The Doctor and Rose accidentally land in Scotland in 1879,
where they encounter Queen Victoria, whose train to Balmoral
has made an unscheduled stop. Seeking shelter in the nearby
Torchwood estate, they are met by a band of menacing monks.
With dark forces at work and a full moon due, the Queen is
in grave danger...
and Claw is not without its flaws. For instance, despite
all his cunning schemes to defend against werewolves, why
did Sir Robert's late father never invest in any silver bullets?
If silver doesn't affect this particular type of werewolf
(we have encountered others in The Greatest Show in the
and the comic strip The Dogs of Doom), it's never explicitly
stated on screen. Why does Queen Victoria (Pauline Collins)
travel without any ladies-in-waiting? And writer Russell T
Davies' rather contrived resolution exhibits some of the lightweight
quality of New
other respects, though, this episode has a lot going for it.
There are at least two genuine shock moments, and some great
comedy, particularly near the beginning of the episode. The
Doctor (David Tennant) adopts the actor's native Scottish
accent and introduces himself as Dr James McCrimmon from the
township of Balamory! Rose repeatedly attempts to make the
Queen utter her famous phrase, "We are not amused." In a more
subtle pastiche, the red-clad warrior monks evoke the current
style of the BBC's on-screen idents.
Pauline Collins (who previously appeared as Samantha Briggs
Faceless Ones and turned down an offer to stay
on as a regular companion) makes an appropriately wilful and
defiant Victoria (though for my money, Judi Dench remains
the definitive Queen Vic).
wonder, however, what the present royal family, which includes
a known Doctor Who viewer in Queen Elizabeth, thinks
of the Doctor's final musings about their bloodline - not
to mention Rose's "Camilla" comment in The Girl in the
Fireplace (more on that episode below).
The Doctor is reunited with his former travelling companion
Sarah Jane Smith and robot dog K-9 Mark III. As comrades old
and new unite against the evil headmaster of a school overrun
by bat-like alien Krillitanes, Rose and Sarah clash over their
rivalling affections for the Time Lord...
Reunion is a very significant episode of Doctor Who.
This is the first time that specific characters from the old
series have reappeared, portrayed by their original actors,
in the new show. Until now, the new series had only given
us regenerated Doctors and reinvented versions of old monsters.
School Reunion is therefore Who's equivalent
of the Sarek episode of Star
Trek: The Next Generation (DeForest Kelley's
appearance in Encounter at Farpoint doesn't really
count, as he was never actually named as Dr McCoy in the show
at the time).
It's lovely to see Sarah (Elisabeth Sladen) and K-9 (John
Leeson) again - and great to see K-9's gun being able to point
in the right direction for a change! However, I do think that
Sarah comes across as more needy than she ought to be. This
undermines what was previously a very independent character,
whom I would have thought would have got along just fine without
the Doctor. Also, it is not true that she hasn't seen the
Time Lord since The Hand of Fear, as stated here. Even
if you discount all her many appearances in spin-off books,
such as Bullet
Time, and comic strips, such as Train Flight,
what about The Five Doctors? (Click here
for our own Johnny Fanboy's theories on that.)
is indisputable is that Toby Whithouse's script boasts some
cracking lines. There's the Doctor's gleeful pride in Sarah
- "Good for you, Sarah Jane Smith!"; Mickey's (Noel Clarke)
realisation that "I'm the tin dog!"; Mr Finch's (Anthony Head)
"Get the shooty dog thing!"; and Rose (Billie Piper) and Sarah's
initially hostile barbs as the Doctor's "missus" and "ex",
which eventually give way to shared jokes at the Time Lord's
evokes a flavour of the Seventh and Eighth Doctor novels by
beginning this story with the Doctor and Rose already in place
in undercover roles at the school. He also puts a deadly new
spin on Jamie's School Dinners.
marvellous union of old and new.
The time travellers arrive on a spaceship in the future,
where they are surprised to discover doorways connecting to
various points in history. Through these, the Doctor meets
the witty and worldly Madame de Pompadour, mistress to King
Louis XV. As she and the Doctor grow closer, so does a sinister
Girl in the Fireplace further develops the previous episode's
themes of love and loss, with a particular emphasis on the
Doctor's loneliness. In fact, his time-jumping "romance" with
Madame de Pompadour (played by Tennant's real-life girlfriend
Sophia Myles) makes this episode very much Doctor Who's
answer to Casanova. The poignant ending is particularly
reminiscent of the recent dramatisation starring Tennant.
the Doctor actually fall in love with Madame de Pompadour?
I'm not sure. More likely he just cares for her as he would
for any innocent human being, and he is captivated by her
spirit and wit. After all, he only knows her for a few hours
at most, even though from the woman's point of view their
relationship lasts for years. Whatever your view, the Doctor's
gleeful pride at having "just snogged Madame de Pompadour"
cannot fail to make you laugh out loud. Tennant does a lot
of gleeful pride, doesn't he?
Moffat, who previously penned The
Empty Child/The Doctor Dances, continues his
obsessions with dancing and bananas. Is he going to mention
these things in every script he writes?
presence of non-white aristocrats jars a little. I'm all for
racial equality, but not at the expense of historical accuracy.
Then again, clockwork killer androids never invaded 18th-century
France either, so maybe my argument doesn't hold up in such
a fantasy-based series!
a pity that clockwork robots have so recently featured in
the Eighth Doctor audio Time
Works, but otherwise there's little to fault
this genuinely moving and original story.
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