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"Tooth and Claw"

When I sit down to watch DW, I usually don't choose something from Series 2 except "School Reunion", "The Girl in the Fireplace", or possibly "The Christmas Invasion", so I'm not really that familiar with most of the episodes from the season. (And I have to admit, I never really grokked "The Impossible Planet"/"The Satan Pit".) Something recently brought up "Tooth and Claw", and so we decided to watch it. The last time I saw this episode was probably 4 years ago.


I remember that when I saw this episode the first time, I didn't like it much. I remember initially being put off by the common conflation of European monks (cloistered religious devotees in hooded cloaks) with the D&D version of Eastern monks (religious devotees with martial arts skills), and I really couldn't take the episode seriously after that opening. I also remember hating the thread of trying to make Victoria say "We are not amused" that ran through the episode, but liking that she took them to task at the end. And then, I remember that the second time I watched the episode, I liked it a bit more. I've always said that DW episodes are usually better on rewatch, and that there are a few that aren't - I know that T&C wasn't one of them.

This time, it was actually painful to watch.

It's kind of sad, because stripped of its ornaments, it's actually a decent story. I always love the historicals that take unrelated events and make sense of them: in this case, the story gave a reason for Prince Albert's recutting of the Koh-i-noor, explained the origin of the werewolf myth, and guessed at the origin of haemophilia in the royal bloodlines. The adventure itself was reasonably fun, nothing particularly ground-breaking but full of running and figuring out solutions from disparate clues. The guest characters were all interesting - the Queen, Sir Robert, Lady Isobel, and even the guard captain all had their own stories to follow. It should have been good.

The problem was the Doctor and Rose and their complete lack of respect for the time period, the Queen (or anyone else), and the situation. The scenes of Rose trying to get Victoria to say her signature phrase were embarrassing to watch, and their destruction of plot flow and immersion are rivaled only by Clara's self-important speeches. I don't feel that the Doctor must be completely serious all the time, and he has certainly shown a lack of respect for people in ways that hasn't bothered me, but in this episode, it was like the two of them weren't even aware there were other people in the room. It was obvious that the intent was to be endearing to the audience, but I just don't see how this could be appealing to anyone, except to those who think that romance consists entirely of two people giggling and acting like teenagers.

I had been under the impression that Victoria's final speech had been her taking the Doctor to task for his irresponsibility, but in reality, she was only concerned about his apparent association with the occult. The ending in general seemed rather contrived, Victoria being angry with the Doctor in order to have a reason for Torchwood to exist. Then the Doctor and Rose demonstrated in no uncertain terms that they learned nothing from the adventure. That's not unexpected with Rose, as she has always been certain of her own intelligence and righteousness and never sees anything wrong in her behavior, but the Doctor goes on as he has been. Though I know that the series was always intended to be a romance demonstrating how devoted the Doctor was to Rose, I've always thought that it instead showed how far the Doctor can go astray from his purpose when he allows himself to be distracted by his companion, and this episode is probably the prime example.

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( 16 comments — Leave a comment )
dm12
Jul. 2nd, 2018 12:53 pm (UTC)
Exactly, this episode is a prime example of why Rose was not good for the Doctor. She encouraged idiocy from him and distracted him from his purpose. You are right, the Doctor can be childish at times, but usually it serves a purpose, to let his enemies underestimate him. Here, it just served the purpose of entertaining Rose. If that's all she knew about Queen Victoria, that is sad.

The companion is supposed to be a support to the Doctor, offering insights that help him. I agree, it's not surprising for Rose to have learned nothing, but the Doctor? So, while Rose may have brought the Doctor out of his despair over the Time Wars, she didn't do much else besides become a distraction. On the other side, the Doctor did not help Rose grow, either. That is supposed to be a very important aspect as well.

This mutual benefit was starkly illustrated when Donna came on the scene and became the Doctor's companion. Donna helped the Doctor to become his best, and he helped her to become her best. When all of that was ripped away at the end, we could see all that Donna had become, all she'd lost when she lost her memories. As Wilf said, she was better with the Doctor. In the next few episodes, we see how the Doctor was better with Donna when he crashed and burned.

shivver13
Jul. 6th, 2018 05:59 pm (UTC)
Absolutely. I can't agree with this more.

Though I wish that Victoria had chastised the Doctor for this, rather than for "pursuing evil" or whatever it was that she said. She certainly had the vision, as an outsider to the relationship, to see what the problem was, and she could have still formed Torchwood as a defense against alien dangers - and told them to hunt the Doctor because he was obliviously dangerous on his present course. This would have made his and Rose's disregard for what she said even more shocking.
tkel_paris
Jul. 6th, 2018 06:56 pm (UTC)
Oh, my! That's a plot bunny I've never seen attempted. What if Queen Victoria HAD chastised him over this? How far would she go to make him see the dangerous man he was becoming?
dm12
Jul. 6th, 2018 07:36 pm (UTC)
Definitely. As an outsider (and a parent, actually), Victoria should have seen what was going on and definitely chastised the Doctor for his total obliviousness as to the course he was on. Made it more meaningful... I doubt other companions would have been as blase about meeting royalty as Rose seemed.
serenityslady
Jul. 2nd, 2018 02:46 pm (UTC)
Ditto to everything dm12 said!

I have always felt that Rose brought out the worst in the Doctor (especially Ten) with her lack of respect for anything and anyone that she couldn't control or use, and that she encouraged his reckless and thoughtless behavior. She may have been good for Nine, bringing him back from his self-destructive mindset after the War, but with Ten, she was selfish and callous, her early treatment of Sarah Jane a perfect example.
bas_math_girl
Jul. 2nd, 2018 03:17 pm (UTC)
The whole Doctor/Rose thing throughout the episode was cringeworthy and completely ruined the episode, which had quite a fine cast, as you said above. Even Rose's choice of clothing was incredibly disrespectful to Queen Victoria (and made me want to smack the Doctor for not suggesting she change) let alone those stupid antics with the quote game. I know RTD told us their behaviour was the start of a tragic twist downwards, but I honestly was glad to see Rose go after S2. Well, she sort of went, and mainly didn't. *deep sigh*
But what do I know? I'm not in the target demographic nor favourable towards the 'romantic' pairing of a 19 year old with a 35 year old-looking man. Not at all.
shivver13
Jul. 6th, 2018 05:56 pm (UTC)
Did RTD really intend for their behaviour here to be the start of a devolution arc? I had thought that he'd always intended it to be a Twilight-style romance. I mean, I've always considered Series 2 to have demonstrated what happens when the Doctor abandons his morality and responsibility, but I never thought that that was what RTD intended.
bas_math_girl
Jul. 6th, 2018 06:17 pm (UTC)
Did RTD really intend for their behaviour here to be the start of a devolution arc?
Unfortunately, yes. He made it sound as though he was aiming for a Shakespearean style tragedy. *gags*
dm12
Jul. 6th, 2018 07:40 pm (UTC)
Shakespearean? I don't think so... what an insult to Shakespeare!

As for the desired demographic, I have said it before that all the males in my household, when they saw Rose "leave," breathed a huge sigh of relief. One commented (because he knew that I'd seen the rest of those seasons), "She's not coming back, is she?" Pour soul....
dm12
Jul. 2nd, 2018 07:45 pm (UTC)
BMG: [But what do I know? I'm not in the target demographic nor favourable towards the 'romantic' pairing of a 19 year old with a 35 year old-looking man. Not at all.] Me either!

As for SerenityLady's comment about her being good for Nine: She was at first, bringing him up out of the depths of his grief. But then, it started to become all about her, and what he could do for her. She ignored his warnings about things and nearly brought the universe down on everything by not listening. And, in the end, she cost him a life. He may live a very long time, but he's not immortal (speaking of that, what she did to Jack....)! Oh, and to top it all off, she may have destroyed entire alternate universes with that "suddenly working" dimension cannon, just to return to what she called "her" Doctor, again, against his explicit instructions not to do so. Led to Donna's issue at the end, and the loss of another of the Doctor's lives (one or two, actually)! For someone who loved the Doctor, she had an odd way of expressing it...
flowsoffire
Jul. 2nd, 2018 08:03 pm (UTC)
Yes, that's mostly the flaws that annoyed me about this episode too. Definitely not their best moment!
dtstrainers
Jul. 3rd, 2018 03:55 am (UTC)
I love you people. Each and every word above is a Truth.
tkel_paris
Jul. 4th, 2018 06:04 am (UTC)
Wow. Just... wow. o.O

I've barely seen any of it, and what little I did made me cringe. In two different series of mine, I've been faced with revising the episode because Rose isn't part of the story. One was my AU "Flipped". The other... well, I'm nowhere near that episode in the series. But I can't imagine my Jenny Noble will be anything like Rose. If anything, the line in question becomes something unintentionally inspired. (And that's all I'm going to say about that.)

When I hit that episode within the "Noble Girl" series, I'll watch it. But not before. No urge to. I just hope I can find enough good things in the episodes I know I'll need to watch. *sighs*
shivver13
Jul. 6th, 2018 06:07 pm (UTC)
Well, like I said, the base story is actually interesting. Sir Robert's journey, from committing treason for the monks to save his wife to repenting and sacrificing himself, and Lady Isobel's strength are worth it. And there's the guard captain as well. I'd say concentrate on that - working Donna into their stories - is the way to go. You'll have to ignore Rose while watching the episode, but if I could ignore Clara for two whole seasons, I'm sure you can ignore Rose for one episode. ;)

Or, work off the transcripts. I rely on the transcripts when working with an episode I don't like.
tkel_paris
Jul. 6th, 2018 06:39 pm (UTC)
Ah. Good to know. Kinda tricky ignoring Rose, although I'm happy to give that a go. :) (What little I've seen of Clara didn't impress either, FTR.)

I would use the transcripts only... except for Nine's episodes in "The Noble Girl" I need to hear how he sounded since some dialogue will change due to the different companions he has. Hearing him gives me ideas for what else might he say. Also... some of the episodes won't happen in the same order, which alters who's there. (Making my job even more interesting.) I know you said you don't read rewrites, although you're always welcome to read mine if the urge ever comes.
dm12
Jul. 6th, 2018 07:53 pm (UTC)
Donna would have attempted to fit in (hmmm... the period clothing for that time might be interesting for her to wear, actually). The Doctor wouldn't get away calling her a wee naked child! (I think that's what he called Rose... and a tim'rous beastie!) Donna's no child.... and he's well aware of that, I'm sure.
( 16 comments — Leave a comment )

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