“Love & Monsters” Review

I haven’t written individual episode reviews for most of Doctor Who. I did feel moved, half way through last night’s episode, to post something along the lines of “Wow. More like this please.” But I then since that was all I felt it was necessary to say, it didn’t seem worth the bother.

Well, due to popular demand, I’m going to have to say a little more than that.

After the previous double in the Alien/Event Horizon Hollywood space epic genre, here’s an episode that not only goes to the other extreme with a very English romcom feel to it (very Anorak of Fire), but in which also the brilliant editing allows the writer (“The Master” – Russell T. Davies) to shrug off the constraints of the Doctor Who formula most effectively. Not just the non-linear narrative, but the subjective first-person video diary narrative and the almost schizophrenic cutting camcorder->Doctor Who->camcorder->Elton John->ELO….etc.

Marc Warren and Shirley Henderson were great, it was packed with playful gags (some very funny, with superb timing… such as the epic musical build up to the Bella Emberg “she lives at number…” line) and it had a great soundtrack. The affectionate digs at the fans were spot on (which of us doesn’t know a Doctor Who fan called Colin who has every episode on tape? – I know I do). Jackie Tyler in full on seduction mode was petrifying and hilarious, with Camille Coduri then handling the change to the desparate-left-behind thing most effectively. Okay, so on the niggles front, we get more unsubtle Torchwood/Bad Wolf references crowbarred in,

and another reference to Rose’s impending demise (although the suggestions that Jackie, too, may sacrifice herself were suitably subtle)

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and (though I don’t want to be uncharitable here) the moster did look a bit like it had been designed by a 10 year old. Although this last is understandable, given that it was. Also I was disappointed that, given its romcom status, that we didn’t get the full on happy ending, although at this point in the season’s arc I can see why. The biggest problem with the episode will be for the kids, since the humour and style were perhaps too sophisticated to be accessible, and it certainly wasn’t very scary: what was there for them? And funny though the final gag was, I have to admit to being a tad shocked at hearing this in a “family” show!

Anyway, in short, I loved it. It was a very clever episode, but it clearly wasn’t to everyone’s taste. In fact, it’s a bit of a marmite episode, and has already been described as the worst episode ever (so not just worse than Aliens of London/World War III, but The Happiness Patrol, The Web Planet etc. as well). So I’m now going to don my tin hat and get under the table…

…okay, the comments on this post are now on.

About Simon Wood

E-learning officer, lapsed mathematician, Doctor Who fan and garden railway builder. See simonwood.info for more...

17 thoughts on ““Love & Monsters” Review

  1. I agree completely. I loved most of the writing, the acting and the ELO, but they could have tried harder with the absorbatrix and his downfall. (By the way, was “final gag” an intentianal pun?)

  2. Er… no, that wasn’t intended as a pun. Thank you for that thought.

    So what are the reasons someone might give for almost going and doing some marking instead?

  3. Er… no, that wasn’t intended as a pun. Thank you for that thought.

    So what are the reasons someone might give for almost going and doing some marking instead?

  4. thank you, I thought so. Being under house arrest for 2 and a half days has given me a chance to practice my debating skills. There’s no point arguing about it – it was rubbish and that’s all there is to it. fingers crossed for tomorrow.

  5. Tarquin, regarding your first comment: although my “pun” was genuinely unintentional, it’s trumped by this at Behind the Sofa: “We are asked to believe that this man has some kind of love life with a head in a paving slab. I find that very difficult to swallow.”

  6. Tarquin, regarding your first comment: although my “pun” was genuinely unintentional, it’s trumped by this at Behind the Sofa: “We are asked to believe that this man has some kind of love life with a head in a paving slab. I find that very difficult to swallow.”

  7. What I mean is, it failed to be outstanding in anyway (save for one line that will see it take its place in Who History). Tennant wasn’t bad, but the plot was thin, the drawing trapment thing poorly realised, the monster wasn’t scary, the little girl couldn’t act, the alien possession was risible… I could go on. But the main thing was it was a bit of a missed opportunity. There could have been more Olympic stuff, and if they’d had enough budget left after the Satan monster there could have been some cool animated interplay (and I don’t mean subduing a scribble with a sonic screwdriver).

  8. What I mean is, it failed to be outstanding in anyway (save for one line that will see it take its place in Who History). Tennant wasn’t bad, but the plot was thin, the drawing trapment thing poorly realised, the monster wasn’t scary, the little girl couldn’t act, the alien possession was risible… I could go on. But the main thing was it was a bit of a missed opportunity. There could have been more Olympic stuff, and if they’d had enough budget left after the Satan monster there could have been some cool animated interplay (and I don’t mean subduing a scribble with a sonic screwdriver).

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