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22 December 2014 @ 06:06 pm
Tooth and Claw  
This is another story that has improved on second viewing, or perhaps on viewing with NLSS Child.

RTD liked to cultivate the idea that most of the Doctor Who stories during his tenure started out as random words. He'd imply that he'd phone Stephen Moffat (say) up and say "Clockwork robots, Madame de Pompador" and then wait and see what happened. I have my doubts about this, if only because most of what Davies says about himself and the way he works comes across as a performance in and of itself. In this case the three words were, apparently, "Werewolf, Kung-fu monks, Queen Victoria". Tooth and Claw has a reputation as one of the weaker stories and think it is because the Kung-fu monks, in particular, do not integrate well with the rest of the story.

NLSS Child liked them though. She was telling me all about them as they appeared "they wear red robes to hide all the blood", she explained (sometimes I wonder a bit about all the anime she watches with Tame Layman). Although they are totally out of place in the story, and basically unused after the opening fight sequence, they were a familiar hook that pulled her into the adventure and into the Tenth Doctor in a way his previous two outings hadn't.

NLSS Child proceeded to enjoy all the joking around with Queen Victoria. Pauline Collins gives an excellent performance, conveying the complexity of her reactions to the Doctor and Rose, almost from the outset and NLSS Child picked up on that, talking about what she must be thinking about them.

Meanwhile, once you strip out the pointless monks, the rest of the story has a nice sense of place and atmosphere, seizing its opportunity to go all out for Victorian gothic horror and it works well. Arguably part of the reason the early Tom Baker seasons worked so well, was because they used the gothic horror formula so often and it, in general, manages to be pleasantly scary, and nicely visual, without needing to be particularly graphic or unsettling.

The monks remain largely pointless set-dressing but they actually participate so little in the story that it is easy enough to ignore them, and then there is much here to enjoy. A slice of gothic Doctor Who, somewhat in the Tom Baker tradition, with a strong central guest actor adding weight to the whole thing.

This entry was originally posted at http://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/134294.html.
daniel_saunders: Leekleydaniel_saunders on December 22nd, 2014 06:44 pm (UTC)
I liked this a lot on first viewing, but in retrospect, it seems like one of the worst stories for the characterization of the Doctor and Rose (the smug-athon, as I used to refer to it), who as I recall basically spent the whole time sniggering at everyone else, even as people are dying around them, the worst bit being when one character dies horribly saving their lives and about a minute later their giggling over how funny it is to meet a real werewolf. A pity because, as you say, there is a lot to like here.
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on December 23rd, 2014 11:22 am (UTC)
Certainly in this the smugathon is deliberate and intended to fuel Queen Victoria's reaction. It probably could/should have been more subtle but I suspect they felt the need to underline it clearly for the audience.
daniel_saunders: Leekleydaniel_saunders on December 23rd, 2014 01:49 pm (UTC)
Very true, but I still get a feeling of "The Doctor just should not behave like that!" Maybe it's connected with the fact I don't like David Tennant's performance much generally (he's still the only canonical Doctor I actively dislike).
wellinghallwellinghall on December 23rd, 2014 07:11 am (UTC)
There aren't many NuWho stories I want to re-watch, but this is one of them.
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on December 23rd, 2014 11:23 am (UTC)
It's quite traditional in a lot of ways and mostly benefits from that, I think.
wellinghallwellinghall on December 23rd, 2014 07:17 am (UTC)
And you only worry a bit about NLSS Child's anime viewing? ;-)
louisedennislouisedennis on December 23rd, 2014 11:22 am (UTC)
Well tame layman watches with her and filters. I'm more worried about her YouTube habit, though given we seem to have raised a puritan I'm not terribly concerned about that.