THIS EPISODE TAKES
PLACE BETWEEN THE TV
EPISODE "THE SATAN
PIT" AND THE NOVEL
"THE NIGHTMARE OF
RUSSELL T. DAVIES
'THE COMPLETE SECOND
SERIES' CYBERMAN HEAD
AMAZON EXCLUSIVE DVD
BOX SET (BBCDVD2122)
RELEASED IN NOVEMBER
AN ORDINARY MAN
WITH THE DOCTOR AND
ROSE, AND UNCOVERS A
WORLD OF LIVING
17TH JUNE 2006
Love & Monsters is an episode that is really going to court controversy and divide opinion. More romcom than Doctor Who, this charming little Doctor-lite episode reminded me very much of the madcap ‘comedy’ episodes that The X-Files often tried
to do. However, for all its charm, after watching it I did feel like I had been robbed of my week’s ‘proper’ Doctor Who. “Doctor Where” - as Peter Kay quipped on Friday Night
With Jonathan Ross - sums this one up completely.
For the first time since it came back last year, Doctor Who takes time to wallow in recent events, rehashing the events of many preceding episodes. Fortunately Love & Monsters doesn’t plumb the depths of Another Simpsons Clip Show, but even so there is a distinct recycled feel that it’s hard to get away from. What ultimately made it work for me was being able to witness these past events through Joe Public’s eyes. At its best, Love & Monsters even reminded me of what David Bishop did for the early UNIT stories in his seminal novel Who Killed Kennedy.
The reduced role that David Tennant and Billie Piper play in the episode is of course a bone of contention for many, but then again in the 1960s William Hartnell and Patrick Troughton (as well as all their companions) would often get a bump on the head or be kidnapped at
the end of one episode only to reappear about three weeks later. Of course, this is a very different age with very different standards, but at the end of the day Love & Monsters does not do anything that other contemporary shows don’t do.
In any event, this episode has two big pros
that outweigh all the cons – firstly, it’s been beautifully written by the man, the legend, Russell T Davies (no small feat considering the self-inflicted ‘shopping list’ that he had to work with); and secondly, it has one hell of a cast. 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 a homemade documentary by Elton Pope (Warren) who is a fairly normal bloke that just so happens to have had his life touched by the Doctor. His friends at ‘LINDA’ (don’t ask me to remember what the acronym stands for!) are all a pretty likeable bunch – Shirley Henderson’s Ursula Blake is extremely well-drawn, and I particularly liked ‘Michael’ from I’m Alan Partridge as Mr Skinner. Through this daft but loveable lot, Davies is certainly ripping the piss out of fans with their many meetings and conventions.
So what is Peter Kay like? Worth all the hype? I’m probably a bit biased as I’m such a big fan of the man, but I certainly thought that he was very good indeed. As the human, Victor Kennedy, Kay plays it completely straight - even his trademark northern accent is conspic-uously absent - and comes across as genuinely sinister. His comic talents are not wasted though - as soon as he became the Abzorbaloff, the voice, the wise cracks; everything just falls into place. What a prize young Blue Peter competition winner William Grantham won. Not only did he get to see his own monster in Doctor Who, but he was played by Peter Kay!
Camille Coduri is also given a chance to shine here as Rose’s Mum, Jackie Tyler. In fact, in Love & Monsters she is at her absolute best. The viewer really feels for Jackie here as we see how lonely and drab her everyday life is. One moment she is desperately trying to have her wicked way with Elton, the next she is showing us her more vulnerable side as she gets a call from Rose and almost visibly breaks down.
“I keep thinking of Rose and Jackie. How much longer before they pay the price?”
Ultimately, I can see why a lot of people will not like this episode, but I think that the light-hearted romp that is Love & Monsters proves just how versatile the show’s format is. And sandwiched as it is between last week’s truly thrilling dance with the Devil and the climactic season finalé that is now just a few short weeks away, it comes as a welcome bit of comic relief. I wouldn’t encourage your children to dwell too much on the love life that Elton eludes to between him and Ursula’s stone head, but other than that this one is a solid little bit of family entertainment. I’m just a little bit gutted that I couldn’t spot Totally’s Barney in his red hat. I guess I’ll have to wait for the DVD...
Copyright © E.G. Wolverson 2006
E.G. Wolverson has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.
When is now? This episode takes place between the Rise of the Cybermen two-parter (6th and 7th January 2007) and the Doomsday two-parter (mid-2007).
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