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October 7, 2015

Doctor Who: Tooth and Claw

by Martin Conaghan, posted Apr 24th 2006 9:17AM
Rose Tyler - Doctor Who(S02E02) If there was any doubt in my mind last week about David Tennant's ability to occupy the role of The Doctor, it vanished completely with this week's episode Tooth and Claw.

Additionally, the weak start set down by last week's series opener was washed away with this fantastic tale of a werewolf stalking the Scottish highlands and included barrel-loads of in-jokes and subtle Doctor Who references.

This is really where Doctor Who -- and the BBC -- excel; period drama, carried off by quality actors, in lavishly-decorated sets and sumptuous locations. If the weaker episodes tend to be based in the future, the best ones are most definitely based in the past.

Warning: spoilers after the jump.

The story began when an order of of wire-fu monks took control of the Torchwood Estate in 1879, residence of Sir Robert and Lady Isobel MacLeish, son of an eccentric inventor, imprisoning the house staff along with a caged creature.

The Doctor and Rose accidentally arrived on the top of a dank Scottish moor, having intended to travel to Sheffield in 1979 where they would catch an Ian Dury and the Blockheads concert -- but a malfunction in the TARDIS sent them a fraction off-course.

Once again, the Doctor's psychic paper helped him out of a sticky situation when the pair were confronted by armed soldiers protecting the entourage of Queen Victoria, and he was able to convince the enigmatic monarch that he was Dr James McCrimmon, of the township of Balamory who studied under Dr. Joseph Bell of Edinburgh University (neat in-jokes a-plenty; Balamory is the fictional town in a Children's BBC show, Jamie McCrimmon was the name of one of the Doctor's previous Scottish assistants and Bell was the inspiration for Sherlock Holmes).

As a protector of the Queen, the Doctor was invited to travel with the Queen to Torchwood House, where she intended to rest for the evening on the way to her annual pilgrimage north with a valuable cargo. Once at Torchwood, strange tales of a generational werewolf dogged the proceedings, as the monks set out on their mission to infect Queen Victoria with the blood of their imprisoned creature and set forth an "age of the wolf."

The action kicked in at the half-way point when the full moon struck and a werewolf worthy of John Landis was set loose in the grounds of the house to hunt down the Queen, without having banked on the Doctor being around to scupper the plans. The Doctor discovered that the werewolf was the cellular throwback of a creature that landed in Scotland in 1540, and Sir Robert MacLeish's father had set a plot in motion with the help of Victoria's late husband, Prince Albert Victor, to trap the beast and kill it.

Using the Koh-i-Nor diamond, which Victoria had been taking north to Hazlehead for re-cutting, The Doctor projected light from the moon through one of McLeish senior's inventions -- a multi-prism telescope -- and captured the wolf in the beam, splitting it apart and ending its life.

As the story reached its conclusion, Victoria rewarded the Doctor and Rose for their bravery, but subsequently banished them from the British Empire and then vowed to establish an institute which would research and fight paranormal enemies of Britain, naming it The Torchwood Institute ('torchwood' is the only single-word anagram of 'Doctor Who' and the name of the new spin-off series due on BBC THREE in October).

Some real highs in this episode were Tennant acting with his native Scottish accent, some ingenuity and bravery from Rose's character, and some splendid acting from Pauline Collins as Queen Victoria and Derek Riddell as McLeish.

The preview for next week's episode promised the return of Sarah-Jane Smith (Tom Baker's assistant in the 1970s and 80s) and K9, the Dcotor's robotic dog.

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I thought it was pretty amazing, all-in-all. I was maybe expecting the werewolf to look rather too 'Computer Animated', but that didn't happen!

May 29 2006 at 4:59 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Akbar Fazil

Hey The Jeremy, I see Torchwood and the Doctors banishment as a new time line. By going back and being present for this occurance, the Doctor has altered the time line and the future is going to be slightly different.

Or, the fact that the Doctor who Queen Vic banished looks NOTHING like the Doctor who worked with UNIT.

April 26 2006 at 1:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
The Jeremy

I liked the episode a lot. However, I did not care for the wolf's redemption in death, unless that was the human host's redemption.

The Doctor being banished by Queen Victoria also causes a paradox of sorts. If Torchwood is set up to check the Doctor, then how is it possible for the Doctor to work for UNIT in the 1970s? Plus, his lack of reverence for the Queen seems to be counter to how he generally has viewed past royals, even ones much less deserving than Queen Victoria.

Still, can't wait to see this legally on the SciFi Channel.

April 25 2006 at 5:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

While I enjoyed the episode the whole ending was a bit poor and could have been much better.

The fact that the king and the lord of the house somehow foresaw the whole event that a wolf would be set on the house while the queen was there and she would have the diamond with her to use on the 'telescope'weapon but they wouldn't bother to tell anyone about it is stupid. Also they way the diamond was just put on the floor was dumb, it should have fitted into some compartment or something.

It would have been better if the Doctor had actually come up with his own solution to the problem instead of just using someone else's solution

April 24 2006 at 9:57 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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