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Doctor Who - The New Series

2.02: "TOOTH AND CLAW"

TX: 21 April 2006

Written by: Russell T. Davies

Directed by: Euros Lyn

Running time: 44' 31"

Location: The Torchwood Estate, Scotland

Date: 1879 AD

Monsters and villains: The monks (ninja warrior monks), Father Angelo (leader of the monks), The Wolf (an alien inhabiting a man's body)

Tardisode Synopsis: 1552: a spaceship crashes into the highlands of Scotland. Years later, a man is hunted, killed and eaten by a giant bipedal wolf.

Plot Synopsis: The TARDIS strands The Doctor and Rose in the Highlands of Scotland, where they discover an alien plot to take over The British Empire.

Smug Warning: Rose and The Doctor's excitement at seeing a werewolf, despite the fact that it's a: killed a lot of innocent people and b: is still out there hoping to eat their faces. Also Rose's dreadful bet to make Queen Victoria say that she is not amused.

"I'm sorry. I'm so sorry": Not used.

Torchwood spotting: Torchwood Estate and Queen Victoria's big speech at the end (obv).

Trivia: (1) The Doctor's pseudonym for this episode is Dr James McCrimmon, a reference to the character of Jamie McCrimmon, a Scottish bagpiper who accompanied the Second Doctor.

(2) The episode's title is taken from "In Memoriam A.H.H.", a poem by Alfred Lord Tennyson. In the poem, the section reads: "Nature, red in tooth and claw/With ravine, shrieked against his creed".

(3) The Doctor's explanation to the Queen of what he is doing on the hill references "To A Mouse" by Robert Burns ("tim'rous beastie") and and "Walter Lesley", a traditional poem ("over hill and over dale"). (4) Billie Piper's hair caught fire during filming - the second pyrotechnic accident after Noel Clarke's accident during the making of sp.02, "The Christmas Invasion".

(5) At the end of the episode, Rose is made a Dame of the British Empire. This is an anachronism; the earliest order to admit women as Dames was The Order of the British Empire, which was not founded until 16 years after Queen Victoria's death.

(6) The episode's working title was "Queen Victoria".

(7) Mistletoe is a traditional ward against werewolves. Interestingly, given the bacterial origin of the alien, the more famous werewolf killing substance - silver - would have worked just as well for the story as it has antibacterial properties. In fact, nano-sized silver is now available in medical gowns.

(8) The Doctor mentions that he helped bring down Skylab in 1979 - this does not refer to any other Doctor Who story currently in existance.

(9) At the end of the episode, Queen Victoria creates Torchwood, a department tasked with investigating the unusual. However, the organisation already existed prior to this in sp.02, "The Christmas Invasion", which suggests that Victoria would have survived even if The Doctor had not intervened. Why Torchwood did not get involved with the Third Doctor when he was stranded on Earth with UNIT has not been explained.

(10) The Dr Bell that The Doctor claims to have studied under is Dr Joseph Bell, the man who taught Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and became the inspiration for Sherlock Holmes.

(11) The Doctor claims to be from Balamory - this is a fictional Scottish island in the children's TV series Balamory, which was popular when the episode was broadcast.

(12) A scene in which The Doctor and Rose discuss their adventure and what they think of Queen victoria was lost and it had grown too dark to refilm it later on.

(13) Something of a cock-up - the interior stairway shots show too many flaws for even the highest part of the Torchwood Estate's mansion.

(14) Queen Victoria's execution of Father Angelo actually breaks one of the rules that Davies had set when the series began about not allowing humans to kill other humans.

(15) The Doctor notes that his comments about Sir Robert's telescope are "rude", a callback to his post-regeneration rudeness in sp.02, "The Christmas Invasion".

(16) Pauline Collins (Queen Victoria) appeared in the 1967 Second Doctor story "The Faceless Ones" as Samantha Briggs.

(17) Originally Queen Victoria was to be killed by the werewolf, leading to the offshoot alternate reality seen in the later episodes 2.05, "Rise of the Cybermen" and 2.06, "The Age of Steel". However, Davies thought that this would be too difficult for long-term viewers and nixed the idea.

Spoiler Synopsis: A gang of warrior monks, led by the sinister Father Angelo arrive at the Torchwood Estate and demand that the Steward hand over the property. When he refuses, the monks launch into a series of martial arts attacks, knocking him and the other men out. The men are dragged into the cellars along with the house's inhabitants, who include Lady Isobel MacLeish, the lady of the house. Also placed in the cellar is a cage with something terrible inside it...

The TARDIS touches down a few miles from the Estate, although the Doctor is not best pleased - he'd been intending to take Rose to an Ian Dury concert in 1979. Stepping outside, they encounter Captain Reynolds, a soldier, who holds them at gunpoint. By using the psychic paper, The Doctor convinces him that he is Dr James McCrimmon and that Rose is a feral child he has been chasing. Captain Reynolds turns out to be guarding Queen Victoria, who has been waylaid by a tree blocking the path of her train. She reads the psychic paper and notes that he is to be her protector and soon The Doctor and Rose find themselves trekking along with Victoria to Torchwood House, where she intends to stay the night.

Back at the mansion, the house's owner, Sir Robert, is threatened into accepting the Queen by Father Angelo, who is disguised as a servant and threatens to kill Lady MacLeish. Sir Robert tries to subtly dissuade the Queen, but she demands to stay as her late husband, Prince Albert, liked to visit Sir Robert's father there. Also taken into the house is a mysterious black box.

Before dinner, Sir Robert shows The Doctor and the Queen his father's eccentric telescope, which The Doctor notes doesn't work. Sir Robert also mentions his father's studies of a local legend about a werewolf. Rose happens across a servant girl hidden in a cupboard who tells her what's happening. They leave to tell The Doctor and on their way find that the guards have been drugged by the monks, who are also dressed as servants. Rose and the servant girl are captured and taken to the cellar. There, she sees what is in the cage - a young boy with strange black eyes. He says that his body is just a vehicle controlled by an alien intelligence. Rose offers to get The Doctor to take it home, but the creature says it would rather stay on Earth, infect Queen Victoria with its consciousness and begin "The Empire of the Wolf".

Meanwhile, at dinner, Sir Robert tells a tale of local boys vanishing, one each generation, and livestock torn to shreds during the full moon. Sir Robert says that his father had communicated with it but that the monks from a local monastery had gotten in the way as they had begun to worship the Wolf. Just then, The Doctor notices that Father Angelo is chanting a prayer to the Wolf in Latin.

Down in the cellar, the monks open the doors and allow moonlight to fall on the boy, who begins to transform into a werewolf. Rose organises the chained household members to pull on the chains that bind them to the wall. As The Doctor and Sir Robert run to the cellar, Captain Reynolds trains his gun on Father Angelo, who disarms him. However, Queen Victoria pulls out her own gun and shoots him. Back in the cellar, Rose and the others pull the chain out of the wall and get out just ahead of the Wolf - The Doctor then sealing the door behind them with his Sonic Screwdriver.

The women run to the kitchens to hide while the men organise themselves. The Wolf breaks through the cellar door, but the Steward and his men fend it off with gunfire. It survives, however, and devours the Steward before killing his men. The Doctor, Rose and Sir Robert run away while the werewolf stalks down to the kitches, where something in the air drives it back.

Queen Victoria, after taking her mysterious black box from a safe, attempts to flee with Captain Reynolds and The Doctor's party out of the house's windows, but the monks have the house surrounded and are trying to shoot anybody attempting to flee. The werewolf chases them again and Captain Reynolds dies holding it back while they run into the mansion's library.

Inside, The Doctor notes that something is keeping the werewolf out and realises that the doors and walls are coated with mistletoe oil - something which the Wolf must be allergic to. Down in the kitches, Lady MacLeish notices that the monks outside are wearing mistletoe and comes to the same conclusion. She and the other girls start gathering together all of the mistletoe in the kitchen to cook it together.

Upstairs, The Doctor evades the Queen's questions about his slipping faux-Scottish accent and she asks Sir Robert to look after the contents of her mysterious black box - the famous Koh-i-Noor diamond, which Prince Albert was constantly having cut and recut. Suddenly, the Doctor realises that Prince Albert and Sir Robert's father had turned the entire house into a trap for the Wolf, with the diamond and the telescope somehow factoring into it.

The werewolf suddenly comes crashing in through the library's skylight and the group flee into the corridors. It almost reaches them, but Lady Isobel turns up and throws the mistletoe soup in its face, forcing it to flee. She returns to the kitchen while The Doctor and company head up to the Observatory. Sir Robert offers to hold back the Wolf with his sword to buy the group time and regain his lost honour. He dies, but gives them enough time to angle the telescope, which is actually a light chamber designed to concentrate moonlight.

The werewolf crashes through the doors, but The Doctor throws down the Koh-i-Noor diamond, which angles the beam up at the Wolf and suspends it in the air. The Doctor says that the creature is made of moonlight but can be killed with it too - just like a human is made up of water but can still drown. He turns up the brightness of the moonlight, causing the Wolf to dissipate. The Doctor notices a cut on Queen Victora's wrist and worries that it managed to bite her, but she says she was just caught by a splinter from the exploding door.

The following day, Queen Victoria dubs the heroic pair "Sir Doctor of TARDIS" and "Dame Rose of the Powell Estate", but then banishes them from the British Empire, saying that their lives are ungodly and they should turn back while they still live. On their way back to the TARDIS, The Doctor points out that the haemophilia that plagued Queen Victoria seemingly came from nowhere and jokingly suggests that maybe it was a euphemism for her lycanthropy, something that she passed down to her children with a quick bite...

Over at the Torchwood Estate, Queen Victoria promises Lady MacLeish that she will create a special team to keep an eye out for The Doctor and any other alien presences on Earth: Torchwood.

Review: Woo! After a deeply disappointing first episode, season two kicks into the three episode-long patch of excellence, beginning with "Tooth and Claw". The plot's basically just an excuse for lots of running through corridors and screaming, but its simplicity fits the 45-minute format far better than "New Earth's" overblown story did, and this kind of punchy action story is really what should have opened series two.

Special out-outs to the supporting cast, particularly Pauling Quirk who is splendid as Queen Victoria, but the real star of the show is the werewolf itself, a snarling, slavering GCI beastie that knocks the socks off of almost any other Who effect. It's no surprise that The Mill, the effects house that provided it, had prior experience with another lycanthrope from the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. But the werewolf would be nothing without Euros Lyn's direction, which imbues the whole episode with tension and strangeness. Lyn is definitely the big directorial find for Who and I hope he's in for the long run.

Thumbs up also to Russel T. Davies who tones down his usual tedious camp scenester shite, does away with his habit of throwing in massive logical errors and plot holes (nonsense 'science' aside) and turns in a splendid script. I especially like The Doctor's comment about knowledge being the best weapon - making 'knowing things' cool with kids is something I can heartily applaud. Oh, and the Ian Dury reference is appreciated.

In fact, I'm struggling to think of anything I didn't really enjoy about this episode. The monks just vanishing is a bit lazy, sure, and the martial arts bit at the start isn't exactly impressive (big flippy-in-the-air bit aside), but British directors not understanding how to film fight scenes has been the status quo since the 70s or so, so it's hard to hold it against him.

Yeah, my only real problem is the Doctor/Rose relationship, which is source of constant irritation throughout this season but takes a step up this episode with Rose's stupid bet that she can make Queen Victoria say that she is not amused and her and The Doctor hugging and jumping for joy at having seen a werewolf.

In the first series, the theme was that travelling with the Doctor makes you a better person - it brings out the hero in you, whether you're Rose tackling Autons, Mickey saving Jackie from the Slitheen or Jackie helping her daughter to return to the future knowing that she might well not come back. Also, Rose's role in the series was to act as the heart to the Doctor's brain - connecting with Gwyneth in 1.03, "The Unquiet Dead", or helping the titular monster in 1.06, "Dalek".

But by this episode she's glibly making fun of a woman who's being stalked by an unstoppable killer and giggling like a schoolgirl over a monster that's murdered dozens of innocents. It's cold and it's cruel and it's not remotely funny or likeable. Just as The Doctor has become Rose, with a Cockney accent and childlike glee, so Rose has become The Doctor, with a time-traveller's distance from everything she sees. This would be fine, of course, if it were part of some clever character arc, but really this goes nowhere. The only criticism she gets - because god knows The Doctor doesn't give her any - is from Queen Victoria in this episode. And that obviously doesn't change anything.

It's a shame, because having one of the main characters turn into a stuck-up, unlikeable little bitch for pretty much no reason at all (and in an incredibly short time, too) does sap quite a lot of enjoyment out of the series as a whole, even if it's not enough to override the greatness of the rest of this episode.

8/10

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Sources:

http://www.gallifreyone.com - Outpost Gallifrey http://www.physics.mun.ca/~sps/9doc.html - A Brief History of (Time) Travel

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