"S28E10 - Love and Monsters" is a mixture of brilliance and cringe-worthy embarrassment. It is heavily reminiscent of the episode "Storyteller" from Buffy the Vampire Slayer - in which resident geek Andrew films a 'documentary' about Buffy. I would argue deliberately so. Marc Warren is a fantastic actor, and highly thought of in British Television, so it is not odd to find him in such an offering, but he also bares a resemblance to the Andrew-playing Tom Lenk, which is... coincidental. This episode doesn't nearly match the fantastic tongue-in-cheek nature of "Storyteller", but it seems to be striving towards it. There are moments of "Love and Monsters" which are clearly inspired by Austin Powers. Music within the episode is echoing the theme to The X Files. All in all, it isn't really that original. But still, we don't watch Who for originality, do we?
The thing which I find most interesting about "Love and Monsters" is what I could only think is commentary on The Fan. Our Hero, this week not the Doctor, but some little young (39's young) thing named Elton, who fan worships the Doctor and finds out more about him from an online blog. Ahah. He makes friends and they create a lovely little community who research The Doctor. They study him, referring to him as archetypal. Essays are written and delivered. This all occurs person-to-person, the online aspect reduced to a tool of research.
This community is made up of very different, but like-minded individuals whose activities soon go beyond that of their original intent. They share stories about themselves. They share other interests. They create together; not very well, but with enjoyment. They care for each other.
Alack! An evil being appears and starts absorbing the fun factor of the community. It all starts seeming like work! And the fans? Well, they disappear, one by one...
The Fans are seen as silly creatures. Not especially bright. Enthusiastic. Incredibly geeky. Trying to enrich their boring common-or-garden lives. They embed themselves in looking for The Doctor because they don't want to dwell on reality (a reality which includes a coked up daughter, and as it turns out, the tragic death of a mother.) They're good people, if not a little misguided. Their relationships strengthen as they get to know each other, but it all falls apart in the end anyway, because, on the whole, they're still superficial.
When it comes down to it, what is trying to be sweetly silly - a comedy of the everyman, actually has the potential to be highly insulting and offensive. Are Elton and Ursula true examples of the everyday fan? No, of course not. But they're true enough. And that's what matters when you're creating a parable, really, isn't it? As previously mentioned - archetypes. The no-hoper, the person-with-too-much-time-on-their-hands.
Now, I have no doubt that "Love and Monsters" was tremendous fun to work on. I'd wager Paul Kay was particularly chuffed. And it did have its moments (I'm thinking primarily of the inclusion of ELO), but on the whole I find it deficient. It is not nearly humorous enough to work on that tongue-in-cheek meta level it feels like it is striving for, and instead comes off as highly patronising and condescending.
It seems that no-one told writer Russell T. Davies Rule Number 207 in working on a cult-classic; Do Not Mock The Fans even if you are one.