Saturday, 5 January 2013

Doctor Who 'Tooth and Claw' Review

The Doctor faces off against an alien werewolf.

The Doctor attempts to take Rose to see a music concert in 1979, but instead lands the Tardis in the Scottish moors in 1879.  They encounter a carriage carrying Queen Victoria, who is travelling to Balmoral Castle.  The Doctor and Rose join her on her trip and the group arrive at the Torchwood Estate where they plan to stay the night.

Unfortunately the estate has been taken over by a group of monks that have taken the estate’s inhabitants hostage and prepared a trap for the queen.  Having brought a man to the estate infected with a form of alien induced lycanthropy they plan to infect the queen and create an ‘Empire of the Wolf’.

The Doctor and Rose must defend the queen from the werewolf whilst trying to devise a way of defeating the creature.  Discovering that the queens late husband, Prince Albert, and the former lord of the Torchwood Estate knew of the presence of the werewolf and its plan for Queen Victoria, and as such set the Torchwood Estate as a trap for the wolf.

Using the trap provided for them The Doctor manages to defeat the wolf and save the queen, though it is left vague to the fact if she became infected from a cut form the wolf.  The net day the queen knights both Rose and The Doctor, then immediately banishes them from the British Empire.  The queen is appalled by the unholy lifestyle that Rose and The Doctor live.  She also orders the creation of the Torchwood Institute to help defend Britain from further alien attacks.
The werewolf stalks the halls of the Torchwood Estate.
‘Tooth and Claw’ is a great episode for fans of both the classic series and the new Doctor Who.  The tone of the episode is very reminiscent of some of the early Tom Baker serials that focused on gothic horror.  Whilst the episode begins at day on the Scottish moors the majority of the episode is set at night, in the dark and oppressive confines of the Torchwood Estate.  This helps to give the episode a great claustrophobic atmosphere and ramps up the tension.

The alien werewolf itself is an amazing piece of CGI work that is stunning to look at.  Where a great many television shows will have computer effects that don’t hold up well on screen and age very quickly the werewolf in this episode is a stand out of the series.  Its movements are smooth and fluidic and it interacts with the live action sets and characters very easily.

Both The Doctor and Rose work well in this episode, with their two separate stories within the Torchwood Estate playing out very naturally, unlike many of the ‘missing assistant’ ploys used in the show in the past.  The giddiness and excitement the two of them experience in the situation is something that seems to come very naturally to the both of them too, and goes to show how Rose has matured over her time in the show and how her relationship with the Doctor has changed since his regeneration.
Queen Victoria played brilliantly by Pauline Collins.
Queen Victoria is played especially well by Pauline Collins, who brings a great deal of depth and emotion to the character.  It could have been very easy for the writers and actors to have her simply as a stereotype of what you would expect the character to be.  Instead they spend their time showing how the character thinks, how she has dealt with the loss of her husband and the effect it has had on her at an emotional level.  All of this helps not only to serve a better episode, but also makes sure that you care for her as a character and genuinely want to see her safe from the threat of the werewolf.

A great monster episode that uses its setting to perfection and gives us a cast of characters that have real life to them, that you actually care about.  It’s also fun to hear David Tennant use his natural accent, and the inclusion of Jamie McCrimmon’s name is a great shout out to old fans.  8/10


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