“You’ve got me shaking got me running away….you got me crawling up to you everyday…don’t bring me down”
Those words in the E.L.O song couldn’t be more adept. They completely relate to the current state of division of the fans of the show at the moment concerning RTD and his ideas. Ever since details have been slowly dribbling out about Love & Monsters Iâ€™m not afraid to say Iâ€™d feared the worst. Indeed I was sure I could hear screams of division go out during the broadcast last night, or maybe that was due to the Absorbaloff absorbing.
Not so. Strangely enough, thereâ€™s been quite a split over Russell T. Davies in the K team and in the forums, and while Iâ€™m in the middle ground camp, on a personal level I enjoyed this much more than say, New Earth.
We get to meet a lonely geezer called Elton Pope, who has an obsession with the Doctor after meeting him when he was a child. We learn that his obsession has been fuelled from strange encounters, including Autons and the Sycorax invasion among other things, and he finally finds a group with the same interests as him.
“Iâ€™ll tell you once more before I get off the floor….Don’t bring me down”
Iâ€™m still not quite sure whether the episode was a parody of the fans, seeing the group meet in a basement regularly reminded me of a meet Iâ€™m involved in Liverpool (thankfully minus the singing) the references to fan sites and information on the web is akin to those who run sites such as myself and who like to constantly blab on about theories within the series (which confirms it. Iâ€™m an anorak).
So we get what we would call a group of anoraks, all converging and getting along, all with a common interest in the Doctor. As time goes by we see the small community grow in friendship and before long they are whipping out the flans and bouncing along to Electric Light Orchestra ditties in their own band. Which brings me to the cast of this episode, I don’t know much about Shirley Henderson, but they got the cast spot on – Mr Skinner, ably played by Simon Greenall of “Iâ€™m Alan Partridge” fame (my girlfriend couldnâ€™t believe he was the same bloke as he didnâ€™t sound like a Geordie – its called acting love :)), Kathryn Drysdale from “Two pints of Lager” and Moya Brady, from long running ITV police series “The Bill” are topped off with the excellent Marc Warren. They all play their nerd like parts with ease especially Warren who is known for playing a rather tougher type of character. Itâ€™s at the midway point we are joined by comedian Peter Kay as Victor Kennedy, and while not his best performance turns in a decent tongue in cheek baddie, as he gets them to shrug off their fun meetings and get down to some serious tracking down of the Doctor for his own dastardly means.
Interestingly, at this point I wasnâ€™t even missing the lack of appearance from the Doctor and was really taken in by Marc Warrenâ€™s character; being a one-off it was an interesting take on a person on the fringes of the Doctors life. Suffice to say if this had been shown earlier in the season, my review might have been a lot harsher, but this series of Who is a different beast nowadays and Iâ€™ve learnt it will never be like the classic series and have just come to accept what it is, although a few more interplanetary stories wouldnâ€™t go amiss.
“I turn to stone – when you have gone, I turn to stone”
So we finally discover, after several members ‘disappear’ – that Victor Kennedy is an alien. He’s absorbed several members of the group and now wants to taste the Doctor and has been in fact using the group to do all the dirty work for him, including Eltonâ€™s mini relationship with Jackie (who I must confess looked tasty in this episode) to get closer to the Doctor. With his cover blown he absorbs Ursula and goes after Elton. The Doctor appears in probably the let down scene of the entire episode, when Rose marches out to give Elton an earful about giving her mum trouble, which really was just laughable. I mean how do they know where he is for a start?
With the Doctors intervention the Absorbaloff is defeated, melting away along with the people absorbed, The Doctor manages to save the head of Ursula in a paving stone, “Elton…get a spade!” which really made me laugh aloud. We then find out that the Doctor saved Elton many years ago when his mother was killed in their home by an elemental shade, presumably he was talking about a scally from Liverpool. We then sign off with Eltonâ€™s warning that knowing the Doctor is dangerous and that he fears for Rose and Jackie, what that means Iâ€™m sure we will find out!
So an enjoyable romp, but one I know will divide the fans the length and breadth. Its understandable something quite light hearted and comedic was put in at this stage, presumably to give some relief before the next few hair raising adventures that we just know will throw up some revelations. However I think RTD just got away with it. Just.
Itâ€™s a story you may only get to tell once, certainly Iâ€™d like to see some more traditional off-world Who adventures as yet again we are back on Earth next week, but it looks like thatâ€™s a Series Three away for the time being.