Love & Monsters
Elton: And if you think that was the most exciting day of my life, wait till you hear the rest.
Production Code: 2.10.
Doctor Who Season: S28 (Ep10).
Story Number: 175.
Whoa. This one positively defies you to write anything about it…
The general message from this episode is that there are a lot of other things you could be doing than analysing the life out of a television show. Or reading an analysis of a television show.
For those that are still with me: do you recognise yourself in that episode?
We may not all attend local fan meetings similar to L.I.N.D.A. shown here, but if you are reading this, there will be some part of that episode that rings a few bells I’m sure.
You may not immediately get the not-so-hidden subtext: the people of L.I.N.D.A are meant to be a bit like obsessive fans of the television show Doctor Who. (Really?) Like Clive in Rose. This is underlined by Elton describing his first meeting with the Doctor, when he was just a lad, all those years ago. This reflects many people’s experience of the show. They will have seen it all those years ago, and are still chasing after that sense of wonder.
If these people are fans, then what does Peter Kay’s character represent?
Individual fans being bullied by some self-important uber-fan who tells them what to think?
The danger of being totally absorbed by the show to the exclusion of all else?
This is the real danger hinted at by the episode, as the group’s shared interests beyond the boundaries of discussing the Doctor are something that the villain discourages.
So, a bizarre riff on the nature of Doctor Who fandom, but how does it fit into the season as a whole? Remember, last year’s oddity and format-buster Boom Town actually set up a few plot points quietly and developed a few characters. If this episode has any part to play in the season as a whole, then Jackie’s isolation will be significant in episodes to come.
Back to the theme of episode. What was it trying to say really? Perhaps coincidentally, Russell T’s early career involved work on a British show “Why don’t you?” whose full title was “Why don’t you turn off your television and do something less boring instead?” Was that the message? I’m not so sure.
Without different ways of viewing the world and thinking of the world, without your imagination being sparked into life and sustained by programmes such as Doctor Who, without art, life is a lesser thing. Sure, enjoy the show, but remember that the show is saying things about life, not just other old episodes of Doctor Who.
John Nathan Turner’s era on Doctor Who saw the show holding up a mirror to itself at times, with the constant return of old monsters and endless continuity references.
This episode holds a mirror up not to the show, but to the fans. It asks us to remember that our lives can be fantastic too.
The ending is shocking, jolting us out of our seats to take another look at the world around us. The paving slab thing seemed just wrong at the time, but as the final mad flourish to an inspired episode it all makes sense.
2011 additional text:
It’s great and stands as one the best of this century’s Doctor Who stories even with all the newer seasons of the last half-decade. What do you think of it?
After a review every Sunday of an episode of this season (the Tenth Doctor and Rose), it’s Doctor Who Season 22 (the Sixth Doctor and Peri), and that is the schedule until Christmas!