In 1879, a band of warrior monks takes Torchwood House and its staff by force – a place which just happens to be Queen Victoria’s next stop on a trip through Scotland. The monks bring a cage with them, containing an unearthly terror which they also hope to introduce to Her Majesty. The Queen’s entourage happens upon the Doctor and Rose, who have only just arrived, expecting it to be 1979. Her Majesty brings the travelers with her to Torchwood House, where a trap has been waiting over two centuries to spring. On schedule, when moonlight falls upon the monks’ cage, its passenger – a werewolf – breaks loose. Now the Doctor finds himself having to protect not only Rose, but Queen Victoria and perhaps the entire human race.
written by Russell T. Davies
directed by Euros Lyn
music by Murray Gold
Guest Cast: Pauline Collins (Queen Victoria), Ian Hanmore (Father Angelo), Michelle Duncan (Lasy Isobel), Derek Riddell (Sir Robert), Jamie Sives (Captain Reynolds), Ron Donachie (Steward), Tom Smith (The Host), Ruthie Milne (Flora)
LogBook entry & review by Earl Green
Review: Since every episode of Doctor Who now starts with a pre-credits teaser, let’s start there – this is possibly the most gripping teaser the show has given us to date, even if martial arts wire work isn’t anything we haven’t seen before plenty of times. It’s unusual enough to take note of in Doctor Who, and this particular sequence is just so well directed that it deserves its own mention. Actually, the whole episode is well directed – with the werewolf being a CGI construct, Euros Lyn had to be choosy where such an expensive and time-consuming creation would be glimpsed, and he wisely takes a less-is-more approach, making the creature’s actual physical appearances rather sparse, but its effects are vividly portrayed.
Of course, that’s only good for an effects artist’s demo reel unless the actors hold the rest of the story together, and Tooth And Claw comes up aces there too. Pauline Collins, who appeared in the swingin’ sixties four-parter The Faceless Ones, does an outstanding job with Queen Victoria, fitting the profile almost perfectly and never losing sight of the dignity and absolute conviction required to have a fictional Queen Victoria come off as anything but a parody. If anything, when she dresses down the Doctor and Rose at the episode’s end, it’s very difficult not to sympathize with the Queen where these two interlopers are concerned. (There seems to be a theme developing this season in terms of dealing with the consequences of the Doctor’s presence in one’s life – Cassandra in New Earth, Sarah Jane Smith in School Reunion, and other characters down the road as well.)
The guest cast is simply outstanding. Even no-dialogue players such as the monks imbue their characters with a life of their own, and overall, it’s one of the best acted episodes in the new series’ run to date. One thing I’m still not sure about is yet another Torchwood-hint-of-the-week – apparently we see, if not the Torchwood organization’s origins, then at least its original mandate here. I don’t object to a few hints and teasers, but I raise my eyebrows a little bit when these start to take up serious time from the main thrust of the story.
Apart from that, a very stylish and enjoyable episode, one that’ll probably wind up joining some of Doctor Who’s classic episodes on someone’s top ten list somewhere.