The Tour (at least in our beleaguered conscience) exists not only to highlight the best in Doctor Who but also to shine a light on the worst of it as well. The immediate success of the Christopher Eccleston season created both promise and a problem. The commissioning of (the now annual) Christmas special (The Christmas Invasion) was a wonderful showcase, but created a production problem of squeezing one more story out of an already frenzied schedule. Hence Doctor Who fans and viewers became acquainted with the concept of “double banking” shooting two episodes simultaneously one of which, by necessity, would be ‘Doctor-lite.’ The first example of these is the next story to undergo Modern Recap-itulation and our nominee for the worst story in all of nu-Whodom, Love & Monsters.
Let’s start with the positives, in the process of re-capping the story we had forgotten that in some ways it’s an early draft of Turn Left, the telling of how events in nu-Who tangentially effect otherwise normal people. That works, and would work much much better in Turn Left which was also a ‘Doctor-lite’ story. Marc Warren also does his damnedest to carry the story as the point of view for Love & Monsters, he was quite a get for Doctor Who (watch him in Hustle to get a better view of his work).
But let’s face it, this is RTD overindulging himself shamelessly. The young fan outreach resulting in the abzorbaloff dictated some story elements, but there are also the ‘Scooby Who’ components (which would have been fully cemented if they had just found a way to incorporate ‘The Mystery Machine’ into the plot) which take the story down and take it down hard.
The good news of course is that the quality of the ‘Doctor-lite’ stories would rebound exponentially the very next year with Blink and later on with The Girl Who Waited (a stealth ‘Doctor-lite’ story). If Love & Monsters hadn’t been perceived as such a disaster, then it’s entirely likely that RTD wouldn’t have handed off the responsibility to the Moff for Blink. The new caps for Love & Monsters are now more plentiful and bountiful in their 720p glory.
Back to the familiar environs of Classic Capitology next time.