Friday, 29 January 2010
Doctor Who: Love & Monsters
“I just put that bit at the beginning because it’s a brilliant opening.”
I’m not sure why this failed to grab me; there are a hell of a lot of nice little touches, but it seems to be less than the sum of its parts. I can’t put my finger on exactly why it never catches fire, but I suspect it’s mostly that, however cleverly the absence of the Doctor and Rose is being handled, they’re still absent. The question has to be asked: if they can’t make thirteen episodes featuring the regulars, why not just make twelve episodes?
It’s a nice start, introducing Marc Warren (who seemed ubiquitous on British telly to me at the time) as Elton and giving us a lot of RTD meta-textualness (see that quote up there). But unlike the treatment of the series’ tropes in the last season, RTD doesn’t actually be saying anything in particular with the meta-textual stuff. It’s very noticeable that this season is consistently pushing the format of the series further than ever before, often to good effect, but without actually saying much.
Anyway, the teaser finishes, and that’s the last we’ll be seeing of the Doctor and Rose until the last five minutes. It’s theoretically a great idea to recreate certain events from the last couple of years as seen through Elton’s eyes, and not so great an idea to feature ELO so sodding prominently. But there’s some genuinely excellent stuff on the nature of fandom here; a group of people are drawn together through their shared interests, but eventually develop a friendship which goes beyond that shared interest until “superfan” Victor Kennedy turns up. Gosh, I wonder who he could possibly be based on? Still, much as I enjoy this subtext, isn’t it perhaps a little insular for primetime television?
The stuff with Jackie is great, and as in Aliens of London we see just how much she’s suffering with worrying about her daughter. Again, this doesn’t exactly reflect well on Rose that she puts her mother through all this. And I’m glad she gives Elton a good telling off.
Peter Kay as Kennedy / the Absorbaloff is simultaneously fantastic and probably miscast. He gives a great comedic performance, but playing it straight would probably have been better, allowing the humour to come out in the lines only. Still, the moment when Elton finally speaks out against him is fantastic from both actors, and it’s great to see him finally ask Ursula out. Gosh, was Shirley Henderson really forty years old when this was made.
As an aside, I paused on the headline of the Absorbaloff’s Torygraph and it says “Saxon leads polls with 64%”. Gosh, I wonder what this could possibly mean?
The Absorbaloff is revealed, it has a full-on Bolton accent, and it’s absorbed every member of LINDA, now including Ursula. I love the way she still has her glasses on even when absorbed! Of course, the TARDIS finally arrives at the most dramatically appropriate moment, but only so that Rose can wag her finger at Elton for upsetting her mum. It seems that the Absorbaloff is from the sister planet to Raxacoricofallapatorius, Clom.
We finish with an ominous line from Elton (“I keep thinking of Rose and Jackie and how much longer before they pay the price.”) and the revelation that Ursula has been saved, sort of, to exist as a paving slab. And Elton is holding said paving slab in an, er, interesting position when he says they still have “a bit of a love life”…
3/5, then. An ambitious and inspired experiment which doesn’t quite come off, mainly because the absence of the regular characters isn’t really justified well enough.