Love & Monsters.



TV Ironically, I too am double banking this week, with the first chapter of a dissertation to write and so just like the Doctor's appearance in tonight episode of Doctor Who, I'll keep this brief, and in the style of the marking sheet for an essay I've just got back:

Relevance: You could say that this series is lacking a momentum and after last week's bombshell about Rose it might have been prudent to move straight into a story which had her as central stage or else added to the heartache. This episode could have appeared earlier in the series, although there were references to what might happen to Jackie and Rose so I seriously think at least one of them isn't long for the Whoniverse. Either that or Rose'll regenerate -- wouldn't that be a turn-up?

Structure: I liked that the Doctor's appearances book ended the episode with Marc Warren's superb performance carrying the rest. I liked the slight leap into Simpsons-style sight gags ('No not that Elton.') and the feeling that this was someone telling a story with all of the messing about with time and restricted narration that allows. For once the foreknowledge of who the Abzorbaloff would be worked to the episode's advantage because it allowed some of the double meaning in Peter Kay's dialogue to make sense first time around.

Strength of Argument: Actually this might one of Russell T's best episodes. I don't think it descended too far into parody or comedy -- even the Scooby-Doo style corridor running in the teaser was funny -- although I could have been laughing at just how outrageous it all was. Before I even look at Outpost Gallifrey (which appeared in Confidential afterwards representing the geek end of the audience) I can see this is yet again going to split fandom down the middle. I think the reason is clear -- this isn't the series we once knew any more. Not better or worse necessarily -- just different. If there's an issue, more could have been made with the parallels between Elton losing his mother and Rose not paying hers enough attention. Although -- where was Sad Tony?

Coverage: Really I lost my heart to Jackie Tyler tonight (confession -- I've always fancied her). Camille excelled when given more mileage for once and being allowed to have her own story independent of whatever her daughter is up to. If there's a criticism of the episode, it's that there could have been a whole adventure were Jackie was at the centre, about her loss rather than seeing it from the point-of-view of this new new outsider. Dave and Billie were funny with the bit of material they had; which if you look at it from their point of view might have been a story something akin to Doctor Who Adventures (which hammers out mini-classics on a fortnightly basis now -- the last two were great). Even Peter Kay worked within context. But another amazing guest cast again. Shirley Henderson trying not to be Moaning Myrtle too much (did anyone else see a show she was in called Glasgow Kiss? Amazing romantic comedy stuck on over a summer a few years ago). And Kathryn Drysdale from Two Pints. Apparently. Never seen it. Bella Emberg! Let's move on...

Independence: Nope, there really hasn't been a tv episode quite like this one and somehow it still worked within the chemistry of the new show. It reminded me somewhat of that BBC Short Trip Glass in which a shop girl talked about the aftermath of Shada. It's a shame that LINDA only lasted the episode, although I think potential for a Baker Street Kids style spin-off for kids around a similar concept could be fun -- or a kind of Red Hand Gang with aliens. Hmm.

Clarity: It might have sagged a bit in the middle. A bit like the Abzorbaloff.

Referencing and presentation: Perfect opportunity to bring in lots of continuity for the fans and ... well that's a shame. I'm not talking about random photos of Troughton, but something a bit more substantive than the line drawings. I understand why this wasn't done, but the show's been back out in the world for a while now and the awareness of its past is a bit higher. But, hey, despite that joke at the end, this was a show for kids. I don't remember seeing director Dan Zeff's name before (although he's worked on everything from At Home With The Braithwaites to Fat Friends), but his work was excellent, giving the show a completely different look -- although I might have liked something was a bit darker in places. One of my few problems with the series is that it aspires to be a film without looking like a film -- there are some excellent filmising techniques available. Series Three is apparently being shot in HD -- that should help.

Comments So yes, really enjoyed it again, a change of pace and a great way to deal with the availability of actors. Given that they might have a similar problem next year with the double banking, I'm actually quite intrigued to see how they deal with it. Fabulous deployment of ELO too ...

Provisional mark (subject to confirmation by Board of Examiners): 73%

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