Tooth and Claw Reviewed

Seeding the royal conspiracy theories, investigating the nature of a mythical evil and challenging received perception of historical times while placing the Doctor and his companion against a legendary foe, its athletic devotees and relying on the protagonist’s hunger to lead it to its death.

No, I’m not talking about the Talons of Weng Chiang, but Episode 2 of the 2006 series of Doctor Who. Tooth and Claw was a remarkable about turn following the appalling debut that was New Earth. Where the previous story failed, this one paraded Doctor Who’s multitude of aspects that are unmistakeably Who, picked them up and waved them around in a very Russell T Davies way before being safely reined in and placed in an orderly manner for the story to proceed.

Furthermore, this was Doctor Who, not Rose Who. RTD’s scripts often focus on the companion – and despite my own personal like for Billie Piper, this can become tedious, and perhaps already has in general story terms. Tooth and Claw was on the whole a success, showing us that Doctor Who does not need Billie Piper to survive (sidelined as she was to running down corridors and attempting to mine a legendary catchphrase from Queen Victoria) any more than it needed Elisabeth Sladen, Wendy Padbury or Carole Ann Ford.

Top-notch special effects and the generation of tension coupled with atmospheric lighting and the interior design of the Torchwood Estate make Tooth and Claw one to remember. Pauline Collins was convincing as the grieving Queen Victoria while the Torchwood household were spot on too. As for David Tennant…

Doctorly. Given a quality script he oozes quality, from the opening moments to the banishing, David Tennant was 101% the Doctor. Having shown glimpses in his brief appearance in The Christmas Invasion the jury had to nip out for another quick deliberation following the new series opener. But he has got it all – the sense of danger, the humour, and the gravitas to introduce further dark tidings into an already desperate situation. But what’s better is the fact that while I may have just described some aspects of Tom Baker’s Doctor, Tennant hasn’t ripped these off. It’s as though he has a perfect handle on the character, and these traits have occurred naturally.

It’s very hard to find anything wrong with Tooth and Claw, but while exciting and thrilling and very obviously a prime example of Doctor Who in the 21st century following in the footsteps of Talons of Weng Chiang and latterly last years The Unquiet Dead, there is still a feeling of discomfort. I can ignore the sudden disappearance of the monks guarding the Torchwood Estate and put it down to the off-screen recovery of the soldiers and their subsequent disposal of the intruders, the Queen’s soldiers earlier ignoring of a big blue box on the Scottish moorland just as I can forgive the blatant and unnecessary visual reference to “An American Werewolf in London”. What I’m really uncomfortable with is the continuing level of puerility in Davies’ work that seems to find its way into everything he outputs. On this occasion it was less of a character trait (Mickey in Rose, The Slitheen, most of Captain Jack) and more of an attitude to the storytelling.

Not 100% perfect, but very good and a perfect taste of what Doctor Who is under Russell T Davies.

Anthony Dry felt a lot better…

Ahh well that was much better wasn’t it? A bit like alka seltzer in the aftermath of a particularly nasty hangover its like last week never happened. And to be fair this is the kind of fare that should be served up week in week out. Yes its pacey but there was segments that gave light relief to the preceedings such as our heroes being caught in a room after a frantic chase by the wolf or the Doctor and Rose arriving after a tasty opening fight scene straight out of ‘Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon’. And what an opening that was, my favourite bit of the series so far and no doubt the monks can get themselves a job on the precredits of the BBC before programs.

Tennant was much better too – given more scope to develop his character (and i agree with Christian here, at the expense of a thankfully under used Rose for a change) we see him start to act like the intelligent Timelord he is, dealing with situations, adding a little bit of humour when necessary and putting himself about, it was great to watch and is for the first time in the new series in my opinion that we see the Doctor from the classic series.

The location work was scrumptious and gave everything that extra edge. The supporting cast was top notch, I enjoyed Pauline Collins Queen Victoria and the fact she made it clear she wasn’t keen on the Doctor. Not sure about her Torchwood idea though she came up with it a bit quick and handy, didn’t she?.

There were some minor quibbles though. As Christian mentioned i also wondered where the Brethren went? Did they flee into the woods? Also how come the wolf would back off from some gunshots then reappear running at its victims and take a full barrage again only to resist them and kill its victims? Buts these are minor and should not detract from a very enjoyable episode. At last we have lift off.


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