Doctor Who

Season 2 Episode 2

Tooth and Claw

Aired Saturday 8:00 PM Apr 22, 2006 on BBC America
out of 10
User Rating
521 votes

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Episode Summary

Location: Torchwood House, Scotland, Earth Date:1879 Enemies: Werewolf, The Monks

The TARDIS arrives in the 19th century, and soon the Doctor has met a familiar face from history. Queen Victoria is on her way to Balmoral, but the visit isn't going exactly to plan. A werewolf is on the loose, and the Doctor may not be able to protect everybody…moreless

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  • Who's afraid of the big, bad wolf?

    Named after a line in Lord Tennison's poem In Memoriam A. H. H. (a favourite of Queen Victoria) which says: "Nature, red in tooth and claw" this episode was clearly meant to tackle the mythology of werewolves and the fascination with life after death. Unfortunately, problems crop up within the first three minutes when a group of monks commandeer the Torchwood Estate for some (doubtlessly nefarious) purpose.

    Everybody was kung fu fighting, those kids were fast as lightning!

    Oops, sorry, wrong piece of media. But seriously, less than two minutes into the episode the gothic-horror mood is completely ruined by the rejects of Mortal Kombat. So they beat up the household staff and lock everyone (including the landlord's wife) in the basement, but not before bringing the Wooden Crate of Doom in and unveiling it with a flourish. Cue horrified screams from the prisoners as something unseen breaths heavily from within its constraints.

    So there are some things I genuinely love about this episode. I love the mythological theme and the dark, horror-inspired tone. The scenery is amazing too, both exterior and interior. The historical characters are played and feel like real people. There is an excellent set-up to the mystery and a wonderful climax. But, unfortunately, the bad parts of the episode are the parts with our two heroes: The Doctor and Rose. I can't bear all of the smug giggling particularly when it is put in extremely inappropriate places. This episode is very important because it sets up the Torchwood Institute and I do appreciate that the Series 2 arc word was set up earlier than 'Bad Wolf' in Series 1. In light of these observations, I give Tooth and Claw a 7/10. It was quite good, but could have been better.moreless
  • Tooth and Claw

    Tooth and Claw was a perfect episode of Doctor Who and I really enjoyed watching. There was a lot of character development and the story was very well written. The actors were amazing and fit their parts, the dialogues were great, the special effects were awesome and the over all production was top quality. I enjoyed seeing Queen Victoria and how The Doctor and Rose interacted with her. Every thing played out awesomely and I look forward to watching what happens next!!!!!!!!!moreless
  • There are a lot of little details in "Tooth and Claw" that ought to have been cut somewhere. Too much of the author's personal politics and too much pop culture knowledge projected onto the Doctor really grate, as no doubt they're intended to.moreless

    In other words, I think Mr. Davies and some of the other writers enjoy taking jabs at the fans. The Doctor seems less like a mysterious alien and more like a teenager be-bopping around Earth's history, listening to pop music and indulging in movies. These little asides never really come across as authentic character moments for the Doctor that we've been watching for 40 years now.

    However, regardless of that, the episode itself is quite good overall. Despite the fact that I'm tired of RTD's writing style, and despite the fact that this is his sixth episode in a row, for the most part he's done a good job this time around and deserves credit for it.

    "Tooth and Claw" is in many ways a very traditional monster tale with many familiar elements. There's the old mansion out on the lonely moors, with the local legend of a monster that turns out to actually exist. True to form the monster is nearly indestructible, unaffected by bullets but allergic to a certain herb. The monster is of course is given the typical Doctor Who treatment in that it is not supernatural, but is an alien life form that crashed on Earth hundreds of years before the story takes place. The book that the Doctor finds in the library details the arrival, and the host in the cage tells Rose that he's "so far from home".

    The idea of an alien werewolf isn't actually new. The Eighth Doctor novel "Kursaal" introduced the Jax, a virus that migrates from host to host, and appears early on as a werewolf. The werewolf in "Tooth and Claw" could just as easily be one of the same creatures, though it's been awhile since I read Kursaal so some of the fine details escape me. Regardless of the recycled idea, the CGI werewolf is excellently realized. It's far more convincing than a man in a suit would have been, and is made very effective by being largely kept in the shadows of a dark house and by only being seen for brief moments. And it's not just a mindless killer, but an intelligent alien with a plan to take over the British Empire by migrating into Queen Victoria. Presumably the monks are all for the wolf taking over, or else they'd just have killed Victoria on sight rather than set a trap. Perhaps they think that they will be able to exercise the same amount of control over the wolf once it possesses Victoria as they do over the current human host, and thereby rule the British empire.

    The monks are effective villains, but the martial arts are silly. Since when do Scottish monks in the 18th century know kung-fu? Their disappearance at the end of the episode ought to have been at least addressed, although it's easy enough to surmise that with Father Angelo and the wolf dead, the jig was up and they figured that they had better leg it out of Dodge. I expect Victoria had them hunted down later and punished for their crimes. Father Angelo is only around for half the episode, but he's a creepy villain with his quick reflexes and glaring eyes.

    Queen Victoria is treated quite well by the script, and well acted by Pauline Collins. It's not unusual for someone to play multiple roles over time in Doctor Who, but isn't it enjoyable to have someone return after almost forty years? How many programs are still around after that length of time? It speaks well of the Doctor Who formula that it allows such longevity. Victoria is a well-rounded character, displaying good humor, wit, grief and a good measure of determination and spirit. I was cheering her on when she shot Father Angelo dead. Her grief over Albert's death is touching, and seemed to resonate with the Doctor as well, given his silence and facial expressions during that conversation. Victoria is also used well in the story, being not only the 'guest historical celebrity' of the week, but also essential to the plot. The actions of the monks are motivated by their desire to assassinate Victoria and take the throne. Victoria is the voice of incredulity as well, questioning the Doctor and his lifestyle, and outright condemning it in the end. She rewards the Doctor and Rose for their actions and bravery, and then banishes them for their cavalier attitude to life and danger. Brilliant. She also is open minded enough not to rationalize away the werewolf attack, but to found Torchwood as an institute to investigate and defend Great Britain from paranormal dangers. It's an altogether satisfying use of the character, thoroughly justifying her inclusion in the story.

    The humor works sometimes. The bumpy landing in the highlands one hundred years off target is amusing, as is the Doctor's sudden switch to a Scottish accent (Tennant's real accent) and adoption of "James McCrimmon" as his alias. Rose's attempts to get Victoria to say "we are not amused" grow old rather quickly though. The unavoidable gay joke is highly offensive, as well as quite honestly being a pitiful excuse for not noticing problems with the household staff. "Your wife's away, your servants are bald and athletic. I just thought you were happy." The wife's away, forget marital fidelity, gay orgies everyone. It's smut, and it's not funny, it's disgusting. I'm not British, but the mockery of the Royal Family at the end also disgusted me, as did the smug dismissal of Margaret Thatcher. No respect for anyone, eh Russell?

    The Doctor and Rose are gelling as a team, though I think Rose worked better with the 9th Doctor than the 10th. Piper and Tennant seem like a couple of kids on a lark, laughing and irreverently mocking anything they feel like (rather like RTD), and it gets old fast. Rose in particular is becoming an annoyance. I don't know what's happened to her since last year, when she was such a great character. Much has been said about her attempts to get Victoria to say 'we are not amused' and so I won't belabor the point, but if I were traveling in time and met a famous historical figure, I'd be trying to get to know them, not poking fun at them. It does make Rose look quite foolish, which may be the point. However she does display quite a bit more character and moral fiber when she is talking to the host and learning about the werewolf. She also shows some initiative and leadership when she leads the chained prisoners to pull free of the wall and escape the cellar as the wolf transforms.

    I'm hesitant to compare David Tennant to either Tom Baker or Patrick Troughton, because I don't think he's anywhere near the level of those two actors, but his character seems to draw attributes from both. He's energetic, enthusiastic and suitably eccentric. Whereas the anti-establishment attitude of the Doctor goes back all the way to Hartnell, it's far too overt coming from the word processor of RTD and the mouth of David Tennant. Subtlety is the key. The Doctor's rapid intellect is demonstrated in the library when he works out the trap inside a trap that Albert set up years earlier. His energy is apparent when he's running down hallways and trying to spring the trap for the wolf. He's sombre when listening to Victoria speak of her grief over her dead husband. He displays wonderful wide-eyed wonder at the werewolf when he gets his first view of it. It's an excellent performance.

    In short, "Tooth and Claw" is a rather traditional monster story adapted to the Doctor Who framework. It is very enjoyable, and I wish all of Russell Davies' efforts were at this level. A good solid episode.moreless
  • Clever and fast...also quite spooky.

    It was clevr, fast and also quite spooky. A werewolf was loose in Victorian Scotland and the Doctor, Rose and Queen Victoria had to defeat it before it took control of the Royal family.

    Most of the start is quite dark in a cellar with a strange man in the cage. Little did they know it was in actual werewolf. The spookiness of this episode is quite high.

    At the end it leaves the impression the wolf did succeed when Queen Victoria has what looks like a bite mark.

    All in all a cleverly plotted episode with mystery and a slap in the face answer.moreless
  • Episode with little or no faults

    There's the nothing wrong with Tooth and Claw, and it's a good episode, but that's all. It's a not a series classic, it's just a well made, well acted, but sadly forgettable entry to series two. The werewolf is well realised, and David Tennant is brilliant, especially in the TARDIS scene and the 'hair pulling, oh my head' scene where he figures everything out.

    Good ep.

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (4)

    • In the original series' second season episode "The Knight from Jaffa", William Hartnell's Doctor wistfully comments 'I almost wish I was knighted too' after seeing Ian Chesterton being dubbed Sir Ian by Richard Lionhart himself. To that Vicky replies: 'That'll be the day!'; and so indeed, 'Tooth and Claw' marks the day.

    • At some point between the end of this episode and 1970, the Doctor had to have done something, or have something done on his behalf, to warrant his return to the Majesty's good graces. Despite Queen Victoria's statement that Torchwood would be waiting for the Doctor if he should ever show his face in England again, he's worked for UNIT many times, particularly during the Doctor's exile on Earth. Plus, the Hand Of Omega incident with Group Captain Gilmore in 1963.

    • When the Doctor identifies himself as "Dr. James McCrimmon," he is referring to one of the travelling companions from the 2nd Doctor/Patrick Troughton era of the original series. Specifically, young Jamie McCrimmon, a veteran of "the Forty-five" (as in, Scotland's Second Jacobite Rebellion of 1745). He returned to Scotland after the "War Games" story arc (in which the Time Lords of Gallifrey were first introduced).

      As for the "Dr. Bell" the current Doctor mentions having studied under? That's most likely the same one whose remarkable talent for diagnosis inspired a former medical student, named Arthur Conan Doyle, to model a certain consulting detective after him.

    • This episode also explained about the origins of Torchwood, first mentioned in Bad Wolf and then again in The Christmas Invasion. Queen Victoria proposed "The Torchwood Institute" to protect Great Britain from threats beyond Earth. The word "Torchwood" is an anagram of "Doctor Who."

  • QUOTES (21)

    • (examining the Koh-i-noor diamond)
      Rose: Good job my mum's not here, she'd be fighting the wolf off with her bare hands for that.
      The Doctor: And she'd win.

    • The Doctor: (referring to the "telescope") It's a bit rubbish. How many prisms has it got? Way too many. The magnification's gone right over the top, that's a stupid kind of a ... (quietly to Rose) am I being rude again?
      Rose: Yep.
      The Doctor: But it's pretty! It's very ... pretty.

    • Queen Victoria: I am not amused (Rose looks triumphantly at the Doctor having won their bet)

    • The Doctor: (To Sir Robert) Oh, your father got all the brains, didn't he?
      Rose: Being rude again.
      The Doctor: Good, I meant that one.

    • Queen Victoria: (after first knighting The Doctor and Rose, then banishing them) I have rewarded you, Sir Doctor, and now you are exiled from this empire never to return. I don't know who you are, the two of you, or where you're from but I know that you consort with stars and magic and think it fun. But your world is steeped in terror and blasphemy and death, and I will not allow it. You will leave these shores and you will reflect, I hope, on how you came to stray so far from all that is good and how much longer you may survive this terrible life. Now, leave my world and never return!

    • (about Queen Victoria's diamond)
      Rose: Is that the Koh-i-noor?
      The Doctor: Oh yes. The greatest diamond in the world.
      Queen Victoria: Given to me as the spoils of war. Perhaps its legend is now coming true. It is said that whoever owns it must surely die.
      The Doctor: Well, that's true of anything if you wait long enough.

    • Sir Robert: Why does it want the throne?
      Rose: That's what it wants. It said so. The Empire of the Wolf.
      The Doctor: Imagine it. The Victorian age accelerated. Starships and missiles fuelled by coal and driven by steam. Leaving history devastated in its wake.

    • Father Angelo: We have waited so long for one of your journeys to coincide with the moon.
      Queen Victoria: Then you have waited in vain. After six attempts on my life, (she reaches into her clutch-bag and pulls out a pistol, aiming it at him) I am hardly unprepared.
      Father Angelo: Oh, I don't think so, woman.
      Queen Victoria: The correct form of address is Your Majesty. (she shoots)

    • (after telling the tale of the werewolf)
      Sir Robert: My father didn't treat it as a story. He said it was fact. He even claimed to have communed with the beast to have learned its purpose. I should have listened. His work was hindered. He made enemies. There's a monastery in the Glen of St. Catherine. The brethren opposed my father's investigations.
      Queen Victoria: Perhaps they thought his work ungodly?
      Sir Robert: That's what I thought. But now I wonder what if they had a different reason for wanting the story kept quiet? What if they turned from God and worshipped the wolf?

    • Queen Victoria: Since my husband's death, I find myself with more of a taste for supernatural fiction.
      The Doctor: You must miss him.
      Queen Victoria: Very much. (pause) Oh, completely. And that's the charm of a ghost story, isn't it? Not the scares and chills, that's just for children, but the hope of some contact with the great beyond. We all want some message from that place. It's the Creator's greatest mystery that we're allowed no such consolation. The dead stay silent. And we must wait. (pause; she gathers herself) Come, begin your tale, Sir Robert. There's a chill in the air. The wind is howling through the eaves. Tell us of monsters!

    • Father Angelo: We will take the house.
      Steward: Would you like my wife while you're at it?
      Father Angelo: If you won't stand aside, then we'll take it by force.
      Steward: By what power? The hand of God?
      Father Angelo: No. The fist of man.

    • Reynolds: (to the Doctor) You will explain your presence, and the nakedness of this girl. (meaning Rose)
      Doctor: (Scottish accent) Are we in Scotland?
      Reynolds: How can you be ignorant of that?
      Doctor: Och, I'm dazed and confused... I been chasing this wee naked child over hill and over dale... (to Rose) isn't that right, yah... timorous beastie?
      Rose: Och, aye! I've been 'oot n' aboot!
      Doctor: (normal accent, to Rose) No, don't do that.
      Rose: Oh, come on!
      Doctor: No, really don't. Really.

    • The Doctor: 1879 - she's had ... ohh ... six attempts on her life? And I'll tell you something else: we just met Queen Victoria!
      Rose: (excitedly) I know!
      The Doctor: What a laugh!
      Rose: She was just sitting there!
      The Doctor: Like a stamp.

    • Rose: I want her to say, "We are not amused". I bet you five quid that I can make her say it.
      The Doctor: Well if I gambled on that, it'd be an abuse of my privilege as a traveller in time.
      Rose: Ten quid?
      The Doctor: Done.

    • Sir Robert: Did you think there was nothing strange about my household staff?
      The Doctor: Well, they were bald, athletic, your wife's away - I just thought you were happy.

    • Rose: What do we do?
      The Doctor:!
      Rose: Is that it??
      The Doctor: You got any silver bullets?
      Rose: Not on me, no!
      The Doctor: Then we run! (to Queen Victoria) Your Majesty, as a doctor, I recommend a vigorous jog. Good for the health!

    • The Host: Look, inside your eyes, you've seen it too!
      Rose: Seen what?
      The Host: The wolf, there's something of the wolf about you!
      Rose: I don't know what you mean.
      The Host: You burnt like the sun, but all I require is the moon!

    • The Doctor: You want weapons, we're in a library. Books! Best weapons in the world. (dons a pair of glasses) This room is the greatest arsenal we can have.

    • Sir Robert: I committed treason for you. But now my wife will remember me with honour!

    • Queen Victoria: I saw last night that Great Britain has enemies beyond imagination, and we must defend our borders on all sides. I propose an institute, to investigate these strange happenings and to fight them. I will call it Torchwood. The Torchwood Institute. And if this Doctor should return, then he should beware, because Torchwood will be waiting!

    • The Doctor: You'd call it a werewolf, but technically it's more of a lupine wavelength haemovaroform.

  • NOTES (17)

    • Music: Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick by Ian Dury and the Blockheads.

    • Music: Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick by Ian Dury and the Blockheads.

    • The episode was filmed at Tredegar House. However the observatory and some corridors were just sets.

    • David Tennant went to drama school with the actor who plays The Host.

    • International Airdates:
      Turkey: July 18, 2010 on CNBC-e

    • Originally Russell T. Davies intended to end this episode with the werewolf killing Queen Victoria. This event would spawn the creation of the parallel universe in which the Doctor finds himself in the pivotal Rise Of The Cybermen / The Age Of Steel episodes later in the series. However, he became worried that this ongoing storyline would be too complex for casual viewers to follow, and decided not to pursue it.

    • The MacLeish's suit of armour was a re-used prop from the TARDIS wardrobe.

    • Some of the monks came from a Tredegar kick-boxing club. The BBC also received an approach from a local cheerleading squad asking if there would be parts for them.

    • The Doctor's claim that he has a doctorate from Edinburgh harkens back to the original series episode The Moonbase, where the Doctor (rather vaguely) said he earned a medical degree from Dr. Joseph Lister in Edinburgh in 1888.

    • The final viewing figure for the BBC One airing of this episode was 9.24 million.

    • When the Doctor realises that he is in Scotland, he switches to using a Scottish accent. In real life, this is David Tennant's normal accent; he switches to an English accent when playing the Doctor.

    • It is revealed by David Tennant in the BBC commentary for this episode that when the TARDIS is shown flying through a blue tunnel (such as in the opening credits), it is travelling back in time, whereas red denotes forward travel.

    • Pauline Collins (Queen Victoria) wore trainers beneath her crinoline skirts to make it easier for her to run up and down stairs and corridors

    • Writer Russell T Davies wanted the Doctor to use an 'everyman Scottish' name when he introduces himself to the Queen's guards (as he always uses Dr. John Smith in England). Thinking in character, he decided on 'James McCrimmon'- an old companion of the Second Doctor, played by Frazer Hines.

    • Pauline Collins (Queen Victoria) guest starred in the 1967 adventure The Faceless Ones starring the Second Doctor, Patrick Troughton.

    • The last time a werewolf featured in Doctor Who was in the 1988/1989 adventure The Greatest Show In The Galaxy.

      Before that episode, not a single werewolf appeared in Doctor Who. however, the Primords in Inferno bear a strong resemblance to werewolves, although they are more ape-like than wolf.

    • Another writer was approached to write the script, but when the person's ideas didn't match what the production team wanted they were dropped, and Russell T. Davies was chosen to write the script instead. According to David Tennant, Davies then completed the script in under a week.


    • Rose: She was just sitting there!
      The Doctor: Like a stamp. The first adhesive postage stamp was the British Penny Black, released on May 6th 1840. The Penny Black was engraved with the profile of Queen Victoria's head, who remained on all British stamps until her death in 1901.

    • The Doctor: Skylab falls to Earth... with a little help from me... nearly took off my thumb.

      Skylab was the first space station launched by the United States and stayed in orbit for 2249 days before crashing to Earth on the 11th July 1979, near Esperance, Western Australia.

    • Captain Reynolds: Makeson and Ramsey, you will escort the Property.

      This is somewhat of a subtle historical allusion, as the names of the soldiers who fetch the Koh-i-Noor from the carriage are actually the surnames of the men who transported the diamond from the Indian subcontinent in 1851.

    • Queen Victoria: Given to me as the spoils of war. Perhaps its legend is now coming true. It is said that whoever owns it must surely die.

      Whilst it is true that the Koh-I-Noor, which means Mountain of Light, was seized as a spoil of war and presented to Queen Victoria as Empress of India, the legend around it states that it is deadly only to men, to women it is supposed to bring good luck and prosperity.

    • The Doctor: It was her or the Elephant Man.

      Joseph Carey Merrick was known as "The Elephant Man" and gained the sympathy of Victorian era Britain because of the extreme deformity of his body due to Proteus syndrome. He eventually became a favourite of Queen Victoria, however he did not start his sideshow career until 1884, thus the Doctor is five years too early with his joke.

    • The title of this episode is an allusion to a merciless "Nature, red in tooth and claw" from Lord Tennyson's 1850 poem 'In Memoriam A.H.H.'It is a requiem for the poet's Cambridge friend Arthur Henry Hallam, who died suddenly of a cerebral hemorrhage in Vienna in 1833. The poem was a favourite of Queen Victoria's, who found it a comfort after Prince Albert's death in 1861.

    • The Doctor: (to Rose) Isn't that right, you… timorous beastie?
      The Doctor indirectly quotes from 'To A Mouse', a poem by Scottish poet Robert Burns (1759-1796), who describes a field-mouse as a 'wee, sleekit, cowering, timorous beastie'

    • At the start of the episode, the Doctor identifies himself as "The Doctor of Balamory". Balamory is a reference to a British children's television show about a fictional Scottish island and the inhabitants that live there.