Sunday, June 18, 2006

Love And Monsters

Hehehehehe. Love And Monsters +15 hours and I'm still smiling. True, an unashamed love of ELO may have enhanced my enjoyment, but I see that as the just reward for having good taste.

Marc Warren makes you beam before he's even opened his mouth, and there really aren't that many actors that make you feel so safe in their presence, or, for that matter, who can make you forget about a certain Mr. Tennant. You instantly cared about Elton, and by 35 minutes in, I was filling up as he asked Ursula out for chinese. Not bad going. Then you've got Peter Kay, who was equally brilliant with and without Bolton accent - grotesquely funny and scary in equal measure, he was a real triumph. And Jackie! I think my fellow pro-Jacki...ans and I have been vindicated at last. When Billie leaves, so, presumably, will Camille Coduri, and that'll be agreat shame.

Oh, and the writing. Such writing. This episode was going to be called I *Heart* The Doctor, and Russell T. Davies, I *heart* you. It was up there with Christmas Invasion and The Girl In The Fireplace in terms of laughs per minute, and had such a sweet heart at the same time. And I haven't even mentioned yet the fact that this was surely one of the strangest episodes of Doctor Who ever. I mean I'm guessing, obviously, but surely. Virtually no Doctor, but a whole other agenda. It was an arms-outstretched hug for Whovians, and more than that, fans of pretty much anything. This being a subject close to my geeky heart, I was particularly pleased that it showed that friendships based on a common love for a single something, can, and often will, turn into something completely real.

Can you tell I liked it? I stand by my first reaction as the credits rolled. 'Well, it doesn't get much better than that'.

26 comments:

Lisa Rullsenberg said...

Oh Anna, I'm so glad you wrote this because I suspect that there will be a HUGE amount of annoyance at this episode, even though I'd love it to be taken to people's hearts in the way that you - and I - absolutely did.

With you on the ELO factor (shucks); with you on Peter Kay being without the Bolton excess till his monstrous self came out; with you on geekiness; with you on Ursula and Elton. I would even grant you that CC was hilarously well written for this episode, possibly because (rather than despite) it playing to all of the factors that make her divide responses. She was crass, she was flirty in an utterly embarrassing way that only 'mums' can be, and she stood in the place of all those left behind watching obsessions take the people they love away from them - emotionally as well as physically.

I *heart* Doctor Who indeed. I'd also say that with Rose and the Doctor on the fringes of the narrative - certainly the latter - it had more of The Christmas Invasion about it, with the Doctor having more mysterious qualities than in some episodes.

And just for putting into words the stomach-knotting thrill on hearing the Tardis... well, hugs to RTD and everyone involved in the show. Even to little William who clearly has the perfect imagination for Doctor Who monsters.

Rosby said...

Oh sweet Lord, I HATED it, I really did. And before you say, it *wasn't* just because David was heardly in it, it was because of the acting.

It was *terrible*, I think. It started off well, but as soon as Peter Kay came along the whole thing just went downhill.

And the whole solution was a typical RTD "running-out-of-time-so-let's-come-up-with-a-ridiculously-simple-solution-thought-of-in-the-last-five-minutes."

And Ursula's voice annoyed me no end.

Call me a traditionalist, but I say Stick to the Pattern!

I mean, it was a great idea, but they just picked the wrong actors, they really did.

corin said...

I actually kind of liked it, but, really, it wasn't Doctor Who. It was a nice idea for an inventive short film, but (and I speak as geek #1) not what people tune in to Doctor Who for. And I do have to agree with the previous comment: There has been far too much 'convenient' wrapping up. Is it me, or is it not obvious that the two-parter has much more scope to develop ideas and also can include the cliffhanger which Doctor Who practically invented?

Lisa Rullsenberg said...

It really wasn't "Doctor Who", and if that was what you wanted then you sure as hell were going to be yelling in annoyance at the TV.

But I did like it. Sorry folks.

Having said that there is a huge part of me that misses what the low budgetary effects of days past could offer in terms of imaginative narrative (just how many quarry-esque planets were there?!) and ridiculous cliffhangers (even though you knew the Doctor would always find a way out).

Sigh. The problem is that that type of Doctor Who is almost impossible to recreate.

AnnaWaits said...

I had a feeling this episode might divide opinions! It not feeling like Doctor Who, I understand, and it lived and died on whether you cared. I'm not gonna complain about a brilliant 45 mins of tv just because it wasn't what I expected - I'll take whatever I can get! And I thought Peter Kay was really good actually...! Anyhoo, I'm glad it's had such strong reactions - showed it worked :)

Holyhoses Rob said...

I enjoyed it, though there was a peculiar mix of CBBC-style chasing about (that bit with the monster and the red/blue buckets) and some fairly risqué sexual innuendo (explain that to the 9-year old who designed the monster!). Didn't quite mesh together.

Peter Kay was good, and I'm with you on the ELO, too (strange coincidence that BBC4 had them in concert from '78 that same night - I was at that gig!). You've gotta be sick in the soul not to love Mr Blue Sky, though.

MIKEY said...

I missed this one. Darn.

Billy said...

It was like that Buffy one told from the minor character's point of view. I will check with my resident Buffy geek the exact details but if so, it would have been better being told from, say, Mickey's point of view.

I liked it though.

Scott Matthewman said...

Billy, the episode you're thinking of is "The Zeppo", which put Xander centre-stage.

I see what you mean about putting a known character at the heart of the story -- but that works for Buffy, which has the same world and the same characters every week. Part of the thrill of watching Doctor Who is that every story is pretty much a new set of people, with just Jackie (and previously Mickey) popping up from time to time. I think the Love & Monsters format worked well as a one-off, and Marc Warren and Shirley Henderson were both really sweet.

Incidentally, I had this pointed out to me elsewhere, but Marc and Shirley -- one blond and English, one dark-haired and Scottish, but putting on an English accent -- are a mirror to Billie and David...

Marie said...

I missed it. I missed the one where the blogging Who obsessives get eaten by Peter Kay. Plus the last song I downloaded on my iTunes was Mr Blue Sky. There is irony here.

Dean said...

Well I've not seen it yet (I haven't even seen the cybermen 2-parter yet, have them all on 'tape' waiting to be watched) but as cool as it sounds (and yes, the vast majority of my closest friends stem from a shared love for one particular thing) I'm not sure I could ever love anything with Peter Kay in. But that's likely my inner comedy snob.

Rob said...

Aw, come on, Peter Kay did a great spontaneous combust in "Bleak House". Left a greasy residue over the whole set....

Scott Matthewman said...

Amazing how Peter Kay was able to spontaneously combust while doing an impressively accurate impersonation of Johnny Vegas, isn't it? :-)

Lisa Rullsenberg said...

Hee. Best ever confusion of Peter Kay and Johnny Vegas...

Paul Fuzz said...

Oh, man! Have they brought Doctor Who back?

AnnaWaits said...

You did that joke already - or was that the joke? The twist around ;)

Paul Fuzz said...

(Sorry about the last comment...I don't really have anything constructive to add to this debate and I felt left out, so I made a stupid joke. One I've made before, I think. Made me laugh, anyway.)

Anna: "it was an arms-outstretched hug for Whovians."

Uh-huh...I'm not so sure. Most of you guys dug it. It was the high watermark of the post-modern, post-Buffy Doctor. Lots of 'awareness of it's own fictionality,' pop culture references yadda yadda yadda. It was clever, funny, simultaneously reverent & ironic. Perfect blog-friendly material. So of course all you guys dug it. But the problem...is...that...you guys *aren't really Whovains*, are you? You're fans of high-quality, slightly clever-clever family entertainment. You're fans of Mr Tennant. You're fans of the Beeb producing first rate drama like only the Beeb can do. All well and good. But there are cats out there who've loved this show for 40 years, and I think they've every right to feel a little bit like "We've gracefully put up with this re-branding of OUR hero, remained dignified as we've watched the show become something almost entirely alien to the show WE fell in love with, nodded along politely as Davies pulls out K9 or an old assistant...but surely this 'Love & Monsters' episode is just TAKING THE MICK. I mean, we wanted the BBC to bring it back, but not like this..." These people have been disenfranchised. By you guys. By The T Davies. Whovains don't want this crap. Haven't they suffered enough? These people campaigned for a decade to have their show brought back. You guys couldn't have cared less. It's fine to say "yadda yadda yadda, but it was GOOD TELLY, and I ain't gonna complain about that," but of course you ain't gonna complain - it isn't your show being turned inside out. Whovians have had to swallow alot to get their Doctor back on the screen. They've gained, sure, but they've also lost. You guys have just gained. This episode was excessive in it's NEW DOCTOR-NESS, and consequently doesn't help apologists for NEW DOCTOR-NESS because it justifies the otherwise totally unjustified / childish / petty stroppiness, sulkiness, huffing & puffing of Who puritans - "Look. You called us small minded nerds before. And maybe you were right. Bu our time has come: everything we've been whining on & on about for the last two years has been proven to be correct - we said Davies was going to go too far, and he finally has. It doesn't matter if it was 'good' or not. It might have been the greatest TV show ever. We couldn't care less. We said it was getting too un-Doctor Who, and we were right."

The Anna Method of TV criticism is almost always fair: Was It Good? But I think we have here an example of 'goodness' being beside the point.

AnnaWaits said...

Goodness is never beside the point. Because the particular breed of Whovians you're talking about (of whom I'm sure there are many, though not, I suspect, the massively loyal and 'old'[!]fans that are in our little circle) do not own the show. They've got a massive stake in it, granted, but so have I.

On another point, when I recently watched some old Doctor Who I was struck by how similar it was to the new series in tone and feel; I'm not sure Russell T. has changed all that much.

corin said...

I stick with my original statement, that it was good telly but not Doctor Who. I just felt that I had to respond to Paul Fuzz and point out that, for better or worse, I am a bona-fide Whovian. I have forgotten more about this show than most people will ever know, and despite all I don't share those feelings you describe. Do I think it would be better if it went to a two-part structure more often? Yes. Do I resent Russel for opting for a different approach? No. Did this episode annoy me? Only in so far as I didn't really get my weekly fix of the Doctor (so watched The Two Doctors instead) but the episode didn't conflict with my show so I was happy to see some good tv. That doesn't make me any less of a Whovian, I can assure you.

corin said...

By the way, I know Billy's a proponent of the return to our screens of the Sontarans, and if this were to happen, remind me to write to the Beeb to unsure that they come back as they were in the Sontaran Experiment and as they were in the Two Doctors

Dean said...

Paul - screw the Doctor Who fans - they can get over it.

I used to love Battlestar Galactica when I was a kid - it was like a weekly dose of Star Wars, it was ace.

A couple of years ago they bought it back. Starbuck was now a girl, the Cylons could disguise themselves as humans and Baltar was just a guy who unwittingly helped with the destruction of the human race. It was nothing like the Battlestar Galactica I knew a loved. A certain Richard Hatch, star of the original show (playing Apollo) had been campaigning for years to get the show back on TV in close to its original form. His effort was herculian, going so far as to fund and produce his own short trailer as proof of concept. When all the changes to the new version were announced, he was one of its biggest critics.

But here's where it gets weird.

The new Battlestar Galactica is by far and away one of the greatest sci-fi shows ever made, far surpassing its predecessor, even if it's totally different. And when it's that good we put aside the fact that it's not the show we remember and embrace the brilliance. Richard Hatch now has a recurring role on the show as a trouble-maker and wannabe-revolutionary.

So screw the 'Whovians'. RTD shouldn't be trying to impress them, he should be trying to make the best show possible. And as I say, they'll get over it - if I had a penny for every show I love that was cancelled before its time I'd have... (Angel, Boomtown, Carnivale, Firefly, Farscape, Crusade, American Gothic, Deadwood, Odyssey 5, John Doe... ) ... at least 10p.

They'll get over it. I did.

AnnaWaits said...

I'm loving this debate, thanks guys :)

Scott Matthewman said...

You know what?

The argument Paul Fuzz makes reminds me so much of Victor Kennedy. A group of fans start getting to know each other through Doctor Who, doing things a certain way at regular weekly intervals. But gradually, they bring in more and more of the world around them. And they love it -- and makes their worlds more strong, more real. Better.

And then one day an imposing figure strides in and tells them that they're doing it all wrong, that they're ignoring the true purpose. And proceeds to absorb the life and soul out of the endeavour...

Well. On a metaphorical basis, at least.

Anyway, there is one thing that could be changed about the episode that could make it better: calling it Love'n'Monsters!

AnnaWaits said...

Haha you're so right!!

And I think Paul was just putting forward an argument that definitely is held by some people - he doesn't agree with it himself, I don't think.

Paul Fuzz said...

Yeah, I don't really hold that opinion. I just fancied having a rant.

Torchwolf said...

I wish I'd found this thread at the time.

I loved Love & Monsters! :)