LOVE AND MONSTERS
For some reason I can't just jump on the bandwagon and hate this story, I just can't. I mean there's reason enough to hate it but...to be honest, I didn't when I first saw it but then again at that time I had a wide eyed shock that I think made me like anything that is and was DOCTOR WHO. The shock of it being back and being quite good most of the time. MOST OF THE TIME. I think most people and fans still have that wide eyed shock, new fans of just the new show have it because something is that good/was that good and that thrill that first getting to know DW has...and that shock makes you feel no real discernment when it comes to taste. I think that shock makes people like crap like RUNAWAY BRIDE and morbid shit like TORCHWOOD CHILDREN OF EARTH. In its defense, at least LOVE AND MONSTERS has some humor and some of it is actually funny. I noticed random things on this watching. Just like THE SATAN PIT has a small musical tribute to TWILIGHT ZONE (the original and during the short bit when Rose tries to stop Jefferson shooting Toby---btw should she have done that? Or would the beast have taken over someone else anyway?), this story has a few small musical nods to the very beginning of the X FILES theme song.
The real thing about this story is...that it has a number of good ideas that should have made a number of good DW stories but here, together, they just...really don't. I'm not sure what was going on with the Rose/Doctor/fish monster/bucket scenes but they're crap but at the time I just figured it was Elton's version of what happened, a sort of cliche/tribute to Scooby Doo chase sequences which really doesn't work. Again, the stories that interconnect here could have made better stories separately or on their own. We have: Jackie Tyler's lonely story. I still wish that in the end, Elton could have just sought her out and she and he could have been happy together somehow, even if it was just as mates. Marc Warren's just so hot and so likable...a bit like Jackie in that respect and seeing as how he lost his mother to the Doctor, not unlike how Jackie lost Rose to the Doctor, seeing the two of them together would have made a much better ending than the one we got with the brick bit of Ursula. None of the LINDA gang was unlikable and they were all rather sweet, nice, lonely FAN people. Maybe the reason some fans don't like this is that same reason some fans don't like Adric: it mirrors their fanness. But they were sort of like real people, too in many ways. The idea of a group of fans or people that believe in and try to find the Doctor is another good idea as is the idea of ONE man having his life disrupted or correlated with the Doctor and events in the Doctor's life also is a nice idea. So we have three ideas: LINDA, Elton, and Jackie. So far. Any of these might have been a good story and maybe even if they collided from time to time, that might have been good. Then we get the monster. In and of itself, it is a good monster and the actor fails utterly to convince or make it as menacing as it could/should be when he's the monster. As the man he seems like he could almost be the Master or the Valeyard hunting his father or himself years ago, if you get my meaning. It is easy to hate him as he disturbs LINDA's peace as they get away from the Doctor and start pursuing other things...this brings up several things...
Fans follow the Doc and some out of lonely lives I guess. An obsessive as the alien can separate them from their real lives and make them go back to hunting/obsessing about the Doctor. Flashbacks can help show the story but in this bit, RTD fails utterly. In fact, he self indulges and it's awful. He should have had events with all the Doctors, a story that would have allowed as many Doctors come into it as allowed by CGI but no, all we get is the 10th, this could have been this era's FIVE DOCTORS or rather TEN DOCTORS but no. All we get are the new series flashbacks. And the only real impact on Elton's life is the death of his mother by a Shadow and that's not something we've encountered before. Nor do we really encounter it here either or learn why it did what it did, why it killed Elton's mum nor was it evil or what. To RTD it just doesn't matter but to me, a viewer it did. RTD fails utterly to bring any of these stories off and to their logical conclusion, nor a happy one. The tone is wrong throughout. It's not particularly funny or sexy but it comes close on both counts. It doesn't really do justice to any of the storylines that can be...really touching and different and entertaining. The Jackie/Elton stuff is uneven but at least there's a nice relationship stemming from that and there's a message there about lonliness and what it could drive us to do but this seems accidental almost as it RTD hit on it by mistake and didn't even know it himself.
It is nice Rose comforts Elton after he did what he did to Jackie, perhaps realizing his pain and his loss but Elton's final entry in the show about how the world is a dark one that shows how RTD does not get DW at all, nor how he fails to get the tone of the show correctly. That he and Elton both think (at least it seems that Elton is RTD's voice as Queer As Folk's main characters were his as well---and he didn't think then that Paul McGann counted!!!! :)) the world is a dark and mad place, madder than...what? Love?
Another thing that hurts the show is that RTD makes his stories and his characters care only about...well, sex and themselves really and it shows and hurts the show's spirituality. The Doctor only gets mad at the alien in IDIOT'S LANTERN when it takes Rose, heck to the other people. It's all fun and games to him until it takes his love away. Elton tells Kennedy to give him back HER, and heck to the others of LINDA. Elton won't want Mr. Skinner (another nod to the X FILES?) to go with him to dinner because rather than comforting the hurting man who has his own loss, Elton is going to get Ursula finally to cop off with. Or to relate to. And on and on this goes and you can probably find ten more examples from any season of TORCHWOOD. What matters most to RTD (and perhaps to most gay men?) is getting off with your significant other and/or just finding a significant other. Hell to any higher thoughts of self sacrifice/the better good/the love of man and woman kind in general and higher realms. The real world is tough and doesn't matter if you can't get off with someone. That's RTD's vision and I can't believe I didn't see it until TORCHWOOD. This ep shows it plainly. Elton would rather give...well, have a sexual relationship with a tile rather than go try to make it up with Jackie (who knows? Maybe he did)...and this tile relationship is the most important thing in RTD's universe and at least he can have a love relationship. Heck to the rest of LINDA.
Anyway this story gets a 3/3 just for being expermental. I love how fans say DW can go anywhere and do anything and yet when it tries to be different and ALMOST succeeds they pan it. Mind you, sometimes like the novel INFINITY DOCTOR and with the two part novel INTERFERENCE parts one and two, it deserves to get panned...big time. But for some reason, LOVE AND MONSTERS has something...something no other DW has and something that TORCHWOOD can't get right either.
To be honest, LOVE is dark, somewhat humor inducing, self referential in all the wrong places but in all the right ones too and that's why it's disturbing to me and to other fans and why they can't handle it. It has likable actors and characters (except the villain). Yes, Rose and the Doc are a bit too cavilier about the alienS and there are some awful slapstick sequences that just don't work and much of the basic ideas are lost on trivial dialog, musical sequences, and tripe but...it's got something that is hard to forget too. I'm not saying it's great, nor even good but there's something there that other terrible DWs (RUNAWAY BRIDE, NEXT DOCTOR, PLANET OF THE DEAD, NEW EARTH, EVOLUTION OF THE DALEKS) do not have. I'm just not sure what that is yet and for that alone maybe it should get a 2/5 but it won't.