I suffered from something strange recently, I can only describe it as the SciFi equivalent of the bends. Basically, I was coming straight off some heavy shit, like Battlestar Galactica (was probably some episode where the light hearted human interest story [the one that counter balanced the main suicidally depressing and violent main plot] was about someone choosing which brand of razors to buy so they could slit their wrists) and went straight into the new Doctor Who season's opening camp romp. Like a diver coming up from the depths, I should have weaned myself slowly from BSG and onto Doctor Who, instead of the toxic shock to the system that almost did for me.
I guess that usually you'd go to B7 from BSG then, perhaps, work through some Babylon 5, onto DS9, through to some ST:TNG, by which point you're probably at the right place to move onto Doctor Who. If you go to Buck Rogers in the 25th Century then you've gone too far. And, paradoxically, at the opposite end of the scale from BSG is BSG. The original version, that is (and Buck Rogers comes before the disco in space purely because of the harrowing gang rape scene with Wilfred Hyde-White in episode 17). Put simply, Doctor Who needs to be darker, and scary enough to make an SAS chap soil himself. Speaking of which...
And now on BBC1...
Tooth and Claw
Yes. As unlikely as, say, John Prescott having an affair, RTD turns in a great story that has almost everything right with it. The pacing of the story, the structure and motives of the characters. The direction and music. The cg effects. Well, I said almost. For some unaccountable reason I felt that I was watching an episode of The League of Gentlemen, just from the first establishing shot of the carriage and horses moving across the moor. Not overly sure why.
There is almost as many things crammed into this episode as there were the season opener, but all of it feels right, even tho the hackneyed cliche counter's on overdrive for this one. Kung Fu monks, yes it's been done but the opening scenes work really well and manages to grab the audience by their collective scrotums and get them to sit up and take notice.
I'm surprised that we're not taking the TARDIS on a trip to see the Village People in concert, that would seem much more in line with the continuing gayness of the show. But prop manipulation fans should look out for the hammering meted out to the console. Tennant really has this whole Doctor thing cracked. Although his shift in accent was a little disturbing and he actually comes across sounding more like Armando Iannucci than anything else.
Pauline Collins. What can you say? Apart from the fact I know (sort of) one of her kids. She was excellent. Although the whole "let's get the Queen to say her catch-phrase" routine was starting to get on my tits a little towards the end. Christ alone knows what the time traveling couple will do when they run into Lucas and Walliams and get them to work through every single Little Britain catch-phrase.
I know that some have commented on the wolf, and how it just doesn't really feel part of the piece because of its lack of real interaction but I actually think that they're getting better at doing this sort of thing. I still feel that there's a slight quality difference, between the filmed parts and the cg parts, that makes any computer graphics appear slapped on (the hover cars in New Earth looked particularly phoney). I guess it's still a learning process for the production team, to churn out this sort of effect on a weekly basis on BBC money, but things like this are really starting to work. The chase sequence, were the wolf was running after our heros and the aging monarch, was a little silly. Queen Vicky had all the speed and maneuverability as K-9 on deep shag pile.
The Doctor, after indulging in some Pertwee neck massage, comes into his own in the library, ditching the MacGyuver action in favour of more normal Doctorly activity (and yes, as others have said, very, very Buffy). Eventually deducing that it's mistletoe that the wolf thinks it's allergic to (that must have been a real downer at the monastery's Christmas party). And I thought it didn't like the kitchens because it could still smell the remnants of Vole Pot Noodle (or whatever Victorian Briton's ate). The monks have already acted to protect themselves, by garlanding themselves in mistletoe. Garland... Judy Garland? Wizard of Oz? Friend of Dorothy? Gay agenda?! Or am I reading too much into this?
The ending (of the main story) is as measured and logical as last weeks was rushed and stupid. Although I'm a little disappointed that it was the Koh-i-Noor in the box and not Prince Albert's petrified nob. However, all that Torchwood nonsense at the very end was a little too brash and in your face. She might as well have ended on a plug for the programme itself, "Coming to BBC3 this Autumn". It really was that blunt.
The Bumper Book of Made-up Doctor Who Facts has this to say about Tooth and Claw: The green ball on a stick, that was attached to the special effects man 'playing' the wolf so that the cast had a reference point for where the wolf's eyes would be, is reportedly headlining the next Panopticon convention after the organizers bared or fell out with everyone else from the world of Doctor Who.