TARDIS Thoughts: NaBloPoMo (catchup): Series 2, Episode 2, "Tooth and Claw"


NaBloPoMo (catchup): Series 2, Episode 2, "Tooth and Claw"


Ok, going to try to catch up with these posts, since we're now a mere FIVE days away from the return of Doctor Who to television.

Next up, Series 2, Episode 2, "Tooth and Claw."

This episode takes the Doctor and Rose to 1879 Scotland, where they run into Queen Victoria, who happens to be traveling by carriage through the area. She is on her way to the Torchwood Estate, a favorite of her late husband Prince Albert, to stay for the night, since the highlands are dangerous at night, due to tales of wolves.

Ironically, in the beginning of the episode, the Doctor and Rose were actually planning to go to 1979, to attend an Ian Drury concert. But the TARDIS goofed up. By like a hundred years. This seems to be a running gag with Ten, ending up in the wrong place -- it happens other times in Series 2 also. Either he's not really that good at flying the TARDIS, or maybe he still has that Randomiser that the Fourth and Fifth Doctors installed.

This is a good episode if you like werewolves, cause, well -- it's about werewolves. This one, to be exact:

Basically, these warrior monks (who seem very much like an anachronism to me, given the time period) have this werewolf in this cage, and they've brought it to Torchwood and manipulated the estate's owner, Sir Robert, into keeping things hush-hush by holding his wife and the household staff captive in the basement. Meanwhile, the warrior monks have replaced his entire staff so they can keep an eye on things. And it turns out their intention is to wait till the Queen arrives (having ensured she would by blocking her other transport option -- the train -- with a fallen tree on the tracks), have the werewolf bite her, and via this take over Britain and create an "Empire of the Wolf."

Like with any fantastical creature in this show, the Doctor doesn't really believe in werewolves and explains the whole thing away with his #1 explanation for anything fantastical: it's an alien. In this case, the werewolves are the current form of an alien race that landed in the area in 1540 and perpetuated itself by biting humans and turning them into werewolves. And unfortunately as fans, we are supposed to assume the Doctor knows what he's talking about and just go with his explanation.

That is the kind of annoying thing about the Doctor -- he does not believe in anything that could be potentially illogical or fantastical or supernatural. Ghosts, werewolves, the Devil, you name it. And I'm pretty sure he doesn't believe in God either. (In this case, art may imitate life -- Matt Smith is an atheist). Whenever he encounters anything of that sort, he usually explains it away with one of two explanations: 1) It's an alien or 2) It does not really exist - i.e., it is merely an illusion, an idea, etc, by which humans might be fooled but not him.

I found the use of mistletoe in this episode to chase off the werewolf interesting; I had not heard of this being a werewolf-stopping item. Apparently it is, although, ironically, the plant is "almost unknown" in Scotland, where the story takes place.

The opening scene with the warrior monks made me think of martial arts movies, particularly Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (which the director of this episode admitted was an inspiration). Though I felt that the wire work (the typical method for filming scenes like this) was perhaps a bit too obvious.

Oh and can we talk about David Tennant in this ep? As you might know, Tennant actually is Scottish. He had actually even wanted to play The Doctor in his native Scottish brogue, but showrunner Russell Davies wouldn't let him, since he didn't want The Doctor's accent "traveling the regions" after Eccelston's North Country-accented Doctor. (Apparently, the first six Doctors played their roles in Received Pronunciation - the sort of "standard" accent that we Americans would generally refer to as a "British accent" - as was prescribed by TV norms at the time. With the Seventh Doctor, Sylvester McCoy, this changed; McCoy played The Doctor with a slight Scottish accent. Paul McGann appears to have used a standard accent too...just watched some of a clip to see, but I can't tell if his accent's regional or not. Eight may have had a North Country accent like Nine, since McGann, like Eccelston, is also from Lancashire. Eleven has a Northampton accent, which is more or less what Matt Smith's actual accent is anyway, if you watch him in interviews). So when Ten slips into a Scottish accent as a disguise, he's not putting it on; that is actually David Tennant's real accent. He puts on a South London one for the show. So I imagine getting to be the Doctor AND talk in his native accent in this episode must have been a real treat for David. (Sorry, I'm getting into that fan thing lately of referring to the actors by their first names. I've been calling Matt Smith just "Matt" a lot lately too, and Jenna-Louise Coleman just "Jenna." I'm not sure if this means I am now a superfan, or if I am just doing it to fit in with all the true "superfans").

In keeping with the Scottish setting, Ten gives his name as "Dr. James McCrimmon," a nice homage to James "Jamie" McCrimmon, a long-time Companion of Patrick Troughton's Doctor, who was played by Frazer Hines. Jamie, with a total of 116 TV episodes as a Companion, holds the record for most episodes appeared in as a Companion, though in terms of overall appearances (spin-offs and specials included), Sarah Jane is the winner, with 141 episodes if you include her 85 episodes as a Companion, her appearances in the spin-off K-9 and Company, her own spin-off series The Sarah Jane Adventures (which ran for 5 seasons, and would have run for more if not for Elizabeth Sladen's untimely death), and her appearances in charity specials.

Also love the running gag in this episode about Rose trying to get Queen Victoria to say "we are not amused." Billie Piper does such a great job with those lines, and one has to admit Russell Davies (writer of this episode) worked the gag into various lines very well.

The last scene is pretty funny too. It's a scene which I guess was cut from the TV broadcast but which is included on the Series 2 DVD set as a deleted scene and which is part of the episode if you watch it on Netflix, as I did. After Queen Victoria knights the Doctor and Rose and then subsequently banishes them from the Empire for their "unholy relationship" and for finding things funny that they should not, the Doctor and Rose run back across the Highlands to the TARDIS, where the Doctor says that he believes Victoria was indeed bit by the werewolf, and that maybe the hemophilia that we now know to be so prevalent in Queen Victoria's family tree (even in far-off branches like the Romanov family in Russia; Czarina Alexandra was a descendant of Victoria and carried the gene, passing it on to her son Alexey) was just a euphemism for being a werewolf. He and Rose laugh over the possibilities:

DOCTOR: Well, maybe haemophilia is just a Victorian euphemism.
ROSE: For werewolf?
DOCTOR: Could be.
ROSE: Queen Victoria's a werewolf?
DOCTOR: Could be. And her children had the Royal Disease. Maybe she gave them a quick nip.
ROSE: So, the Royal Family are werewolves?
DOCTOR: Well, maybe not yet. I mean, a single wolf cell could take a hundred years to mature. Might be ready by, oh, early 21st century?
ROSE: Nah, that's just ridiculous! Mind you, Princess Anne.
DOCTOR: I'll say no more.
ROSE: And if you think about it, they're very private. They plan everything in advance. They could schedule themselves around the moon. We'd never know. And they like hunting!
(The doctor and Rose go inside the Tardis.)
ROSE [OC]: They love blood sports. Oh my God, they're werewolves!
(The Tardis dematerialises.)
To be honest, though, given that this show airs on a BBC channel (BBC One) in the UK, and the BBC is basically the national TV company, I'm quite surprised the show can get away with making fun of the Royal Family like this. I mean, they're tabloid fodder all the time, but that's one thing. (You think our American tabloids are bad? Check out some British ones some time! They're like 10 times worse than ours, and there are a lot more of them, it seems). My experience has been that the Royal Family does not take well to press intrusion; a young Prince William actually told the press to stay away from him following his mother Princess Diana's death in 1997, and, amazingly, they obliged. (He's back in the press now, of course; I think they just stayed away from him while he was a teenager).

This episode also establishes the history of the Torchwood Institute, and how it got started -- that Queen Victoria established it to look into strange phenomena like the werewolf, and named it Torchwood in honor of Sir Robert's memory (Sir Robert sacrifices himself to save the Queen, Rose, and The Doctor from the werewolf). Whether this history is repeated in the spin-off Torchwood I don't know, though the Institute in that series is supposedly the same as the one in Doctor Who.

I read somewhere that, by causing the events in this episode, The Doctor and Rose caused their own separation in the future, since they are separated by the whole Army of Ghosts/Battle of Canary Wharf fiasco, which would never have happened if Torchwood didn't exist. And Torchwood would not have been founded if not for the events of this episode taking place. I suppose this is true. Not sure what you call that, a predestination paradox?

A good and very funny episode, this one, and actually not nearly as scary as one would expect. But then, I guess I'm ok with werewolves. At least they're not icky aliens like the Slitheen, or scary statues like the Weeping Angels. (I'm a little nervous about statues now, to be honest).

Well, till next time!


NaBloPoMo Special:
The Love of the Doctor and Rose Tyler
Part Sixteen: The Doctor and His "Beastie"

Since the theme of NaBloPoMo this month is "Love and Sex" (probably because of Valentine's Day), I feel compelled to write something about love in my posts. Hence, since I am exploring Series 1 and 2 in this challenge, I am going to write a little special essay throughout the month about the growing love between the Doctor and Rose. Please note I am in no way an expert on relationships.

The Doctor and Rose have some nice interaction in this episode, mostly messing around with each other, like with their bet on whether Rose can get Queen Victoria to say "we are not amused," and in the final scene when they are running to the TARDIS. He also is the one who offers to take her to see Ian Drury, which means he is at this point willing to take Rose to places she actually wants to go. Of course, Nine was willing to do that too, but Ten gets more excited about it.

Probably their funniest bit is when Ten and Rose are confronted by Queen Victoria's soldiers and David reverts to his Scottish accent, and Rose attempts to fake one:

DOCTOR: Oh, I'm, I'm dazed and confused. I've been chasing this, this wee naked child over hill and over dale. Isn't that right, ya timorous beastie?
ROSE: Och, aye! I've been oot and aboot.
DOCTOR: No, don't do that.
ROSE: Hoots mon.
DOCTOR: No, really don't. Really.
Somehow, I think that was probably just as much of a facepalm moment for David Tennant as it is for The Doctor. I mean, the way he delivers the line "No, don't do that," you can tell he's genuinely saying it. Here's the clip:

Since the Doctor has knowledge of the future, there is of course the question of the possible predestination paradox I just mentioned - did The Doctor and Rose, by their actions in this episode, cause their own separation in the future, and at this point IS The Doctor aware of this, and does it affect how he treats Rose? Having seen the Series 2 finale, I would say no. He is not aware of it. And there is precedent for The Doctor not anticipating things -- look at the Series 1 finale, where The Doctor realizes the result of his actions in saving Satellite Five in "The Long Game." He thought he was doing something good, finally giving Earth a chance to progress to where it was supposed to be, instead of staying in the stagnant state in which it was. But in the end he just made things worse.

Well, Series 2 continues...how will The Doctor and Rose's relationship continue to blossom?? We'll find out!


Tune in for more of my catchup of these posts. I plan to at least catchup on my NaBloPoMo posts at the very least. I think that's all I can manage in the days that are left before Series 7 Part 2 premieres. I have other posts currently in draft - posts for the two Classic Who eps I've seen via the Doctor Who: The Doctors Revisited specials and for a couple Series 7 specials - but I may wait on those. 

Oh, and my plan for Series 7 Part 2: I will post analyses of the episodes on the day of airing or at most a day or two after. In the case of "The Bells of Saint John," for instance, I will be unable to watch the episode live as I have to work till 10, and the episode airs at 5pm my time (PDT). But, if possible, I will watch it as soon as I get home from work (since I'm recording it), avoiding Twitter, Facebook, and probably Google+ (where I belong to the Doctor Who community) so as to keep away from spoilers.


Pictures from Sonic Biro. Quotes from The Doctor Who Transcripts.

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