polymath, steeped in astronomy and
equally well versed in
The Doctor and Rose travel back to the year 1879
encounter in the Scottish Highlands with Queen Victoria and a
band of Warrior Monks reveals a deadly trap, dating back centuries.
Perhaps the local legends about a werewolf could really be true.
Assuming the 'disguise' of Dr James McCrimmon,
the Doctor must, as loyal Scot, protect Her Majesty Queen Victoria.
And why is
The Torchwood Institute established?
EPISODE TWO REVIEW
Like the Doctor and Rose, it seemed, through
excessive media exposure and endless BBC promotional trailers, no one in the
UK could escape the werewolf. Even the most jaded or curious passing viewer were
hooked into watching, asking if this previously lamented "kiddies" show could
actually create a decent CGI werewolf.
And, yes, they did. Stunningly so, rewarding over nine million viewers with
a slick, intelligent, beautifully filmed, passionately acted 45 minutes drama
that if was not created upon the DOCTOR WHO brand could have
been BBC1 Sunday evening drama premiere. It was that impressive.
In my view, the combination of science fantasy and a historical environment
has always proved to be more successful than the out-and-out obtuse and weird DOCTOR
WHO adventures. Surprisingly, with the exception of the 1960s William
Hartnell series, pseudo-historical stories have been few-and-far-between, more
so as the BBC has a talent to create a viable vision 'the past'.
The success of the 2005 (and, now, 2006)
series is founded on the rotating foundation of stories that mirror the original
1963 formatting: a season/series story combination of 'present day', 'future', 'historical' and 'sideways'.
TOOTH AND CLAW will have
the prefix of 'classic DOCTOR
WHO' attached to it in years to come. Why wait?
Russell T Davies' epic (and why was it not
a two-parter, fleshing out the Brethren and relationship between Monarch & Torchwood
House?) is stunning throughout and even for this thirtysomething reviewer made
it obligatory to jump off the sofa.
Dialogue and acting was effortless, stunning cinematography, very special
Special Effects, stirring incidental music, crafted set design and imaginative
Naturally, any comment could not dismiss the so unlike DOCTOR WHO pre-credit
sequence. Euros Lyn's quirkily choreographed 'flying monks' guarantees that the
viewer served a Hors D'oeuvre for a satisfying, meaty main course to some. The
only criticism is that why when the hostages in the cellar scream at seeing a
human in the cage? It didn't make sense. It would have done if a cutaway to the
caged human had been inserted:
Close-up of caged human. Suddenly, his eyes flick open. The eyes are completely
black. The hostages scream.
However, throughout the episode, Lyn's contribution
(and genius of cinematography, Ernie Vincze) is as polished as the Koh-i-Noor
diamond, adopting a mix of perspective viewpoints (shooting through window frames
into the cobbled courtyard, or camera moving through a fixed wall for a 'split-screen'
effect, or subjectively panning through a stairwell) that add a dimension of
storytelling reality (credit, of course, to Davies' producing a creatively visual
script) that was lacking from the primarily studio based CLASSIC SERIES.
Murray Gold's contribution is equally genius,
attaching a series of musical 'legends'
that, unlike NEW EARTH's score, rationalises the visuals where 'reserved & timid'
or 'malevolent & oppressive' is warranted. A concern is voiced that if Gold
were to score the DOCTOR WHO spin-off, TORCHWOOD ,
would his skills be spread too thin, risking a reduction in quality across the
Often overlooked by reviewers and critics alike,
the designing and dressing of the series is key to suspending disbelief, and
for an industrial warehouse in Newport to house outer space, WWII housing, a
Victorian parlor or a time machine is remarkable. For TOOTH AND CLAW ,
production designer, Edward Thomas (along with set decorator, David Morison and
Specialist Prop Maker, Mark Cordory) excels in crafting 1879. A library, a bedroom,
a kitchen, a cellar, an observatory, a corridor, another corridor and, well,
another corridor, each environment dressed with authenticated furniture and paraphernalia
that will be examined in minute detail by DOCTOR WHO fans seeking
error'. Was the cutlery style correct? A book published a decade after the time
period? A horse-drawn carriage painted the wrong colour for the country's region?
The work of The Mill reaffirms that their
singular contribution has ascended to a higher level than 2005, and matches those
seen on the 'silver-screen'. To
quantity the quality and depth of the CGI elements defy words. Watch the episode
on a high definition television set in a darkened room, and then pick up your
It seems that for this story, everything was perfect.
The story itself was simple with more twists than an Axminster but at its
A werewolf transformed from an infected
man (twist: the human infected by an alien 'parasite organism') and goes on the
hunt (twist: the alien/human hybrid werewolf hunting the UK Monarch to seize
power and propel humanity forward through a mix of alien intelligence, technology-led
warfare). Add to that a time traveller, a secret sect of monks, and a gemstone.
Around which Davies' script (and camera instruction)
instills a pace and authority that beguiles and bewilders simultaneously.
Again, this script is liberally littered
with views the protagonist's loss and despair and pain (.have you noticed that Davies' used a vocabulary-triumvirate
device where his character does not know when to stop describing a situation.),
though I am concerned that, with just a facial vacancy, Tennant fails to demonstrate
this unlike his predecessor, Eccleston.
THE DOCTOR (to Queen): You must miss him.
QUEEN (sharp): Very much.
(Resigned): Oh, completely. And that the charm of a ghost story
isn't it? Not the scares and the chills, that's for the children but the hope
of some contact with the great beyond.
THE DOCTOR looks forlorn.
QUEEN: (hopeful): We all want some message from that place. It's
a Creator's greatest mystery that we're allowed no such consolation. The dead
stay silent. And we must wait.
THE DOCTOR looks more withdrawn.
This second series continues to view the
Doctor as a lonely man, wandering through time & space, unable to settle and unmercifully sweeping the innocent
into his own lifestyle like Tolkien's 'precious'. Perhaps, this is this year's 'bad
wolf' theme, leading to a revelation that his people (or person) have survived
The Time War? Is there a hidden and cryptic theme? Personally, avoiding Internet
forums is the only way to be rewarded with a revelation. Ebullient fans can spoil
the party too often.
There are times when the brooding Time Lord
is eclipsed with pure joy and eagerness that emulates a child tasting chocolate
for the first time. Whilst all around him are fleeing the transforming werewolf,
the Doctor stands irrationally firm, garrulous no more but awestruck by the creatures
beauty. He may be old - very old - but he has not witnessed everything that the
universe has thrown at him. There's even a bit of the Fourth Doctor about him.
THE DOCTOR (whilst running
on the spot): A vigorous
jog. Good for the heart
Added to those key emotional moments, the
script padded with the verbose - read:
gobby - utterances of this tenth Doctor. Cleverly, Davies adds references
to past & future (unseen) adventures both on television and in novels that
whets the appetite for die-hard viewers wanting more.
For the first time, TOOTH AND CLAW relegated Rose Tyler
to a CLASSIC SERIES companion/assistant; ask questions, get into trouble and
then help the Doctor resolve the problem. It worked, and Billie Piper's effortless
contribution matures with every episode.
This episode marks the much-criticised (though I seemed to be the only website
editor that liked BOOM TOWN and publicly said so) Russell T
Davies true understanding DOCTOR WHO alchemy - a combination
elements that defy questioning in crafting the perfect episode.
If only all RTD scripts offered the opportunity for BBC crafts-people to push
the barrier of excellence.
TOOTH AND CLAW is now (after the "classic" THE
EMPTY CHILD / THE DOCTOR DANCES last year) the standard to which the preceding
episodes will be measured.