Scottish Kung-Fu monks, Queen Victoria, and a werewolf that isn’t a werewolf. Ok, then.
Podcast: Play in new window | Embed
The 9th Doctor and Rose continue their burgeoning love affair by accidentally going to Scotland and bumping into Queen Victoria and being welcomed into her entourage. Together, they head to *dum-dum-dum* Torchwood House. That’s right, this is (partly) the origin story of the Doctor Who spinoff.
It turns out they’re not the only ones scoping out the estate, though. A band of traditionally Scottish, orange-clad, bo-stick-wielding kung-fu monks have taken over the place, forgotten about their kung-fu skills, and plonked a pseudo-werewolf in the cellar, just as the Doc & Co arrive. And that night there’s a full moon…
Subscribe to us on iTunes now! We're dropping a new episode every week (pretty much), reviewing Classic Who, New Who and all kinds of bonus stuff from spin-offs and conventions to Doctor Who comic books.
It’s all getting a bit Russell T Davies-y in here isn’t it? His sixth consecutive story and thankfully his last for a bit, as we get Whithouse taking over next week. How RTD managed to keep the quality this reasonably high I have no idea.
Christmas Invasion was essentially a Doctor-lite story with a nice bombastic new-Doctor ending. New Earth is the standard initial story where the enemy is easily dispatchable and the tensions rather light, just like Tom Baker’s Robot, Colin Baker’s Twin Dilemma, and even Rose with Eccleston.
Tooth and Claw falls under a similar template. It’s the ‘early past-adventure’, normally second or third into the run of the series. Unquiet Dead, Shakespeare Code, Fires of Pompeii – all the RTD series keep to this idea. Why am I even mentioning this? Because they’re never really that great. They never excel at being great Doctor Who.
Take Series 2, we get a bunch of fluff at the start, then later in the series the heavier stuff – The Impossible Planet/The Satan Pit, and…oh wait series two is rather bad so it doesn’t really work here. Series 3 is the best example, we get front-loaded with stuff like Shakespeare Code, and *shudder* Daleks in Manhattan, then later in the series we get Blink, Human Nature/The Family of Blood, and Utopia. All the early adventures are almost always throw-away adventures with little to no bearing on the Doctor, companions or the seires at large. It’s Doctor Who by numbers.
Tooth and Claw has Queen Victoria and a werewolf. I love werewolves, give me a werewolf film any day. And that idea sounds great doesn’t it? Queen Vic, in (obviously) Victorian era Britain, with wood-paneled walls, candlelight, and carriages. And…kung-fu monks?! Damn it Russell you were doing so well!
There’s a solid core to the idea of this story that Good God would I love if it were pulled off by a better writer. Instead of dark and moody, we get Rose and The Doc flirting like they’ve just discovered their respective sex organs and can’t wait to try them out. Boring stereotypical characterization of Victorian army commanders. And Kung-fu bloody monks!
Some bits shine, that’s for sure. The fabulously tense moment when The Doc and co. look-up to see the werewolf breaking in through the roof-window. The Ian Dury bit at the start. Derek Riddell as Sir Robert. And admittedly, considering the budget, the werewolf does look great.
Just like the Koh-i-noor itself, this is a story that could do with a few more cuts, a few more improvements, until we get the shine just right.
Tooth and Claw gets a 2.3.
In this episode we have Rose and the Doctor mistakenly ending up in 1879, meeting Queen Victoria, and ultimately screwing with history (as usual). Before sitting down to rewatch this episode, I realized I didn’t have any real memories about the plot or characters; for whatever reason, this isn’t one that I’ve felt compelled to revisit. With that said, seeing it again made me realize what a good episode this really is. It doesn’t fall into the usual Doctor Who trap of dragging on; in fact, it seems a smidge rushed in some scenes. I do prefer this to a slow story, but I think the plot suffered for it. For example, while I can comprehend why Queen Victoria doesn’t approve of the Doctor’s letting people die , it might have helped my understanding of the banishment to see her actually becoming uneasy with each sacrifice.
The Doctor and Rose are superb in this. They are playful without being flirty(which I almost thought this impossible after watching Steven Moffat for so long) and seem like genuine friends. We also see the absolute best version of Rose; She is brave ,clever and just the right .amount snarky
I also really loved the Doctor in this episode. He is far away from the very human tortured soul that the tenth doctor is generally considered to be; the instances where he had to ask “am I being rude?” were very funny and made me think a bit of the Twelfth Doctor.
Lastly I just wanted to say how fabulously creepy the wolfman was; he is actually a spot above the weeping angels in my book. Really it’s just a shame that he had to become the wolf for so much of the episode. But the whole thing had a great creepy atmosphere regardless, perfectly balanced with some comedy from the Doctor and Rose.
I do feel that I need to mark down because, though the resolution is very very close to making sense, it just doesn’t quite make the leap (I thought the diamond wasn’t finished? Why did it work then?).
Overall a good episode, but not an outstanding one, I give it a 3.8
Thanks for your mini-review. I’m really sorry we didn’t read it out loud on the show. I literally just saw it! We get lots of emails, and unfortunately some sneak into our inbox without us noticing… at first.
Great review! Glad to see you liked ‘Tooth and Claw’. Plus you made the same observation I did about the diamond being unfinished! Sweet Buttery Moses, yes! Great minds think alike! :)
Please don’t let this discourage you from sending in more minis. In future, we shall be more vigilant.
Thanks for listening and Rock on!
What an adorably batshit crazy, beautifully shot Cold Open! I loved Tennant getting to be Scottish and Rose the feral child oot n’ aboot. I much prefer the (literally) Victorian dialogue here to Gatiss’s recent derivative Martian effort and watching this now, the external shots are almost Classically faded. Twinkly, resourceful, no-nonsense Queen Victoria is fantastic. DW has never been hammier. So why disdain this episode? Because the laird can’t stop snogging Isobel? Or for Doc and Rose’s unamusing antics (for which they’re rightly banished; excellent decree, ma’am)? The end stinks: the Doc doesn’t turn the light collector up to maximum until asked so he’s basically torturing the supermarioform; the royals werewolf chat makes little sense and is disrespectful for multiple reasons. But! So much worse will ensue in the next two series, and it races along, setting up copious future jam and string. Seriously Ponken, without this episode you’d never get to mention that one Torchwood series you love: Children of Earth, Miracle Day or whichever it is. But, will I remember it tomorrow? Maybe not.
Show Notes: 1) Victorians love mad follies, hence the defective telescope’s fame. 2) No way you dodge Queen Victoria shooting you at point-blank range, kung fu skills or no. 3) The previous laird had history with the monks so found out about their mistletoe device. But maybe the library should abut the observatory so you can trap the wolf (with mistletoe/ricin) in the doorway and zap it… 4) I’d forgive Vicky’s diamond sentimentality considering she’s about to die. 5) The wolf virus didn’t totally win – only a cell survived, hence the century-long gestation necessary, hence no steampunk.
So, I’ll keep this short:
The Kung-Fu Monk thing was weird, the werewolf was cool, Rose was a bit annoying, the portrayal of Queen Victoria was pretty great save for the “We’re not amused” thing, and I personally feel this would work better with a different Doctor such as the 11th Doctor or the Fourth Doctor.