"I'm Sorry..." (R.E.M. 1984)
Slightly obscure title for this post Dear Readers, but given that the above lyric is the main hook from the song that gives this post its title, I felt it was adequate. Quite frankly, I feel as though I must apologise, and whilst this apology is for something that I had absolutely no control over, I know that for some of you this is your only encounter with the World of Who and so I must both celebrate and defend it.
OK, I'll stop being cryptic. In short, Love & Monsters was terrible. It was that cringeworthy that I almost turned it off after twenty minutes. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. It was childish and embarassing. Poorly executed, acted and handled. It made Timelash look like Citizen Kane (OK, some of you know I view Timelash in quite high reverence just because it's that bad, but you get the point...). However, this criticism is not because I didn't "get" the episode, as has been the accusation launched at some people who have shared the sentiment. I more than "get" what they were trying to do, and in fact thought that it sounded like a good idea. Why not take an average man who has encountered, and become fascinated with, The Doctor and see what the effect of this encounter would be? I mean, Boom Town last year asked a similar question about consequences, and I thought it made for a great understated and thought-provoking episode.
The key difference here was that Boom Town seemed to have thankfully learnt the lessons of 'Where the Slitheen Went Wrong'. Out went the silly comments, the fart jokes, and were instead replaced by some interesting and welcome characterisation. This, however, felt like a complete regression. The Scooby Doo sequence at the beginning was toe-curlingly bad. The character ending up on the Abzorbaloff's arse equally so. The lead performance of Marc Warren was just wet, meaning that you didn't care about him. Additionally, and disappointingly, RTD's writing was lazy. Last week we see Rose getting the troops together against the oncoming Ood, this week she can't remember what colour bucket to pick up. Unlikely? What's more, it's established that the group of characters were (relatively) clever. Surely one of them would have noticed the pattern that every time Victor Kennedy asked one of them to stay behind, they disappeared. It would've just taken someone to have gone "Hang on. There's something funny going on here" and it would've made more sense. Not "Oh, I've forgotten my phone!". That's what I mean by lazy writing.
However, there were two positives. Firstly, Shirley Henderson came out of it more than alive. It's a shame she ended up as a paving slab, as she was thoroughly great throughout. In fact, this was about the worst episode Billie has had in the two series, and as she's going (more on that later to the time) someone like Shirley would be a great replacement. Having said that, why not take a talking paving slab in the TARDIS? I mean, Tom wanted a talking cabbage. Secondly, there was a funny joke. I love the idea of the Slitheen's lenghtily-titled home planet having a twin with a one syllable name. That's the kind of ridiculous nonsense I like.
Shame the rest of it wasn't.
Cyber Control's Top 5 to try and blank out Love & Monsters:
Geneva - If You Have to Go
The Young Knives - She's Attracted To
Snow Patrol - Chasing Cars
R.E.M. - So. Central Rain
The Kooks - She Moves in Her Own Ways