'telescope' "...a bit rubbish" and Roses' fixed grin in response! Tennant is terrific throughout, highlights being the aforementioned library scene and his awed response to the werewolf. ("That's beautiful...") He can be funny, manic, sarky, rude, warm, wide-eyed, off-hand, intense, kindly...but in the scene where the Queen laments the inability of the dead to get in touch, you see brooding sadness. He is, after all, still the Last Timelord. (For now, anyway?)
Great effects work, not overdone; running down corridors, dark shadows; the Doctor's ingenuity saving the day; a hint of 'Ghostlight'....what the heck, this gets a Ten from me!
To conclude; the Royal Family....secretive...love bloodsports....WEREWOLVES!! I'll buy it, Russell, you cheeky so and so. (I can just picture it; kids seeing the royal family on telly, and shouting "Werewolves!" Wonderful.)
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Tooth and Claw
Or, The One In Which Russell T Davis Proves He CAN Write Decent Incidental Characters And Dialogue
But Screws Up the Regulars Big-Time!
So, as ever, a real mixed bag from Russell T. Firstly, the honour of the Smiths compels me to say that this was a very good piece of television, nicely paced, and dripping with atmosphere Euros Lyns direction really came up trumps this week, which was a very welcome result, after New Earth, from which the thitherto excellent James Hawes strangely seemed all but absent.
For me the most surprising part of the whole thing was RTDs depiction of the Victorian era (often seen as the ideal home for Dr Who). You might have been forgiven for expecting wickedly snappy anti-British Empire barbs to be dropping from the Doctors lips every other sentence, but if fact Russell excels himself with an excellent evocation of the enlightened, devout and pioneering spirit of the age, not only its greater focus on militarism. All the references, by various characters, to God, and Russells apparent knowledge of Queen Victoria, add tremendous character and colour to the script. I sincerely doubted beforehand that Prince Albert, one of our greatest kings (so to speak!) would even get a mention. Instead, he has a huge role in the story, and comes out of it very well indeed despite not even appearing!
Woe, woe, woe to the Doctor and Rose in this, however. Russells treatment of Rose I guess I can live with if he wants to make his very own, and admittedly exceptional, character look like a moron (which she does throughout, with the possible exception of the first scene with the caged wolf), thats his prerogative. The Doctor, however, takes a distinct turn for the worse in this episode.
Given that every Doctor, with the exceptions of Patrick Troughton and the hippy-ish Sylvester McCoy, has been rude, I dont really know exactly why Tennants lines in this grate so much. But from a completely gratuitous insult to Mrs Thatcher (two episodes after the Christmas Invasion I dont know whether he seriously thinks she was a worse Premier than the Labour PMs preceding her, or come to that whether the Sycorax-busting Harriet Jones was worse than Tony Blair, I cant presume to guess the mind of someone so strange, but it really seems as if Russell has issues. Maybe the 80s traumatised him.) from there to the observatorys rubbish telescope and the Doctors venomously-delivered reproach to the heroic Lord Roberts, in Tooth and Claw we see more than ever the unpleasant streak underwriting this incarnation. Whats more, it seems quite likely that the Doctors stinging reproach in the library contributed to Lord Roberts eventual decision to sacrifice himself and thus gain redemption in the eyes of the Queen and his beloved wife nice one, Doctor. Proud of yourself?
If Tennant had the same genius in the role the combination of otherworldliness, intense gravitas, magic and a core of tempered steel that Tom Baker had, then the Tenth Doctor would get away with it with aplomb equal to the Fourth. But hes no Tom Baker, not yet he hasnt settled in enough. I still insist that DT has the potential to become a great incarnation: but this vein of unpleasantness should be something the production team rein in for Series 3.
This episode must set new records for the number of people RTD lashes out at: the end of the episode, with Rose and the Doctors closing remarks on the monarchy. Apparently theyre all werewolves: of course! That explains why they enjoy hunting, of all things! (she signed the goddamn Bill, didnt she? What more do you want, you
[obscene rant nipped in the bud]) Royal blood really gets a slamming from Russell, doesnt it? Not only does it render you helpless before blood control, but it also makes you indulge in those sinful blood sports (seemingly a terrible thing in RTDs book after all, the Slitheen liked it too and they were certainly terrible!).
But I digress. Maybe Im suffering from a sincere sense-of-humour deficiency, but I have never found Russells writing that funny, and the ridiculous offensiveness of this scene is breathtaking, particularly on the day after the Queens 80th birthday, and marks a new low in the series revival Russells aggressive, almost missionary promotion of puerility, which taints his episodes what is supposedly his favourite TV show, is fast becoming wearing
oh, who am I kidding? Its been wearing since episode 1, March 26 2005!
I am well aware of how much worse it could have been, given the Victorian-era material: I just wish Russell wouldnt keep using the Doctor as a vehicle for his stupid prejudices, thats all it really spoils my enjoyment. Nevertheless, this is an episode which I expect to see performing well in end-of-series polls.
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One of the many criticisms levelled against new Doctor Who is its pacing. The 45 minute episodes being seen to force the expulsion of great swathes of development and backstory- paring the series down into little nuggets of edited who-lite. Pish and tosh, I say. Yes, this new series is a different beast- but this new, short form, Doctor Who is as capable of being as dynamic, affecting, smart and magnificent as any work of shorter fiction. More is not always better. And nowhere, to my mind, has this been demonstrated with greater effect than in Tooth and Claw.
If this had been an old four-parter, we would presumably have had a prologue detailing the monsters crash to Earth, the Evil Monks would have taken up at least half the first episode with veiled allusions to what was to come. Maybe they would have taken control of the house at the end of part one (trapping the servants in the basement, wheeling in the shrouded cage, crash-zoom on lead baldy This will be the Empire Of The Wolf! cue titles). Certainly the werewolf transformation would only have come at the end of part two and part three would have been a run-around chase scene ending with them trapped in the library.
More importantly, and disastrously, we would probably have had to endure unnecessary elaboration- all serving to diminish the impact of the story. Roses conversation with the Host would have involved layers of back-story in which we learned the name of its home planet, its race (maybe, if produced under JN-T, itd be a Rutan- for no discernable reason) and probably a way to eventually kill it.
Good horror sees no need to abide by rules and needs no explanations- despite what the lazy nonsense of Kevin Williamson and the post-modern, post 'Scream' bandwagoners may have you believe. It positively revels in throwing up nonsensical ideas and then making you believe in their possibility. The best horror feeds off that wonderful paranoia we all feel- the abnormal brain-function that causes us to fear that, even though we know weve locked all the doors and windows- and our multi-million pound alarm system is switched on, that sounded like someone breaking in and scraping a knife along the paintwork!
Old Doctor Who would have had the million pound security, let the murderer in- but then revealed they teleported in from Venus and actually it was all an alien plot to steal your pyjamas and actually, the aliens arent that scary after all. Ho hum.
What new Doctor Who does- in this wonderful new short form- is bung all that out the window. Yes, we get a reference to the monster being an alien- but its over in a few seconds and the real meat of that particular thread is left to some ill-advised internet/phone downloadable doodah that only fans/nerds desperate for that kind of security blanket will see. For everyone else watching, the monster is a werewolf. A big, nasty, powerful, man-eating werewolf that rips people apart and does not, ever, despite earlier talk of a stellar empire, pull out a laser gun or wear a pair of silver trousers and a funny hat.
It is vital you consider that for a moment. Its important. It means, I think, that Doctor Who has grown up. Maybe this is as a result of cgi allowing things on the screen that previously could only be alluded to in the most basic of visual terms. Maybe Doctor Who no longer needs to convince us of a monsters veracity by swaddling it in post-war, space-race, terminology. Maybe, because we can now see it with our own eyes more or less as intended, we no longer need that extra spoonful of sugar. Maybe the aliens no longer need to be quite so cosily alien and instead can come from somewhere else- and after all, isnt that what the supernatural is all about?
Tooth and Claw was a fast-paced, dramatic episode that probably scared the nations children into therapy. Some bits still felt like padding- the Tardis sequence especially seemed to serve no purpose and just delayed us getting on with the plot. That terrible, mocking dialogue with the Doctor and Rose discussing the possible lycanthropy of the Royals just seemed so crass after the sensitive treatment of Queen Victoria throughout the episode. But I have never, never seen an ending like that! Victorias vow to the creation of Torchwood, tellingly almost-overdubbed with the cliffhanger sting, sent a shiver down my spine. There was a real sense of Doctor Who evolving, changing and becoming something entirely new and different. Something, ever-so possibly scary.
Given time and the opportunity to pursue these story ideas- either in the series itself or in one of its spin-offs- Tooth and Claw could come to be seen as the launch of a whole new existence for this fantastic show that somehow, somehow, refuses to die. And just keeps on getting better. Its better now, as a tv show, than it ever was before. Forget your Tom Bakers and your Phillip Hinchcliffes. Verity? Sorry love, dont need you anymore. Its in very, very safe hands.
Filters: Television Series 2/28 Tenth Doctor
"Who let the wolf out?" RTD cetainly did with "Tooth and Claw": a gripping and entertaining ode to the werewolf legend with an expected whovian alien twist. This episode was a vast improvement from "New Earth" - The fear factor was raised up a notch or two and the plot was well paced with the rising body count.
The "We are not amused" bet between the Doctor and Rose was annoying and totally unneccessary - lets just say I was not amused. The wolf CGI was acceptable, but could have been better, more menacing. I loved the opening sequence, despite the Scottish Monks trying desparately to be Shaolin monks and not quite pulling it off.
Tennant is starting to win me around and came into his own in the in the library scene. Looks like his glasses have been introduced as one of his querks - he'd make a convincing Harry Palmer. Maybe Michael Caine should pop us as the Doctor's father. Imagine Michael Caine as a long lost Timelord.
Pauline Collins portrayal of Queen Victoria was fantastic, and She certainly put the Doctor and Rose in their place by first awarding them with Honours - " Sir Doctor of Tardis" and "Dame Rose of Tyler" for saving the day, and then banishing them for the their unworldly knowledge, only to set up and introduce the "Torchwood Institute" to combat unnatural threats to the Empire. This sets up a nice precedent for the Torchwood spin off series, which by the way is an anagram of Doctor Who - as if you didn't know.
RTD delivers a second episode superior to the first, just like he did with series one, so things should only get better.
Filters: Television Series 2/28 Tenth Doctor
Im more than a little surprised at how critical some of the views have been again...one in particular. Im just glad its back on.
After last weeks opening episode,which was very pretty on the eyes and thats about it, this was the episode I wanted to see...and being away I had to wait untill the repeat on Sunday night but it was worth it.
I haven't enjoyed an episode like this for ages...everything worked for me and the ratings meant it must have done the same for an awful lot of other people too.
I've read some comments about how silly Rose was with her 'not amused' baiting of the Queen. Am I the only person that assumed, the Queens blank stare back, and refusal to bite made Rose look a little silly, was deliberate. This Queen was not half as daft as she appears... she knew Rose was taking the piss.
Remove the Royal Protocols and the stilted body language, this woman was portrayed as being very shrewd and intelligent with a very open mind and her comments to the Doctor and Billie as she banished them... makes me think she could see right through them and see more than we assumed she could.
The Monks needed so much more time to explain their origins, to find what had turned them from God to the Wolf. How the Host had fallen into their hands and where it had come from...Id love to know. I was a bit annoyed that the footage used for the Tardisode , which was very creepy, couldn't have been slipped in somewhere. that would have been excellent at the start of the episode, setting the scene and scaring the kids to death before the show had even began.
The acting was excellent, from the Monks, the Servants, to the tight arsed Guards , I even found His Lordship seriously sexy and was more than a little upset when he ended up as Afters.
Like others, I too felt that 45 minutes was too short, it really needed another 15 minutes, to explain the monks...more explanation of where the beast came from...lots of background info that was sadly missing. I agree, the 45 minute episodes make it all fast and flash and very exciting, but there's no major depth there.
The scene between the Host and Billie was so un nerving to me as an adult and after the transformation, I could imagine kids wetting themselves at night for weeks....there was some seriously well scary stuff here and all so terribly well done. The CGI was first class...obviously there were times when it was clear we were watching CGI....but who cares?
I like this Doctor...Tennant has slipped into this role as though it had been made for him...and so quickly too, just three episodes on and I've almost forgotten 'whatshisname'. He does remind me of Troughton, not physically obviously, but there's such intelligence which he hides behind his manic comedy and wide eyed amazement.
At the end of the day Im just damn glad the shows back on. The Production Team does a fantastic job within the limits that they work in, and though I agree that Davies' scripts arent always the best, he came good on this one -- despite the horrifying thought that this sixty year old queen hadnt finished breeding at that age in order to pass on the Wolf gene to yet unborn children.
The Torchwood section at the end was good ....some have complained about that too...but it at least will give the project a base..so that when we're salivating over the Torchwood series at the end of the year, we'll know how and when it was founded and why...without having loads of explanation.
I thought the effects , especially of the Telescope were very impressive; it reminded me of that amazing machine used in Kate Bush's Cloudbustin video. Id already clicked that the Diamond was the focusing Lens, but I hadnt realised the machine worked backwards, focussing the moonlight backwards, and Im assuming this machine is the prototype that gets used in the future, as seen in The Christmas Invasion.
All in all, I enjoyed this episode, and thats basically all you can ask for.
Filters: Television Series 2/28 Tenth Doctor
Who says Russell can't write Doctor Who? Eat your words all who say such a thing, and enjoy. An erratic Tardis takes the Doctor and Rose to 1879 instead of 1979, and in so doing, they meet Her Majesty Queen Victoria herself. Pauline Collins excelled herself here, as she does in almost every part she ever plays.
The Torchwood estate promises something unusual anyway, but what actually happens with the werewolf and the telescope and the excitement and the fear, and, well, this was pure genius. This was an episode that I could not fault at all. The lighting was excellent, the plot unfolded scarily, and wonderfully. The acting, especially the fearful expressions, was absolutely first class.
The host provided an uneasy moment for Rose even before he transformed into the best werewolf I've ever seen, when he said that there was something about the wolf about her.
The bestowal of knighthood and damehood on the Doctor and Rose, and then their immediate banishment was a surprise. The only bit that puzzled me was at the beginning where Father Angelo told the Steward that he would take the house "by the fist of man", and then proceeded to hit him with a stick, but it doesn't really matter much. Yes every writer has some foibles, and Russell T. Davies has had criticism for his in abundance recently. But surely, this episode shows us that Doctor Who is in very safe hands indeed.
If perfection is possible, then this is as near as it can possibly get, even notwithstanding that next week, we will see the return of Sarah Jane Smith. Does lightning strike twice?
Filters: Television Series 2/28 Tenth Doctor
The Christmas Invasion and New Earth convinced me that Russell T. Davies Doctor Who scripts are improving, but nothing could have prepared me for Tooth and Claw. Visually impressive, action packed and gripping, and with a great script the episode is easily the best new series episode since The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances.
Director James Hawes does a fine job of directing the episode, and the opening location filming as the monks arrive at Torchwood House looks stunning, the moody sky and bleak moorland giving events a wind-swept and vaguely hostile feel from the start. The scene of the monks attacking the household staff is a minor blip; the fight scene is superbly choreographed but the slow motion kung-fu high-jinks manage only to be derivative of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon rather than, as presumably intended, paying homage. But the terrified screams of the household as they see what is inside the cage immediately compensates, and the rest of the episode is largely flawless, Hawes bringing a tense, thrilling feel to proceedings as the Werewolf hunts down the occupants of the house. The sets are stunning, another reminder that the BBC excels at period pieces. The CGI Werewolf caused me some concern when I first saw the episode trailer at the end of New Earth, but whilst it isnt perfect, Hawes wisely keeps it largely off-camera as much as possible, providing only brief glimpses of it for much of the episode, and the moody lighting further conceals its limitations. The result is suitably scary, as the slavering monster runs amok. In fact Tooth and Claw is probably one of the most frightening episodes to date; the limitations of the time slot mean that we never see any gore, but we hear the screams and sounds of ripping flesh off-screen, and it conveys all the gore that is required.
The episode is largely very well written, with few of the gaping plot holes that have marred Davies previous episodes. The Werewolf manages to bridge the divide between science (fiction) and magic, portrayed largely as a traditional beast complete with need for moonlight, and partly as parasitic alien entity that has possessed and transformed a human host. Some aspects of the script could have been improved; it isnt clear for example whether the Werewolf is actually collaborating with the monks, or merely used by them. It tells Rose that it wants to migrate into Queen Victoria and rule the Empire and thus, at that period in history, most of the world, and Father Angelo also tells Victoria that he wants the throne. But the monks keep the Host caged, and protect themselves against the beast by wearing mistletoe wreathes, which suggests that the monks want to use the Werewolf as an assassin, not actually place it on the throne. Which does rather raise the question of why they dont just kill the Queen when they have her at their mercy. More irritatingly, the monks vanish at the end after the Werewolf is destroyed, and arent mentioned again; presumably they leg it once they know theyve been defeated, but it would be nice to have some acknowledgement in the script.
The regulars work particularly well in Tooth and Claw. The first scene in the TARDIS, as the Doctor spouts gratuitous pop culture references, curses Margaret Thatcher, and has Ian Drury and the Blockheads blasting out of the console is profoundly crass and deeply irritating, but this is a momentary lapse; once the Doctor and Rose step out into the Scottish countryside, they start getting great lines and great banter, such as the Doctors glee at discovering that they are in Scotland and immediate adoption of a David Tennants real accent and his pained, Dont do that when Rose makes an incredibly bad attempt to do the same. Its genuinely amusing, as is much of their dialogue here. And the alias Doctor James McCrimmon is a charming but unobtrusive nod to the past. Their bet, that Rose will not be able to make Queen Victoria utter the immortal words, We are not amused, is entertaining at first, and then starts to grate. But Russell turns the conceit around, with subsequent unsubtle attempts to make her issue the phrase being met with the furious response, You find this funny?! Davies structures the plot well, making use of both his regulars without needing to sideline one of them; whilst the Doctor dines with the Queen and Sir Robert and thus hears the story of the local Werewolf, Rose discovers the maid and is subsequently imprisoned with the creature, whereupon she alone of the prisoners has the nerve to talk to it. This serves to demonstrate how used she has got to dealing with the unusual and terrifying, but also provides exposition that doesnt feel like an infodump. It is also Roses quick-thinking and bravery that allows her to rouse the household staff into pulling together and ripping their chain from the wall, thus saving herself and them from immediate dismemberment.
Best of all, the Doctor, for the third episode in a row, gets to save the day. Tennant is at his most Doctorish here, the script showing off all sides of his persona without it feeling like Davies is just running through a list of character traits ad hoc. The Doctors expression is one of excitement on hearing Sir Roberts story of the Werewolf, and his first reaction when he comes face to face with the creature is to exclaim with a look of sheer fascination, Oh, thats beautiful. Trapped in the library, he reads books to work out what is going on, putting on his spectacles with a business-like air and announcing, This rooms the greatest arsenal we could have! Arm yourselves. And with Sir Roberts father and Prince Albert long dead, it is the Doctor who realises that the house is a trap inside the trap, as he deduces what the telescope is really for and why the Prince obsessively sought the perfect diamond.
The supporting characters also work well, which isnt always exclusively the case in these single forty-five minute episodes, and it helps that the cast is first rate. Chief amongst them is Pauline Collins, who of course previously appeared in the series as Samantha Briggs in The Faceless Ones, as Queen Victoria, and she is absolutely superb. Victoria is convincingly regal and imperious, but more than that she works as a person, sounding utterly devastated as she talks of how much she misses Albert, and filled with fear and anger as the Werewolf closes in. Collins gets several especially great moments, including the Queens trembling but steadfast defiance of Father Angelo, whom she shoots dead, and the scene at the end in which she knights the Doctor and Rose and then banishes them from the Empire. This is unexpected; its so easy to take for granted the Doctors easy ability to befriend significant figures from history that it comes as a genuine surprise when she condemns his lifestyle, angrily telling the pair, I know that you court with stars and magic and think it funny. Also worthy of note is her withering response to Captain Reynolds over-the-top response to her joke at the dinner table, as she icily promises, I shall contain my wit, in case I do you further injury.
Derek Riddell is very good as Sir Robert, a man forced into treason by fear for his wife, and torn by guilt; inevitably he gets to make a noble sacrifice, buying time for the Doctor, Rose and Queen Victoria. His wife, Lady Isobel also works well, Michelle Duncans fine performance benefiting from a script that allows her character the brains to realize why the Werewolf didnt attack them in the kitchen, and the courage to lead an attack on the beast, thus saving Roses life. The erstwhile Captain Reynolds is the epitome of a loyal and brave soldier, also sacrificing himself to buy time for the others to try and escape, and Jamie Sives is perfectly cast in the role. As for Tom Smith as the Host, hes astonishingly creepy, his voice alternating between keening falsetto and bestial snarl in chilling fashion. Ian Hanmore is also worthy of mention, as the rather intimidating Father Angelo.
Tooth and Claw ends with Queen Victoria prompted by the terrible events that she has experience to establish the Torchwood Institute to combat such unusual threats to the Empire. This is of course a further lead into the forthcoming spin-off series revolving around the mysterious organisation, which was first mentioned in The Christmas Invasion, and some fans have already complained about the blatant self-promotion. And yet I think it works well here, Davies providing the slight twist of Victoria being at least partially inspired to establish the Institute by her distrust and dislike of the Doctor. Since were undoubtedly going to get further mentions of Torchwood in order to hook potential viewers of the series, they might as well have some significance to the plot of the episodes they are in.
Overall then, Tooth and Claw is, in my opinion, the best episode of Doctor Who that Russell T. Davies has written to date, with even the obligatory gay joke on this occasion proving genuinely funny rather than simply pointless, as the Doctor tells Sir Robert that he wasnt immediately suspicious of the monks because, They were bald, athletic, your wifes away. I just thought you were happy. Less welcome is the Werewolf telling Rose, Theres something of the wolf about you, which just brings back painful memories of the end of Bad Wolf/The Parting of the Ways. One thing Im not sure about however is the significance of Queen Victorias possible Werewolf bite. It seems suspiciously like an excuse for setting up the stream of largely feeble Theyre werewolves! jokes at the end. But who knows, maybe Davies is planning a sequel in which Prince Harry becomes a Werewolf in Nazi fancy dress.
Filters: Television Series 2/28 Tenth Doctor
Tooth and Claw begins at a frenetic pace, and once started on that road never lets up for any of the following forty-five minutes. It has been well-documented that one of BBC Head of Drama Jane Tranters specific notes for series two of the new Doctor Who was that the historical episodes should be given a kick up the arse, and this seems to have been very much taken to heart by director Euros Lyn, making a welcome return to the show for the first time since The Unquiet Dead last year.
Which is fitting, as Tooth and Claw is an interesting comparison with that Mark Gatiss episode the Doctor meets a famous figure from British history in the Victorian age, but not in England, and confronts a famous archetype of villainy, in this case a werewolf as opposed to ghosts and zombies. Lyns direction, however, is very different; all hand-held cameras and lots of movement, and although this does give a real vigour and immediacy to the episode, it also has its weaker points. The slow-motion monk fight at the beginning, for example, looks utterly ridiculous and I found it impossible to take at all seriously. Which is a shame given the purpose of a pre-titles sequence is to really draw people in, but then again it was the only visual element of the episode that I felt let the side down at all. He can be forgiven for it, however, for lovely directional ticks such as actually showing us just how the Doctor and Rose ended up laughing together on the floor of the TARDIS back in The Unquiet Dead now thats continuity!
There was so much going on on-screen that it was easy to miss things at times for example, it wasnt until the second viewing that I spotted that Flora running upstairs to hide herself away is shown at the start, and she doesnt simply turn up randomly in Roses wardrobe later on without any warning. Flora herself provides another comparison to The Unquiet Dead, drawing obvious parallels with that episodes serving maid Gwyneth, and other characters Rose met throughout the first series, such as The End of the Worlds cheery but doomed plumber Raffalo. Indeed, it has become something of an in-joke in fandom that any guest character who Rose seems to take a liking to is in for a grisly end, so Davies no doubt relished dangling such a promise in front of us with Rose assuring Flora that shed be safe making us all think ah, shes in for it then, only to have the young girl indeed survive the ordeal in one piece.
Billie Piper herself had less to do in this episode than she did in New Earth last week, and it wasnt Roses most pro-active episode. She was also saddled with a joke about Queen Victorias famous catchphrase that seemed to be used a few too many times to me I felt it would have been all right once or twice, but Davies played too many times. Again though, its one of the episodes very few faults that and the fate of the monks were the only holes I could really pick in the script. Father Angelos death at the hands of the Queen was nice but rather glossed-over, and as many other fan commentators have said, where did all the other monks disappear off to afterwards?
David Tenannt must have relished the chance to use his own accent as the Doctor for a change, and I found it particularly interesting as when he was cast I was hoping he would play the Doctor more in the mould of his character Scottish DI Peter Carlisle from the 2004 BBC One serial Blackpool rather than more towards his Casanova performance from last year, which is what he seems to be doing. Although aside from the accent and the claim to be called James McCrimmon a lovely throwaway gag for the fans the characterisation didnt actually change all that much with the accent. The Tenth Doctor is seeming rather manic and, as with the highest authority business in New Earth, a little too sure of himself at times, which must be laying groundwork for something to come later in the season. Victoria herself spots it in the library, picking Rose and the Doctor up on their irreverent attitude in a similar manner to Harriet Jones in the cabinet room in World War Three last year. That she later banishes him from the Empire comes as a shock to the Doctor, even though the ban is of course basically unenforceable, but he doesnt seem to take it too much to heart as a few minutes later hes happily laughing and joking with Rose about the present royal family being werewolves. Will he get over such a come-uppance again so quickly next time?
There seemed to be a lot of this foreshadowing of things to come in the episode. The Doctor's reaction to the Queens little speech about ghosts was certainly interesting. Empathising with the Queen, I thought, as hes lost so much too. A nice little moment, but again it had the feeling of things to come. A more obvious example was Victorias decision to found the Torchwood Institute at the end at first it seemed like a subtle-as-a-brick advert for the forthcoming spin-off series, but comments in the MP3 episode commentary from the BBC website suggest that Torchwood will actually have a part to play in the season finale, so it might all tie in more closely to the parent series after all.
Anyway, back to the episode itself rather than the hints it may or may not have contained about the future, which at the moment we can only guess at. On a purely personal and really picky note, the Doctor being so au fait with Ian Dury and the Blockheads irritated me a little, as Ive never really liked him being so familiar with the pop culture of his writers. It used to annoy me when the New Adventures did this every month, which was why I liked Davies subverting it himself in Damaged Goods by having the Seventh Doctor be completely ignorant of the Pet Shop Boys. Still, I dont suppose its something that would have bothered anybody else, and its hardly a major complaint.
One aspect that certainly cannot be faulted, in my view anyway, is the performance of Pauline Collins as Queen Victoria, making a very welcome return to the series thirty-nine years on from her previous guest appearance. Most portrayals of Victoria have her being rather dour and regal, especially following the death of her husband Prince Albert, but Daviess script allows Collins to inject a humour and vigour into the performance that really makes her seem like a fresher and more interesting character. She also has an insight that characters from the past who, being from the past, are usually of course all very stupid are not normally allowed to possess, which is also a nice change.
Of the other guest cast, for me Tom Smith as the Host and the freaky-looking Ian Hanmore as Father Angelo stood out, although the rest were all very good as well but with simply not enough screen time to make a huge impression. Smiths voice in his scenes as the Host was suitably unnerving, and gave the character a real creepiness that made him disturbing even before he became a great angry CGI werewolf.
Ah yes, that wolf. I know praise and disdain have been heaped upon it in equal measure, with on the one hand some fans saying it betters Hollywood fare, and on the other one tabloid newspaper critic claiming the episode had ZX Spectrum effects. I felt it was very good, for CGI it never looked anything other than a computer graphic, of course, but it was certainly a very good one. Some shots of a real costume with texture and interactivity with the actors might have helped, but usually the wolf was seen so fleetingly it didnt matter. It was an impressive achievement, one of the Mills best efforts and perhaps one of the best effects seen to far in the new series.
A nice little plot, well-explained and on the whole well-executed, very good performances as always and a great look to it. Perhaps a smidgen too fast in places, but thats a very small complaint about what was on the whole a fine episode in a fine series.
Filters: Television Series 2/28 Tenth Doctor
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 hed like to see in future stories, he said hed like to see an adventure featuring a Werewolf. As Id 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 Whos 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 hadnt 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 Wouldnt 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 Doctors 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 wouldnt want to be there. Now I can add this story to that shortlist, theres no way Id 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 its setting of an old house in the middle of nowhere is straight out of every horror cliché there is, but its 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 cant 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 didnt some of the best Doctor/Companion relationships? And the scene where the Doctor was frantically trying to work out Alberts 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 didnt 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 didnt initially seem to feature any themes weve 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 were in for a treat. I know everyones opinions are different, and wouldnt 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!
Filters: Television Series 2/28 Tenth Doctor
If there's anything the latest Star Wars trilogy taught us, it's that just because you can render and realize an impressive looking digital character on screen, that doesn't necessarily make it a good idea to do so. (Jar Jar, anyone?)
To work well, a digital character have a solid story surrounding it, not just the latest in modern effects. (Gollum from Lord of the Rings, for example).
So while the good Doctor has met a variety of the classic monsters over the years--vampires, zombies, etc--he's never really done battle with a werewolf as the central antagonist of a story. I think a large part of that was the BBC wisely realizing that a werewolf, if not done right, would look even less credible than usual and really away the willing suspension of disbelief that is so vital to Doctor Who stories. (We can accept the sets wobble, but if the monsters are too shoddy, it ruins the illusion).
But with "Tooth and Claw" we get a story that features the Doctor facing a werewolf.
And yet as I come away from the story, I'm less impressed with the effects (though they are quite good) and instead I pull out the old mantra of Doctor Who--"It's the stories that make the show, not the effects."
I think we all thought deep down that Russell T. Davies had a really great script in him. And, so far, this is the closest we've got to a great script from Davies. I'll go out on a limb and say it's his best story since the first two episodes of series one. Certainly, it's the least complicated and the most straightforward. The Doctor and Rose arrive in a place, get caught up in a series of events and have to work to defeat some monster or evil by story's end. "Tooth and Claw" feels like it was a lost script from the Gothic era of Hinchcliffe and Holmes. It's a fun, entertaining little story that doesn't have an agenda beyond entertaining the audience for 45 minutes and being pretty edge-of-your-seat for much of that time.
That said, it's not perfect. I'm still not quite sure what the Monks' overall plan was and why they felt they wanted to infect Queen Victoria with the werewolf mutation. Sure it set up a nice joke at the end and maybe it's part of the overall plan for the season, but that part didn't make a lot of sense upon initial viewing. Also, I have to wonder why the Monks left the house after the werewolf is destroyed. I wonder if something was cut in the final edit and if a deleted scene on the DVDs will address this (not that you should rely on DVDs and deleted scenes to cover up plot holes...but we can hope).
And while the foreshadowing about Torchwood was about as subtle as two by four to the head, I like the way its been set up. To have it established as a reaction to the Doctor's involvement in the affairs of humanity was a nice touch. And the final scene while it was a bit like "Wow, did you know we've got a show coming soon called Torchwood?" wasn't quite as wince-inducing as I feared it could be. I do hope that as the season goes along, it's not some massive preview for Torchwood. I don't mind setting up the spin-off, but I do mind if the spin-off takes over the parent show.
Overall, the cast is quite solid. Tennant continues to impress though I still get this feeling he's waiting to be really unleashed. Of course, it did take until "Dalek" last year for Eccleston to knock one of the park. I get this feeling Tennant is on the cusp of greatness in the role, though each week he gets better and better.
I will also admit that it's kind of a relief to get past "Tooth and Claw." After five solid episodes by Davies, it will be nice to get some different writers in the mix next week. But I will give Davies credit--"Tooth and Claw" is a great script to mark as your last for a while. It's memorable, fun, scary and entertaining. It's a solid, if not perfect Doctor Who story.
Filters: Television Series 2/28 Tenth Doctor
This was an absolute belter of an episode, in which Russell T. Davies has shown that he can be an excellent Doctor Who writer.
We are perhaps in safe territory for Doctor Who, or the BBC in general, when we go into the Victorian era. But even so, it was wonderfully recreated and I was personally pleased to see that the period was accurate and dignified without easy resort to Empire-bashing. Ms Collins was very good as Queen Victoria, just occasionally let down by slightly weak dialogue. I was also impressed with the rest of the supporting cast, and I applaud the number of heroic characters - Captain Reynolds, Sir Robert and Lady Isobel too. It is always nice to see the Doctor save the day, as he does, but it is also good to have some other role models - you don't have to be the cleverest man in the universe to do the right thing. Father Angelo was also suitably chilling as a bad guy: I don't know where the monks learned their moves, but maybe worshipping the wolf has some unknown advantages?
We are only a few episodes into his time as the Doctor, but I am going to go out on a limb and say that David Tennant is brilliant. I love his portrayal. For all that I shall be grateful to Mr. Eccleston for reviving the character, I always felt that he never quite got it right with any degree of consistency. I am so excited by the Tenth Doctor, he has boundless energy and fun, which also makes his serious more pointed and his mystery more mysterious. Good job, keep it up! And loved the Scottish accent. Ms Tyler was average here, although for her that is still Oscar-winning good in my book. The attempted joke on 'we are not amused' was awkward, a little embarrassing, and made her look dumb, but it didn't detract from my enjoyment overall. I also thought she made a good companion, showing strengths that the Doctor does not always have - good interpersonal skills with Flora the maid, for example - and helping others get out of trouble. Her attempt at a Scottish accent was laugh-out-loud funny, and indeed the dialogue was snappy throughout.
The best thing about this episode was that the plot was so well devised. Not only did everything fit together well at the end, but I did not see it coming because the buildup was so subtly done. It is so much more satisfying when pieces carefully laid out tie together, especially when it is the Doctor who works it all out. The scene in the library was memorable for several reasons - the wonderful pan shot to the Doctor and the Wolf either side of the wall, the sound of the wold creeping round the room, the Doctor's comments on books being the greatest arsenal, and then his realisation just before the wolf comes crashing down. Great entertainment, unbeatable.
This was one of my absolute favourite episodes of the new Doctor Who. Even so, some minor criticisms: what were they screaming at in the pre-credits sequence - just a man in a cage? Shouldn't the diamond have been in the machine, rather than on the floor? And please, spare us the terrible overacted monarchy-are-werewolves stuff - could have been funny, but was simply too much as it turned out.
Interesting to see Queen Victoria announcing the creation of Torchwood, although as an end-of-episode teaser it simply couldn't live up to the textbook- enigmatic Face of Boe from last week!
Overall, a great romp!
Filters: Television Series 2/28 Tenth Doctor
In short, I hated it.
No, really, this has to be the single worst episode of RTD's run to date.
I mean, let's ignore the fact that this was basically just Spin Off Setup #2. Let's ignore the fact that that whole ending dialogue between the Doctor and Rose was really ripping off: Kim Newman's "Anno Dracula" novels, Clive Barker's comic series "Night of the Living Dead: London", and that one Garth Ennis Hellblazer storyline ("Royal Blood"?) in which a royal is demonically possessed.
No, let's instead focus for a wee moment on how for the most part this episode made Queen Victoria out to be a charming doddering old nanny type, who really really missed dear old Albert (indeed, Alan Moore's From Hell made references to Victoria possibly using psychics to try to contact Albert from beyond), as opposed to the HAG who helped set human sexuality and development back about, oh, 200 years or so? Now far be it for me to dispute the notion that just because Something is True, Something Else Can Also Be True, but I'm watching this, as Vickie spends half the episode acting like the maid from the Disney cartoon version of 101 Dalmatians, and I can't help but think of something I learned in freshman year Honors Family Studies class, in which something like 20% or so of all births ended with death to the baby and mother because of Victoria's attitudes about nakedness, so well jolly joked about in this episode, because doctors WOULDN'T LOOK AT THE WOMAN'S VAGINA AS SHE'S PASSING A BABY OUT OF IT, instead delivering babies with THEIR HEADS TURNED?! Yes, these are the things I think about watching Doctor Who.
[Yeah, OK, Victoria "banishing" the Doctor and Rose was more along the lines of what I envisage Victoria as, but I mean, come on. Really.]
But hey, yes, instead, let's gloss over the completely historically illogical quaint idyllic Scottish KUNG FU FLICK we get at the beginning. Hey, I actually thought that was pretty cool when I saw it in the trailers but as we actually get into the story it MAKES NO FRACKING SENSE. How the Hell you gonna tell me Scottish monks are learning wu-shu in a time when Japan had JUST opened its borders and China was a feuding warlord state from Hell? And the worst thing is, the only time we ever get any HINT of it again was the HMIC disarming Victoria's captain of the guard, and then THEY DISAPPEAR FROM SIGHT! The Hell!
The Doctor is a punk? With a hint of Rockabilly? IN WHICH UNIVERSE, BABE? In THIS one he just walked off the set of Quadrophenia and wears Buddy Holly glasses. Meanwhile, hey, I know, let's rehash all the Ace-"noble-savage" jokes from "Ghost Light" but never actually get Rose INTO the period dress now that we've made a big frakkin' deal over how "naked" she was.
The werewolf is an alien? Get outta here, we've never seen Supernatural Explained As Aliens before, naw! Especially not in the Victorian Era, a time period we've NEVER been to before, especially not accidentally or anything! *koff*UnquietDeadwhichIalsodidn'tmuchcarefor*koff* And in the end, all this leads up to the Super Sekrit Origin of...the big honkin death ray in "The Christmas Invasion." Um, yay.
I was so so looking forward to this one, and I was so so let down. I just don't get it. What the Hell is going on with this season so far?
Oh, and look, Sarah Jane Smith, K-9, and Tony Head next week. Maybe once I scrape the fanwank glaze from my monitor, there'll be a good episode. Maybe.
We were not amused, tho. Oh no, not by half.
Filters: Television Series 2/28 Tenth Doctor
I thought this episode of Doctor Who was a decidedly mixed affair. It had a fairly silly beginning, a good middle and a groan inducing end.
The beginning sequences - the ninja monks, the ease with which the Doctor and Rose latched onto the Queen and Her Wooden Bodyguards and the Doctor not cottoning to the Shifty Goings On at the Spooky House - were quite dire. As the story picked up its pace, it improved. The actual appearance of the werewolf and the pursuit through the halls of the house were moments replete with film horror and classic gothic imagery. The middle segments also featured the Doctor and Rose being a true partnership and employing the detective work which brings out the best facets f their personality and makes them the heroes of the story. The end returned us to twee again, as the Queen gave the Dcotor and Rose fairly pointless knighthoods and then banished them. Russell T Davies also trew in an overt mention to 'Torchwood' for anyone who did not watch the 'Christmas Invasion' episode or catch the name of the huse in which this week's action took place.
The Doctor and Rose annoyed me at points throughout this episode. Their awe and wonder at exploring space and time has now become a kind of smugness, as they giggled and whispered their way through the episode. Rose's efforts to make Queen Victoria say 'I am not amused' may have been intended to make her funny, but she merely came off as being a bit shallow.
Pauline Collins as Queen Victoria gave an equally mixed performance. Her Queen was witty and had a sense of fun as opposed to the dour widow who mourned her husband. I like the idea that Prince Albert (who was one of the driving forces behind the Great Exhibition) was secretly working towards defending the empire from supernatural forces. However, her scenes at the end were grating. The cheesy and silly 'knighting' of the Doctor and Rose was followed by an equally ludicrous U-turn in which she told the Doctor he was banished from the Empire. The Doctor hardly took this seriously; mainly because he and Rose were in such a giggly mood.
Davies decided to give Queen Victoria the task of shamelessly name-dropping 'Torchwood' into the end. The idea that she founded Torchwood was an inspired one. However, I would have appreciated a bit more subtlety, as opposed to her saying the name Torchwood a multitude of times in the space of about 45 seconds. 'I will call it Torchwood, the Torchwood Institute....the Doctor should beware, for Torchwood will be waiting.' Queen Victoria also brought a dose of scepticism to the Doctor Who adventures - her disapproval of the two travellers' almost cavalier acceptance of the dangers surrounding them was obvious but not overdone and her Queen maintained a quality of being aloof despite the Doctor's knowledge and his overtures of help. However, as I mentioned before, our Mr Davies managed to destroy this undertone of mistrust and make the Queen's concerns over the Doctor a near full blown emnity in their final scene together.
The episode also touched on the theme, once again, that the Doctor's actions have conseqences and that his seemingly innocent travelling in time can bring destruction in its wake. His adventures this week have given form to the same Torchwood that will one day invoke his anger when it destroys the Sycorax. The Doctor's actions cause ripples in time and are not simply self-contained adventures every week.
To sum up, a fairly unoriginal offering which made me cringe for the most part but which also continued several of the series' long-running themes and had the occasional moment of brilliance.
Filters: Television Series 2/28 Tenth Doctor
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 years 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 Victorias 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 Roses 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 dont 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
There are a lot of little details in Tooth and Claw that ought to have been cut somewhere. Too much of the authors personal politics and too much pop culture knowledge projected onto the Doctor really grate, as no doubt theyre intended to. In other words, I think Mr. Davies and some of the other writers enjoy taking jabs at the fans. The Doctor seems less like a mysterious alien and more like a teenager be-bopping around Earths history, listening to pop music and indulging in movies. These little asides never really come across as authentic character moments for the Doctor that weve been watching for 40 years now.
However, regardless of that, the episode itself is quite good overall. Despite the fact that Im tired of RTDs writing style, and despite the fact that this is his sixth episode in a row, for the most part hes done a good job this time around and deserves credit for it.
Tooth and Claw is in many ways a very traditional monster tale with many familiar elements. Theres the old mansion out on the lonely moors, with the local legend of a monster that turns out to actually exist. True to form the monster is nearly indestructible, unaffected by bullets but allergic to a certain herb. The monster is of course is given the typical Doctor Who treatment in that it is not supernatural, but is an alien life form that crashed on Earth hundreds of years before the story takes place. The book that the Doctor finds in the library details the arrival, and the host in the cage tells Rose that hes so far from home.
The idea of an alien werewolf isnt actually new. The Eighth Doctor novel Kursaal introduced the Jax, a virus that migrates from host to host, and appears early on as a werewolf. The werewolf in Tooth and Claw could just as easily be one of the same creatures, though its been awhile since I read Kursaal so some of the fine details escape me. Regardless of the recycled idea, the CGI werewolf is excellently realized. Its far more convincing than a man in a suit would have been, and is made very effective by being largely kept in the shadows of a dark house and by only being seen for brief moments. And its not just a mindless killer, but an intelligent alien with a plan to take over the British Empire by migrating into Queen Victoria. Presumably the monks are all for the wolf taking over, or else theyd just have killed Victoria on sight rather than set a trap. Perhaps they think that they will be able to exercise the same amount of control over the wolf once it possesses Victoria as they do over the current human host, and thereby rule the British empire.
The monks are effective villains, but the martial arts are silly. Since when do Scottish monks in the 18th century know kung-fu? Their disappearance at the end of the episode ought to have been at least addressed, although its easy enough to surmise that with Father Angelo and the wolf dead, the jig was up and they figured that they had better leg it out of Dodge. I expect Victoria had them hunted down later and punished for their crimes. Father Angelo is only around for half the episode, but hes a creepy villain with his quick reflexes and glaring eyes.
Queen Victoria is treated quite well by the script, and well acted by Pauline Collins. Its not unusual for someone to play multiple roles over time in Doctor Who, but isnt it enjoyable to have someone return after almost forty years? How many programs are still around after that length of time? It speaks well of the Doctor Who formula that it allows such longevity. Victoria is a well-rounded character, displaying good humor, wit, grief and a good measure of determination and spirit. I was cheering her on when she shot Father Angelo dead. Her grief over Alberts death is touching, and seemed to resonate with the Doctor as well, given his silence and facial expressions during that conversation. Victoria is also used well in the story, being not only the guest historical celebrity of the week, but also essential to the plot. The actions of the monks are motivated by their desire to assassinate Victoria and take the throne. Victoria is the voice of incredulity as well, questioning the Doctor and his lifestyle, and outright condemning it in the end. She rewards the Doctor and Rose for their actions and bravery, and then banishes them for their cavalier attitude to life and danger. Brilliant. She also is open minded enough not to rationalize away the werewolf attack, but to found Torchwood as an institute to investigate and defend Great Britain from paranormal dangers. Its an altogether satisfying use of the character, thoroughly justifying her inclusion in the story.
The humor works sometimes. The bumpy landing in the highlands one hundred years off target is amusing, as is the Doctors sudden switch to a Scottish accent (Tennants real accent) and adoption of James McCrimmon as his alias. Roses attempts to get Victoria to say we are not amused grow old rather quickly though. The unavoidable gay joke is highly offensive, as well as quite honestly being a pitiful excuse for not noticing problems with the household staff. Your wifes away, your servants are bald and athletic. I just thought you were happy. The wifes away, forget marital fidelity, gay orgies everyone. Its smut, and its not funny, its disgusting. Im not British, but the mockery of the Royal Family at the end also disgusted me, as did the smug dismissal of Margaret Thatcher. No respect for anyone, eh Russell?
The Doctor and Rose are gelling as a team, though I think Rose worked better with the 9th Doctor than the 10th. Piper and Tennant seem like a couple of kids on a lark, laughing and irreverently mocking anything they feel like (rather like RTD), and it gets old fast. Rose in particular is becoming an annoyance. I dont know whats happened to her since last year, when she was such a great character. Much has been said about her attempts to get Victoria to say we are not amused and so I wont belabor the point, but if I were traveling in time and met a famous historical figure, Id be trying to get to know them, not poking fun at them. It does make Rose look quite foolish, which may be the point. However she does display quite a bit more character and moral fiber when she is talking to the host and learning about the werewolf. She also shows some initiative and leadership when she leads the chained prisoners to pull free of the wall and escape the cellar as the wolf transforms.
Im hesitant to compare David Tennant to either Tom Baker or Patrick Troughton, because I dont think hes anywhere near the level of those two actors, but his character seems to draw attributes from both. Hes energetic, enthusiastic and suitably eccentric. Whereas the anti-establishment attitude of the Doctor goes back all the way to Hartnell, its far too overt coming from the word processor of RTD and the mouth of David Tennant. Subtlety is the key. The Doctors rapid intellect is demonstrated in the library when he works out the trap inside a trap that Albert set up years earlier. His energy is apparent when hes running down hallways and trying to spring the trap for the wolf. Hes sombre when listening to Victoria speak of her grief over her dead husband. He displays wonderful wide-eyed wonder at the werewolf when he gets his first view of it. Its an excellent performance.
In short, Tooth and Claw is a rather traditional monster story adapted to the Doctor Who framework. It is very enjoyable, and I wish all of Russell Davies efforts were at this level. A good solid episode.
Filters: Television Series 2/28 Tenth Doctor