How I Learned To Enjoy Love & Monsters

Two of my four sons have, in the last few years, learned to play the violin. If you have ever been in the same house as a small child who has just picked up a stringed instrument, you will know what excruciating torture this is, at least in the first couple of weeks. It is how I imagine a cat sounds when it is being strangled. But I never say anything. As a parent, you don’t. You smile and nod and offer supportive words of encouragement, and part your hair so that the earplugs don’t show.

The truth is that parenting makes you lower your standards. You find yourself watching films and TV programmes that, ordinarily, would be given the sort of wide berth that you usually reserve for charity collectors outside the supermarket. If you have ever sat through Horrid Henry: The Movie you will understand what I mean. Oh, I’ll bitch about these things afterwards. But at the time you join in with your children’s enthusiasm, because your engagement clearly means a lot to them. (I make an exception for stereotypical gender-based advertising, which I’ll routinely deconstruct, in the hopes that they’ll follow suit.)

Why am I telling you all this? Well, I have a very good friend who’s forgotten more about Doctor Who than I’m ever likely to know, and whose acidic quips and insightful observations turn up regularly on my blog. By and large his attitude towards nuWho ranges from general indifference to active dislike, and he’s annoyingly right about most things. But I occasionally wonder whether his worldview might be different if he had children.

Forest-1

Let me unpack this: one of the things you have to deal with as both a fan and a parent of fans is the tendency for children’s views to not only conflict with your own but actively influence them. For example, when prepping for this article I asked two of my children (age 5 and 9) to pick their favourite nuWho stories. Both chose In the Forest of the Night – an episode I disliked intensely, partly because Frank Cottrell Boyce threw in all sorts of amusing gags and Gaiaist philosophy, but forgot to add any sort of plot; and partly because for the third time in Series 8, “Do nothing” becomes the answer to the problem. At the same time, the kids (particularly Maebh) are brilliant, and it’s hard not to join in with my eldest’s riotous laughter when Ruby shouts “Oh my God! Maebh’s lost in the forest! MAEBH’S GONNA DIE!!!!”.

I hold A Good Man Goes To War in higher regard than perhaps I should, because it plays on fears of losing a child.

And the funny thing is, when you’re watching a bad story with young people who are clearly enjoying it, you occasionally find their enthusiasm infectious. I don’t think there are many out there who would rate Fear Her among their top ten episodes – unless you turn the list on its head so you can read it upside down – but even I can’t stop myself grinning from ear to ear when the Doctor mounts that podium in front of the cheering crowd to light the Olympic Torch. Would I be reacting this way if I didn’t have children? Perhaps. But sometimes I don’t think so.

I’m not saying being a parent makes you more appreciative of bad episodes of Who. I’m simply saying I’m inclined to be less fussy than perhaps I would have been otherwise. That’s a personal benchmark, not a yardstick with which to generalise. Sadly there’s no litmus test. Somewhere there’s a parallel universe (several, in all likelihood) in which my wife and I never sired any descendants, and it would have been interesting to see our reactions to everything since 2005 in that sort of circumstance. As it stands, the only thing I had to go on was the Eccleston series – which wrapped up shortly before my eldest child popped out of the womb, two weeks late – and even that’s atypical in many respects.

10thdr-puzzled

But the patterns I see on forums and Facebook pages – “I hated it, but my children liked it” – and so on do suggest that having children present for both the series itself and the media storm that surrounds it makes for an entirely different viewing experience. As parents, we’re the ones who complain when the Beeb goes too far (which I’ve never done, although I did have serious gripes about the 2014 Christmas Special that I’ll save for another day). As parents, we’ll often find we relate to the weirdest things (I hold A Good Man Goes To War, for example, in higher regard than perhaps I should, because it plays on my fears of losing a child). And as parents, we’re the target market (or a part of it) for the stuff in the show that’s Obviously Geared Towards Children.

The Abzorbaloff is the token fat monster in the short story homework assignment of every kid under twelve…

Let’s take the Slitheen. To a great many of us, the Slitheen were ridiculous; about as irritating as the Ewoks, and as popular. Let me tell you something: if you’re ten or under (and perhaps even older than that) the Slitheen are hysterical. More to the point, if you’re the parent of someone who’s ten or under, and if you squint, the Slitheen are hysterical. They’re comically bulbous aliens who fart a lot. They make jokes about nakedness. They spend entire stories acting like children, and Davies deliberately writes them that way. The idea that the grotesque, clinically obese teacher you despise might secretly be an alien is one that finds its way into most playground games, and beyond. (I have almost forgiven my now six-year-old for the time we visited the Cardiff exhibition a few years back, and he pointed up from his buggy at the enormous Slitheen mounted on the podium, pointed, smiled in recognition and shouted “Daddy!”.)

Love & Monsters - LINDA

And while we’re at it, let’s deal with a very large, Peter Kay-shaped elephant, because there’s a moment in Doctor Who Series 2 that seems tailor-made (although it frays at the edges) for the younger members of the audience, and I think it’s unfairly maligned as a result. Here’s the truth: whatever anyone says, Love & Monsters really is an episode for kids. You can say that it isn’t – you can talk about the darkness of a man losing both his mother and the memory of the occasion, or the in-jokes about fandom, or the fact that the death toll almost reaches Eric Saward proportions, but it’s clearly designed for that post-Sarah Jane Adventures audience.

Doctor Who is billed as a family show, much like the BBC itself; both feted and cursed to be all things to all people.

Love & Monsters opens with a chase from Scooby Doo, for pity’s sake. Marc Warren monologues to camera in the manner of a Saturday morning children’s TV host (for fairly obvious reasons, he reminds me more than a little of Boogie Pete). And the Abzorbaloff is the token fat monster in the short story homework assignment of every kid under twelve – and designed by a nine-year-old to boot. This may be the reason why the love scenes feel off (although the lack of chemistry, which I suppose is part of the point, between Coduri and Warren doesn’t help). It’s light and relatable and it’s a great shame when Davies undoes much of his good work in the closing scene with a completely unnecessary oral sex gag.

But I just mentioned The Sarah Jane Adventures, and I do wonder how much of this is about expectation. Because my other half and I blanche at dreadful plot holes and ridiculous dialogue when they occur in Who, whereas when silly things happen in Sarah Jane we’re far more inclined to let it go (and you didn’t read that, you sang it). The fact that Doctor Who is billed as a family show – therefore, much like the BBC itself, both feted and cursed to be all things to all people – is the very thing that sometimes undermines its success. It has to be funny and scary and often succeeds in doing neither: it is lukewarm television, of the kind that I am inclined to spit out of my mouth. So perhaps that’s why the episodes that are clearly geared towards children work better, because they can be appreciated on a different (not better) level. It’s just a level that – irrespective of empathy – you may not be able to relate to fully unless you’re watching it in a house where you can’t hide behind the sofa, because the kids are already there.

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61 Responses

  1. bar says:

    Thanks for this article James; my experience over this weekend backs you up:
    I was visiting my Goddaughter and family for a very special occasion, mostly for the adults.
    They all got home at around 11.30pm, well past the kids’ bed time. I wanted them to have a moment just for them, and what they most wanted. ‘Can we watch Doctor Who?’ they asked. Mum said it was too late, so I joined in with the kids – three of us begging ‘pleeeeeese can we watch Doctor Who?’
    So all 4 of us curled up on the sofa together and watched … The Shakespeare Code. one of my least favourite eps, with a Doctor whose’ character doesn’t grab me, and a companion in moping over him mode that was doomed from the start. and a load of gags meant for adults.
    But the kids’ appreciation made it worthwhile – the younger one’s fear of the witches, the older one’s clever observations, and the fact that this is Doctor Who – not a soilitary addiction or ‘guilty’ pleasure, but a family passion. Something to love and share.

    Doubt even the kids could make me love the slitheen though.

    btw this article – especially the title – was intended as a red rag to a Moo wasn’t it James?

  2. Rick714 says:

    I enjoyed Love and Monsters. It was a fun and at times, disturbing romp. It being the first Doctor “lite” episode of course would turn some against it. The “monster” in question was perfectly legit but unusual –that’s Doctor Who though.

    People still rag on the monster in Vincent and the Doctor mostly because they sadly can’t wrap their mind around an unconventional looking alien creature. In Doctor Who!!!! To me, this type of mind set tells me that one should just stop watching the show if it doesn’t live up to their “standards”, if they can’t open their minds to the universal possibilities and they’re too jaded. In essence, they grew up and have become too cynical to enjoy certain aspects of Doctor Who.

    That’s the real reason kids enjoy the show so much. They still know how to have fun without putting an ep under a microscope and looking at everything with such a critical eye.

    With Love and Monsters, another point in its favor is that since this was the first Doctor lite show, it speaks to the quality and confidence in any series that can devote an episode focused on something other than its regular cast.

    • bar says:

      fortunately it is possible to grow up without becoming cynical!
      I guess you meant first doctor-lite this century – Mission to the Unknown etc were braver choices back then, but i see your point. much is made of that in regard to Blink, but forgotten here.

      • Rick714 says:

        Yeah, some adults seem to embrace the cynicism while others still manage to have fun in spite of it. Some can’t help but look at stuff with a critical eye as that can be an unfortunate side effect of growing up as well.

        I considered bringing up Mission but yeah, I was just focusing on nuWho for this. Mission wasn’t just Doctor lite, it was Doctor absent, which had to be simply mind-blowing back in the day. To have just one episode merely as a set up for the DMP was inspired, simply brilliant, and one of the reasons I did the graphic novel.

  3. Dr. Moo says:

    An interesting read for sure. I can put up with the Slitheen and Fear Her because it’s for kids but I also think there’s a good story supporting them. Compare this to Love & Monsters which doesn’t have that going for it. Ultimately I judge based upon what we get given put in front of us on our screen and in the case of Love & Monsters the whole thing fails on all counts. I can excuse Fear Her and the Slitheen stories because the stories are good enough to support the childishness but Love & Monsters cannot make that claim and is in my opinion the single worst Doctor Who ever made.

    • Mrs F says:

      Worst ever? No. It’s even worse than that! To my mind, it’s the one that never hapenned.

    • FrancoPabloDiablo says:

      You do realise I am biting my tongue SO hard right now don’t you?!?!?! 🙂

      • Dr. Moo says:

        Let’s not do *THAT* again!

        • FrancoPabloDiablo says:

          wasn’t going to – hence the bloodied tongue I am walking about with now 🙂

          • Dr. Moo says:

            Ouch. I’d help if I could but I’m not that kind of doctor. 🙂

          • TheLazyWomble says:

            And Harry is only qualified to operate on sailors.

          • bar says:

            which proves it’s not just NuWho that’s fond of hinting at stuff definitely not intended for children! Tom B was always careful about how the show treated its youngest fans. So I’d be interested to know what he and others from his era of Who think of the paving slab gag at the end of L&M. Maybe I’m out of touch thinking it was out of place.

          • Dr. Moo says:

            It’s completely out of place! The monster of that episode was designed by a kid so it likely attracted a wider child audience than usual that week. 10/10 for being “edgy” and “current” but negative several billion for appropriateness!

          • TheLazyWomble says:

            From the beginning, the episode is a little too dark to be simply a children’s episode. Elton’s mother is killed by something in the dark. Various members of Linda meet an unpleasant end. But until the very end it is at least an episode that parents could watch with their children. Then Ursula becomes a paving slab!
            I like “Love & Monsters”. There is a lot in it to be admired: Marc Warren’s acting; the tentative friendship/romance between Elton & Ursula; the way that Linda gradually becomes a “family”; ELO! Peter Kay’s performance strikes a somewhat jarring note. But he is not a disaster. As I understand it, the Abzorbalof was devised to be the size of a bus. I think it works better the way it was portrayed. I would have preferred that the performance be a little quieter. But that is just my opinion and others may disagree.
            Is “Love & Monsters” perfect? No. Of course not. Is it abysmal? No.
            But, bar, you are not out of touch in thinking the paving-slab scene was out of place. Well, you might be out of touch: but you are far from alone.

          • Dr. Moo says:

            I’ve always been intrigued about the “shadow elemental” that killed Elton’s mother. Is it a Vashta Nerada two years earlier? Now THERE is a monster that should return!

          • TheLazyWomble says:

            Not sure about that. Vashta Nerada worked: but they may be a one-trick pony. Give them an imaginative story and a good reason for returning and I am with you a;; the way.
            “Silence In The Library” and “Forest Of The Dead” are not my favourite episodes. For me they are Mr Moff’s weakest efforts prior to him becoming showrunner and creating “Sherlock”. Extremely clever writing and well directed. But for some, indefinable reason, I just don’t like them.

          • Dr. Moo says:

            I agree that they’re his weakest efforts but when you consider what they’re up against…
            As for the VN obviously there’d have to be a story that works with them in it so it doesn’t feel forced. But it could be done. I’d like to see the actual Forest they came from, there’s a story in there I think.

          • TheLazyWomble says:

            I may need to go back and watch again, but I thought the forest was the forest of words: in other words (oops!) the books in the library. But I agree that there is an interesting story waiting to be told about Karma Chameleon.

          • TheLazyWomble says:

            I mean Vashta Nerada.

          • FrancoPabloDiablo says:

            Maybe In The Forest Of The Night missed a trick by not including the Vashta Nerada. Can’t help but feel that with their inclusion and appropriate script changes the story might have been something wonderful – or even watchable. Alas, it was not to be.

          • Dr. Moo says:

            Yeah maybe, but we could spend all day coming up with ways to improve that story.

          • The Earl Fleabag of Turdshire says:

            I feel the same about the Weeping Angels, but they kept being used.

          • TheLazyWomble says:

            The Weeping Angels are precisely why I am worried about the Vashta Nerada returning.

          • Dr. Moo says:

            “Kept being used”=Three stories?

          • The Earl Fleabag of Turdshire says:

            In three years! The point is not the amount of stories, it’s rather the quality of them. I don’t think any of them have been anything to write home about, with the exception of Blink.

          • The Earl Fleabag of Turdshire says:

            Too dark for kids? Not sure about that. Children don’t need to be moddycoddled. They are smarter than that. But I mostly agree, although the paving slab never bothered me.

          • TheLazyWomble says:

            Not too dark for kids. But too dark to be dismissed as “simply” a children’s episode.

          • FrancoPabloDiablo says:

            Maybe if I was crashing into Karn I’d find a Doctor. Though probably wouldn’t be the one I was expecting!

          • Dr. Moo says:

            “You may be a doctor but I am THE Doctor. The definite article you might say.”

    • The Earl Fleabag of Turdshire says:

      Personally I really get Love & Monsters because it is, at it’s heart, a simply love story. I really get that. I’ve been in true love so I associate with the Eldon (Elton?) character. I don’t want to insult anyone, but sometimes I just think that those who hate it just aren’t in touch with that aspect of the story.

      It’s fun, lighthearted and soppy. I’m not meant to be a serious take on the show or a masterpiece.

      • Dr. Moo says:

        I’m with you on the love story element. If I’m being honest it’s the only part of the story that truly works for me. If there hadn’t been the idiotic vlogging scenes, the scooby-doo bit, the Absorbaloff, etc. then I think it could’ve been excellent and I acknowledge its status as an experiment that eventually produced Blink and Turn Left. However I must judge it by what we got and that just isn’t good at all. Of course if you liked it then good for you, I’m jealous of your ability to enjoy it even though I just can’t.

  4. John McJohnson says:

    Love & Monsters is so awful it makes Time & The Rani look like King Lear.

  5. Planet of the Deaf says:

    Interesting thoughts, and a reason why I am reluctant to say any episode of Doctor Who is a BAD episode, as opposed to an episode I don’t like.
    To me while In the Forest of the Night has its faults, I quite enjoy it as a one off as it has a unique feel to it, and clearly many children really enjoy it, and their opinions are just as valid as adults with a large Classic DVD collection!
    Love and Monsters may have been a failure, but I have no problem with RTD trying something different as the show should always try to try new things (apart from the paving slab bit at the end though!)

    • James McLean says:

      I’ve never understood the issue with paving slab ending bit. If we’d seen a visual demonstration of Elton jabbing a lump of stone, fine, yes. In fact, I could see good reason to be offended by my own imagery here than the show. The reference is vague enough for kids, a sidenote that can be ignored for adults, but I really don’t see why it needs to be ignored. Is everyone here telling me that no one considers these sort of things when an unusual premise is considered? Viewers always consider the inane and the stupid. It’s why Facebook and clickbait are filled with inane queries about fictional situations – we do consider them. No adult would wonder how a love relationship between a slab and a man would go? Davies script plays a mocking jab at precisely those sort of queries, answering what someone in the living room was bound to ask, if not 200,000 voices on LiveJournal (or whatever we were using back into 2006). It’s a mild audience-joke that seems to enrage fans.
      As for the show, I agree with the article, it is easy to forget that as a family show, some stories will appeal to different and important subsects. Love and Monsters was written with a focus on kids, it had a kids design in it, it was a story that would have kid’s interest. There are some nice scenes for adults too, and comedy for all (I think Peter Kaye is great in it). It’s not my sort of story personally (I dislike the farce runaround at the beginning), but I think Elton is sympathetic, his scenes with Jackie are great and it takes risks. Perhaps a bit rough around the edges, but Doctor Who was always best at doing something different.
      I’m a little less sympathetic to Forest of the Night, possibly because I don’t find children a believable commodity for Doctor Who (you know they’ll have an unnatural invulnerability to danger which weakens tension), and there are many issues I find in the story as a whole (the hilariously daft tiger scene that highlights the children invulnerability to a degree where Danny keeps them on the same side of the fence as the beast, the lack of people in London – just doesn’t convince me people would stay in their homes). But I do find it interesting kids liked it. That does surprise me. I’d have thought the lack of aliens, the abundence of kids, and the slow pace would have made it anti-kid.

      • Castellan Spandrel says:

        I didn’t like the paving slab gag, but saw it as something that’d fly over the heads of kids and amuse some adults, in the same way that certain jokes in The Simpsons do.

  6. Individual of Doom says:

    The problem with L&M is the same as all of series two: It’s just not a good season. There’s only two good stories in there (Fireplace and Planet/Pit, as if I had to tell you!) and the rest is awful and does not bare repeat viewing. I blame Rose’s characterisation but ironically this is the worst of the lot and she’s barely in this one.

    • Edward Delingford says:

      For me, L&M isn’t the worst of new Who (I’d place End of Time, Journey’s End, Doctor’s Daughter, Doomsday, New Earth and a few others below it) as it at least attempts something new, even if it fails in doing this. I do agree that the series 2 overall is a headscratcher as it terms of quality it is several levels poorer than anything else in the show.

      Series 2 seems like a rehearsal or a set of draft scripts, rather than the finished object. Series one for all of its faults feels complete and coherent, whereas series 2 is a set of episodes with wildly varying characterisations by Rose and 10 and scripts which just sort of stop. Part of this is the way Rose was rewritten for Tennant’s doctor to go from an interesting and adventurous young woman to a whiny and clinging teenager, making her the most unlikable and selfish of companions while Tennant found it very hard to ‘get’ his doctor, only really finding his feet part way into series 3. This is not all Tennant’s fault (although he puts his gurning and overacting button up to 11 throughout) as the scripts that series are so sub-standard and don’t give him something to work on. I wonder if Davies and co were so thrown by Chris’ departure or had sweated over getting the first series out there that they simply had insufficient time to map our series 2 properly with a new doctor. Since Davies rewrote most scripts (with the exception of course of Moffat’s), it may also be that he didn’t allow himself time to give the whole thing a polish. Either way, it has left series 2 as embarrassingly bad compared to the rest of new Who and one which most people quite rightly place at the very bottom of any poll about the relaunched series and which doesn’t bear rewatching. Apart from Fireplace which is a mini-masterpiece and parts of Planet/Pit – I still have to fast forward through the excruciatingly embarrassing ‘banter’ about Rose and the Doctor sharing digs – shudder -, the rest could happily be consigned to that Black Hole without any detriment to the show. It’s one reason I would never recommend anyone ever starting Who to begin with series 2 – I always suggest series 5 (with a detour to see Library from series 4 to figure our River Song) and once they have seen the show at its best, only then return to series 1 to 4.

      And the oral sex gag was completely out of place in new Who. Don’t know why Russell put that in – not funny to anyone and really trashy. A huge lapse of judgement on his part.

      • The Earl Fleabag of Turdshire says:

        I would agree series 2 doesn’t entirely stand up to what has come since, but to say it isn’t watchable is just plain wrong. I remember loving it at the time it went out, especially the two part finale. Daleks vs Cybermen? Jesus wept, we’d never see that before, especially with decent prosecution values. I remember being really excited to see how that played out and way more interested in it than the first half of Eccleston’s finale.

        I think it’s easy in retrospect to review negatively when compared to so much more content. But back when it aired, it was pretty damned good. I mean, back then we’d only had one series of high production value Who and I think series two needs to be judged in that context.

        • Edward Delingford says:

          It’s not just the production values have improved. Much of classic Who still stands up really well because of the great stories, dialogue and acting but for series 2, it’s as if RTD just took his eye off the ball. It’s so much poorer than anything else in new Who by some great measure which is surprising since series 1 turned out pretty good in the end for a first go at bringing the show back. Partly it’s Tennant just not connecting with the material and failing to really give us any real idea of who his Doctor is, it’s partly the abrupt change of tone from family sci-fi to rom-com/ Twilight mostly seen through the complete rewriting of Rose from series 1 to series 2 but mostly it’s that there is no consistency. Girl in the Fireplace like all Moffat penned episodes during RTD’s time is a magnificent stand along jewel but the rest veers between slapstick, melodrama, fanw@nk and comic book. Fortunately, things improved a fair bit in series 3 (the only RTD series which I think can be seen as more good things than bad things). Time has been hugely unkind to most of RTD’s era because what came after it was so much better on all fronts, but series 2 in particular seems to belong in another television show altogether. A real oddity but at the same time not interesting or worthwhile revisiting.

          • The Earl Fleabag of Turdshire says:

            That’s a matter of opinion. For me the worst years are Matt Smith’s first two.

          • Edward Delingford says:

            Fair enough! I adore series 5, am finding series 6 much better on rewatch but think series 7B is the only post RTD series which sinks to the low levels of his era (although Matt continues to be a superlative doctor and in many ways, unlike poor David, he grew as an actor with his crowning achievement being Time of the Doctor. I am just not a fan of the Impossible Girl arc). On a very happy note, I’ve found Peter just as great as Matt, if not better, and series 8 was just about perfect for me, with a slight pass on the forest thing which would have been right at home in series 2 but just jarred in the context of what was a very sophisticated yet crowd pleasing series.

          • The Earl Fleabag of Turdshire says:

            Interesting. We are obviously at opposite ends of the spectrum. I thought Time of the Doctor utterly stank (save for the regeneration at the very end) and it was actually Name and Day of the Doctor that gave Matt his best scenes. I actually preferred series 7 to what had come before during Matt’s run (with some exceptions). I also can’t grasp this idea that Tennant is a bad actor. He’s certainly different, but bad? No, I can’t agree with that.

            Perhaps closer, is that I agree that series 8 has largely been a winner. Hated the Death in Heaven two parter, but otherwise enjoyed the run. But then I had no doubts at all that Capaldi would elevate the material in the way he has, having been a fan of his prior to his time on the show. I look forward to this new series probably more than I have in years as a consequence.

          • Edward Delingford says:

            Excellent! Capaldi not only didn’t disappoint, he has been better than my very high expectations for him having been a fan sice local Hero. He’s simply not put a foot wrong so far and the show is very lucky to have him. I can see a period of real confidence and stability coming for the show as Peter is clearly in it for the long haul and we’ve had a greater consistency in tone since series 5. Peter is clearly leading the show so if Moff steps off at the end of series 10 and hands over to a new showrunner, Peter will be an excellent (and sturdy) bridge.

            DT is a good enough actor ( not in the same league as Chris, Matt, John or Peter) but never was The Doctor for me, just the cheeky flirty young bloke having a good time with his mates. That will always be the high point of his career and he’ll never escape it (and it will help keep him in voicework and minor genre things) , but Chris, John and Peter didn’t need Who on their resumes as their repuatations were already high and Matt has been given a bit of a short cut to the top which I think he would have achieved based on his undoubted talent and is already well on his way to a huge future.

  7. The Earl Fleabag of Turdshire says:

    Well, I’m not a father, but I do like some of the “hated” episodes, L&M in particular. I think it is a lovely, lighthearted romp and I think only those who take the show too seriously have an issue with.

    However, do somewhat dislike the implication that certain episode can only be enjoyed if you’ve got young kids. I don’t think that’s true at all.

  8. Castellan Spandrel says:

    Love & Monsters ‘sort of’ works if you think of it as a Roald Dahlesque dark fairytale. Where it falls apart spectacularly is the sight of a green Peter Kay running amok in skimpy undies, like yer dad after he’s been laid off at the chemical plant.

    S2 is the weakest season of the modern series for me, but it’s not without its merits.

    I enjoyed Tooth and Claw at the time as a good old-fashioned monster story, though once you realise it’s like a computer game in plot it loses its allure. It was a mistake to portray the werewolf entirely in CGI rather than using some decent prosthetics.

    School Reunion: very fond of this for sentimental reasons (SJS and K9) and really like Mr Finch. ‘Scooby Doo Gang’? Yes, go on then.

    Fireplace and Impossible Planet/Satan Pit are the best S2 has to offer, though not perfect. Army of Ghosts/Doomsday is entertaining enough but loses a lot in hindsight, as the Daleks’ reveal can no longer have the same impact it did back then, and nor can the teary ending, since it was reneged on in Journey’s End.

    The rest are pretty much best forgotten.

    The notion that the Tennant era is now considered a series low point I find somewhat questionable. It may suit certain people’s tastes and biases to think that, but it shouldn’t be seen as a mass consensus. It probably depends on which forums you frequent and whose views you subscribe to. DT’s years are still loved by many and contain high points that match the best of the rest. I know plenty who think the series hasn’t been as good since.

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