19 Jun 2006Love & Monsters, by John Bowen
19 Jun 2006Love & Monsters, by Geoff Wessel
19 Jun 2006Love & Monsters, by Mark McBride
19 Jun 2006Love & Monsters, by Tom Duckett
19 Jun 2006Love & Monsters, by James Maton
19 Jun 2006Love & Monsters, by Jamie McLoughlin
19 Jun 2006Love & Monsters, by Tom Melly
19 Jun 2006Love & Monsters, by Gareth Thomas
19 Jun 2006Love & Monsters, by Andy Devine
19 Jun 2006Love & Monsters, by Mike Eveleigh
19 Jun 2006Love & Monsters, by Mark Hain
19 Jun 2006Love & Monsters, by Richard Walter
19 Jun 2006Love & Monsters, by Wil Valentino
19 Jun 2006Love & Monsters, by Mick Snowden
19 Jun 2006Love & Monsters, by Alex Child
19 Jun 2006Love & Monsters, by Angus Gulliver
19 Jun 2006Love & Monsters, by Calum Corral
19 Jun 2006Love & Monsters, by Andrew L Morrison
19 Jun 2006Love & Monsters, by Stephen Baldwin
19 Jun 2006Love & Monsters, by Robin Calvert
19 Jun 2006Love & Monsters, by Bruce Sharp
19 Jun 2006Love & Monsters, by Ian Bonham
19 Jun 2006Love & Monsters, by David Ball
19 Jun 2006Love & Monsters, by Robert F.W. Smith
19 Jun 2006Love & Monsters, by Alan McDonald
19 Jun 2006Love & Monsters, by Craig Gilbert
19 Jun 2006Love & Monsters, by Jason Wilson
19 Jun 2006Love & Monsters, by Patrick Leach
19 Jun 2006Love & Monsters, by David Carlile
19 Jun 2006Love & Monsters, by Steve Manfred
19 Jun 2006Love & Monsters, by Billy Higgins
19 Jun 2006Love & Monsters, by Tim Gambrell
19 Jun 2006Love & Monsters, by Jennifer Kirkland
19 Jun 2006Love & Monsters, by James Tricker
19 Jun 2006Love & Monsters, by Neil Clarke
19 Jun 2006Love & Monsters, by Joe Ford
19 Jun 2006Love & Monsters, by Paul Hayes
19 Jun 2006Love & Monsters, by Simon Fox
19 Jun 2006Love & Monsters, by Frank Collins
19 Jun 2006Love & Monsters, by A.D. Morrison
19 Jun 2006Love & Monsters, by Ian Larkin
19 Jun 2006Love & Monsters, by Eddy Wolverson
19 Jun 2006Love & Monsters, by Bruce Paterson
19 Jun 2006Love & Monsters, by James Main
19 Jun 2006Love & Monsters, by Alan W.E. Dann
19 Jun 2006Love & Monsters, by Wil Valentino
19 Jun 2006Love & Monsters, by Paul Clarke

This episode is likely to divide afficionados of Doctor Who into two very different camps. The first group may have been embarassed by this episode because of its overt humour, or infuriated by the lack of Tennant and Piper for much of the episode, (except in flashback), or bemused by the sudden change of mood between the previous two-parter and this episode. After one viewing, I was probably a member of this first group. A long-term viewer of the show (my earliest certain recollection is of Autons breaking shop windows off-camera, and I remember being almost ashamed to watch "Timelash" in my student halls TV lounge), when I spoke to my school pupils on Sunday (I work in a boarding school) I heard nothing but praise from the 16-year-olds so I watched it again with my 10-year old daughter who had gone out for a bike-ride in the middle of the first screening.

I studied the episode rather more closely and with a more open mind and found myself migrating to the second camp, a fan of this episode. My daughter, too, enjoyed it much more. Indeed I felt moved to submit this, my first ever review to Outpost Gallifrey. I should like to defend this episode on a number of grounds.

Firstly: there is room, and always has been room, for comedy in Doctor Who. Donald Cotton proved that with the Myth Makers and the Gunfighters in the '60s. Pertwee knew how to raise a laugh as demonstrated in his dressing up in "The Green Death". Tom Baker became increasingly comedic and there is broad humour in the scripting of classics such as "City of Death" (Exquisite!)

You have to be a very long-term viewer to recall a totally Doctor-free episode. As a means of resting the hard-worked regular cast, it was policy to switch attention from Doctor to Ian or Barbara or Susan. Indeed, the Hartnell era saw the only episode featuring no regulars. I didn't time Tennant's and Piper's absence from the screen but it certainly felt longer than 25 minutes. Might we still have had the ninth Doctor, had this sort of story been offered to Ecclestone (who has cited the exhausting schedule as a reason for quitting after one year).

As for the sudden lightening of the mood from the Satan Pit, I can cite many such changes of mood in drama. In West Side Story, the comedy song "Gee Officer Krupke" takes place after two characters have died at the ends of switchblades. In Jesus Christ Superstar, King Herod sings his ridiculously camp ragtime number after Christ's arrest. The point I'm making is that by changing the mood in what seems to be an inappropriate manner, the composers, and in the case of our programme, RTD, are asking us to enjoy a laugh, but then they have set us up to feel guilty at our complicity in this humour.

As for the programme itself:- Marc Warren was magnificent. We have all known nerdy fans who falsely claim to have a life beyond fandom. I will probably be lynched by fandom for this next comment, but have we found a new companion? This was an amazing parody but very true to life. Similarly the other members of "Linda" are very well delivered. Camille Coduri, as the lonely, desperate housewife, sex-starved Jackie was brilliant.

Now for Peter Kay, outrageous and threatening, camp yet sinister, in human form was again a great comedy act. As the Abzorbaloff, (and I loved the costume and the absorbing effect) I couldn't help but wonder who his role-model was. I suspect the near-nude scene was heavily inspired by Little Britain's favourite health-spa resident. I nearly expected to hear "Call me Bubbles!"

Do I have any criticisms? Well, I do feel sorry for Elton. How on earth is he to forge any meaningful relationships now that he's permanently hitched to a talking flagstone?

Filters: Television Series 2/28 Tenth Doctor

Well, what DO you say about an episode that really doesn't much feature the Doctor or Rose, and whose villain is a monster who came from a Create-A-Monster contest won by a nine-year-old?

First off, you say that it was a bit of an experiment. Not really a filler episode, per se, but not one that's really relevant to the overall storyline (such as it is), despite the Torchwood references and the deeeeep foreshadowing to something that we pretty much all know is going to happen anyway because for the second year in a row BBC couldn't keep their big yaps shut. Yeah, the Doctor and Rose kinda take a backseat in this one, but then again, how many New Adventures did this happen in? Speaking of the NAs, did anyone else notice that one of the centerpiece motiffs in this story, Elton seeing the Doctor as a young lad, was kinda sorta lifted from Damaged Goods? Yeah, thought so. Anyway. The motley crew known as LINDA. Less fan geeks than UFO abduction survivors, I reckon. The idea of a support group formed around people who've encountered the Doctor has been seen in numerous fanfics, although usually it's with former companions as its members (at least the ones I've seen). Hmm, makes ye wonder for a tick whether or not a cameo from Liz Sladen wouldn't have been too out of place, but I digress. Although that would've been something. "I saw him when I was child." "There's always this police box." Then we get Sarah Jane popping in with "Oh yeah, big as houses the thing is. Did I mention I used to shag like jackrabbits, I mean, er, TRAVEL, yeah, travel with him?" Ah well, another comedy gold moment missed. That's what you have me for. You know come to think of it, didn't it strike anyone else as a bit odd that everyone in this support group save one has ever encountered the Tennant Doctor? I mean, Bridget was the only one who even mentioned the vague possibility of there being other Doctors. Ummmm and what about that website that Mickey used to maintain? Oh, wait, and wasn't Eccleston only on the front page of a major newspaper and on live worldwide TV once? Gosh, can't countenance that anyone's ever seen HIM, now, can we. Bit of an annoyance, that, really. Nice one, RTD. Jackie was White Trash, more or less, but hey, what do you expect. Oh, yes, and the Abzorbaloff. Yes, it was created by a nine-year-old. Very cute, especially since the winners of a previous competition on Blue Peter way back when never actually got to see their creations actually on the show, but then, well, sorry if anyone out there happens to be one of those past winners, but they looked gawdawful. Even by William Hartnell era standards. Meanwhile, in today's day and age, we actually get to see said monster on the show, and he's basically a mixture of Fat Bastard and that really obese bad guy we saw on an episode of Monk once, played by some comedian I've never heard of, which means something to most British viewers I reckon but means less than a thimbleful of jackshit to me. Making it come from the sister planet to the Slitheen was, well, a bit of a copout, really. And...that's it. I really can't think of much more to say. The monster really means that little to me in the grand scheme of things. I mean, when the Doctor couldn't even be bothered to fight him, what does that tell you? And the music. Good GAWD was it the worst. ELO? Foreign language versions of "Unbreak My Heart?" That one song that caused John Belushi to destroy a guitar in Animal House? You've GOT to be kidding me. Same rule applies to that Scooby-Doo chase at the beginning. Good Lord. But in the end? Elton did have a fascinating story. Being visited by the Doctor as a lad. Being an eyewitness to the Auton attack in "Rose," the spaceship crash from "Aliens of London" and the Sycorax incursion, kinda gave him a bit more of a perspective. A bit tragic, too, with some of the worst repression of memory I've ever seen if he can remember the Doctor but blocked out his appearance being tied to his mother dying. The true love of his life is a cement block (I don't even wanna touch the "love life" comment there), and he's seen a bunch of death and destruction because of the Doctor, directly or (mostly) indirectly. Makes you wonder how long his sanity CAN hold. So, yeah, it has flaws, it's not RTD's best script, but I liked it OK. Basically. Or something.

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"Mister blue sky please tell us why
You had to hide away for so long
Where did we go wrong?" (ELO "Mr Blue Sky")

This episode is not "The Doctor Show". It is however "Doctor Who" a series based around a question. A mystery. In many ways, "Love & Monsters" has been done before. Its old hat. Specifically the first 25 min episode of the entire series "An Unearthly Child" where two school teachers become enamored about the mystery surounding an unusual girl in their class, leading to a mysterious old man in a junkyard. "Doctor Who?"

Its also been done before with "Rose" where a young shop girl meets a stange man in the middle of the night, who blows up her workplace. Both of these stories begin with outsiders confronting the central question that is the basis of the show. Both the school teachers, and Rose are us. The viewer that has been invited into discovering and unraveling the mystery. In the case of "Love & Monsters" The journey is Elton's and his group of friends that come together to work towards this end. Even the 'monster' is us to some degree.. the viewer that knows more about the show than the rest, and ruins the fun for those that are finding simple enjoyment in the fun of the mystery. For Elton, much as all of us, we met the Doctor when we were a child.. in our living room. And like Elton, we have all become enamored with the Doctor and the mystery and questions that surround him and his world.

The episode itself, is told in a broken narrative style, fraimed by Elton's video diaries, and flashbacks. Elton himself is a squeaky, endearing character.. but one whose identifiable traits are not his hights, but rather his faults. His frailty as a human. He dances in his apt when no one is looking, he is confused by love when it is staring him right in the face, he hides from secret pain.. and in the end, he just wants to make sense of it all. This mystery that has been in his life. "Doctor Who?"

Elton's life has intersected events in Doctor Who in many ways.. the Auton invasion from "Rose", the Slitheen ship crashing, the Sycorax threat from Christmas day, and most importantly when he was a small child on one fateful day. We then branch out into the other core characters that make up this drama. Ursula.. the mousey yet forthright geeky girl. Mr Skinner, Bridget and Bliss. Bless Bliss, they used to say. They form a collective group of friends, that eventualy brings much needed joy into their lives. These disparate characters have all come together for the mystery, and end up having fun and enriching each other. Then enters Victor Kennedy.. and from there it is all downhill for them. Hes the typical archetype of the bully who spoils the fun. Obsessive, dominearing, and joyless. A funny but telling line of his is the exclaimation "I dont like to be touched physicaly, OR metaphoricaly."

Jackie Tyler gets a chance to shine in this story as a character. Her interaction with Elton runs the gamut of her character in such a way, that it adds layers and depth on a already much interesting and humorous character. The other remaining regulars Rose and the Doctor, do get some choice moments, but most of these are played for comedy. Which between last story and the end of the season coming up will shine as a welcome bit of our heros just really enjoying themselves in their oddball life of traveling and defeating great evils. And the way the Doctor delivers "ELTON!!! Fetch A SPAAADE!!!" is absoultly hysterical in its urgancy.

In "Love & Monsters" the physical presence of the Doctor isn't around for much of the story. However, the impact of his character is. He is completly central to this story, and in many ways more than stories that he has ample screen time. And as far as the past goes, we have "Mission to the Unknown" a one episode story that doesnt even have the slightest hint or impact of the character of the Doctor, as well as various episodes in stories in the first three seasons where the actor playing the Doctor, has taken some time off and isn't seen much. Locked in a cell and unseen, made invisible by a god-like entity, ect. Or even in the case of "The Massacre" Where the Doctor is only in the beginning and the end of the 4 part story, and the actor who plays him does another seperate role as the villian of the piece. Or "Kinda" where Nyssa sleeps right though an entire story, or "The Invasion" where Zoe is off screen for some of the first half, and Jamie is off screen for much of the end. So historically moving the Doctor (and companions) on and off screen has little impact on the show overall, as it not "The Doctor Show", Or 'The Marc Cory Show" or even "The Rose Show". It is forever "Doctor Who".. a show that asks a question. Sometimes the Doctor is the one facing the question (such as last week's "Satan Pit") or in the case of this old formula, using an outsider to peer into this world and try and make sense of it.

Other sci-fi shows that have used a similar forumla of the outsider looking in (some with even the same broken narrative structure) are X-Files "Jose Chung's From Outer Space", Buffy The Vampire Slayer's "The Zeppo" and "the Storyteller", Babylon 5's "A View From The Gallery", DS9's "In The Cards" and Star Trek: TNG's "Lower Decks".

Production-wise, this episode starts a new trend as far as the New Series, in the fact that due to having a 14th "Christmas Episode" in the shooting schedual, less time has been afforded to the principal actors. The trade off to having an additional 60 mins of New Who each year, is that one of the remaining 13 will have to be 'regular actor'lite. So for those who cry foul at this concept, just consider it an additional 45 mins each year in the Doctor Who Universe, rather than loosing one of the 13 primary series episodes. The fictional universe of WHO, is so much richer because of this new production decision. And will be next year as well.

So, in the end "Love & Monsters" is a cute, harmless episode with squeeky characters. It may not seem that central to the overall fictional universe that is this show, however it is quite simply what is at the heart of all of it. Us, the common person, the viewer, the one who confronts the mystery of "Doctor who?" and of the great mysteries of the universe. Elton and Ursula join the ranks with Ian and Barbara, Chang Lee, Rose, and everyone else that has blundered into the fascinating yet dangerous world of the Doctor and has the bravery to confront the mystery of it all. And like them will be forever changed by it.

The story has a lot of heart, humor and warmth. And characters that are almost impossible not to fall in love with. All of them, the most adorable three-legged puppies you have ever seen. After 45 minutes you have found you have really come to know them, and feel for them.

Is "Love & Monsters" to be considered "The Doctor Show"? Never. It is however, "Doctor Who". The exploration of mystery both external and internal. And above all.. what to make of the answers that are found. And in a smaller way, its about "Love"... and "Monsters". Which as a fandom, as viewers, and as people.. are us. The episode may be a harmless one, but its wealth of meaning and warmth are priceless.

As the Doctor said of the common man, "Two in the morning. Street corner. Taxi ride home. Ive never had a life like that." Its the common man thats most important. Be it school teachers in a junkyard, a shop girl in a basement, or Elton dancing around to ELO. In his underwear.. Awkwardly.

"Mister blue, you did it right
But soon comes mister night creepin' over
Now his hand is on your shoulder
Never mind I'll remember you this
I'll remember you this way" (ELO "Mr Blue Sky")

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This must be the worst "Doctor Who" episode of all time (makes the Horns of Nimon look outstanding). Where was the Doctor? Where was the plot? The Abzorbaloff was a fantastic creation, could be one of my favourite monsters, apart from the dodgy northern accent (well done to the Blue Peter competition winner), but the rest was simply dreadful. Real "car crash television" - I couldn't stop watching this out of disbelief that it could get any worse, but it did.

The episode was reduced to cheap slapstick from the start, with the Doctor and Rose chasing around after a pantomime alien like something out of Scooby Doo. After the first Eccleston story (Rose), I always thought it was a shame that the writers didn't do more with the conspiracy theorist idea (Clive the anorak tracking the doctor's different appearances in history via the internet, etc), and it was nice to see the idea resurrected through the LINDA group. Shame this was wasted on such a rubbish "story", and some moments like the band performing ELO covers just made me cringe. Most of this episode was irrelevant to Doctor Who.

The only light relief for this viewer was Jackie Tyler's attempted seduction of Elton, though probably I should keep my own personal fantasies about older women out of this J. Even the moral background of the Doctor was undermined - given his love of humanity, he would never reduce a human being to a life as a face grafted onto a paving slab. Another ridiculous ploy just to get in a cheap knob gag. Davies should be sacked for this!

Overall, this was embarrassing filler - surely it would have been better to extend one of the other stories into a two-parter (The Girl in the Fireplace?), taking more time to build the story, as in the classic series. The quick editing and high tempo of many of the episodes in this series has left me cold, and I would much rather have some suspense and proper character development than this kind of cartoon comedy. Truly awful.

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After the dark fable delights of 'Impossible Planet / The Satan Pit' which is currently a pole position contender for the best of this hit and miss season, I was hoping we were on a roll with the series but……

In respect of the current offering 'Love and Monsters', I honestly have to comment that I have never had to sit through approximately 50 minutes of pure diarrhoea as I had to with this travesty.

What the bloody hell were the team thinking of? Are Russell T. Davies et al, trying to lose viewers? If not they really are going the best way about it in churning out the maximum in dire. This has to be the contender for the worst example of 'Who' drama in the entirety of the 'New Who' stable, not just Tennants' tenure.

The acting was so wooden I anticipated a shower of splinters in some of the sequences. The lead character Elton was portrayed as weak and uninteresting, did we care what happened to him and the bunch of raggedy- rawny misfits – NO!

I wish Peter Kays creation absorbed the bloody lot in the first few minutes and had the Doctor and Rose trying to get them back, which would've been better but in no way could polish this turd.

I loved the monster and seeing Peter Kay in his element, it is a crying shame that they were both wasted. If I had been the kid that designed the monster and seen it used in such a terrible way I would've cried and held my head in my hands.

The acting 'ability' (and I use this term loosely) of Marc Warren and Shirley Henderson may have shone in a third rate amateur dramatics burlesque but definitely has no place in such a show that has the potential of being such of a high calibre. Were they picked off of the streets?

At times this travesty of a tale bordered on Brian Rix farce and should have been titled 'Whoops there goes my Bloomers!' This mortifying attempt at 'slapstick' or should that be 'sh*tstick' humour was agonisingly apparent when the Doctor and Rose are pursuing an alien with a bucket of 'Martian eradicator' this whole sorry state of affairs came across as simply pitiable.

Words fail me how this ever got passed script stages (may have something to with the producer writing this abortion), the same could be said of New Earth and the dire Cyberman escapade (the writer commented his fond nostalgia/inspiration went back to 'Silver Nemesis' - I anticipated this two parter was going to be potentially bol*ocks due to the inspiration so wasn't let down that much) but they were 'classics' in comparison to this. It made Sylvester McCoy's era look like a Belle Époque in the science fiction dramas' history – and believe me for those not in the know- that's' really saying something !!!!!

The humour (?) was not funny, just pathetic; the characters were as weak as water and tried half heartedly to boost up such an incongruous piece of slapdash; commonly known to us all as a 'script'. With toe curlingly embarrassing situations littered throughout, I shook my head in sheer disbelief at how a show such as this had sunk so low.

The whole sorry saga demonstrated how not to do 'Who' and quite frankly showed a complete lack of respect for a show now termed as an 'institution'.

Experiment with new ways – yes sure, but for Pete's' sakes do it well! In a show like this it has to be of a high calibre, what was demonstrated was completely the antithesis.

I am wondering now if when Tenant and Piper were approached with this script they were relieved to find out they weren't in it long. I would be ashamed to be associated with it in all honesty.

I still feel Tennant thinks he is Casanova in a brown suit, he still , in my opinion, hasn't 'cemented' or stamped his mark on the pivotal role and I feel won't do until the script writers do him justice and as long as T. Davies churns out this crap it'll be a long time coming.

Why is this series so different from Ecclestons'? Where is the dark, foreboding atmosphere that added so much mystery in 2005's season. They had the balance almost perfect last year – what's' going wrong?

This has really made me, my friends, my colleagues at work and their children (plenty of age groups and cross sections!!!!) start to turn their backs on a show that was such an exciting Saturday night pizza & beer 'ritual'.

I am getting to the stage where I don't care if I miss it or not - last year Saturdays at 7 p.m were sacrosanct not just for me but it seemed for just about almost everyone. This show seems to be dieing or lacking in an essential ingredient that just simply isn't there.

I really do feel if ideas aren't 'bucked up' then Love and Monsters could be the first death nail for the show.

Mr. T Davies please stick to producing and writing overrated history revisionist outings, leave it to the experts dear - those who know how to write an exciting yarn and respect Doctor Who a damn sight more than you have displayed this year so far. Can't Mark Gatiss produce from Season 3 onwards and give you a much needed (by the seem of things) break?

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Aah, there you are. Thank you for agreeing to meet me at the beach, and I see you've brought binoculars as well, just like I asked. Marvellous.

Now, take a look out there. See that point, just below the horizon, that pinprick of a dot, got three corners, but you can barely make them out? It's a fin. Belongs to a Great White, must be about three miles out.

And turn 45 degrees to your left. Yes, that's right. Look down the shore, he must be about five miles away by now, the wiry gentleman in the long brown coat? Yes, that's him, the Doctor. Look at him, all snug in his deckchair with a banana dacquiri, feet up, and absorbed in his back issues of the Beano for the afternoon.

I think you'll agree, that's about the nearest he'll get to jumping that shark.

I Love Love & Monsters. I do. I really do. It was like being introduced to one of your best friend's new boyfriend/girlfriend in the pub, finding out they are *really* interested in the same sort of things you are, leading to an animated discussion about it for the rest of the night, talking about it in ways you have never done before and wishing last orders could be put back by several days.

10 Things I Loved about Love & Monsters were:

a) The Doctor and Rose trying to defeat a member of the group who won this year's Eurovision for Finland with different coloured buckets of water.

b) Klepto from 'Making Out' playing on a school piano in an ELO tribute session.

c) BBC4 showing an archive ELO concert an hour or so after Doctor Who finished, but not daring to admit there was a connection (bet there was).

d) Jackie Tyler missing Mickey and flashing her dirty under-trollies in the launderette.

e) Peter Kay chucking in a few Brian Potter ad-libs ('Avanti!')

f) Giving new viewers the chance to reminisce about past episodes (Rose, Aliens of That London, The Christmas Invasion) in a far more satisfactory fashion than showing old clips painted red in a Cyberscope.

g) The Abzorbaloff speaking like an old rip from Bolton who's too late for the first house at Mecca Bingo.

h) Ursula keeping her glasses on after being absorbed.

i) Disproving the age-old theory that relationships between a red-blooded male and a paving slab are impossible/unseemly.

j) It confirms that Doctor Who is just the most super-fun programme ever.

Do you know, I've always thought lists are a very lazy way to review things, but I didn't want to faze any casual surfers out there with an impenetrably huge block of text about how much I Love Love & Monsters.

I hope hard-core fans don't get all prissy and precious about this epsiode. There was so much warmth in there, and a clever little display of how much this series is scratched into the conscience of the British public. So far, only Sarah Jane's 'proper goodbye' tops it for me this series.

Unless of course, the rumours about the Christmas special being called 'The Santa Pit' are true. That'd be untoppable.

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Well, let’s get the basic news out the way – this episode wasn’t good or well written, it was bloody marvellous, with a very funny and touching script by RTD. Anyone nervous about a repeat of last season’s Boom Town needn’t have worried (and, yes, I know that episode has its defenders but, apart from the restaurant scene, and minus the Slitheen’s assassination attempts, I just don’t happen to be one of them).

This time around, RTD has noticed that if you’re going to have an incompetent and comical villain, it’s probably best not to have the Doctor around…

It seems odd to writing about what is now officially my favourite Doctor adventure, and yet to be almost exclusively comparing it to one of the worst, but let’s face it – we were all nervous. We knew the Doctor and Rose weren’t going to be in it much; we knew there was going to an emphasis on comedy; we knew Jackie was going to have a major role – how could we not be nervous? (and let me say that I’ve never thought Camille Coduri was a bad actress, or even that Jackie was a bad character, but, after The Christmas Invasion, I doubted that she could carry an extended role effectively – particularly without Rose or the Doctor to bounce off).

So, there we all were, sitting down at seven o’clock, full of hope and good wishes, but surreptitiously expecting at best disappointment, and at worst abject embarrassment, and the show started. A bit of video diary from Marc Warren, okay so far, and then… well, that was… enjoyable: A blasted landscape, the totemic sight of the TARDIS (was that a nod to 2001?), and then a truly surreal cameo by Rose and the Doctor. Oh, and a monster. And buckets.

After that, I just let it wash all over me, and Christ, was it fun. And not only fun, it was eloquent and touching as well.

The main character, Elton Pope (Marc Warren) was one of a rag-tag bunch – a group of people whose sole connection to each other was some vague association or encounter with the Doctor. As a child, Elton, woken by the sound of the TARDIS, had gone downstairs and found him standing in the living room with a sombre expression on his face. The others, presumably, had similar stories to tell. But of course we knew who these people really were. They were us. The fans.

And if we were mocked (which we were), then it was with affection. More than that, the script both recognised and reminded us that, if “Doctor What” connects us, it isn’t what sustains us - that would be ELO, football, the pub, Spain and love.

So, that was one level. Beyond that, we had a lot of insight into Jackie’s concern for Rose (and given the amount of foreshadowing the fate of Rose is getting this season, it’s about time she started wearing a red jumper). It was, as you saw through Elton’s eyes and diary, a hell of a burden to bear. Consequently, the failure of Jackie and Elton’s friendship was a real blow, and I can only hope that they are reconciled at the end of the episode…

…Because Elton was a real sweetie. His every encounter with the Doctor was associated with misery and loss – yet there he was at the end, picking up on and extending Sarah Jane Smith’s coda from School Reunion, “some things are worth the pain”.

And somewhere in all of this, we had a plot. Of sorts. A grotesque, but essentially inept monster, recruits humans to help him track down the Doctor in order to absorb him and steal the TARDIS. He fails. Indeed, he barely registers as a threat to the Doctor, who facilitates his dispatch almost as an afterthought. Rose and the Doctor are only there so that Rose can give Elton a hard time for upsetting her mum.

All in all, a cracker - pathos, smiles, and some real laugh-out-loud lines and scenes (I particularly liked the ease with which Elton found and made friends with Jackie) – what more could we ask for?

Thinking about it, I suppose the only thing that I might have asked for was not to be left with the indelible image of oral sex with a paving stone etched on my mind.

Not out of prudery - just from a basic respect for my sanity.

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Well, I never thought there would be a Doctor Who story that made Dimensions in Time look good...

This episode is bound to divide opinion, but I can't help feeling it was actually decidedly average. Not abysmal, just mediocre.

Let me say this: I am not opposed to the idea of an episode without the Doctor and Rose taking centre stage (or even featuring heavily). This happened routinely in the '60s when the lead actors needed to take a holiday, and I don't think the series suffered because of it. Nor am I closed to the idea of an episode being narrated by a 'third party' as if to give us a view of the regular characters that we would not usually get. Nor am I even opposed to the idea of an episode lampooning Doctor Who fans. The Greatest Show in the Galaxy did this pretty obviously, although it actually seems subtle in comparison with Love and Monsters. Nor am I against oddball stories - I thought Bad Wolf, Father's Day, and The Girl in the Fireplace were all excellent.

My problem with this episode is that is just doesn't work - and that it doesn't add up to anything. Elton Pope had to be a sympathetic and interesting narrator, but surely he was just too geeky and cringe-worthy to appeal to non-fans and too close-to-the-bone for most fans to (willingly) identify with. (Actually, the scenes in the flat with Jackie reminded me of Confessions of a Window Cleaner, but that's neither here nor there).

The point of the episode was obviously to parody fans of the series, but there is a problem with this too: Doctor Who fans do not actually get to meet the Doctor!! And, if it was a parody, what was is SAYING? I find it difficult to detect any coherent message, except that we are all kind of sweet but basically pretty cretinous. And, if the point was to investigate the relationship between fans and the series, surely it missed one very significant idea - i.e. that many fans adopt Doctorish mannerisms in their everyday lives. Or do we become obsessed with the Doctor to make up for some loss - e.g. a parent? Really? Is that a fair - or even an interesting - generalisation?

And what does it say to the new fans of the series we desperately need to retain? You are like this? You will become like this? The series really belongs to people like this and not to you? Perhaps others are smart enough to see a coherent message in all of this, but I JUST DON'T GET IT.

I guess another reading is that we get to see what happens to the people the Doctor leaves behind (like Sarah Jane). But, other than Elton, the 'fans' do not have any backgrounds. (At first, I thought Ursula reminded me of the girl with the collecting tin in Survival, but of course she wasn't - she was just some random.) And even so, the theme is surely not strong enough to sustain a whole episode - it cannot replace the story!

I don't think this episode was as bad as Boom Town! or The Idiot's Lantern, but it really was a missed opportunity. If only RTD had used the slot as a Part 2 for New Earth or Tooth and Claw and fleshed out some of those ideas. Or why didn't we revisit the guy from Rose who took an interest in the Doctor? Or why didn't we touch on a few earlier Doctor Who adventures - e.g. the 'Zygon gambit'. Love and Monsters had the feel of a RDT clips show.

But the biggest problem is simply that the series is losing the knack of telling a good story. This sort of navel gazing would be fine if it ran alongside a story and complemented the action, but here the story was given over entirely to navel gazing.

Admittedly, the brilliance of the series lies in the unique flexibility of the format, and so perhaps we just have to accept that experimentation will sometimes deal us a duff episode. But we are all being asked to tolerate RTD's indulgences. If any other writer served up an episode like this, it would surely go straight in the bin. RTD has got to understand that you can do the funny stuff and the self-reflexive stuff, but it has to complement a good story. Love and Monsters has done something I didn't think possible: It has got me pining for The Krotons.

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The episode showed some sparks of genius and some fantastic acting but it simply was not Doctor Who.

Amongst the shambling story of everyday folk lies a romantic tale of love and monsters as indicated by the title. Peter Kay is not the only monster on display here as the team of “Who spotters” are drawn together through, loneliness and loss, as well as a need for community and common cause.

Marc Warren carries the story (helped most noticeably Shirley Henderson), easily breaking the camera barrier a trait which has worked well for him in the past in the BBC drama the “Hustle”. The use of a video diary to capture his banter and tell the story initially works well, but as the episode unfolds it becomes obvious that this is his (Elton’s) story and not really Doctor Who.

When you reach the fifteen minute point and the Doctor has barely been seen, you start to get the feeling that the cast, have had a hiatus while the bag is carried by others. In fact throughout the entire episode you sit waiting for the Doctor to appear which distracts from the story itself. I think David Tennant spent more time on screen during the Children in need episode than he did here.

Stalwart Camille Coduri puts in a good turn as Jackie Tyler, injecting both humor and pathos into her well established character, while Russell T Davies does what he does best, giving new characters depth. Kathryn Drysdale (Bliss) has a very short screen time but is every bit a member of “LINDA” and even Bella Emberg makes a brief but purposeful cameo. The much hyped appearance of Peter Kay is gloriously camp and climaxes with his character Victor/ Absorbaloff running down the street chasing Elton. Kay was definitely the villain of the piece, but lacked the screen presence to epitomize bad as Simon Pegg did in season one.

Overall this could have made a good “Torchwood” story, offering a Doctor cameo, but really is not what we tune in for on a Saturday night.

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Well, that took some absorbing. (Sorry)

I can usually form a pretty strong immediate opinion of an episode these days. Subsequent viewings tend to highlight strengths or weaknesses and my opinion can be revised somewhat. It was rather different when I were a lad; for example, at the time I loved 'Time-Flight' as much as 'Kinda'. (No guesses which story I rate highly now!)

We fret about falling viewing figures because we care about this unique programme, and in the week that Billie Piper's leaving is announced (well timed to ratch up interest in the season finale) we have one of the strangest 'Doctor Who' episodes ever broadcast. I admit that my initial reaction to 'Love & Monsters' was something like "Ummm..." , mixed with a bit of "weeelll..."; throw in some "hmmmm..." too. Blimey, how articulate!

I'd felt challenged...and I rather like that. Maybe Episode 10 will become the 'quirky episode' slot? Twice now we've had a (in my view) classic two-parter followed by something different and interesting. (I liked 'Boom Town' .)

Well, it took another viewing, but I like this episode too. I have reservations, but I thought it had a generosity of spirit typical of RTD. (Well generally speaking; still don't like Adam's treatment in 'The Long Game'!) The casting was obviously even more important than usual, and I thought Marc Warren was absolutely terrific as Elton Pope. I've never seen him act before, and I was most impressed. Shirley Henderson was great, and new to me too. Lovely, sweet, relationship. Indeed, all of 'LI'n'DA' (!) were very well scripted and portrayed, making you care for them in a short period of screen time. There was no mean-spirited 'Whizzkid from 'Greatest Show in the Galaxy'-type scenario' here. (Actually, that's my favourite McCoy story!) The fandom references are very obvious, but not too self-indulgent; well, maybe a little bit...

I thought Camille was great here, whether being scarily flirtatious, angry, sad or vulnerable. Elton's "Steps 1 to 4 of infiltration" mirroring Jackie's 'pick up' technique was hilarious, and Ursula's piqued "...and what a chest" line made me laugh out loud.

Peter Kaye played straight perfectly well as 'Victor Kennedy' , and then had a chance to really enjoy himself as the northern-accented Abzorbaloff. It was pretty funny stuff, and I really howled at the "I spit on them...Klum (sic?)" part. Boy, is this episode going to get a mixed reaction!!!

Okay, 'Love And Monsters' felt like it was walking a tightrope a lot of the time. Moments that didn't make me laugh on first viewing include the 'red bucket' / 'blue bucket' bit (way too pantomime, but, well, I did smile on the subsequent viewing, I admit!) and the reference to a 'love life' between Elton and the unconvincingly 'trapped' Ursula. I'm no prude, but it felt like I was being nudged in the ribs and winked at by Monty Python's "Say no more!" character. How adult and daring! (Still, it was only one line, so perhaps I should lighten up a bit? Nah...I thought it was a badly judged moment.)

So...a very curious episode, probably destined to be a cult in future years, which some will love and others will loath. I'll stick to "like", I think. It was very interestingly structured, and had enough moments about love, loss and repressed childhood memories to balance Peter Kaye running around in a 'fat suit' , the odd crass line and some unbelievable set-ups.

So curious, I can't give it a mark. I don't mean 0/10, I just mean I don't think I've entirely got my head around it!

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I love Doctor Who, so it pains me to say this but....Worst episode ever.

This is not to say it was a horrible episode, it had very touching moments and some very good acting by actors I might recognize if I was in the UK. The little bit with Jackie was pretty good too, and shows that even though she slapped the Doctor and was very upset about him taking Rose from her, she has accepted the fact that Rose cares very much for him and Jackie will "defend them to the ends of the Earth".

Still, the "villain" was pretty goofy and even though he would have fit in very well in the pre-Ninth era very well I just don't think he was quite what we expect from our 2005/2006 incarnation.

When I rave about an episode, I just can't stop talking about it but when I see an episode like this, I don't know what to say. The absorbing FX were very good, but poor Ursela's fate even after being freed was a bit disturbing. To live out all eternity as a head coming out of a square made of plaster is not something very many of us would agree too and truthfully it seems a bit cruel (although the quick reference to a "sex life" for the two was rather funny).

I appreciate that Doctor Who in this 21st century world is a bit of a character study but to have an entire episode devoted to a conspiracy theorist's journey just isn't what I'm watching the show for, no matter how likable all the characters are. When "The X-Files" created The Lone Gunmen, they tied those characters very deeply to the creation of Fox Mulder and his journey as a character. If these people really had some tie to The Doctor other than seeing him in passing, it might have worked better. If this guy is a possible replacement for Rose than that would change everything because it would be background story on a companion however that is very, very unlikely. I'm not a fan that needs aliens and 45 minutes of special effects every single week but more time with The Doctor than we had for "The Christmas Invasion" is a requirement to fully enjoy an episode.

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It is strange how mood and perceptions can affect your opinion of an episode of Doctor Who. I was, I think, overly critical in my review of The Satin Pit as having watched it again, enjoyed it more on second viewing. I suspect I had built up an unfair expectation following the superb episode The Impossible Planet that led to some initial disappointment.

Alternatively I had a mixed bag of feelings about how "Love and Monsters" would hold up being very much marketed as experimental Doctor Who. And you know what? I rather liked it in the end!

Lets get the criticisms out of the way. I did not enjoy the Doctor/Rose/monster/buckets sequence - carried out in true Benny Hill tradition. I know it was a sort of "dream/memory" sequence but I think it would have worked far better as a serious confrontation with a bit of true menace. I could live with the ELO references and the L.I.N.D.A. tribute band but it was a typical RTD "lets throw something a little bizarre in" idea that might have been best left out. Barring that there were many impressive factors to the story.

Number one was the clever way of including references to the previous earth bound invasion stories from Season 1 and 2. Simple flash backs could have been used (and indeed there were some familiar sequences) but there was new material too and what a joy to see new Auton footage with Elton involved in the action!

Then we had the emotional rollercoaster ride of Jackie Tyler - still flirting like mad but brought back to Earth (so to speak) with a bump when Rose phones her from somewhere in the space and time vortex. It was nice to see her get a part without having to scream at Slitheens and Christmas Trees!!!

The central characters forming the group L.I.N.D.A. were all good - Marc Warren was the ideal Elton and his past was nicely brought out during the story leading up to the explanation of why the Doctor appeared in his living room when he was 3. I liked the character and wonder if we may see him again at some point.

Peter Kay was excellent as the chilling Victor Kennedy and played the part entirely straight. It was not actually until he morphed into the Abozorbaloff that you could tell he was Peter Kay - his accent seemed to get stronger - I suppose some aliens have a Northern accent!!! Playing a distant relation of the Slitheens the monster was reasonably credible given its Blue Peter design a monster status and indeed quite a clever idea.

The idea of victims being absorbed into the big wobbly alien was quite good and the tragedy of their loss was not underplayed.

I particularly liked the ending with Rose coming looking for the man that upset her mother and then totally sympathising with Elton and his scary past - most of the guys problems had after all been caused by the Doctor!!!

This then was a strange but credible "break in the plot" which fills the gap between the Tardis crews encounter with the Devil into the two partner finale which will see some real danger for the future of our Earth and the departure of the much loved Rose (and Jackie??). What a fast and giddy season this has been!!!

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I have been a DOCTOR WHO fan since 1978. I remember thinking at the time what a great story THE SUNMAKERS was when it first rolled out.It was lighthearted,funny and satirical to the bone and different to alot of what was being done at the time of its production. Unfortunately, a few years earlier when Mary Whitehouse started to point her fingers at the show for being too violent and scary for children, the show suddenly shifted as Graham Williams took over from the wonderful Phillip Hincliffe and closed the door on a golden era of Doctor Who. The SUNMAKERS was a bright spot, but soon THE HORNS OF NIMON would make me cringe to the point of embarrassment and Tom Baker's wit and humor would start to go over the top and bleed off into camp. I remember celebrating the show's 20th anniversary in 1983, and now over 20 years beyond the transmission of THE FIVE DOCTORS, let me tell you that I thought" LOVE AND MONSTERS " was one of the most absolutely entertaining hours I have ever spent in front of the televsion. It was FRESH, ORIGINAL,and CUTTING EDGE like the way the best episodes have always been. It was a daring attept to try new things and while I was never a fan of overt over the top comedy and campiness in DOCTOR WHO, this was a darker than dark, pitch black comedy about the Doctor's dizzy universe and the innocent people who fall into it. This perspective has become one of the hallmarks of Russell T. Davies' repackaged resurrection of the old series. This had its own style,its own rythym and beat, and Dan Zeff, the director has done a wonderful levitation act with the material and prevented it from going over the top . And what to do with the Absorbaloff???,a creature created for a BLUE PETER contest with no connected story or plot whatsoever.This was an episode that I actually FEARED I would instantly hate. However,amusingly, Russell T Davies' has unw ittingly tapped into the utter and intangible vestibule containing the pure unrefined magic of what DOCTOR WHO is. Uncle Russell manages to achieve this through focusing on a loveable bunch of characters woven into this story who become "L.I.N.D.A.,the London Investigative...N' Dectective agency spearheaded by Elton Pope who happens on a chance meeting with the Doctor as the episode begins and suddenly finds his life changed forever by the Doctor.

Russell T Davies vision for the series has always been to shove " a great chunk of the 21st century" right in the middle of Doctor Who and these elements have been hallmarks of alot of his penned episodes. This has never been demonstrated more brillantly by the wake of the storm left behind by one of the Doctor's visits. In LOVE AND MONSTERS, we see the Doctor as a total stranger, the mysterious alien as we first saw him in Totters Lane through the eyes of the Londoners who have united in a similar cause to find answers to this mysterious entity they find showing up in history books, old photos, in Egyptian Hieroglyphics, and on the internet. I was always disappointed nothing was ever made about that "WHO IS THE DOCTOR" website seen in the "ROSE" episode and continued by the BBC as a fictional novelty website that Mickey administrated. The Earth that the Doctor and Rose return to in pa st and future times is a new Earth that has seen alien invasions and the impossible happen live on network telvision. Elton Pope is a young man who has witnessed the Auton invasion in "ROSE" and has woken up on Christmas Day to the arrival of the Sycorax fleet of starships hovering above London. His world has changed ,and with it, come new obsessions. Russell T. Davies' brilliantly executed and entertaining script takes the Doctor's existance in that world for granted and treats us to Hard Rock jam sessions with L.I.N.D.A.,a romance with Jackie Tyler,the Autons and the Slitheen spacehip,BAD WOLF, Torchwood, Pizza, Laundramats, and the MUSIC.......ELO!!!! and a clip of ELTON JOHN! Oh This was so British, Soooooo Doctor Who and proof that the Doctor is trully a legend,in Elton's world and in our own. The absence of David Tennant and Billie Piper through much of the episode is not even felt because Uncle Russell has given us so much brain candy in an episode de livered in the first person narrative of our hero, Elton. I know it was different, and fans will be debating its merits for years to come, but it could have been so contrived,yet it was staggeringly innovative and was quite literally Spoiler revealed. My only quarrel is the loss of most of the L.I.N.D.A. operative as I would have loved to have seen this merry bunch of misfits sleuthing with the Doctor in a future episode and dancing to more music of the "Electric light Orchestra". Another lost oppotunity it seems in what has become a season of many earthly and unearthly delights, and I hope I am not premature on this, evidence of a comfort zone that RTD has achieved with his scripts so far this season,which continues to astound in its varied patina of adventures.

There seems to be an interesting thread that has run through the fisrt two seasons of the new series. This began with Clive's comments to Rose in the first episode about the Doctor's constant companion being Death and you have to begin to wonder where Russell Davies is going with this.The darkness has crept in again,as Elton comments at the close of the episode that everyone who comes in contact with the Doctor faces death. It seems RTD is turning Doctor Who into an Anti-Hero again. It's actually a bit unnerving but it does seen to be true. Elton becomes the sole survivor of L.I.N.D.A.along with Ursula, well, at least a part of Ursula whose character seems right out of a Quentin Taratino movie. As Elton points out, Time may be running out for Jackie and Rose as well. I am not too clear on exactly why the Doctor would visit Elton as a childremarkin g something about a 'shade" in the house with him,which is a reference to a ghost and this may be a connection to the Finale in a few weeks time. The episode had its fair overbrimming share of sexual inuendo laced scenes mostly involving Jackie and Eltonwith some very adult references being played out in what is considered "family' entertainment.It was however very nice to see Jackie involved in her ordinary life, waiting for Rose to telephone or return, a reverse perspective of what we are used to seeing that fleshes out her character that much more. She also has alot of time on her hands, and while the Doctor may have "just" escaped her romantic clutches, I think her tryst with Elton may further heat up speculation about her and Mickey keeping each other company , not that it hasn't already been suggested. She seems to be a "busy" gal in the Powell Estate. ! Surprisingly, the episode ends by plunging every viewer,including children into suddenly facing the death of a parent, which is some pretty heavy stuff to serve up in the final minutes of a light hearted adventure. I am also surprised Elton didn't blame the Doctor all those years for his mothers death since the Doctor's mysterious presence in the house Elton refers to was on the night his mother died. Small complaints in what is a wonderfully entertaining little story. LOVE AND MONSTERS reminded me of how THE SUNMAKERS first blew up all away.Like Elton's poignant closing remarks about life ,this episode was a little mad and crazy, and so much more!

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There are cheers in the small pub, where writers such as David Fisher (Creature From The Pit) and Pip and Jane Baker (Time and The Rani) meet. For finally, there is a new contender for WORST DOCTOR WHO STORY EVER!

I haven’t submitted a review for series two yet, partly due to time constraints, and partly down to the fact that I haven’t felt it necessary. Series Two has been quite happily ticking along, building on the success of Series One, and often surpassing it.

Let’s look at the good part. The Abzorbaloff, despite a rubbish name, is a very imaginatively thought out alien, coming as it does from the mind of a nine year old boy. Creepy, too, when you think about what happens to the victims. An excellent addition to the Dr Who pantheon. On paper.

However, the only person worthy of praise here, IS the nine-year old Blue Peter competition winner. Peter Kay is superb as Victor Kennedy, but just becomes Peter Kay when his true form is revealed. But I’m getting ahead of myself here. Let’s start at the very beginning (as I am told it’s a very good place to start…)

The experimental storytelling, from Elton’s POV, sucks. It needn’t have, but it does. The problem is, that as this episode contains little sight of the Doctor and Rose, any experimental elements need to be balanced by something familiar. New way of telling the story, plus new monster, plus new group of Mickey/Clive/Ricky style “defenders of the earth” doesn’t work.

If this WAS going to work, it needed an old villain, or to centre on someone we’ve met before – maybe a real-Earth version of Mrs Price. As it was, the story did not feel like a Doctor Who, even with the early shot set in the warehouse. Then we had the flashbacks to Rose, Aliens of London, and Christmas Invasion. Disjointed narrative works in things like X-Files, but even that show grounded its more off the wall stories firmly in the Mulder/Scully universe.

Elton’s search for the Doctor smacked too much of Rose’s contact with Clive, and the formation of L.I.N.D.A was a cheap, fanw**ky reference to Doctor Who fan groups. Once Victor arrived, and started them on a proper investigative trail (telegraphing his evil nature early on by the offscreen absorption of Bliss), the episode descended into soap. Jackie’s “seduction” of Elton was clumsy, OTT, and straight out of one of those soap operas that show in the daytime schedules. Its obvious that RTD has never encountered the attentions of an older woman. Besides, Jackie is an attractive woman for her age – the very concept that she would need to seduce a hapless geek is quite insane. Of course, the ep lifts itself briefly, when Jackie has one of her “outraged” moments, on discovering she was just being used.

Then we head into the Abzorbaloff strand. Frankly, although the lad who created the concept is no doubt pleased as punch to see his creation brought to life, by the time he’s in his mid-20’s, he’ll be trying to sue the BBC for wrongful representation. For the first time since the series’ return, we have an obvious “man in a rubber suit” monster. Its awful. Again, I must re-iterate that I don’t blame the boy, but the 30-somethings that realised his dream.

Things do pick up in the last 10 minutes, although Rose and the Doctor arrive a little too late to save the episode. Once again, in a desperate attempt to ground the episode in the series’ milieu, it is revealed that the Abzorbaloff is from the twin planet of Raxicorifallipatorius – and a slip of the script hints that the Slitheen are a race, rather than a family (its unlikely the Abzorbaloff would have such venomous dislike for a single family). We get no indication of the ‘Loff’s motives for tracking down the Doctor.

Finally, to give the episode a “yeuch” factor, there’s the disturbing concept of the “love-life” Elton enjoys with Ursula in her paving slab form.

After the episode aired, it occurred to me that the weakest episodes of both Series One and Two, are those that were written by RTD himself. This episode in particular has the air of someone who has a toy that he wants to play with, but is ignoring the instructions. Series Two has 3 episodes to redeem itself, and lessons must be learned, or Series 3 will be the last…

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No, no, no! Dear oh dear what was Russell T Davies thinking? So far this series I have enjoyed every single episode, and the previous two adventures "The Mysterious planet", and the "Satan pit" where two of the best episodes id ever seen. Murray Gold as a composer is, in my opinion getting better and better, and shows the ability to create frankly beautiful work ( an example being the piece that accompanies the scene where the Doctor and the rest of the crew discover the floating body of Scooti Manista outside).We have also had new blood in directors, script writers who show the ability to bring new energy to the show and Ive enjoyed every minute of it, but what the hell happened here?.

While I could hug Davies for bringing back my favourite show, I could equally strangle him for this panotmine of an episode. The quite frankly brilliant cast are completly wasted here, especially poor old Marc Warren, who does the best he can with this rubbish.

I dont mean to be completly negative, but even David Tennant and Billie Piper give below average performances here as we are presented with Benny Hill style run arounds and a naff chase sequence involving a fat man in a rubber suit. Im sorry, but I just got the impression that they'd used up all the budget on the last few episodes!.

I can see what Davies is trying to do here, but Doctor Who has allways had a format, start messing with that and it all falls apart. If your going to do this sort of thing, why not regenerate the Doctor into a woman, give the Tardis console lips and a geordie accent! That would really kill the show off!

I only hope a return to normality next week will repair the damage, and we can just pretend it never happened!

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In one word, CRAP! In nine words, a genuine contender for worst Doctor Who episode ever. Really, this plumbs depths previously only explored by the likes of Dimensions In Time. I’d rather be watching Timelash.

There were good aspects to it though. I had reservations about a story centred around a monster designed by a Blue Peter viewer, but the absorbaloff was quite well realised and given a believable reason for absorbing people. And as Victor Kennedy or the absorbaloff it was well acted by Peter Kay. I have no problems with a story concerning a group of people whose lives have somehow been touched by the Doctor getting together to search for him. But the script must have spent twenty minutes establishing the history of their group when three would have done. Dan Zeff’s direction was adequate, I don’t think he could have done much to add pace to a script that simply had nothing to engage the viewer until the final 15 minutes.

As for the rest of the story, utter tripe. Sorry Russell but this one should have never been allowed to be filmed. I actually think that given the premise, I could come up with a better story. The Doctor sort of saving Ursula in the form of a face protruding from a paving stone, with the utterly gratuitous line “we have a sex life, of sorts” was shameful.


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One of the more bizarre episodes of the new series was aired tonight. It was an enjoyable light-hearted romp. I enjoyed the geeky video by the obsessive character who was trying to find out the Doctor - a video diary. For me though, I thought Peter Kay's character as the villain was slightly disappointing until turning into that green slob. Given his grand entrance, I was expecting a lot more. I just felt he could have been a lot more chilling and evil ... while still maintaining that marvellous sense of humour.

The lack of the Doctor and Rose appearing in long swathes of the story was clearly a measure to save time and money on the BBC's part but bringing in Peter Kay captured the attention. While he showed he was a good character actor, there weren't any major thrills till near the end when he turned into the big green absorbing monster.

It was great to see Rose's Mum again and I would imagine she will also be leaving when Rose goes at the end of the series which will be a great shame as Camille is an excellent actress and you could really warm to her in tonight's episode.

The flashback to the previous series with the autons, and UFO smashing into Big Ben was a nice touch. As usual, the show pulled on the emotional heartstrings towards the end of the episode though I thought the paved stone which the Doctor managed to save with his trusty screwdriver was completely unusual way to finish the episode.

There were some subtle hints to the difficulties the Doctor and Rose have yet to face in future episodes.

It was all very enjoyable stuff tonight and I did enjoy it as it was well filmed with good ideas and a decent premise for a story. Kay's monster look was very good and was suitably grotesque and disgusting with all the faces coming to life. A very good idea from the Blue Peter competition winner (much better than the one suggested in the 1960s. I thought this was when Kay truelly excelled - I just thought that the loss of the characters during the episode was getting a bit hackneyed and predictable as they were asked to wait behind, and then the screams afterwards. This was repeated three times and could have been done with a bit more imagination?

A good fun episode which gave a more rounded look at the Doctor's coming and goings and the impact it has on different people. Incidentally, I thought it was a great touch for the Tardis to appear in those Egyptian hieroglyphics! Now there is somewhere the Doctor should go back to - Ancient Egypt!!!

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Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear!

Not only is this the worst episode of the 2006 series, not only is it the worst episode of the 2005 & 2006 series (even worse than the awful "The Long Game") but this is the worst episode in the whole history of Doctor Who! It is astounding that it was given the green light but since RTD is an executive producer as well as head writer I suppose there is nobody to stop him churning out whatever drivel he wants to.

"Love and Monsters" shows once and for all that RTD cannot write Doctor Who stories. This was in many ways not a Doctor Who story in that the Doctor and Rose are hardly in it. The "plot" is absurd. A group of people who meet to discuss the mysterious "Doctor" end up working for the equally mysterious Peter Kay. Kay turns out to be an alien who absorbs people and wants to absorb the Doctor. To go into more detail would just be too tedious.

The acting is good, especially from Marc Warren, considering the poor material that the cast has to work with.

This episode shows yet again RTD's inability to plot properly. He comes up with a few ideas slaps them together and hey presto an episode of Doctor Who appears! It is significant that the best plotted of all RTD's episodes has been "Tooth and Claw" which he was not originally scheduled to write. RTD may think much of "Love and Monsters" is funny but it's actually just stupid.

I still find it amazing that RTD won the Dennis Potter award for writing. That is surely an indictment of the lack of good writers working in TV.

If this episode is a signpost for the future then Doctor Who is heading in a direction that will make the era of JNT at it's worst look like a golden age.


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What on earth was all that about!!!!!!!! A pity after two genuinely excellent episodes.

I’ve tried to be careful not include spoilers. I don’t think I have..

First of all The Doctor and his assistant Rose are barely in it. Much of the programme is narrated (yes narrated) by Marc Warren, who plays someone who first met the Doctor when he was eight. He meets up with others who have also met the Doctor at some point in the past. The programme is much about them, whereas the Doctor and Rose make only fleeting appearances.

It is also another supposedly funny episode, although I thought that most of the humour widely missed the mark. Some of the humour is along the same lines as the Slitheen episodes of the first series. It is also another episode written by Russell T. Davies, so perhaps I should not be surprised at how weak the episode was, as he has been widely criticised for some of his weak scripts. To be fair he has written some strong scripts too.

Don’t get me wrong. There have been some excellent episodes this series, for example the previous two to this shambolic effort, and The Girl in the Fireplace. I just think that there are far too many weak episodes in this series, perhaps due to the fact that the writers used up most of their best ideas in the first season (although there were a few below par episodes there too).

Lesson number one then writers, (if you ever visit), too much humour in Doctor Who doesn’t work.

Lesson two, the humour used is too infantile to appeal to anyone over the age of 11 (yes I know the family audience is a target - but still).

Saying that, the joke at the end was obviously targeted at adults - in fact I thought it rather witty. How the allowed this joke so early in the evening surprises me - but I guess kids wouldn’t understand it.

To conclude - I will continue watching after thoroughly enjoying the first season, but if we continuing getting a larger number of weak episodes to the stronger ones - well I might just give up, bu

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I've always wanted a story seen from The Master's perspective. I may yet. LOVE & MONSTERS was no season filler. MISSION TO THE UNKNOWN aside, which for contractual reasons did not feature the TARDIS crew and was a prelude to THE DALEKS MASTERPLAN which did, this was the very first time in the history of DR. WHO that an entire story did not revolve from the POV of either The Doctor or Companion. Yet the Doctor was so central to Elton & the LINDA group, that the sparse air-time David Tennant & Billie Piper could fit in among filming "THE IMPOSSIBLE PLANET" & "THE SATAN PIT" didn't matter.

With Marc Warren's endearingly vulnerable Elton Pope, I'm hoping this will be an audition piece for a new semi-regular character. I love his BUDGIE-esque cheekie chappy con man in HUSTLE and he now joins Edward da Souza in a very exclusive club (just two) of leading men who are not The Doctor.

And the unusual approach and framing was novel and worked. Elton's video diary. Lots of montage shots (nice cutaway to Elton John), happy upbeat atmosphere and ELO. The humanity and warmth that sprang from the close-knit LINDA group was life-affirming and should inspire loads more small, manageable & personal DR. WHO groups - which may well have been the intention.

They were a continuation of Clive from the opening episode of last year, which itself was continued by Mickey via TV & TARDISODE: the figure at the Internet, trying to uncover the unknown. As a bonus, we even returned to where it all started. The 2005 Auton invasion - coupled by that month's chart-topper, Peter Kay. The Autons were a lovely gesture for Russell to throw in. They have now appeared in four stories and I refuse to accept there won't be a fifth. In fact the reprising of classic moments from the new series helped build up Elton's story and would persuade those not immediately drawn by the offbeat approach this was still DR. WHO they were watching.

Jackie was so Jackie, so it looked like Elton would succeed in his penetration exercise. Really grown-up DR. WHO, but she was daffy & he was likeable. Then the photo of Rose was discovered, so Game Up. Jackie delivered the previously unspoken - on behalf of all those mothers, fathers, boyfriends, girlfriends and colleagues that are "left behind". Given the usually spot-on interpretations of the Ood and the news on BBC 24 this week, we must pray for her sake that Rose will return, permanently. Anyway, Jackie must have got on the mobile to Rose - because she and The Doctor came from the other side of the solar system to confront Elton. So we have this juxtaposed image of the galactic & the ordinary Earthbound that was classic DR. WHO in the 70s, re-energised following the first two-parter on an alien world.

Peter Kay's Victor Kennedy voice was so unlike his own and so convincing. Elton was finding love at LINDA, but Victor was working his way through the team one by one. He was the Absorboton, Absorbolon, the Absorbaloff ("Yes, I like that!"). A truly inspired bit of invention from nine year old BLUE PETER competition winner, William Grantham. If Russell hadn't run that competition, this wouldn't have happened. Is it going to happen again next year? Funnily enough, I imagined Peter Kay filling out the Absorbaloff.

When I first saw the hideous obese green swine come to life, I thought one of the absorbed human heads was The Doctor, but it turned out to be the equally bespectacled Ursula. Saved, of sorts, by The Doctor - because he couldn't help Elton's Mum. There's something very Father Christmassy about Davies'/Tennant's take on The Doctor. The Time Lord as Angel. Very endearing. Elton was left with Ursula's face on the paving stone. Genius wit from Russell T when Elton remarked they even "had a love life, of sorts, but we manage". A whole lotta oral going on! Of course, it would have gone right over the heads of kids, but it was a gem.

Russell T. Davies' experiment has worked. "LOVE & MONSTERS" was one of his best scripts. There must be one completely left of field episode like this (or rather, not like anything!) again next year and for every subsequent series of DR. WHO.

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"Are you sure we are on the right channel Dad? This isn't Doctor Who."
(Alastair James... Age 6 )

Out of the mouths of babes !

I don't know whether to praise this episode for attempting to break free of normal expectations or ridicule it for being so far off the mark it lost sight of 'Who' and what it was.

And because I'm not quite sure how to deal with it, it leaves me with one major problem...which is...I quite enjoyed it.

But how can this be?..this is NOT WHO...but then, wasn't that kind of the point.

I enjoyed it in the same way that I enjoyed the comic relief Who sketches, and as such it had a lot of fun about it and some interesting alternative perspectives. It would have been nice to have seen or heard something of Clive, the original Whovian detective from 'Rose' episode one ( before his demise at the hands of the Autons ) as he would clearly have fitted right in with this group.

And yet...there it is again... that little voice...
..this is NOT WHO
..this is NOT WHO
..this is NOT WHO...

...and if it's not Who...then why has it taken up a whole episode of real Who that could have been put to good use with a decent story line?

I certainly liked the concept. A whole episode seen through another's eyes, but for it to really work it would had to have been the most gritty and realistic of the season so far. Fathers Day worked fantastically for just that reason. It took itself 100% seriously. It was a painful, emotive bitter sweet slice of real life that just happened to get tangled up in the world of the Doctor. If this episode had taken itself as seriously it could have been superb. As Clive said..." he brings death in his wake" that's the legacy of the Doctor for so many people. Yes there is triumph and victory, but also death and pain and loss. By the end of this episode, the main character, Elton, should have been cursing the doctor as an enemy. The death of his mother, the loss of his friends, all because the Doctor 'got it wrong'...that in itself is a worthwhile idea to explore. The doctor makes mistakes, he's vulnerable, sometimes he actually makes things worse. He's a renegade for goodness sakes, by all accounts a pretty damn dangerous one at that. If this episode had brought out some of his Hartnell dark side it might have worked.

And what of Tennant? Admittedly, he was deliberately left out of most of this episode, but it still brings into question his 'ownership' of the role. For all that I had issues with Ecclston, I never doubted for a minute that he believed he was the Doctor. Tennants performances so far ( with a few exceptions...Reunion, Tooth and Claw ) have been some what lacking in energy. I think this is partly down to the writing. Eccleston was given some brilliant dialogue. With it being the first season it was needed as we were introducing the character to a whole new generation. We had the ancient history and past encounters to draw upon to flesh out the Doctors personality. Tennent's tenancy of the role has not been given the same regular dialogue opportunities. But even then, I get the sense at times that he doesn't really want to be there. Like his heart just isn't in it. In this particular episode he only gets a few minutes of screen time...but if he were the REAL Doctor ( you know what I mean here...I mean Baker or Pertwee...or yes, Eccleston ) he would have still FILLED the screen for those few minutes. His lack of 'presence' at times is a concern for me and one I hope he will resolve next season when he really feels like he owns the part. I also miss those 'Baker' know, the ones, where you're watching and the doctor says or does something and you just KNOW it wasn't in the script, it was a genuine moment of on set inspiration. Some of the episodes are becoming very clinical, sterile, obviously following the script so tightly they don't leave enough room for the actors to inject anything personal into it.

And personal was where this episode ultimately fell down. That was the essential ingredient for it to work at all as a premise.

I wanted to believe. I wanted to get inside Elton's head and really understand why HE believed so deeply. That comes down to soul searching emotional depths of internal analysis. It's a story that says, ' we are who we are because of what the word has done to us' this case because of what the Doctor has done to him, his effect, his influence, his horror. This episode could have revealed more about the Doctor THROUGH the eyes and experiences of Elton than any episode before it.

Instead, we get the RTD treatment...the girl friend as a slab of concrete, the alien with a northern men's club accent ( I'll suck ya up and lick ya bones...but first, let me tell you 'bout the mother in law..." Blue bucket, red bucket...and CUE the BENNY HILL silly running about routine...So...the Abzorbalof was designed by an eight year old....did he write the script as well? These can all be added to the list of RTD indiscretions for the purist Whovian. The burping wheelie bin, the farting aliens, Jackie Tyler, Jackie Tyler...and let's not forget...Jackie Tyler. He really is going to have to redeem himself in the last two episodes.

Just because Sci-Fi is fictional doesn't mean it can't be believable. Fiction, science fiction in particular, has a duty to act as a mirror. It has the ability to pass social and political comment on the state of the world in such a unique way that we actually listen for once. Or at least...GOOD Sci-Fi can.

Was THIS good Sci-Fi? Did it change anything? Did it make you think? Did it effect you in any way?


I think the answer I inevitably have to come to It was an interesting idea that turned into candy floss and washed away in the rain.

And yet, I hope that in itself does not deter the production team from trying such a thing again. If you look back on Who history, it is the 'Ghostlight's'of the Who universe that make it such a rich, varied and often rewarding place to belong. The episodes that took you places in a way you just weren't expecting were often the ones that stayed with you the longest. You only have to look at the dreadful format driven structural rigidity of American Sci-Fi to see how ultimately unrewarding such a path is. You see one episode of Voyager, you've seen them all.

So let's not look too closely at the questionnaires of a cross section of the viewing public in order to determine what will work and what will not. Let's not follow the insipid routine of format derived script to obtain maximum viewing figures from the lowest common denominator and the cheapest budget.

In short...let's not think about it too much. It was fun. Like it or hate it, it has been an episode that has given us all something to talk about.

BBC Wales clearly love the work they are doing. They obviously care about Who and what happens to it in the future. The fact that they have already shown such reverence and loyalty in linking the old with the new and maintaining the bond between them should mean that we continue to trust them.

Great Love comes with Great risk. Love and Monsters was not Who. It was a chance taken that didn't pay off.

But it was still a chance worth taking.

Perhaps next time, in the hands of a writer like the great and mighty Moffet, this will be the sort of episode that will reshape the way we think of Who altogether.

Unfortunately, not this time. What was this episode like?..

"Tastes like chicken"

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I never really write reviews, but was forced to this week, because although I lack a TARDIS, I can see whats coming. This week the wonderful Gallifrey One will be completely full of the old guard “Moaning Myrtles” whining about Russell's scripts. It's coming now. How Dr Who has been cheapened, dumbed down, made for Kids, and so on. I have now watched it three times, and it's 03:45am.

Oh for GODS SAKES! Dry UP Myrtles! Along with your VHS collections.

This week's “Love and Monsters” was a hugely entertaining 45 mins. A HUGE risk, keeping the Dr and Rose to a minimum in a series called “Doctor Who”, but this ep made some excellent valid points and showed the immense range the writing team have. This was Doctor Who's “Once more with Feeling”. A massive risk that just paid off, perfectly. Where does one start?

First, it was great to be able to explore the Dr's universe from a new point of view. For a long time we have seen the Dr's life through Rose, so this was a refreshing change. We get to see Jackie's view from a third party. It is Doctor Who, as we explore someone's life through a different view, and although the Dr and Rose are fairly lacking, we see the impact they have on peoples lives, which reinforces the feeling that Rose and the Dr's carefree attitude is leading to something bigger. Since the Press Release, we all know whats coming, but this series, as with the last, is so well constructed we only get to start joining the dots now. This is why I feel it has been so important to follow Jackie and Micky. Our Myrtles complain about 'Soap Opera', but this is vital to the series. If I vanished with the Dr, what would it do to my Mum, or Dad, or Boyfriend? We're out to get a new legion of fans here, to keep the series alive after all of us that kept things going during the quiet TV years going shuffle off. EastEnders, Corrie and so on have made TV very different to audiences these days, and this is why Dr Who had to evolve to come back.

Next, the music. Murray has worked a blinder this season. Everything from last season has been used perfectly to help bring new viewers over the regeneration. The motif's, the incidental, has always been totally right. This episode we hear ELO, which is just perfect, as was “The Lion Sleeps Tonight”, as was “Toxic”. Murray, please please keep going as you are. Impossible/Satan introduced some perfect stuff, that made them gripping, and I know you are building on the score as hard as Russell works on building the scripts. Also, loved the reference to “Friends” in the songs by Bliss. Very Phoebe.

Peter Kay. Brilliant. “Every Planet has a North”, and we're also reminded of previous episodes in a flashback here. MUST be a reason. Russell's good like that! In Peter's case, I only know him as a comedian, so to see him play this so well was a pleasant surprise. Again, the costume department need an award, but Peter brought this to life in a great new way. Casting brought us Ecclestone for #9, Piper as Rose, all left bat, but they were right. Again they are here.

The story? Personally, I loved it. Something so off tack again, challenging us, delivering a great dose of humor, and relief. After the darkness of Impossible/Satan, this was the sweet to the last 2 weeks sour. Should not work, but served together and in the right amounts they worked so well. Somehow I doubt Russell is going to deliver Pork to be garnished with this sauce thats been so well prepared.

To sum up, I have not had one bad story as yet, In either new series, and the series continues to deliver. David, Billie, Russell, to name 3, but everyone tagged in the titles deserves an award for “Event” television. Not one person I know has not enjoyed every ep, so I am glad about that. I also wonder if Russell had a bit of “Tounge in Cheek” casting “Moaning Myrtle” in this Ep, as it will be the one the usual traditionalists bitch about.

If you love good drama, good comedy, good characters, and a great story (cut the USA audience out straight away then!) watch this one. Open mind, think Buffy's “Once more with Feeling”, suspend disbelief, and have a wicked wicked wonderful 45 mins.

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After last week's amazing epic and frankly superb episodes what were you doing?

Telling your friends how great Doctor who was after all these years?

Convincing them to watch on Saturday night?

Telling them that they were wrong about Doctor who?

You needn't have bothered.

Because if they tunned in to watch this weeks episode I can only imagine that they wont be tuning in again. Ok that is a bit overly harsh, as a comedy episode it works well. As a spoof of doctor who it's funny but please put this show on BBC 2 so I can watch a real episode of Doctor Who on BBC 1.

The problem with changing writers every other week is that the tone of the episodes changes so dramatically. We have moved from two episodes of heavy drama with no comedy to an episode dripping with it. In some ways its nice to have a comedy episode after such a dramatic 2 parter but in the same way it feels disjointed as the story line could have been building towards the final episodes to come. And then to further confuse matters the show is carried by a character that people did not tune in to watch.

Now I bet this episode cut down on Billie and David's filming schedule and it was probably pretty cheap to shoot but so much more could have been made of it. Some of the writing on the series is starting to feel lazy just because its a kids show it doesn't mean that it doesn't have to make sense or have a decent plot.

The best thing about this episode were the jokes. Peter Kay was on good form and the one liners were cutting and well delivered, some I was surprised to hear in a pre 9 pm show. Some great comedy about how he finally tracks down Jackie Tyler did make me smile and several other clever moments: One of the voices sounded muffled and I thought it can't be there but oh yes it was! The return of the Sleveen, or at least their sister planet, very funny, very clever but one too many jokes and somehow the show doesn't feel real any more. And that is the problem with the comedy, good as it was, it ends up making Doctor Who feel more like pantomime than drama.

The main actors pulled off a doctorless episode well and I really was beginning to care about them just before they got sucked into Peter Kay's waist coat. But to not include your best to actors, your most dramatic characters what a waste! It's like trying to play table tennis with your hands tied behind your back: you could do it but you're gonna look damn silly trying.

Best moments:

The opening sequence
Most of Peter Kay
The most easy detective work since “who stole Ronald McDonald's hamburgers.”
The Doctor confronts Peter Kay

The worst moments

Seduction Jackie Tyler style
Peter Kay running down the street in a big green fat suit and a black thong?. Frightening for all the wrong reasons.
That montage band sequence What? Why? Were you even interested?
The ending.

Like watching the friends spin off Joey, funny but you kept wondering what the other characters were doing. I kept thinking “what is the doctor doing?” “Is it some kind of cunning plan?” Perhaps its all building up to why the doctor was in his house that night. But no it wasn't and no it didn't. And when the doctor finally turns up he doesn't seem to do any thing other than standard defeat the monster tactic no. 3 pretend you aren't bothered about the hostages. Defeating the Peter Kay monster was poorly explained and so disappointing but at least he went out with a squelch. And did he swear? I know It was cut short but not short enough because it really sounded like he did. This is a show for kids!

The best thing I can say is it was funny and in places very funny. It felt like one of the big finish Christmas productions but following last weeks effort it just seems like a completely different show.

If there was one rule this show broke it was “show don't tell the audience” because voice over included, this did a lot of telling.

I'd give this episode 4/5 for being a comedy episode and 2/5 for being an episode of Doctor Who

Oh and don't get me started about that “we have some kind of love life” line!!!

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Doctor Who fans, lend me your ears, I come to praise Russell T Davies, not to bury him. At least to a certain extent. Oh, and when I come to deal with the end of the episode, I will not be held responsible for my words! But more of that later.

My father, watching this, felt “cheated” and “sickened” – by the casual and offhanded way in which our favourite ‘showrunner’ keeps bringing Doctor Who fandom into the series, and then making fun of all and sundry, and particularly by his continued obsession with sex, in what is supposed to be a children’s show. “Russell can’t help it, poor man, he’s obviously got something wrong with him,” say I, defending RTD, although I can see what dad means.

Nevertheless, this episode has a great deal to recommend it – right up until the end. Most obviously it has some nice continuity, which is a plus! Then there’s the line about “all these different Doctors”, which is even better, although sadly there are no images of Tom Baker or Peter Davison. Then there’s some nice direction, and a great guest spot from Danny Blue.

And, believe it or not, it’s very well presented, and excellently plotted. This last is the one good point which does last until the very end – far from being “reasonless” as dad also protested, in fact it is Elton’s early, random experience with the Doctor which leads him to join LINDA, the group’s infatuation with the Doctor which leads the alien to use them to get at the Doctor, and then Rose’s return home, pre-figured in her phone call to Jackie which leads her to abort her ‘conquest’ of Elton, which allows the TARDIS to materialise, seemingly co-incidentally, at just the right time to save Elton’s life.

This is, incidentally, quite a good outing for Jackie, who works best in small doses, although her excuse for seducing Elton, that since Rose has left her she has been a bit “mad”, rings hollow, as she was blatantly always like that anyway. Rose, for her part, seems to be feeling guilty about the way she has been treating Jackie (and not before time), springing to her defence before even thinking about the hideous alien attacking the man she has come to chew out. “No-one upsets my mum! Except, um, me. And my best friend.”

Then there is the ELO soundtrack. I’m a bit partial to Jeff Lynne myself, and I think it’s a real shame the way ELO has become synonymous with rather sub-standard pop, when the early records were so amazing. Of course I realise that stuffing this episode full of ELO sounds is little different – probably, to many, worse – than references to Muppet Christmas Movies and Blockheads, which so annoyed me in ‘Tooth and Claw’! But that was the Doctor expressing a preference then, whereas this is just an ordinary guy, so I think I’m still not being entirely hypocritical.

Elton’s naïveté with regard to Jackie, and the subsequent spin it puts on his relationship with Ursula, is rather nice – in fact, the episode is very touching indeed. Right up until the end, when of course Russell blows it all to shattered, smouldering pieces in spectacular style.

To go off at a bit of a tangent – Russell’s attitude to Doctor Who fans is utterly merciless, isn’t it? He will keep bringing them in, only to exterminate them in various horrendous ways… Clive got shot by an Auton in the very first episode, Mickey, after months of abuse by the Doctor and Rose, has been unceremoniously dumped in a Cyberman-infested parallel universe, and now we’ve witnessed the grotesque annihilation of LINDA. Should I be afraid? I think I probably should, because I am exactly the kind of fan Mr Davies – and, by the look of it, Steven Moffat – loathe with a passion; the reason being, I take it all very seriously.

Mr Kennedy is all too obviously an allegory of people like me, who aren’t content just to sing songs, live the mystery, and not ask too many difficult questions, as LINDA are. Kennedy, upon his arrival, makes it hard; refusing to just sit back and enjoy it all, he turns their hobby into “work”; in short, he introduces ‘modern fandom’ into their idyllic world, and ends up sucking the life, not only out of their harmless “Doctor Who” obsession, but literally out of all of them. So there you go; Russell T Davies hates us! But he still won’t give us back our precious!

The wiping-out of Elton’s touching, happy crew of amateur songsters and mystery-hunters is the most disturbing and sickening thing in the new series so far. Well, I hear you cry, that’s alright – even in an episode that is merely serio-comic in tone. After all, the Doctor’s way of life has consequences (as we learnt – at length – from Boom Town last year). Aliens kill people, sadly (at least, in Doctor Who they do). And I would freely admit that the original series sometimes had a somewhat dubious attitude to life and death, particularly with regard to the “noble sacrifice ending”. And Russell even has the saving grace of not having invented this particular monster and its hideous characteristics.

But it is the utterly vile way in which RTD deals with it that leaves a bad taste in the mouth (again – “Tooth and Claw” was the same). The fate of all those nice people is completely at odds with the overall tone of the episode – and rounding it off with an oral sex gag is just unbelievable; as if Ursula, having been shorn of her body, her entire life, and bound into a stone apparently for eternity, would be content to just accept it and, making the best of things, go down every night on some guy – whom, previously, she’s only nearly had a Chinese with?

I didn’t think that even Russell T Davies would expect his audience to laugh, after the obscenity of what happened to Ursula and the rest. And at that? But, reading, on the official website, that “Fear Forecast” thing they’ve invented, that’s how at least some of the audience (not the children, thank God) seem to have reacted. “Elton! Fetch a spade!” Sick? You bet.

Still, as I said above, he’s obviously got something a bit wrong with him. As for the Doctor, I reserve my judgement. He was probably bluffing when he seemed to allow the alien to absorb Elton. He might have been sorry, although he didn’t demonstrate it in any way other than a cursory apology for Elton’s mother’s death, many years ago. But his assessment of himself – not “nice” – is, fundamentally, as true of him as it was of Eccles. Why does David Tennant only play psychos?!

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Ah, Russell. So close. So very close.

Since it relaunched, Doctor Who ahs been accused of taking the Buffy route in order to find success. Having been a massive Buffy fan myself, I saw this as no bad thing, although I would certainly say the show has plowed its own furrow much more than he detractors claim. 'Love and Monsters' is the most Buffy-esque direction the show has taken so far, in that it breaks the format completely. It's bound to annoy many fans and quite possibly bore many of the children who have become the Doctor's new fanbase.

Yet it oh-so-nearly works.

I liked last season's 'Boom Town'. It wasn't flashy, but it was a lovely character piece mostly overlooked due to many people's hatred of the Slitheen (which I share). Where 'Boom Town' was initially called 'Dining with Monsters', 'Love and Monsters' (this season's equivalent) could very easily have been called 'Collateral Damage'. An examination of what happens to those left behind when the Doctor leaves, it was massively touching in places. The loneliness of the LINDA members, Elton's quiet, ignored little life forever damaged by an early encounter with the Dcotor and, most importantly, Jackie's feelings of abandonment communicated themselves beautifully. All the while, the story was kept interesting by punchy direction and a deliberately down-to-earth, mundane style. Nods to previous earthbound stories 'Rose, 'Aliens of London' and 'The Christmas Invasion' gave the story a lovely sense of continuity.

What could have been an interesting little change-of-pace, however, is badly damaged at times by Davies' oft-criticised determination to wedge pop culture references and cringeworthy camp into the proceedings. Elton's love of ELO (with its accompnaying scenes of dancing and amateur band action) were almost as horrific as the Abzorbaloff's panto-esque adoption of a Bolton accent in its natural form. The idea of the creature is a truly hideous one and more could have been made of this. Instead, we were forced to watch as Peter Kay chased Elton around an alley in a cheap-looking, cheesy chase sequence that would have looked bad in the Sylvester McCoy era.

It's the cheap cheeriness that really lets this episode down. With such potential for a story exmaining the lot of those left behind and ignored by the Doctor, preyed-upon by a creature who wants to absorb them out of the world completely, we could have had a low-key, inexpensive piece of foreshadowing for what could well be Rose's final fate. But RTD, for all his brilliance and imagination, is incapable of avoiding the trap of cheap humour and yet another bloody reference to the Slitheen. The constant references to the reviled things goes against the epic feeling the show should be nurturing, making the universe seem confined to the Powell estate and Raxico-bleeding-fallopatorius.

I adored parts of this story, I really did. It just makes me all the more frustrated that Davies, who excels at writing about the darker side of the human character, doesn't quite have the courage of his convictions to make 'Love and Monsters' what it should be.

That said, the episode was interesting enough to garner a strong reaction from me, which still puts it ahead of 'New Earth' and 'The Idiot's Lantern' this season.

Next week, our last one-off before the finale and an interesting-looking threat in suburbia. Hopefully this week's modern-day setting won't detract from the story due to their close scheduling.

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This is my first Doctor Who review, after reading and enjoying this website for several years now, this episode has sparked me to write to you!

As a hardcore fan of Doctor Who since Tom Baker (when I was growing up), right through to present day, and experiencing the highs of the series (Genesis of the Daleks, Pyramids of Mars for example), and the lows (The Two Doctors, Mark of The Rani, Twin Dilemma etc), I find myself totally enjoying the new series. I think technically and production wise the BBC team are producing top-notch quality Doctor Who for the new generation, and it pleases me to see it back on the TV regularly. I still get excited by the cliffhangers, and the return of old foes such as the Cybermen and the Daleks.

This episode then, was a dramatic change to all that I've seen before, and I must give Russell T Davies deep respect for this ambitious piece of work, looking in at the Doctor's life but not from the Doctor himself, or even his companion, but from an outsider just caught up in a moment of seeing the Doctor when he was young.

After the thrill of the two parter Impossible Planet/Satan Pit, which I regard as a real high point of the new series by far, this totally threw the audience again into a whole new direction. No more revelations here about Rose potentially dying, or the dark undertones that have been present recently, but instead we get a fun, almost hilarious episode that, although I should hate and detest with every fibre of my being as a Doctor Who fan, I cannot!

I thought it was great fun. Peter Kay as the Abzorbaloff just made me laugh outright at the screen, especially the chase sequence into the street towards the end. Nobody else could have pulled this character off than Peter Kay - who did fabulously! I must also give respect and admiration to Jackie Tyler here, who I have found annoying and irritating throughout the two new series', but here I see a different side to her - the moment where she finds Elton's photograph in his jacket is excellent. The way she defends BOTH the Doctor and Rose adds to her character, and was excellently played by the actress.

I think the series needed a small breather in between all the excellent stuff that has gone on before, and this provided clean, healthy fun and entertainment. I did not take it seriously at all, nor is it destined to be a 'must see' doctor who episode, but it just goes to show the versatility and ambition this show still has, after all this time.

I know that if I had the coveted job of writing for Doctor Who (and boy I have tried!) I would be writing darker, more atmospheric pieces quite like The Satan Pit. This is the Doctor Who I remember, the scary ones, the ones with excellent stories and sci-fi, the ones that challenged your views and beliefs.

This was a complete contrast, but perfect for the 7 O'Clock time slot, and perfect to give us a bit of comedy and fun into the series. I am sure I will be smiling in a few weeks time at the image of Peter Kay running as the Abzorbaloff!

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Hands up if you thought LOVE AND MONSTERS was going to be dreadful? I did, and for some of it I thought I was going to be proved wasn't great, it wasn't a classic, but it did contain points of interest.

The basic plot centres around a gang of UFO spotters who are following the Doctor- suddenly a real alien bursts into their lives and things go seriously pear shaped. Enter Peter Kay- and exit Peter Kay in a pool of goo. Fundamentally it was a nice idea, the absence of the Doctor and Rose for much of it meaning that the focus was on those who are touched by his presence. Marc Warren performed creditably in the central role, evoking both pathos and comedy when needed. The opening pre-credits scene was suitably dramatic, and Elton's subsequent account of the building up of his cult group convincing, if a bit twee in the music scenes. I didn't need the constant harks back to the band playing. Then Victor Kennedy bursts into things and suddenly they are hunting the Doctor for real. Elton gets freindly with Jackie, but is rumbled, and then the creature begins to destroy it's prey- but just when it all seems to be over.....enter Mr Tennant, back from filming Episode Nine just in time to save the day.

The plot built itself up fairly nicely, and there were some atmospheric moments and nice use of music. Elton's confused loyalties as he spied on Jackie were a nice touch to things, and Jackie's affirmation of her protection of the Doctor and Rose as she susses him out was lovely. And it does make sense that the Doctor would be latched onto by some kind of esoteric nut group somwhere along the line.The Doctor becoming a focus for everything from serious research to artistic expression was interesting as a comment on how people react to a "something" that they follow- after all everything from religion to sport generates such diversity of expression in their adherents, so why not our hero? The links back to the Autons and the Sycorax were neat. It was a nice touch that when the little gang got their dream and met aliens it wasn't what they thought it would be. And yet.....

There were some really silly bits along the way. The opening corridor chase scene just seemed stupid rather than funny, and I struggled a bit with their easy subjection to Victor Kennedy. Maybe it just their slavishness to the idea of finding their dream. Whatever. Kennedy's holding people back for private chats was obviously a ploy to absorb them and the idea was better done in SCHOOL REUNION. I know this was a lighter hearted episode but even so it came across as daft. And the Absorbaloff itself?

It could have been worse. Bless the lad who designed it, because it was a good idea. I loved the idea of the victim's faces talking out of it's body. In a more straightlaced story, played for horror, that could have been really scary. Played on a lighter level it still worked to an extent though. It's disdain for Slitheen was another nice, unobtrusive continuity nod. But would it really be so stupid as to run out into broad daylight? And it was destroyed way too easily, and its dissolution just came across a bit wizard of oz....Oh, and one of its victims was stuck in its backside. So like Cassandra, it talks out of its nethers....this was less offensive than the pathetic stream of burp/fart jokes in ALIENS OF LONDON, but I could have done without it. But children will probably love it.

So, having been a patchwork of good bits and bad bits the whole thing actually ended quite well. Much as I bemoaned the creature's easy end, I liked the aspect of the Doctor thinking out a solution on the spot, seeming to disregard Elton's life but actually having an answer in mind- while Rose looks bemused but trusting. Then we get the recollection as to why the Doctor appeared in Elton's house while he was a child- that was a spooky moment and I think would have made a better story than the one we got. But hey ho..

And so it all wrapped up with Elton's final soliliqy. Interesting, but I was a bit peturbed at meeting the Doctor being seen as a mostly negative experience. We've had a dollop of this this year- Sarah picking up the fragments of her life, Madame de Pompadour waiting for the hero who never returned etc. It's all in context- when you've been travelling you have to come down to earth, and Elton spent a lot of the story on the run. Much as this examination of such issues boosts the Doctor's mystery value and adds a realism to things, does it need to be seen negatively all the time? In SCHOOL REUNION the deflation afterwards was the price of the adventure (probably realistic), here the experience was a destructive touch on a man's life. Yes, Sarah would have found it hard, and Elton was as I've said on the run, but can we see the Doctor leaving a more positive aftermath behind him sometimes? Contrast the ending of the DEADSTONE MEMORIAL novel where after the adventure a disillusioned Hazel McKeown has had her sense of wonder restored to her- some of that would be nice here to counterbalance the negative. After all, he can't always leave bitterness behind him.......

And so we're on episode 10 already! It's been a mixed ride- from the patchy (this episode, NEW EARTH) to the fairly good (SCHOOL REUINION, TOOTH AND CLAW, IDIOT'S LANTERN) to the superb (GIRL IN THE FIREPLACE and the Cybermen and IMPOSSIBLE PLANET two parters). Here's hoping FEAR HER is good and the climax is up to scratch. If we manage to end on a more gripping episode than PARTING OF THE WAYS I'll be surprised, but who knows?

Filters: Television Series 2/28 Tenth Doctor

What a load of codswallop!! It was like watching a story from the Sylvester McCoy era! I always had an idea that this episode was going to be "odd" from things I had read and knowing that the story was created as a result of the Blue Peter design-a-monster competition.

I started to watch this episode with an open mind, and in a way I quite enjoyed seeing the story from Elton's point of view. However, in a very short while though it seemed as though no-one was taking the script seriously, which was a shame as there were good actors in this show.

What really made the story so awful was when Peter Kay entered the room.........

He was hamming it up completely like they did in the late 80's oddball stories that I hated so much. At this stage I couldn't take the story seriously at all and was almost tempted to even stop my DVD recorder! The Abzorbaloff was not a convincing monster, not that I'm sure it was meant to be judging by the tone of the whole story. It was just Peter Kay in a rubber suit talking in his northern accent. Not sure how anyone could have taken this seriously really.

I laughed at the end when we saw Elton hold up the slab with his beloved's face on it talking to him, but only because I found it so ridiculous. This story would have been better suited as a sketch within Little Britain.

Definitely the worst episode I've seen in a long time.

Filters: Television Series 2/28 Tenth Doctor


What theoretical demons is Mr Davies trying to exorcise
As he preaches his ideas on fan and web power, disguised
As an essay pontificating from an ivory tower!
Do we need physchology of the lone parent at this hour?

What story arcs is Mr Davies trying to tell
When we move to Earth (again) from interplanetary hell?
Please don’t forget which character we’re switching on for
Again it’s Ma Tyler’s perspective we’re forced to endure.

Which bodily jokes are we employing tonight
To make us laugh at the ludicrous sight
Of a truncated Slitheen relation running down a cheap back alley;
His own stuffed with human remains and Northern folly?

With Mr Kay so promising as a potential villain of mysterious discord
Who allowed him to use such alien Northern vocal chords?
‘Eee by gum!’ bring back the Goodies –however dated
Like them, I hope this farce is never repeated.

Which director or script editor or producer allowed
This scipt and plot as science fiction –or had they bowed
To gods on high, who undid two seasons of hard work?
Or is this Satan’s retribution for going down the hole-he’s back with a smirk!

My daughter hated it to the point of annoyed boredom
And from the mouth of babes asked with aplomb
‘Why didn’t they Absorb this alien into the Coronation story
Wearing the faces sucked into the TV would appear quite gory.

Just last week I thought with pride and eager anticipation
On how far the Mill had pushed special effects
Since the early Daleks.
With mature themes built on the legacy of Mr Nation.

I sincerely hope Mr Grade was otherwise engaged
Or he may have been enraged
That the Beeb, on the world stage
Could take the Doctor so quickly back to the Ice Age!!

Fancy leaving the spectacles on Potter’s Myrtle,
For all to view the corny gags and pace as slow as a turtle.
No paving stone was left unturned for a cheap laugh
Whose body will be under the patio for this gaffe?

Please please let us not be earthbound
With Tyler arcs and aliens that belong buried underground.
No more London based stories but let’s get back into space
And use Mill’s effects and good writers before the doctor loses HIS face!

Filters: Television Series 2/28 Tenth Doctor

There's been something missing in this first David Tennant season up until now, which was present in the Eccleston one. Last season, there was a sense of daring about the whole idea of bringing back "Doctor Who" to mainstream audiences and making them love it again. Last year they weren't content to just do original series ideas with today's money and techniques... they wisely also used some of the writing tricks and innovations that the writers of the books and the audios developed in the wilderness years, like featuring Rose's extended family and seeing the consequences of her TARDIS travelling on them, or of her going back to meet her dead father, or getting rid of Gallifrey and the consequences on the Doctor, and so on. While the majority of the stories this year have been very good, as a whole, this year has felt like just more of the same of last year... until "Love & Monsters," where Russell T. Davies has chosen to go out on a limb and do one of the "rad" styles seen in the books and the audios at least a few times every year. It's been shocking to a lot of hardcore fans, who perhaps gave up on supporting the series when it was off TV and didn't pay any attention to the books and the audios in the wilderness years, or else they would've seen innovative material like this before. Fans with a narrow focus on what they think "Doctor Who" should be (like, say, the Troughton or early Tom Baker years) and should always be are not going to enjoy this story. Fans with a more eclectic and open-minded range of tastes of the sort the Doctor himself would probably have will, I hope, agree with me and have had a lot of real fun while watching this very successful experiment.

When you think about it, it's actually not that much of an innovation; seeing the world of "Doctor Who" through the point-of-view of one of those ordinary people who get caught in the background of the Doctor's adventures. It's been done in other genre TV series, and it's really just something this TV series has never done before, and it's high time it did, if you ask me. The really clever part is in writing these formerly background characters so even-handedly and well-balanced... never making Elton seem too geeky, or else he'd just be a Clive-from-"Rose" clone and not very sympathetic to the at-large audience...never making the others in LINDA too obsessive either and in fact having them get more interested in each other than they are in the Doctor. Until our villain turns up, they're very close to being a "Doctor Who" fan club, and I'm sure the regular gatherings so many of us around the world have were Russell's starting point. It's only when the fat collector who wants to absorb the Doctor himself turns up that it stops being fun, which again is a parallel to fan groups... there's often that one who joins who ruins it for everyone else out of his own greed, when everyone else just wanted to have a good time talking about how weird it all is. Sure, he introduces you to the lost sound file of the TARDIS you've never heard before, but he's done it for his own ends, not to help you, and didn't you have a lot more fun making your own crap music (for this read "amateur fan video")? Russell's found the truth behind the best and the worst of we our communities and dramatized it in "Doctor Who" itself, and that's the really original part that I can't recall anyone doing before.

I think this was the best guest cast the series has assembled yet, which was quite important since Tennant and Piper are on a 60s-era-style almost-not-in-the-episode schedule. It's hard to pick a favorite, and the only reason I'm going to single out Shirley Henderson as Ursula Blake here is because I love her so much in the "Harry Potter" movies, and she brings much the same "strong wallflower" energy to this part here. She's fantastic. Our main protagonist and antagonists were excellent as well, them being Marc Warren as Elton and Peter Kay as Victor Kennedy and the Absorbaloff. Warren's got a sort of vulnerable intensity about his face, particularly in his eyes, and he reminds me a lot in looks of Mark Strickson (Turlough from the Davison era). So he was fun to watch, as was Kay the Absorbaloff. Again, I'm American, and Kay's act that's so well-known in the UK hasn't reached me over here, but I can see how he's so successful as a comedy actor because he's clearly a talented actor first and foremost, and knows exactly how to time and pace a scene for maximum effect. I loved watching the glances he'd throw in concert with the gestures from his cane when telling people not to touch him.

I'm also in that corner of people who love the idea of the Absorbaloff, and especially how the faces of his victims are not only visible but still active (and Ursula's complete with her glasses!). He's also a bit rubbish and easy for the Doctor to defeat, which in a comedy episode is exactly what you want, and his comeuppance is quite amusing, but also touching at the same time as LINDA unites to fight back against him.

Now, some of you undoubtedly are so attached to the Doctor and Rose that you're a bit upset that they're not in this very much. This is true, and there shouldn't ever be a steady diet of that, but this once is very interesting, and in any case their effects on the story are everywhere. Rose is present through her connection with her mum, and how she and Jackie defend each other from what they think are Elton's less-than-noble advances into their circle. Jackie had quite a bit of time, and while it started out with the typical almost sitcom-style humor from lusty Jackie, it turned 180 degrees to her genuine love for Rose after she phones, and to her protective instincts of both her and the Doctor now when she finds that photo in Elton's pocket. Again, there's touching truth hidden here behind the humor, and I should add that Camille Coduri in these sequences gave what was by far her best performance in the series to date. And I love that when Rose does finally turn up, she's so ticked with what Elton did in upsetting her mum that she has a go at him before she even acknowledges the Absorbaloff is there. And then there's the Doctor's more direct influence on Elton's life... his failure to save Elton's mum when he was a child and how that memory has been blocked out of Elton's mind, until finally the Doctor tells him all about it and we get that tear-jerking home film footage set to what I assume is another ELO song. There must be countless people like Elton who were affected by the things going on around the Doctor, and it was long past time we saw the situation through one of their eyes. But best of all was the lesson that Elton took from all of this, which is that although the Doctor's life (and life in general) is so much darker and so much madder than we're ever taught, he also thinks it's so much better than we're taught as well. I think Russell just wrote what he's going to have on his own tombstone when he wrote this line. Intellectually, I'm not at all sure I can agree with it. People who get caught up in historical events usually get literally trodden on... ask a war refugee, a tsunami victim, an amputee from a bomb attack, or Ursula-the-paving-slab at the end. Emotionally, I would really like to believe in this "isn't it exciting" philosophy again, the way I could when I was a child. Elton also tells us that "we forget because we must" and quotes Stephen King saying "salvation and damnation are the same thing," and these are my problems these days... there's too many things I can't simply forget anymore, and I can't often ignore the damnation for the salvation. But I do know this... I was smarter as a child than I am as an adult, and every great "Doctor Who" episode reminds me of that, and with every one of these that we get, it gets easier for me to listen to my smarter, younger self.

Other random observations... I love that the twin planet of Raxacorocofallipatorius is simply named Klom. I've never listened to ELO before and am now thinking I should start... Ursula-the-paving-slab is a very funny idea, so much so I'll forgive the obvious science problems. I loved the little flashbacks to the three alien invasions we've seen in the present day since "Rose," and how Elton tried to portray these as him being in on the big secret, even though most everyone in the world must have heard of at least the last two. The TARDIS sound effect truly is the most beautiful sound in the world.

I do have one small niggle with this episode which will prevent me giving it a full 10 out of 10... how did the Doctor know where to find Elton at the end? I'm sure there are many ways to explain this, but we need at least a clue as to how this happened. I will say 9.5 out of 10 for "Love & Monsters." More like this please, Russell... just plug that plot hole next time.

Filters: Television Series 2/28 Tenth Doctor

A very-difficult one to review, as there has never been anything like this in Doctor Who lore. Now, there’s nothing wrong with being unique. But was it good unique or bad unique? Or somewhere in between?

If the script for Love and Monsters had arrived unsolicited on Russell T Davies’s desk, I wonder what he’d have done with it after reading it. Or rather, which manner of waste-paper disposal would he have used? Shredder? Bin? Return to sender, address unknown, and don’t trouble us again? Make a little bonfire with it perhaps? It certainly wouldn’t have been made into an episode of Doctor Who. Yet an episode of Doctor Who it did become – being the boss’s idea might have helped it! – but did “the boss” make it work? ‘Course he did!

An episode in which neither The Doctor nor Rose had more than a couple of minutes’ screen time was always going to be different. To do it from the viewpoint of an entirely-new character, Elton Pope, was bold in the extreme, but Davies was helped here by Marc Warren, who was terrific as Elton. A well-written character you could warm to from the start, and the impossible job of playing the lead in a show without its two lead characters, was one he excelled at. So tremendous credit to Warren. If he’d have been unconvincing in the role, this would have been a deeply-uncomfortable watch.

The early scenes of The Doctor and Rose chasing a monster (without getting into the questions of what was it doing there and what happened to it!) in and out of doors was harmless fun, as was the introduction of LINDA. Loved the ELO music, too.

Peter Kay’s involvement was a gimmick, of course, but he was good as Victor Kennedy, and obviously enjoyed his stint in the monster suit. It had to be recognisable as Kay, otherwise there was no point in his casting. Quite why it had a pronounced Northern accent, I’m not sure – I know, I know, lots of planets have a North . . .

The idea of the Azorbaloff wasn’t a bad one, if a bit “comic strip”, although as it was (literally) designed by a nine-year-old as part of a Blue Peter competition, that was understandable. And making it a neighbour of the Slitheen was a nice touch, and enabled the designers to choose bits of cast-off from Raxacoricofallapatorius’ finest! I felt a flashback to “the Sliveen” would have been nice at this point, as I’m not sure the name is as instantly well known to all viewers, especially as they didn’t appear this season. The faces of “the absorbed” on the monster’s body was one of the episode’s high points. This was a clever concept by the young designer, and very well realised by The Mill.

The scenes involving Elton and Jackie Tyler were also amongst the best of the episode – as well as the obvious comedic value, I’m sure we’ll find this was significant as part of the season story arc, as was Elton’s observation that the time would come when Jackie and Rose would pay for their involvement with The Doctor. And I don’t think it would take the combined brainpower of LINDA to work out that “pay off” is only a couple of episodes away.

I did chuckle at the “we have a love life” line while the open-mouthed head of Ursula ensconsed in her paving stone sat on Elton’s lap, but I’m amazed it wasn’t cut! Captain Jack’s bottom didn’t get past the censor, but that line did? I suppose it would have flown over the head of the younger members of the audience, but still . . .

As a piece of TV, it was very watchable. As an episode of Doctor Who, I couldn’t say I preferred to it much of the season, but it was SO different, it’s difficult to compare anyway. If you take the episode for what it was, a bit of fun designed to bridge the gap between some powerful, darker tales (and to ease the pressure on the lead two actors, presumably) I think you can make peace with it, and think of it with affection. It was a worthwhile gamble and, all things considered, one which paid off.

Filters: Television Series 2/28 Tenth Doctor

Hmmm… This episode reminds me of the Deep Purple album Stormbringer. Nice to see the team trying something different from the norm, but did it really work? Yes and no.

I’m sure in the end it’ll come down to what the public at large think as to whether or not oddball episodes like this crop up again. Personally I think it’s great to see the production team confident enough to try a stunt of this nature. Personal experience and real life have been major aspects of this revitalised new Doctor Who since Rose, and it is certainly justifiable to bring facing the effects of the Doctor’s activities on other ‘normal’ people outside the realm of fan fiction and into the mainstream series. However, great as that idea is, and successful as the video diary-method was for maintaining the focus away from the Doctor and Rose, it was the real life aspect that failed for me.

LINDA was a set-up that most of the adult audience, I’m sure, could associate with or accept – particularly as the focus on the Doctor waned and they became more of a general social group. The episode lost credibility, though, when Victor Kennedy took control. At that point the episode began to feel like a poor attempt at a League of Gentlemen-style show. Unquestioning obedience from these normal people, no real concern when they start disappearing. If there was some mind control in operation then that would have been fine. But no, these apparently normal every day people begin behaving in an unnatural way and bang! - there goes the grip on reality.

On the City of Death DVD new series writer Steven Moffat states that when monsters and villains are not played as a serious threat what a cardinal sin that is for Doctor Who. The production team had gone on record as saying that Peter Kay was not being brought in as a comedy turn, but as a proper actor playing a proper role. Why then was the Abzorbaloff allowed to be played as a figure of fun? There was a threat there, but it ended up being concealed behind ridiculousness and so it became a joke. In Confidential, we are told that you couldn’t possibly have Peter Kay on an episode without it being obvious who he was and using him to full effect – a thinly veiled admission that he was allowed to do what he wanted and everyone thought it was clever and hilarious.

It was hilarious – but it shouldn’t have been in the way it was. There have always been great comic moments in Doctor Who – particularly in Russell T Davies’ re-invention of it - and I appreciate that after quite a harrowing two-parter it’s good to have something more light-hearted. Love and Monsters should have been whimsical, different, but it ended up sending itself up and at that point it stopped being good Doctor Who.

I could cope with the Abzorbaloff, but what really tipped the scales for me against this episode was Ursula ending up trapped in a paving slab. That was utterly ridiculous. I laughed at the (assumed!) rude gag about the love life at the end, but it was almost as if she’d been left like that just for that. Nothing I’ve seen in Doctor Who since it returned has led me to believe that the Doctor would consider leaving a living, feeling Human Being like that when it wasn’t a self-inflicted punishment.

On a more positive note, Marc Warren’s Elton Pope was interesting and alluring enough to keep the viewer focussed on him throughout, and I did feel for him when he was trying to fend off Jackie and when he realised he did actually like Ursula a lot. He could have been a terrible geek, but he was played with an open honesty that just made him an average guy and not a figure of fun.

This was probably Jackie Tyler’s best episode ever and it was refreshing to be amused rather than annoyed by her. Maybe seeing her out of context, so to speak, is something that should have happened a while ago? Her loneliness and her support of Rose and the Doctor was great to see.

Peter Kay’s performance as Victor Kennedy was excellent too. The eczema gag was a peach and his grandiose style was both compelling and repulsive (hence the League of Gentleman feel). It’s a shame the Shakespearean clowning ham took over when he was transformed.

Overall, then, this episode didn’t quite work for me – although there were aspects of it that I thought were excellent. But, as long as it doesn’t harm the series as a whole, I can’t see any major problems with being flexible and adventurous with the format in this way.

Filters: Television Series 2/28 Tenth Doctor

LOVE AND MONSTERS…..and well Marc Warren stealing the whole show in Hustle like fashion!

Can I just say nice little episode in light of the fact Billie Piper is leaving however our two main leads take a back seat in this one. Letting the superb guest cast which was a pick of great British talent and more or less letting them shine instead (good idea with this line up)

It was also a wickedly clever episode, David Tennant and Billie Piper getting the funniest and yet serious bit in one blast – Marc Warren’s Elton telling the story in true hustle like fashion only the con was on him to a certain extent.

However for an episode that wavered in places and that though it was well done it never the less lacked somehow in places – not down to the actors but more the script and what last nights episodes did make obvious.

Something that has been getting to me of late in the last five episodes the fact that neither Billie Piper or David Tennant are getting the kind of scripts that are really giving them the chance to deliver and its no use!

Ok on to the good points the scary funny alien at the start and the doctor on classic form and the great line ‘Don’t I know you from somewhere?’ ah nice way to get us all hooked considering how it all fell into place at end.

The comedy of Kay who is on fine form here and as we’ve never seen him before or want to again more to point. The flashbacks Elton telling us the high’s and lows of his life the doctor arriving just in the nick of time to save him and in no way to be forgotten Jackie!!!!

Who seemed determined to steal the show in ever other way and give us a good laugh as well, this episode was a classic in many ways and since I watched Marc Warren away back in Band of Brothers.

He has only continued to grow and enthral as an actor and he was the one who really made this episode so unique and special (plus ironically it was his second appearance on Doctor Who)

It was an episode with its moments and the tale it tried to tell is done with wit and style its serious point coming across in all to true Doctor who fashion yet it was the expressions, the one liners and that as Elton rightfully pointed out there is a price to pay with being with the doctor and put it this way – wait till Doomsday and maybe then all which has been hinted at will bar fruit.

Along with what shone in The Christmas Invasion once more coming back into play only with the depth all these episodes since have given and for a further tiny point David Tennant was great here in this episode especially the opening bit where we see him to start with!

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Firstly, a word of praise for the link up between Blue Peter and Doctor Who which saw 9 year old William Grantham’s design for the Abzorbaloff brought to life by Neill Gorton and worn by the inimitable Peter Kay. This is a wonderful affirmation, if any was needed, that Doctor Who is a children’s show in which many adults happen to take, shall we say, a passing interest. What a great moment it must have been for William to see his design brought to life.

Secondly, given the right material, there isn’t any reason Peter Kay wouldn’t make an effective “villain” in the series; his performance as Victor Kennedy is fine. And although the point was almost entirely lost in truly cringeworthy attempts at humour in the exchanges with Elton, Camille Coduri as Jackie Tyler demonstrates the negative impact the Doctor has had on her life by taking Rose away; obviously things didn’t work out with Howard from the market.

On to the story. Using the “it’s just an offbeat episode and harmless bit of fun” ploy to justify its inclusion what we have witnessed is an appalling exercise in smut and piss-taking unparalled in the televisual history of the series and not I may add doing justice to the endeavours of a nine year old in creating the monster. Cleverly on RTD’s part, the story is largely beyond criticism itself- where do you start- but one or two comments may be relevant before I close. I’m not one for conspiracy theories, but watching this made me wonder whether a decision has already been made at the BBC that the show doesn’t have a future beyond next season thus handing a licence to RTD to make sure people won’t miss its passing that much. It used to be said that the highest form of torture was to be locked in a cell and forced to listen to Tony Blackburn jokes day in and day out. You can now replace that with watching a DVD of Love and Monsters. I hope the Government are paying attention because here is a seriously effective remedy for soaring crime rates and anti social behaviour. Yes, give them a DVD of this and force them to watch and I guarantee you repentance en masse.

To quote or loosely quote from the excellent RTD story Tooth and Claw. I’ll not have it. This is not my world. We are NOT amused.

Fear Her? Fear him- RTD. The man who was so instrumental in the success of Doctor Who 2005 is now turning parts of Doctor Who 2006 into a living nightmare. 0/10

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Oh my God and Jesus as well. How does he keep getting WORSE?!

Tooth & Claw, though not perfect, was a step up. Wishful thinking, it seems, to have hoped that this would be a permanent improvement… Come on - Love & Monsters was, well, abysmal.

Don’t get me wrong – I love Doctor Who more than I really care to mention, and I want so much to be able to equally love these new series. In fact, I was kind of a ‘lapsed’ fan when the Eccleston run kicked off, and since then I’ve been trying to qualify exactly what my thoughts are about the ‘reinvention’ of something I love so much… (For my sins though, it has thoroughly restarted my interest in all other things Doctor Who – spending far too much money on eBay, catching up on Missing and New Adventures I never got round to reading before, etc etc…)

So, it’s not like I’m slagging the revival off just for the hell of it – yeah, it’s not quite how I’d ideally like it to be (‘darker’, more developed/ambiguous plots – Ghost Light/Fenric styleeeee), bu-ut… There’s been a lot of shit, but at the same time enough good stuff (umm… The Girl in the Fireplace, The Impossible Planet) to justify continued viewing. I desperately want it all to be honest-to-God AMAZING - but then, an abortion of an episode like Love & Monsters comes along and cruelly dashes all my hopes and dreams. Etc. Ahem.

The annoying thing about bitching about this particular episode is that I know people are going to assume that either/or a) I’m so closed-minded that I can’t deal with an episode that doesn’t obviously fit into an established format from the original series, or feature the Doctor all the way through, or, b) that I’m completely heartless and immune to, y’know, emotional exchanges and meaningful stuff about friendship, and all that jazz… The things this episode was so clearly and so desperately aiming for. Unfortunately, the ‘emotional’ subtext (or should that just be ‘text’; there wasn’t a lot of sub about it) was so painfully cack-handed and simplistic that it had the effect of simply making me very cross indeed rather than making me empathise with the characters (such as they were). And as for the idea of, if you like, ‘experimental’ approaches to Doctor Who – yes! By all means! The idea of doing things outside of the archetypes of the original series was a mainstay of some of the best of the Virgin and BBC novel ranges; we know it can work – by all means transfer that to the series itself!

Unfortunately, a video diary by an emotionally retarted Elton John namesake doesn’t cut it. Look - he’s a real person! Ooh – a ‘postmodern’ metaphor for Doctor Who fans…! No, he’s a bit of a tosser, and LINDA never for a moment seemed to consist of real people. Sorry, Russell, but no dice, grandma. (And what the hell was all that ELO padding?!)

The idea of ‘everyday’ people whose lives have been touched by the Doctor in some way (as in Rose), is potentially interesting – that it becomes an insipid and pointless metaphor for ‘the fans’ ruins it somewhat. Also would’ve been nice to have some acknowledgement of the Doctor’s different bodies, which could’ve easily been made to fit in, and be intriguing rather than off-putting to the newer viewers if done well (which, considering this was a RTD script is perhaps asking too much…). In fact, with the flashback’s to Elton’s childhood I found myself automatically expecting the Doctor he encountered to be the Fourth (which would’ve made sense in terms of the whole fan thing) – how hard would it have been to show his feet and his scarf dangling, and dub over an inimitable, ‘Oh, hello…’. (And after the overload in School Reunion, you can’t say that kind of continuity reference would be inappropriate or alienating…)

As for the ‘plot,’ such as it was – why the fuck is he so proud of the Slitheen that cant even let them lie, and introduces an inhabitant of their twin planet. Or whatever the explanation was. If I were being uncharitable, I’d take Davies to task on the gaping holes… Oh, wait, I am feeling fairly uncharitable. So, sorry, what was Kennedy’s motivation again…? He wanted to… eat the Doctor, oh yes. Ah. Glad to see the art of the intelligent plot isn’t dead.

Just cos you’ve decided to do a ‘concept piece’ on the importance of friendship (ie, a huge bit of sledgehammer-subtle foreshadowing regarding Rose’s potential demise) doesn’t mean it’s acceptable to completely disregard plot. And as for the final paving slab related revelation (which, surely, robs the entire ‘emotional core’ the story seemed to be trying so hard to develop, of its power?), Jesus Christ… Actually, I was thinking, if this was, say, a Paul Magrs story, he could probably take all the, erm, more outlandish elements of this script and make them seem perfectly believable, by creating a world consistent with such things, where they wouldn’t seem out of place… The trouble here, I think, is that Davies is trying – albeit in a very cack-handed way – to make such implausible events co-exist with a pseudo-‘realistic’ harsh world in which there is pain, unfairness, etc… Unfortunately, these two approaches completely diffuse one another. Which is not to say that implausible events (even to the degree of living paving slabs) and emotional content are mutually exclusive; however, this episode was so much of a mess that nothing whatsoever gelled. I guess it must be a fine line between having the talent to make such a balancing act work, and just thinking you do. (Don’t even get me started on the Scooby-Doo running around at the beginning… It wasn’t funny and it sure as shit wasn’t clever.)

I think my problem with Davies’ scripts, and this lighter approach to Doctor Who is that when I discovered the NAs at about 12, I suddenly realised everything that Doctor Who could be and what it could achieve, and as such, I’m still a stickler for a more serious approach… (Which is not to say that I’m not partial to silliness, so don’t think I’m completely humourless. (Aargh. Actually, when people say that, they mostly are, aren’t they? Bollocks.) I’m a fan of Barbarella, for God’s sake! (“DECRUCIFY THE ANGEL OR I’LL MELT YOUR FACE!!!!”, indeed!))

So, yeah. The thing is, despite that, I tend to find myself watching things like (get me!) Kuroneko, or Six Feet Under, or The New World, or even Fanny & Alexander (things which aren’t necessarily of even broadly the same genre (or genres) of Doctor Who), and thinking, Sorry, WHY exactly can’t it be this good?!. I guess if those are the sort of standards I’m hoping for, I’m going to be pretty thoroughly disappointed…. But I just think, when you’re dealing with a programme, and key concepts, which can do literally anything - fit into any genre, go anywhere - if this is the best non-typical format the current production crew can come up with, then we’re in pretty dire straights.

PS Not looking forward to the season finale… Can you imagine how tediously maudlin and wannabe ‘meaningful’ and emotional it’s going to be if Rose does cop it? Christ…

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Forget The Girl in the Fireplace, this is the most daring, the most different episode we have had this year. It is also one of the best for what has turned out to be a very strong year of Doctor Who, which should be indicative of its quality.

I have been thinking for a while that despite being beautifully filmed, exciting, imaginative and enjoyable the past five or six episodes have lacked something that season one had in abundance…it was only when I watched Love and Monsters that I realised what that was. Whilst people have criticized his work hugely since he started on the series (compared to the other writers), season two has lacked good old Russell T. Its become a very serious, sombre, sensible drama series…what RTD brings to the show is a sense of fun and adventure which is as essential as those other ingredients. When I look back to series one it is not Father’s Day which I can re-watch again and again to spot great lines, wonderful set pieces and overall quality…it’s the End of the World, World War Three, Boom Town and Bad Wolf. RTD disguises his intelligent writing behind his ability to entertain but if you scratch the surface of many of his episodes and you can find genuine emotion, fantastic ideas and compelling drama.

Love and Monsters is Russell T Davies on form after a stretch of episodes away so he can refresh his work, it capitalises his strengths from his previous episodes and accelerates them. Brilliantly, compare this with Tooth and Claw and see just how versatile this mans work is. This episode contains an embarrassment of riches that highlights just how generic and worthless so much of today’s TV schedule is.

a) I absolutely adored Elton. What a fabulous character. Not a nerdy sort but one that nerds can really relate to. Mark Warren pitched his performance just right because there was the risk that Elton could come across as geeky and soppy but he pulls of the sentimental scenes with a great deal of charm that makes your heart melt. This really is the everyman on the street caught up in amazing adventures, looking for love, friendship and answers about a man who has featured so prominently in his life. When all the doe eyes, infiltration and awe are over and done with my favourite Elton moment is in the very last scene where he sums up life more beautifully than I can ever remember. It is promoting the Doctor Who ethic in the most positive of ways.

b) The humour is pitched at just the right level. I laughed out loud several times during this episode and I cannot remember the last time I did that with any other show. To provoke real laughter you have genuinely appeal to somebody’s sensibilities and that takes real talent…seeing the Doctor and Rose and that horrid saliva dripping creature chasing around that warehouse from Elton’s point of view is pure, excellent slapstick. And Billie Piper’s OTT war cry as she comes running with the water is genius! Not only that though, you have that great scene where Jackie seduces Elton by splashing wine down his top and telling him to take it off, him saying it is nothing and her chucking the whole glass at him! Pure brilliance and Camille Coduri plays the slutty seductress with total conviction. Then everytime Peter Kay opened his trap in the costume of the Absorbalof I could hardly keep a straight face. A big fat, green, hideous, face covered monster with a Mohican and a northern accent. It has to be seen to be believed. His reaction to being called a Slitheen is fab. And finally the extremely rude suggestion that paving slab Ursula have a sexual relationship caused spontaneous laughter from Simon and I that didn’t subside for several minutes. You work it out.

c) Seeing the invasions in Rose, Aliens of London and The Christmas Invasion from Elton’s POV was such a clever idea. Doctor Who is usually always told from the POV of the regulars so to see the reactions of somebody who was not involved in the adventure at all is fascinating. I loved the scene where his bedroom window exploded.

d) Jackie has not been used very effectively this year and this just goes to remind you what she can bring to the series. Seeing her just getting on with normal life should be tedious but she is such a fun character even that is wonderful. Watching her do exactly what Elton needs for him to infiltrate her home is hilarious (she is such a tart!) but the episode then turns on its head and shows her at home pondering on the fate of her daughter. The scene where she confronts Elton after finding the photograph of Rose in his pocket is very powerful and probably the best moment in the episode because you can see the pain she feels at being left behind, being least important person in Rose’s life and how fiercely protective she is of both Rose and the Doctor these days. Startlingly played by both actors, this is great drama.

e) You have to applaud how ‘not Doctor Who’ this episode is and if you were turned off because of that I suggest you take a cold shower and go and watch Underworld and find out that ‘normal Doctor Who’ is not always the better option. Scenes of friends getting together, eating, singing and getting off on each others company are joyous…romances, flirting, a man pulling off his shirt to jump into bed with a woman…this is bold, proud and different!

f) The framing device of Elton talking directly into his camera is very effective and a great way for us to get close to him. The episode is like a huge jigsaw of narrative styles; starting in the middle (because it has a big monster in it and makes an exciting start!), whizzing through that bit in fast forward when we reach it, cutting to Elton dancing around in happy moments and hiding his face during harder scenes, even to the point where he has to turn the camera off because it is too hard to talk, introducing the characters with brief snippets and those moments slotting in later, flashback sequences…it is a fascinatingly constructed piece of writing. I wouldn’t know how to begin writing this but then I don’t have RTD’s job and lets all be thankful for that. Narration is just one of the ways this episode is groundbreaking.

But most gigglesomely brilliant of all…

g)…is how Russell T Davies manages to once again prove how vital the Doctor is. It isn’t a patronising love up where everybody says how wonderful he is…because Elton concludes that even touching the Doctor for a moment means you will be hurt in some way…but it does prove how important it is that the Doctor fights these monsters so that ordinary people like Elton can go about their business of living. It is that same feeling of status he was given in Rose in Clive’s shed, that suggestion that people are following his adventures and are thrilled by them. He is our protector and our friend. When Elton runs away from him when the Doctor says, “Don’t I know you?” I think that would be most of our reaction. Seeing the Doctor standing over Elton as a child as the camera pans over to his dead mother in the shadows is a shockingly thoughtful moment.

There are more wonderful thins about this episode but I would be here all day. The witty lines, the fantastic score, the strong direction, the clever FX…these all combine to make the list above possible.

Love and Monsters is one of the most unusual Doctor Who episode ever aired. I thought it was bloody brilliant and don’t want Russell T to disappear from the seasons for such a long time again.

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BADWAS, ours was called. Brighton Area Doctor Who Appreciation Society. Not, I admit, as snappy as LINDA, but also not as feminine so I think on the whole I probably prefer ours, even if it does lack originality. You can’t blame me for that though – they started up in 1983, before I was even born. They’re still going, down there in Sussex, although since I moved away I obviously don’t get to the meetings as much any more.

No women in our group. Well, aside from the occasional mother or girlfriend reluctantly hanging around the home of whoever happened to be hosting it that month, or perhaps dragged along to the annual summer barbecue. Yes, we did barbecues. And Christmas parties. Even hosted a couple of mini-conventions, one with Mary Tamm and one with Elisabeth Sladen. Nice ladies. Neither of them flashed their knickers at us.

What I perhaps never realised until last night was quite how archetypal the whole Doctor Who local fan group thing is / was. Yes, we even had a member who travelled a ridiculously long distance – from Northampton, I think – down to the south coast to see us each month. Phil Collinson was, I believe, a member of a local group in Leeds, and I wouldn’t put it past Russell T Davies himself to have been a member of some Swansea local group in his youth, given how accurately and affectionately the whole thing was sent up in Love & Monsters.

Which is I think why I enjoyed the episode so much – because it was an affectionate look at a type of people and a type of group I have fond memories of myself, written by somebody who you know really understands fandom. I have no idea how new fandom will have taken to it – now that you don’t ever have to leave your house to have an active social life engaging with other fans via the interweb, does the idea of a local fan group have any meaning or appeal for them? I don’t know. But for us old-timers, there was surely a feeing that this was written for, and a little celebration of, us and out world.

Obviously most of us who identified with the episode would have seen ourselves in the Elton Pope role, played excellently by Marc Warren. (Who was an uncredited extra in Battlefield, dontchaknow). Yes, he’s a much better-looking and rather romanticised version of your average Doctor Who fan, but I certainly saw a degree of myself in him and surely I can’t have been alone in this? Even the musical obsession with a certain band was spot-on, although in my case it was Queen I was heavily into as a teenager and used to dance around my bedroom listening to.

But it’s more than that, though. The central tragedy of Elton’s life is that he had this image of the Doctor seared into his memory from one night so many years ago, one moment he is desperate to get back to and have explained. That’s why he’s so desperate to see the Doctor again, and becomes so nostalgic when he hears the sound of the TARDIS engines. It’s a metaphor for the tragedy of the fan existence – in some ways, we keep watching this show purely because we want to get back and recapture that first moment of magic, when we were four or five or however old and this mysterious, scary old show grabbed us and terrified us and drew us in and burned those formative memories into our own minds. So we keep watching, keep searching for the Doctor and for all those years hoped he’d come back because we thought it would take us back to how we were and how we felt then, that perfect time in our memories.

But, as has been well-documented through the ages, you can never go back. As The Idiot’s Lantern pointed out, that’s the tragedy of the human condition, and it’s what makes Elton such a sad and lonely figure, even if he does finally end up with a happy ending of sorts.

So as an excuse to hang this treatise of fandom and the fan condition upon – which really in the end is just another facet of the overall human condition – the episode didn’t really need much of a plot as an excuse to go through it all. It still had one though, and a rather nice little one with a great villain – say what you like about stunt casting and what have you, but I thought Peter Kay was excellent, probably more so as the Abzorbaloff than as his human alter-ego, Victor Kennedy.

The Abzorbaloff itself is a frightening concept, and you can see why it was picked as the winner of the Blue Peter design-a-monster competition. The idea of being dragged into and absorbed by this creature, still being alive and slowly digested as your face sticks out of its foul body, is a genuinely creepy and disturbing one, and I can easily imagine that it gave some of the younger members of the audience some sleepless nights.

The most upsetting part of the whole Abzorbaloff business was seeing poor old Ursula sucked inside. Shirley Henderson closely matched Peter Kay and Marc Warren in the ‘best guest star of the episode’ stakes, and doubtless instantly became the image of the Doctor Who fan’s ideal fantasy girlfriend, if you’re into that sort of thing. Before she became a paving slab, of course. This was one aspect of the episode that I didn’t quite take to – I thought the fact that the Doctor was able to resurrect her with his ‘magic wand’ as Elton put it rather cheated the whole drama and tragedy of the piece, and even though she seemed quite happy with her lot I’m not really sure an eternity of being a head on a paving slab is anything much to look forward to.

I know some people’s blood would probably have boiled if told that there was an episode of Doctor Who coming in which the most prominent of the regular or semi-regular characters would be not the Doctor, or Rose, nor even Mickey, but the Powell Estate’s own Jackie Tyler. I’m not the world’s biggest fan of Jackie myself by any means, but I don’t dislike her as much as some and she was pretty good here when given a rare chance to step into centre stage. It was interesting to see a little of what goes on in her life when she’s not with the Doctor and Rose or being caught up in the midst of the latest alien invasion, and her rather sad and pathetic little flirtation with Elton, added to some steel when she found out what he was actually up to, was a nice opportunity to highlight the depth her character isn’t often allowed to show. Given that it was announced this week that Rose is leaving at the end of the season, we could well not see Jackie again beyond series two either, so I was glad she got a chance to step into the limelight and shine before we possibly say goodbye. Strange that after only two years a whole era of the show that began back in March 2005 appears to be coming to an end.

Doctor Who, however, will never come to an end in all of its many and varied forms, no matter what happens to the television series itself. It survives because it has people like Elton, people like Russell T Davies and people like us keeping it alive and loved, and we love it not simply for the memories it gives us but for the life and the friends it introduces us to that we might not otherwise have had. We’ve had celebrations of all kinds of aspects of Doctor Who, old and new, in the new series to date, so it was rather charming and touching that we got an episode that was basically a celebration of fandom.

As I think I’ve said before about other episodes that went in other directions – which perhaps goes to show how wonderfully varied this series has been – you wouldn’t want Doctor Who to be like this every week. But as a one-off I thought it more than earned its place in the run, and justified its existence, as if it ever needed to. Long live the ‘infinitely variable format’ we so love and also apparently despise. Long live us!

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Well, where to begin? Love & Monsters was the first proper Non-Doctor Doctor Who story since the teaser episode to the Daleks Master Plan way back in the sixties. I know there may be a lot of criticism about doing this, but I believe it had to be done now, simply because RTD and his team have the luxury to do it that productions crews in the past and productions crews in the future have not had and may not have. It's an interesting idea to take an episode from the perspective of a "fan" (sic) and its an approach that builds on the whole pathos of the lives the Doctor changes just by appearing in their lives one day. We've seen it happen to Mickey and Jackie (more of whom later), and now to the assorted members of LINDA.

Centre-stage in this episode was Marc Warren, a wonderfully capable actor better known in Hustle. He was entirely believeable as sad loner Elton Pope and almost single-handedly carried the story on its shoulders. Elton is somebody we all could know or could have known, most likely from university days, from which the character never seemed to have escaped. It is also entirely believeable such a man should set up a group of UFO - spotters, themselves lonely and in need of something in their lives. I think felt sadder for the ruination of the budding romance between Bridget and Mr Skinner than I did for Elton and Ursula. When Victor Kennedy shows up and "the golden age ended", you can't help but feel sorry for the bunch of losers.

The scenes between Elton and Jackie were top-notch. It was good to see Jackie in her own right and not under the shadow of the Doctor and Rose for once, and only fair to Camille Coduri who has made the woman entirely believable. As Rose is to depart in three episodes time, I am glad that she gets her chance to shine in what may be her swansong (although, I sense Pete might be returning in Army of Ghosts for anyone who's read the synopsis). Her wantoness had my Dad and I in creases and, hey, we got to see Marc Warren bend over and topless so this one ain't complaining. The resolution of Ursula Blake now existing as a paving slab was a bit of an odd one, and as the joke about them having a love life, I don't know which is worse - that it was included or the fact I thought about it a second before he said it. Do you think when they row, she accuses him of walking all over her? Boom- boom.

Peter Kay's performance was nothing short of theatrical as Victor Kennedy and typically humourous as the Abzorbaloff. Despite the cartoonishness of the character, it struck me as to what a good actor the man is as I found myself disliking him for being such a bully to the members of LINDA. I predict a good secondary career in the future for this man. Should he ever get bored of comedy, great things beckon. When Peter Kay isnt being Peter Kay, he's believable. As a result, I question as to why the Abzorbaloff had to be Northern at all. I think it detracted from the scenes greatly and wobbled on the line of the golden rule - Always play it straight. Once you start playing Doctor Who for laughs, it becomes ridiculous and destroys it. Still, it was a damn good idea for a monster and well done to the nine-year old who designed him. I still would have loved to have seen more of the monster in the warehouse. I found it all the more engaging.

So, a brave experiment on all counts and one that was largely pulled off with a few minor let-downs. It won't be everyone's cup of tea, that's for sure. Of course, at the time or writing, everyone's mind is on Billie's departure. A few subtle hints have been worked in already, including the Beast in the Satan Pit saying she will die in battle and Elton Pope in L&M saying death won't be too far off poor Jackie and Rose, and of course all those Torchwood references. I have a suspicion that Rose won't be killed off at all, but will turn in Bad Wolf again, perhaps permanently. I could be wrong, but just three weeks to go before the end of Series 2, starting betting now...

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I just want to say how absolutely ‘fun’ that episode was. Completely left-field and a total change of pace and most importantly Russell T Davies demonstrating how important the flexibility of the format is in its ability to accommodate entirely different modes of storytelling within one series.

This was a ‘Doctor Who’ story from a new perspective. This is the adventures of the Doctor and Rose told from the view of the outsider – not just Elton, Ursula and the gang but also, quite crucially, from Jackie’s point of view. Look at what this whole experience does to Jackie for starters and you will begin to understand what this episode is about. Camille Coduri was quite marvellous in showing us a parent so cut off from her own child that she desperately reaches out for relationships that are destined to fail and she is completely self-aware that they will. Her seduction and rejection of Elton was credible and touching. Her maternal protection of Rose and the Doctor shows us that she isn’t just some ‘cockney Eastend’ cipher. This is a woman in pain, frightened and alone and, finally, able to comprehend just what happens to human lives when they come into contact with the Doctor. I’m glad Russell gave us this as it really does add layers to the character and fixes her place in the narrative once and for all. And it is done with so much love for the character that it is cleverly poignant.

From the outset let me say that this would not work without the brilliant central performance of Marc Warren as Elton. A smashing tour de force that took us from a kind of grinning understanding of his need to meet like minded people to the sad revelation about his childhood and the death of his mother. Funny, often breathlessly exhilarating, often sexy, and then deeply touching. The majority of the performance being played out via a webcam was a fantastic device that immediately provided a one to one relationship with the viewer. How many television shows in prime time would face the viewer and tell their story so directly? And how many lead characters end up in a relationship with a paving slab?

The editing also must be praised as this is an integral mechanism that enables this first person narrative to work so well. It also justifies some of the more risible elements in the episode. Looking at the opening ‘comedy chase’ it could be seen as rather silly and farcical. But the viewer must understand that we are seeing events through someone else’s eyes whilst Russell T Davies is also turning the whole ‘corridor chase with monsters’ trope, so indicative of ‘classic’ Doctor Who, on its head in a surreal, slightly mocking, homage.

We could approach the whole episode as a complete love-letter to the series and its fans. The LINDA organisation is fandom. A fandom not governed by rules, a fandom that not only understands its primary function ( e.g. enjoying Doctor Who as a group/connecting with other humans who know about the Doctor) but also by dint of that association socialising, eating together, forming a band as secondary functions. These ‘fans’ enjoy themselves. And then uber-fan Victor Kennedy arrives and suddenly there are rules, goals, expectations thrust upon the group. The original group lose sight of why they got together in the first place. Victor Kennedy is a creature with no complexes. He is absent of complexes and where they are repressed, life is vacuous, lonely and empty. The complexes that make us human are about our centres of feeling, they are the inner source of relating to other people and making contact with the outside world. Victor Kennedy is about stifling those desires.

LINDA was a group of normal people who were aware of slightly extraordinary things going on in the world around them. This emphasis is important because if they are representative of fandom then what Russell is saying, and which is neatly summed up by Elton’s final speech, is that these people understand that the world is exciting, different and challenging and that their mutual quest for the Doctor is instrumental but not exclusive in their realisation of this. Is he saying ‘fans’ have got lives too?

When we recognise these complexes and feelings we often transform them into helpful archetypal figures (Mr. Skinner seems to be doing a lecture on the Doctor as an archetypal figure in the episode) and the archetypal figure helps the individual to fulfil his/her potential. Hence, not only is the Doctor a figure around which individuals can articulate their complexes (Bridget grieving about a child lost to drugs) the Doctor also explains to Elton about his presence at the death of Elton’s mother and thus allows him to properly grieve and move on and close that expectation in favour of some other life affirming action.

The strength of a group is also apparent when the absorbed members of LINDA make one final effort to vanquish the Abzorbaloff. They are representative of that continuous tension between social disintegration and dissolution, the tension between your distinction from society as an individual and your relation to the human race as a whole. Without that effort to group together, the victims of the Abzorbaloff are just simply the by-product of a self-destructive urge where no one individual has managed to make a stand. Is Victor Kennedy representative of another kind of 'fan' of the Doctor?

Peter Kay as Victor/the Abzorbaloff pitched this about right. I feared it would end up as another ‘Ken Dodd’ but found the performance worked well. The prosthetics veered between being really quite excellent, particularly the articulation of the faces on the body, to being ‘rubber suit of the week’. However, I do think that there was an inherent playfulness in the episode that actually acknowledged that this was ‘rubber suit of the week’ because in the past that’s what Doctor Who was perceived as. My view was that Davies was taking this and playing with our perceptions a bit. Kay’s performance helped sell this idea and there were some genuinely laugh out loud moments. Was Davies saying that we all know this is an actor in a rubber suit but actually it’s symbolic and has some interesting things to say about our perceptions?

Musically, I thought the use of ELO was inspired and the re-use of certain motifs by Murray Gold was also welcomed. The remounting of the Auton attack and the Christmas Invasion from Elton’s point of view were also very amusing and served as another way of bringing the viewer into his world view. It would be churlish to quibble about the re-use of sequences from previous episodes to flesh this out. Only the Aliens In London flashbask depended more or less on existing footage.

A daring episode, not entirely successful, but not the disaster some were predicting. In fact, it has probably a lot more to say about the Doctor and his world, Rose and Jackie’s world, and the implications when those collide, than many other episodes in this series as a whole. And Elton’s prediction about the fate of Rose and Jackie is a subext so very clearly underlined by the events of this episode too.

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After the accomplished space opera of The Impossible Planet/The Satan Pit we come crashing back down to Earth with arguably the most self-indulgent RTD script to date: one egocentrically centred around the producer’s previous Who efforts (with inevitable flashbacks, or reconstructions, of scenes from Rose, Aliens of London and The Christmas Invasion; and a central plot which derives itself directly from the first episode Rose) and featuring what resembles a fat, flatulent Sil with a Bolton accent from, surprise, surprise, the twin planet of the Slitheens, the contrastingly monosyllabic Clom, courtesy of an admittedly generally straight performance from Peter Kay. Kay is reasonably believable as the villain Victor Kennedy, rising subtly above the fairly cheap quips and one-liners from RTD. What is absolutely absurd however is how once Kennedy reveals himself as an alien, Kay suddenly slips into his native Bolton accent. Well, we’ve had a Mancunian Timelord previously, so why not a blob from Bolton? I don’t think it’s being a snob to prefer aliens speaking in non-regional accents – remember the stick the fans used to chuck at Stor the Sontaran in Invasion of Time for his slight London twang? And, indeed, the vaguely Glaswegian Vardans in same story? And the Canadian Cyber Leader in Revenge of the Cybermen? Not to mention the Brummie Vervoids? As far as I recall though, those were the only comparable examples to the Bolton Abzorbaloff. RTD also gifts us with the first ever alien to have its name chosen for it by the incidental characters, which further gifts us with probably the funniest moments in this fairly comedic story as Kay remarks with a hand gesture, ‘Abzorbaloff – I like that’. I suppose though this was fortunate as I was thinking prior to screening that to have a name so obviously descriptive of one’s primary function would be absurd. But what we actually have in the Abzorbaloff is a comic-book alien that smacks, particularly vocally, of the Vogons from Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, wherein ‘it’ would more appropriately sit. But not in the essentially straight sci-fi of Doctor Who; well, mostly straight anyway.

The scene near the beginning in which the Doctor and Rose are chased back and forth from behind the conveniently placed walls of a corridor – the set clearly structured purely to achieve this pantomime effect – is utterly ludicrous and slapstick in the true Scoobie Doo vein. Literally, this is like watching a cartoon. It might be vaguely amusing if it wasn’t such an utter cliché. Other scenes which sit incongruously in the Who cannon for their sheer comedy include the shot of the Abzorbaloff hiding behind a newspaper as he burps from his latest absorptions, and the inevitable scatological moment when one of his absorbed victims says ‘you don’t want to know’ (where she is) as the monster lifts its hefty rump to a fart sound (or has Kennedy been buying chairs from Sunshine Desserts?). But by far the most ludicrous scene in this entire story is that of the sweating, heaving Abzorbaloff chasing after Elton Pope in broad daylight – if I’d just switched on at this point I would have assumed this was some repeat of The Tomorrow People or even Rent-A-Ghost. Well, almost anyway. Yes, this is a fairly well realised monster visually, though utterly comic-book in design, and the effect of the victims’ faces straining out from his stomach is very well done and pretty sinister in its own way (reminding me of the Timelord faces on the tomb of Rassilon in Five Doctors), but come on, this is stuff. Yes, I know the monster was created by a kid, but that doesn’t mean in turn that the entire episode has to be scripted and directed as if playing to a purely juvenile audience.

Having said this however, Love and Monsters (a title uncannily like a certain Ian McKellan film) is in other ways certainly not geared towards a juvenile audience. The obvious and tedious flirtations between Jackie and Elton aside, we have as a grand finale a rather blatant allusion to fellatio at the end when, holding the face of Ursula precariously close to his crotch, Elton inevitably ejaculates (excuse pun), ‘We even have a bit of a love life’! Or is that my own murky imagination at work there? I think not. Such innuendo might be the common fodder of most modern TV programmes post 9pm, but it has absolutely no place in what is essentially an escapist family programme. The polar – or rather, bi-polar – swings between slapstick juvenilia and libidinous innuendos are becoming uncomfortable trademarks of RTD scripts, and betray an imagination – or in some instances, lack of one – which quite clearly doesn’t fit within the parameters of Doctor Who; is misplaced in the medium altogether. This isn’t to say that RTD doesn’t display a certain flair in snatches of sharp dialogue and a certain understanding of zeitgeist, but these assets to his writing – hyperbolically inflated beyond rationality though they are – are simply not suited to Doctor Who.

Love and Monsters goes some way beyond RTD’s previous attempts to give Doctor Who a complete face-lift beyond recognition into the Noughties: it is an episode which is the true distillation of this producer’s vision for the programme, one sodden in egocentrically plugged authorial self-references, an innuendo-laden, scatological comic-strip which manages just to have the edge over previous atrocities such as Aliens of London due to its unique narrative slant via the sufficiently appealing central character of Elton Pope (who, thank God, actually likes a reasonably good band too) who draws us into his obsessive little world of Doctor-spotting, shot through his home video camera. Ostensibly this unusual directorial approach works: it is refreshing to view the Doctor through the eyes of someone else, a stranger, and ironically the few brief glimpses we have of the Doctor reveal him as a more interesting and subdued enigma than the majority of this season’s episodes so far. Maybe we actually need a little less of him in a way in future; to catch him in glimpses as one often felt with the early Tom Baker performances. What I mean is, the Doctor should be on screen as much as possible, but not always so pivotally as he has been in recent episodes. Let the incidental characters take over from time to time. Love and Monsters then serves a similar function to the penultimate Sherlock Holmes episode, The Mazarin Stone, which too only featured the central actor Jeremy Brett in scenes at the beginning and the end of the episode (but due to Brett’s ill-health). As a one-off experiment this was an interesting idea, but was inevitably blasted out of the water of credibility by too many OTT (remember that term, once seen as synonymous with the Graham Williams and latter JNT era/s?) moments. And what on Earth were those snatches of LINDAs’ extra-curricular activities all about? The shot of them jamming was not only very embarrassing, but also completely and utterly superfluous to the storyline – so why do it? Because you can? That’s not enough reason, especially within the tight confines of 45 minutes. The inevitable price of such frivolous indulgences is the lack of time to explain anything about the alien menace in question – apparently the Abzorbaloff just wants to scoff a load of Timelord and then nick the TARDIS to plague the universe with his pointless appetites. How interesting. Nothing about how did he get to Earth or anything as mundane as that.

The sub-plot of Elton recalling the Doctor appearing in his house when he was a child was nicely woven in, with a lightning-quick explanation from the Timelord regarding the nature of the menace he came to deal with: ‘a shade escaped from the Howling Halls’. It would have been better perhaps to have featured more of this sub-plot, lifted though it sounds from the Sapphire and Steel train station story.

For me this episode was a pointless gap-filler, and in the main, quite embarrassing and disturbingly reminiscent of Season 24’s comic excesses. On the conceptual and scriptural level it was evidently experimental for the Who format, which did not entirely misfire, but did serve to show that here RTD wanted to indulge himself once again, at the expense of all Who convention, but I’m left wondering, what for? Did this episode add anything to the legacy of Doctor Who? I don’t really think so. Nothing worth a third viewing anyway. This concept might have suited a Who spin-off production, but not Who itself. Love and Monsters’ boasts a uniqueness of approach which is not engaging or compelling enough to justify itself, due to its essential silliness and mawkish attempt at sentiment. It only just has the edge over the facile New Earth due to its unconventionality and knowing humour, but is a close runner up for worst episode this year so far.


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So, Doctor Who does 'different'. Russell T Davies certainly isn't afraid to take the series in new directions. It's almost as if being forced to use the Blue Peter competition-spawned Abzorbaloff gave him permission to tear up the new series rule book. He gives the Doctor and Rose near walk-on parts. He chooses to have one-off central character Elton Pope narrate the story (and provide 'video diary' style addresses to camera). He also dispenses with traditional linear storytelling, throwing in flashbacks, flashforwards, speeded-up sequences, and even a brief appearance from Elton John. All of which feels wonderfully fresh and fun.

Marc Warren's performance as Elton Pope is a winning one, and he's ably supported by Shirley Henderson as Ursula Blake, who both turn their shy, geeky Doctor fans into warm, three-dimensional characters. Camille Coduri is given space to shine as Jackie Tyler, and the story gives us a whole new take on her life, going 'a bit mad' while her daughter swans off with the Doctor. The other LINDA members, too, though peripheral, come across as likeable individuals, thanks to Davies' skill at swiftly painting 'real' people - 'I don't know why we call him Mr Skinner', 'Bless Bliss', etc. And the scenes of the group becoming friends and finally forming the band brought a real smile to my face. It's just a shame that neither the band, nor my smile, could last until the end of the episode.

Davies, though a clever writer in many ways, seems determined to take what was going quite well, and generally screw it up. His lovable characters are casually discarded, which might have been okay in a grittier tale, but just seems thoughtless here. He changes tone from comic to tragic to gross-out with the sensitivity of a learner driver crunching gears. This leaves the final scenes where Elton recalls his mother's death completely lacking the emotional weight they were clearly intended to have.

But Peter Kay is good fun, both as Victor Kennedy and the Abzorbaloff - there may not be a more ridiculously funny moment this series than when his blubbery green form half-runs, half-wobbles after Elton. Shame the story resolution was so rubbish. Okay, you could argue that a story like this one doesn't really demand anything great in the plot department, but it feels like Davies just dashed off the first few crazy thoughts that came into his head. The Abzorbaloff absorbs people (for food, we presume), but they can (almost) pull him apart? Oh, and if you snap his walking cane in half it'll break his 'energy field' (or something) and he'll dissolve into a puddle, absorbed by the earth (or something). And then there's Ursula the Paving Slab... Well, ten out of ten for sneaking in a thinly-veiled fellatio reference well before the 9pm watershed, but it wasn't a funny idea, it was an embarrassing one.

Overall then, an interesting and engaging first half, more-or-less ruined by the second half. And, is it just me, or are things generally going a bit wrong this season? Whether its awkward shifts in tone (see above and also New Earth), missed opportunities (see School Reunion) or weak story resolutions (see, well, most of them, but especially The Age of Steel and The Satan Pit), Doctor Who is fast losing its 'must-see TV' crown. I really hope that the remaining three episodes can pull something out of the bag. But the teaser for next week's Fear Her didn't look too inspiring (the preview on the SFX web site is unusually negative as well), which just leaves the Army of Ghosts/Doomsday two-parter. And, though I'm willing (and hopeful) to be surprised, it's written by Russell T Davies (so I'm expecting a massive deus ex machina at the end); it features guest appearances from Derek Acorah, Trisha Goddard and Barbara Windsor (ah...); and the 'surprise' departure of Rose is already well known. Time will tell, I suppose. And at least the much-praised Battlestar Galactica makes its Freeview debut on Thursday...

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“Doctor Where,” as Peter Kay said on Tonight With Jonathan Ross, just about sums this one up. This is an episode that is really gonna court controversy and divide opinion. Personally, I thought it was a good solid forty-five minutes of television… but it was more romcom than Doctor Who. Actually, it reminded me very much of the madcap ‘comedy’ episodes of The X-Files. Once or twice a season they’d try something like this, and sometimes I’d be a hit and sometime it’d be bloody awful. “Love & Monsters” is far from bloody awful. It’s a charming little episode that I have to say I enjoyed, but after watching it I did feel like I’d been robbed of my week’s ‘proper’ Doctor Who.

For the first time since it came back last year, Doctor Who takes time to wallow in the events of the new series, rehashing the events of old episodes. We’re not talking “Another Simpsons Clip Show” bad, but much of the episode does have a recycled feel. The reduced role Tennant and Piper play in the episode is also a bone of contention, but then again in the sixties Hartnell and Troughton (as well as all their companions) would often get a bump on the head or kidnapped at the end of one episode only to reappear about three weeks later! And who remembers the infamous “Mission To The Unknown”? All the regular cast missed that one! Of course, this is a different age with different standards, but if anything, “Love & Monsters” only goes to show just how versatile the show’s format is. Moreover, this episode has two big pros that outweigh all the cons – firstly, it is beautifully written by the man, the legend, Russell T. Davies (no mean feat considering the ‘shopping list’ he had to work with) and secondly, it has one hell of a cast.

Of course, the media latched onto Peter Kay’s role in the episode straight away, but really it is Marc Warren’s show. The whole episode is told as homemade documentary by Elton Pope (Warren) who is a fairly normal bloke, a bit geeky, a bit soft, who just so happens to have had his life touched by the Doctor. His friends at ‘LINDA’ (don’t ask me to remember what it stands for!) are all a pretty likeable bunch – Shirley Henderson’s Ursula Blake is a nice little character, and I particularly liked ‘Michael’ from I’m Alan Partridge as Mr. Skinner. Davies certainly knows how to take the piss out of fans with their meetings and conventions!

So what is Peter Kay like? Worth all the hype? I’m probably a bit biased because I’m such a big fan of the man, but I thought he was very good. As the human Victor Kennedy he played it completely straight, without even his trademark northern accent, and he came across as genuinely sinister! Thankfully, his comic talents weren’t wasted and as soon as he became the Abzorbaloff, the voice, the wise cracks; everything just fell into place. “Clom!” – absolute genius! What a prize young William Grantham won! Not only to you get to see your own monster in Doctor Who, he’s played by Peter Kay!

“I keep thinking of Rose and Jackie. How much longer before they pay the price?”

Camille Coduri is also given a chance to shine here - in “Love & Monsters” she’s at her absolute best. I absolutely love Rose’s Mum; she’s absolutely brilliant. You really feel for Jackie in this story; she comes across as a really lonely woman - one moment desperately trying to have her wicked way with Elton, the next showing us her more vulnerable side as she gets a call from Rose.

However, I can see why a lot of people won’t like this episode. When the Doctor and Rose eventually do turn up, the Doctor doesn’t really do much – it’s ‘LINDA’ that truly saves the day. At the end of the day it’s for everybody to make their own minds up, but I think the light-hearted romp that is “Love & Monsters” will prove to be a welcome bit of comic relief, sandwiched between last week’s thrilling dance with the Devil and the climactic end to the season that is now only a few short weeks away. There is so much humour packed in there - Jackie pre-empting all Elton’s ‘steps’; “Clom!”; the first woman Elton shows his picture of Rose to knowing her whole life story – its certainly good entertainment. I wouldn’t encourage your children to dwell on the love life that Elton eluded to between himself and Ursula’s stone head, but other than that “Love & Monsters” is a solid little bit of family entertainment. I’m just a little bit gutted I couldn’t spot Barney in his red hat.

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Love and Monsters begins with the most promising and unusual premise to the new series yet. Elton, an endearingly idiosyncratic young man (we soon learn he likes the soccer, a drink, and the Electronic Light Orchestra), comes across the Doctor and Rose in a disused factory. In a joke that apparently never gets old for the new series’ writers, the Doctor and Rose are running back and forth across the screen, entering and exiting different doors on either side of the factory hallway, alternately chasing and being chased by a ‘monster’. This Benny Hill type chase scene (complete with bucket of water) seems intended to build the light comic relief which characterises the episode, and this particular monster’s presence is in fact then forgotten for the remainder.

Elton spends the rest of the episode documenting his story through soliloquies to his video camera, with cuts to the real action of the episode as it progresses. Elton recalls, from a strange night in early childhood, finding a mysterious man (the Doctor) in his house for a reason that later becomes clear (although unlikely). With a terrifically amusing sequence, we then see Elton getting involved with four other charming characters who have developed a fascination with the legend of the Doctor. At their regular meetings, they build a happy friendship that is much more fulfilling than the Doctor-obsession that originally brought them together.

Unfortunately, the mysterious and eccentric Victor discovers the group and his depth of knowledge on the Doctor and authoritative air quickly have them running errands trying to track the Doctor down. It’s unfortunate, because one by one Victor asks members of the group to stay behind, and one by one they mysteriously disappear. This is rather annoying, as they all had the potential to offer quite a bit more to the episode. Along the way, Elton has some very entertaining adventures finding and ingratiating himself with Rose’s mum, and again, the development of his friendship with her makes him realise that love and friendship in the real world is more fulfilling than his interest in the semi-mythical Doctor.

Sadly, the episode then needlessly self-destructs. The innovation and great comic timing of the parodic first half collapses into distasteful perversity as yet another unlikely monster is revealed, more unsatisfying speculation about the Doctor’s dark side is briefly and ineffectively touched on, and Elton is left at the end holding a disembodied (yet alive) woman’s head with which we are told he has a ‘love life’. The inescapable conclusion that this means kissing and fellatio between a man and a disembodied head is off-putting, to say the least.

Despite the poor finale, the beginning of this episode and a few of the other episodes this season do show that the new series of Doctor Who can find interesting new ground. Yet it remains a wasted opportunity that 22 of the first 27 episodes have been grounded on Earth (or in near space). Here’s hoping that the remaining two episodes of the season provide some segue for the TARDIS to break free of our solar system for the next season.

PS. I can't help thinking about the Satan Pit. Surely it would be more interesting for the TARDIS to materialise around the spaceship, rather than the rather silly ‘towing’ scene. It’s high time we saw some of the cavernous TARDIS interiors beyond the control room.

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Do you think ANYONE on the production team is able to turn to RTD and say 'actually, no, Russell- I think it's really bad and quite lazy. What on Earth are you trying to do?'

I just listened to the commentary on this episode. On it RTD chuckles at the absurdity of a steaming bucket being thrown at an alien to attack it and muses on the indignation of fans seeing this and that while the internet is buzzing he'll be in his hot tub. Personally I didn't mind the steaming bucket in the least. I do mind not knowing why it was there or what was going on but then RTD doesn't seem to think anything like plot matters so long as you've got snappy one-liners and soap-opera moments. I don't agree.

This was, in short a complete waste of our time. Yes is was sometimes smirkinlgy funny and quite sweet but so is alot of what's on TV and Dr Who is supposed to be better than that. I'm not just saying that because I count myself as a fan but because the new series have won so many awards, had so many viewers and so many RT covers. It IS better, more interesting and more engaging than most programmes on TV and what Love & Monsters did was, frankly boring.

The metaphor for Dr Who fans is now quite tired and beginning to get boring. Why not include metaphors for the BBC, JNT and Mary Whitehouse and write a plotless character piece about a group of schools kids making a magazine? This was SO trite, banal and pointless- the only vaguely interesting thing was Elton's mother being killed by a Shade escaped from the Howling Halls. But then we al know how good RTD is at thinking up sparkle and dressing without any thought, substance or plot behind it.

Peter Kay is apparently a really good actor aswell as a great comedian. He might be- it may have come across in the episode but to be honest all I could see was reasonable pantomime.

The epsiode was intended as an experiment- a change of format for the show. Good. Fine. Absolutely no problem. The 'Adventuress of Henrietta Street' was a BBC novel with a radically different format, told in the form of fragmented historical documents, heresay and excerpts from prostitutes' diaries. It was also the most engaging, intelligent and exciting Dr Who book I have every read. I have no problem with experimenting with the bounds of the show's format but SURELY if you are going to do something risky and unusual you need a really good REASON to do it? There was nothing here- just some pretty standard TV fair about a group of people enjoying themselves and being taken over by a more coporate/unhappy ethos and then losing friends. It wasn't deep, it wasn't interesting and certainly wasn't worth my time.

It was also a complete spoof. Like the burping bin, the EXCESSIVE farting of the slitheen and the three stooges slaptick at the beginning of the epidose it was a very obvious denial of the world in which the characters live. It's like a boom coming into shot or having canned laughter over the top of the soundtrack. These little quirks and one-liners that pepper RTD's writing are not only pathetic when compared to the comedy and plotting of other writers but also ruin our belief in the world the character's live in- how can we care about Billy's character when we're constantly being made aware of the writer's sense of humour. The kind of ridiculous juxtapositions RTD puts in like the boy-next-door keeping a living paving-stone in his room which whom he has arelationship could probably be carried off by a writer like Paul Magrs- he is outlandish in such a way as create believable worlds with explanations and intelligent themes. Can you imagine the response that the first episode of 2005 would have had if Rose was attacked by and Abzorbaloff in the basement rather than Autons? NO ONE WOULD BE WATCHING.

On a similar theme the Abzorbaloff was terribly realized. The idea the 10y/o kid had is good as far as I can see and despite the Earth-referencing sumo pants and mohican a nice idea for an alien mencace. Contrary to RTD's comments it is perfectly obvious from the drawing that it should have been the size of a double decker bus (a whole body is visible in its forearm) and it should have been see-through... but never mind. Unfortunately it looked like a goblin/orc/gremlin/ogre/troll from any fairy-tale book and NOT like an alien. My point is it looks very much like a human fantasy of a monster - essentially a very ugly human being - rather than something that evolved on a very different work an developed a different culture. Compare this to the Ood who look wonderful and SO believeable. If there was some kind of explanation that the reason we conceive goblins/trolls/bogeymen as looking a bit like Abzorbaloffs etc suchas them actually stalking Bavarian villages in the fifth century and being recorded in our popular consciousness as fairy tale monsters- then suddenly they'd be believable and more frightening. As it is it looks like a fat guy in suit and if I were a 10y/o viewer I'd be insulted.

As I said there were moments that were funny and sweet. But anyone and any TV show can do that- Dr Who needs to have more to it.

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Watching "Love and Monsters" counts as possibly the best forty-five minutes spent in front of a television for many years. I would sincerely rate this as one of the freshest, finest, funniest and most gloriously life-enhancing episodes of Doctor Who that has ever been screened.

There is little point in discussing the details of "Love and Monsters". There are plenty of other sources and reviews dedicated to discussing the script, plot, dialogue, acting, effects and production : all of which were from the top drawer.

For this is really not a review of the story per se, but a meta-review, a consideration of fans' reactions to the story as evinced by the polarised opinions expressed on Outpost Gallifrey and elsewhere. I think it important that Doctor Who fans pause for reflection and consider the impact of "Love and Monsters". For it crystallises Russell T. Davies' effect on the programme and epitomises his vision. This is the show that forces us to nail our colours to the mast and declare whether we are Who-radicals or Who- conservatives.

The presence of so many negative reviews for "Love and Monsters" reveals, as if it needed any revelation, that many Doctor Who fans are deeply conservative. That is to be expected : fandom is composed of people who love something, and what they love they seek to protect from change lest it become something they love less, or not at all.

But I think this conservative reaction to "Love and Monsters" is not only undeserved and unnecessary, it is poison to the show they love.

The negative reaction of the conservatives is undeserved because this was an excellent story. It had pace, rhythm (and blues), humour, terrific lines, character, heart and soul. In Peter Kay's Absorbaloff it had an alien somewhat in the mould of Nabil Shaban's Sil from Vengeance on Varos, and superbly realised. Some of the pure CGI creatures we have seen in earlier episodes of Series Two (especially the werewolf from "Tooth and Claw" and the Krillitanes from "School Reunion") lack any real presence for the simple reason that they have none – they are added on afterwards, and it shows; they simply do not interact with the sets or cast in a truly convincing way. The Absorbaloff is a brilliant creation, galaxies away from previous generations of latex aliens, and one which has a tremendous, tactile vitality.

Moreover, this story most emphatically was echt-Doctor Who. In fact, in its closing revelations it speaks more about the Doctor and what he stands for and does than many more ordinary stories. Anyone with a knowledge of Classic Who knows there are plenty of occasions where the Doctor's behaviour seems distinctly at odds with what we think it should be; the way in which he seems just a little too keen to dispatch the bad guys, a few touches of callousness, or sometimes a seeming acceptance of what should be unacceptable situations. Tennant may have been on screen for only a few brief moments, but those scenes perfectly articulated the Doctor's mission, his essence.

That this story is regarded as radical or experimental is itself an indictment of the limited imaginations and timidity of many Who fans. For in reality, it is barely either of those things. It is less experimental in many regards than Ghost Light, and vastly more entertaining and well-written that that travesty of a story – a story which did not so much hammer the nails into the programme's coffin as suck them in from inside the casket.

What exactly did the Who-conservatives think that writers meant when they said that the best thing about Doctor Who was the flexibility it offered them, the fact that any story could be told in any way? Apparently it meant any story and any way as long as it started with the Tardis materialising and featured the Doctor in most scenes. Pour me some more Mogadon; I have a hundred and fifty stories on video and DVD like that.

Why is it so outrageous to the Who-conservatives that this story hardly features the Doctor and Rose? How can any thinking fan think that this means it is "not proper Who"? Have you never read a book or seen a film which occasionally switches viewpoint or voice, even for a single chapter or scene? Have you never wondered what impact the Doctor must have on a planet he dedicates so much of his time to saving? Are we forbidden from seeing the ripples he makes in the lives of those he meets? Can we not be spared 45 minutes in which to see these things? Russell T. Davies is absolutely right to lift the drab veil which has hitherto prevented us from bearing witness to those whose lives have been touched by one of the most extraordinary creatures in the universe.

Of course, it's not just the almost Doctor-less nature of the show which has the conservatives howling. The show has music! And humour! Worst still, a joke, possibly referring to oral sex! And we know that these things are anathema to the po- faced, sexless conservatives. They didn't like the Slitheen's flatulence. They don't do the kissing. Captain Jack's sexual ambiguity is not something they care to ponder. For their vision of Doctor Who is an arid, dusty one; a show of lofty concepts and portentous moments – "Have I the right?"- to be contemplated with Time Lord-like disdain. Heaven forbid that the programme should actually be entertaining, should appeal to the non-fan, should dare to rise above the ankle-high limits required of it by fandom.

Restrict quality writers with the conditions required by the conservatives, and I'll tell you what you'll get : three more series of corridor athletics. Except you won't get three series, you'll get none, because the audiences would drop Doctor Who like an osmium anvil.

"Love and Monsters" was the embodiment of ideas expressed in this season's stories "School Reunion" and "Age of Steel" : the necessity of change and the utter failure which will result from attempting to keep things static and under control. And this maxim applies as much to the show itself as to the characters and events portrayed within it.

Were the Doctor real, he would adore "Love and Monsters". He would revel in its energy and humour, its "radical" nature, its portrayal of real people, and he would run screaming from the conservative's vision of the programme – no sex, no fun, no change and nothing tasting of human beings behaving in a believable manner.

So I rebut those reviewers who have used the "worst ever" gag from "The Simpsons"; and I do so partly because it is very nearly true, and partly to provoke and stimulate the debate. Inevitably, then : "Love and Monsters"…best episode ever?

Filters: Television Series 2/28 Tenth Doctor

I have been a DOCTOR WHO fan since 1978. I remember thinking at the time what a great story THE SUNMAKERS was when it first rolled out. It was lighthearted,funny and satirical to the bone and different to alot of what was being done at the time of its production. Unfortunately, a few years earlier when Mary Whitehouse started to point her fingers at the show for being too violent and scary for children, the show suddenly shifted as Graham Williams took over from the wonderful Phillip Hincliffe and closed the door on a golden era of Doctor Who. The SUNMAKERS was a bright spot, but soon THE HORNS OF NIMON would make me cringe to the point of embarrassment and Tom Baker's wit and humor would start to go over the top and bleed off into camp. I remember celebrating the show's 20th anniversary in 1983, and now over 20 years beyond the transmission of THE FIVE DOCTORS, let me tell you that I thought" LOVE AND MONSTERS “was one of the most absolutely entertaining hours I have ever spent in front of the televsion. It was FRESH, ORIGINAL,and CUTTING EDGE like the way the best episodes have always been. It was a daring attept to try new things and while I was never a fan of overt over the top comedy and campiness in DOCTOR WHO, this was a darker than dark, pitch black comedy about the Doctor's dizzy universe and the innocent people who fall into it. This perspective has become one of the hallmarks of Russell T. Davies' repackaged resurrection of the old series. This had its own style,its own rythym and beat, and Dan Zeff, the director has done a wonderful levitation act with the material and prevented it from going over the top. And what to do with the Absorbaloff???,a creature created for a BLUE PETER contest with no connected story or plot whatsoever. This was an episode that I actually FEARED I would instantly hate. However,amusingly, Russell T Davies' has unw ittingly tapped into the utter and intangible vestibule containing the pure unrefined magic of what DOCTOR WHO is. Uncle Russell manages to achieve this through focusing on a loveable bunch of characters woven into this story who become "L. I. N. D. A. ,the London Investigative. . . N' Dectective agency spearheaded by Elton Pope who happens on a chance meeting with the Doctor as the episode begins and suddenly finds his life changed forever by the Doctor.

Russell T Davies vision for the series has always been to shove “a great chunk of the 21st century" right in the middle of Doctor Who and these elements have been hallmarks of alot of his penned episodes. This has never been demonstrated more brillantly by the wake of the storm left behind by one of the Doctor's visits. In LOVE AND MONSTERS, we see the Doctor as a total stranger, the mysterious alien as we first saw him in Totters Lane through the eyes of the Londoners who have united in a similar cause to find answers to this mysterious entity they find showing up in history books, old photos, in Egyptian Hieroglyphics, and on the internet. I was always disappointed nothing was ever made about that "WHO IS THE DOCTOR" website seen in the "ROSE" episode and continued by the BBC as a fictional novelty website that Mickey administrated. The Earth that the Doctor and Rose return to in pa st and future times is a new Earth that has seen alien invasions and the impossible happen live on network telvision. Elton Pope is a young man who has witnessed the Auton invasion in "ROSE" and has woken up on Christmas Day to the arrival of the Sycorax fleet of starships hovering above London. His world has changed, and with it, come new obsessions. Russell T. Davies' brilliantly executed and entertaining script takes the Doctor's existance in that world for granted and treats us to Hard Rock jam sessions with L. I. N. D. A. ,a romance with Jackie Tyler,the Autons and the Slitheen spacehip,BAD WOLF, Torchwood, Pizza, Laundramats, and the MUSIC. . . . . . . ELO!!!! and a clip of ELTON JOHN! Oh This was so British, Soooooo Doctor Who and proof that the Doctor is trully a legend,in Elton's world and in our own. The absence of David Tennant and Billie Piper through much of the episode is not even felt because Uncle Russell has given us so much brain candy in an episode d e livered in the first person narrative of our hero, Elton. I know it was different, and fans will be debating its merits for years to come, but it could have been so contrived,yet it was staggeringly innovative and was quite literally about. . . . love. . . . and well. . . . . . er. . . . . Monsters. Spoiler revealed. My only quarrel is the loss of most of the L. I. N. D. A. operative as I would have loved to have seen this merry bunch of misfits sleuthing with the Doctor in a future episode and dancing to more music of the "Electric light Orchestra". Another lost oppotunity it seems in what has become a season of many earthly and unearthly delights, and I hope I am not premature on this, evidence of a comfort zone that RTD has achieved with his scripts so far this season,which continues to astound in its varied patina of adventures.

There seems to be an interesting thread that has run through the fisrt two seasons of the new series. This began with Clive's comments to Rose in the first episode about the Doctor's constant companion being Death and you have to begin to wonder where Russell Davies is going with this. The darkness has crept in again,as Elton comments at the close of the episode that everyone who comes in contact with the Doctor faces death. It seems RTD is turning Doctor Who into an Anti-Hero again. It's actually a bit unnerving but it does seen to be true. Elton becomes the sole survivor of L. I. N. D. A. along with Ursula, well, at least a part of Ursula whose character seems right out of a Quentin Taratino movie. As Elton points out, Time may be running out for Jackie and Rose as well. I am not too clear on exactly why the Doctor would visit Elton as a childremarkin g something about a 'shade" in the house with him,which is a reference to a ghost and this may be a connection to the Finale in a few weeks time. The episode had its fair overbrimming share of sexual inuendo laced scenes mostly involving Jackie and Eltonwith some very adult references being played out in what is considered "family' entertainment. It was however very nice to see Jackie involved in her ordinary life, waiting for Rose to telephone or return, a reverse perspective of what we are used to seeing that fleshes out her character that much more. She also has alot of time on her hands, and while the Doctor may have "just" escaped her romantic clutches, I think her tryst with Elton may further heat up speculation about her and Mickey keeping each other company, not that it hasn't already been suggested. She seems to be a "busy" gal in the Powell Estate. ! Surprisingly, the episode ends by plunging every viewer,including children into suddenly facing the death of a parent, which is some pretty heavy stuff to serve up in the final minutes of a light hearted adventure. I am also surprised Elton didn't blame the Doctor all those years for his mothers death since the Doctor's mysterious presence in the house Elton refers to was on the night his mother died. Small complaints in what is a wonderfully entertaining little story. LOVE AND MONSTERS reminded me of how THE SUNMAKERS first blew up all away. Like Elton's poignant closing remarks about life, this episode was a little mad and crazy, and so much more!

Filters: Television Series 2/28 Tenth Doctor

Many years ago, Blue Peter ran a competition for young Doctor Who fans to design their own monsters. The winning entries, the Steel Octopus, the Hypnotron, and Aquaman, were built by the BBC special effects department and filmed in the studio as a reward. Wisely, this was as far as the prize went. Unwisely, when the Blue Peter ran a similar competition in 2006, Russell T. Davies thought it might be a good idea to actually feature the winning entry in Doctor Who itself. And thus ‘Love & Monsters’ came to pass. Forced to write an episode revolving around a green fat man in a thong however, Davies does the only sensible thing and plays it for laughs; the result is arguably the single most divisive story of the new series to date.

‘Love & Monsters’ is unusual, but at its heart is a great idea. By sidelining the Doctor and Rose, Davies tells the story from the point of view of an innocent bystander whose world has collided with that of the Doctor, and in doing so he portrays the Doctor as almost mythical figure who leaves chaos in his wake. This is essentially a very sound concept, and allows Davis to revisit the idea he briefly touched on in ‘Rose’ in more depth. Elton’s speech at the end, and the revelation of his mother’s death, shows the Doctor as an engine of fate, who may be wonderful and magical, but who is always accompanied by pain and tragedy; thus, Elton is drawn slowly into the Doctor’s world and loses everything he held dear, first his mother during a childhood encounter, and subsequently all of his friends as they fall prey to the Absorbaloff, who is trying to track the Doctor down. Ominously, Elton ponders, “Maybe that’s what happens if you touch the Doctor, even for a second. I keep thinking about Jackie and Rose and wondering how soon they’ll pay the price” which brings a sense of foreboding in the context of the series as a whole, especially given the announcement that Billie Piper is to depart at the end of the this series.

This is not the only preoccupation of ‘Love & Monsters’. The members of LINDA represent an unsubtle and rather patronizing but ultimately affectionate swipe at Doctor Who fans (because of course we’re all eccentric and socially awkward), which ends up resulting in an episode that for the first half an hour feels rather sweet and endearing. For the first time, Davies’ insistence on crowbarring emotional relationships into Doctor Who works, partly because it doesn’t involve the Doctor and Rose flirting at inconvenient moments, but because it feels natural in an episode that focuses on a close knit group of friends. Incredibly, one side effect of this is that Jackie actually works well, and Camille Coduri, who usually makes me want to put my foot through the television whenever she is on screen, puts in a decent performance. The scene in which Jackie does all of Elton’s infiltration steps for him is genuinely entertaining, whilst her predatory seduction scene is quite terrifying. For the first time, her sadness over Rose’s absence feels poignant rather than merely tedious and is entirely appropriate to a story that explores the consequences for those caught up in the Doctor’s life. And when she realizes that Elton is looking for the Doctor, her furious response, as she tells him, “I’ll never let her down and I’ll protect them both until the end of my life” is well acted and a far cry from the usual shrill harridan turn we get from her. In fact she comes off better than Rose here, who in her brief scene at the end strides out of the TARDIS, ignores the Absorbaloff and shrieks, “You upset my mum!” Strident cow.

The rest of the cast is also very good, with Mark Warren excelling as endearing simpleton Elton, but it is inevitably Peter Kay, in an example of sort of guest star casting that John Nathan-Turner used to get lambasted for, who grabs the attention. I’m not sure whether the casting came first or the script, but Kay’s performance works because above all else, ‘Love & Monsters’ has a sense of both the ridiculous and the grotesque. Victor Kennedy is rather Grand Guignol, and his constant reminders about his “eczeema” are quite amusing, Kay clearly having fun. The character verges on pantomime, but the flashes of anger and occasional urgency ring true. Once Kay switches into the Absorbaloff costume however, things go massively over-the-top in a way that is obviously intentional; the Absorbaloff is ludicrous and treated as such, from its writhing in disgusting ecstasy as it digests its victims, to the hilariously unpleasant sight of it running along in its thong and roaring menacingly (mercifully, Davies decides that it isn’t really called an Absorbaloff; Elton and Ursula fumble for names for the creature and then it delighted proclaims, “Yes, I like that” when they hit on Absorbaloff). It’s utterly grotesque, but not nearly so much as Ursula, rescued from death by the Doctor and turned into a concrete fellatio machine, which is profoundly disturbing.

Some of the humour works less well, most notably the cringe worthy Scooby Doo nonsense with the Hoix and the buckets (and Davies is really pushing his luck with Elton’s, “I just put that bit at the beginning ‘cause it’s a brilliant opening”), but there are some great lines and in particular Elton’s, “There’s two women live there now, and they’re a bit… severe” made me chuckle, as did the Doctor’s urgent, “Elton! Fetch a spade!” On the down side, Davies can’t resist sticking in references to not only Torchwood but also Bad Wolf and Raxacoricofallapatorius and the Slitheen, which somehow manages to be more self-indulgent than anything else in the episode.

Inevitably, ‘Love & Monsters’ is going to prove controversial, and quite possibly hugely unpopular, but it’s fun, it’s silly, and it’s an attempt to do something new within the series. And that in itself is worthwhile, even if posterity judges the experiment a failure.

Filters: Television Series 2/28 Tenth Doctor