2.2 – “Tooth and Claw”
The Doctor and Rose cross paths with Queen Victoria and a werewolf in 1879. First-person plural amusement does not ensue.
A strange beast. Not the werewolf, the episode. “Tooth and Claw” commits the worst sin of modern television; it’s boring on a second viewing. I remember this going out live and I think I quite liked it, although I can’t find any documented evidence of that. But watching it for this review was the second time I’ve watched this in only a few months and it was barely able to hold my interest on either occasion.
The main problem is that there’s nothing going on beneath the surface. Everything is telegraphed well in advance and not even in a clever “Ooh, I see what they did there!” kind of way. The suspicious blockage of the train line, the takeover of the house, the legends of the wolf, even the prominence of the Koh-i-Noor and the telescope, all combine to make a by-the-numbers Doctor Who story.
Your basic celebrity historical will accept that the plot and scares are very limited and then go off and do more interesting things. Queen Victoria (Pauline Collins) ought to be the centrepiece of this episode – both the character and the actress have certainly got enough potential – but instead she gets sidelined, becoming little more than a figure of fun for The Doctor and Rose to tease. What work she does get is very limited; she loves Albert, she is (eventually) not amused. Perhaps it would have been better if she had been the one to realise that the McGuffin diamond had been cut by Albert for just such an eventuality. As it stands, she’s basically little more than a prop.
Until the end, of course. I think it’s a law that if you talk about this episode you have to have an opinion on the ending, in which Victoria both knights and damns The Doctor and Rose for saving everyone and their flippancy while doing so. I find this very hard to read in a way where my sympathies end up being with The Doctor and Rose. Sure, nobody was killed, but perhaps my lack of sympathy for the pair is because I, personally, was not amused (Rose’s attempts to get Victoria to say her reputed catchphrase are leaden and easily the worst joke in this era of Doctor Who). Especially as, on the rewatch, we already know what’s going to happen.
The worst of it is that I can’t even summon up the appropriate enthusiasm to hate this episode. Apart from the sudden outbreak of smugness it doesn’t do anything outrageously wrong, it’s just that it’s so damn generic. Just watch the trailer, it’s much better. A disappointing 4/10.
Written and edited by Abigail Brady