This story in a nutshell: Are you kidding me?
Mockney Dude: Enchanting how a story that hardly features the Doctor can embody and mythologise him so completely. I love that fans criticise this story for doing exactly what they do, forming fan theories, imagining travelling with him, looking for what he means to us. Love & Monsters reveals the love fandom has for the show and the reception to it from the more militant quarters and reveals the hypocrisy and sheer anal fartitude of some quarters. It holds up a mirror to both the best (the sense of community, the love of the Doctor) and the worst of fandom and I'm sure that is the reason why plenty of people find it an uncomfortable watch - because it doesn't always paint them in a comfortable light. As a parody of a Doctor Who fan this is much more fun than Greatest Show’s Whizzkid because Davies bothered to give his wannabes character and charm whereas The Greatest Show in the Galaxy featured a walking gag who was bumped off once the point had been flogged to death. The scenes showing the Doctor as a spectre in the night, haunting Elton on the day that his mother died is another terrific example of looking at the central character afresh. That is an approach which is exemplified by this episode. It suggests that to be touched by the Doctor means that somebody in your life might be marked. The Absorbaloff wants to taste the Doctor’s experiences and intelligence. I hope he's got a hell of an appetite. I like the menacing idea that if your touch the Doctor’s life, even for a second, things change and sometimes for the worst. What does that say about Rose? There have been portents about her future because of her proximity to the Time Lord but this is the most forceful warning yet. It made you question at the time what Davies had planned for these two. I love the idea of only being able to see snippets of his adventures from afar too such as Elton does in the teaser. It makes his adventures look like one big long joke involving slapstick and monsters. It's an absolute riot. During his stint on the show Davies offered several new perceptions of the Doctor (as a romantic figure, as a man running from his past, as a man who bends the laws of Time to his will) but I think the image of his visiting a little boy at night like a spectre of death might just be my favourite.
Chavvy Chick: We see another side to Rose in Love & Monsters too, through her mother’s eyes. It is particularly useful in Rose’s case since she has become something of a jealous caricature of the character she played in the first season by this stage of series two and seeing how her absence affects Jackie gives us a unique new angle to her character. As much as you might not like how domestic the show became under Davies banner you cannot argue that it afforded a whole new perspective from the companions point of view on the show that had barely been considered before. It might have gotten out of hand come series eight with the companion popping in and out of their domestic lives and the TARDIS but back in the first four years companions were allowed to be companions (ie travelling in the TARDIS full time) with the occasion peek at the emotional consequences of who they have left behind. I love it when she steps out of the TARDIS furious that Elton has upset her mum but seeing how upset he is at losing Ursula she puts her arms around him and comforts him. It’s a wonderfully tender scene, which shows Rose at her best.
Sparkling Dialogue: ‘The most beautiful sound in the world…’
‘So…we meet at last, LINDA.’
‘Because it’s never me is it?’ – that line should sound selfish but it's devastatingly delivered by Camille Coduri.
‘She tastes like chicken.’
‘The truth is the world is so much stranger than that and so much darker and so much madder and so much better.’
The Bad Stuff: The Absorbaloff is a fine idea in theory but I thought we had all but disposed of the idea of men in ridiculous rubber suits. If I were William Grantham I would ask for my money back. It really should have been rendered in CGI with the faces being far more animated and bulging in and out of the layers of fat. The scene where it wobbles after Elton down the street uin a thing is one of the few genuinely rubbish moments in NuWho.
The Shallow Bit: Marc Warren has a cute little chest, you can see why Jackie was so determined to get his kit off. The moment when he changes the light bulb and she admires the V that leads down to his crown jewels might just be the hottest moment in Doctor Who ever.
Result: The most controversial episode of NuWho in what was the most uneven season of the show (until seasons six and seven came along). Make of that what you will. It’s a story that playfully deploys all kind of tricks to keep the audience amused, aroused and enchanted; a non linear plot, narration, montages, flashbacks, character synopsis’, cine footage, drama, laughs, singing, sex, monsters and a kids dream to design a Doctor Who monster and see it brought to life. It defies all expectations and redefines what Doctor Who can be about. It plays by its own rules and effortlessly draws you in to its unique atmosphere. It manages to be the most exquisite love letter to Doctor Who (and Doctor Who fandom) and still upset half of its audience terribly. Not every Doctor Who story could be as incendiary as this one but after the complacency of much of season two (even the highlights have mostly been kisses to the past - gothic horror, Sarah Jane, base under siege) Love & Monsters proved that it was still possible to put a firework up the arse of fandom and give them a short sharp shock of innovation. The fact that some people will claim that it is as good as Doctor Who ever gets and others declare it the worst piece of television to grace their TV screens proves that he certainly got peoples attention and gave the show an injection of innovation. I think the first half of this episode is just about flawless in what it is trying to achieve with some exquisitely drawn characters (of the like we just don't get on the show any more) and a beautifully mounted scenario with people coming together through their love of the Doctor. The second half is more problematical because the Absorbaloff itself is so utterly outrageous (and the realisation could hardly be called a success) but there are still some startling scenes (Jackie confronting Elton, the Doctor at the bottom of the stairs) and some effective emotional nuggets. Marc Warren holds the whole episode together, giving one of the strongest guest performances as Elton. I could 100% believe in his character (because he is effectively me) and my concern and affection for him kept me interested all the way through. One of the most subversive episodes of Doctor Who and one of the riskiest. For the most part, I love it: 9/10