In the notes I took for this post as I was watching the episode, I have “starts promisingly”. And it did. My interest was genuinely piqued as I watched a young bloke wander upon the TARDIS, imposing and mysterious, with that eerie music in the background. This episode looked set to play out as something potentially very interesting. The next thing I wrote was “…until the webcam”. Then I remembered how utterly cheesy this episode was. It’s a long masquerade of some of the cheesiest material Doctor Who has ever produced, perhaps surpassed only by Torchwood’s Random Shoes: Elton, Ursula, LINDA, Abzorbaloff, the whole lot. I found Elton to be a really sad guy with a very sad life, and I had zero interest in following his story. I watch Doctor Who for escapism—following Elton’s sad life was an unwelcome jolt back to how dreary reality can be. It was entirely the wrong idea and tone for Doctor Who. Furthermore, Abzorbaloff was probably the most ridiculous, ill-conceived monster in the history of this show. I will admit to almost being interested in the story up until the point where Victor Kennedy turned into Abzorbaloff, but as I watched what looked like a green sumo wrestler bounding after Elton down an East London street, I genuinely wondered whether I wasn’t being trolled. This is a warped parody of Doctor Who—I accept that Doctor Who is an incredibly versatile show, but surely there are limits.
Reluctantly, I’ll admit it wasn’t all bad. The highlight of this episode was undoubtedly Jackie. Jackie was written really endearingly—I would suggest that this is even Jackie’s best script. To a greater extent than before, we got to see how the Doctor has affected Jackie’s life and how Jackie deals with her anxieties about Rose. Her worries have driven her to become somewhat stir-crazy in Rose’s absence, as her attempted fling with Elton showed. This is an entirely understandable reaction to her feelings, and I feel that I cared more about Jackie in this episode than in any previous. Moreover, although I didn’t particularly like any of the members of LINDA, the way the episode showed the members bonding and forming a little community around their devotion to finding the Doctor was a very good and realistic representation of the human urge to community, and the way humans will form bonded communities whenever they come together for a common purpose. Anyone who’s been in social groups such as bands and sports clubs and churches will know the feeling. Finally, I liked the way the Doctor was made a very enigmatic figure, especially in Elton’s flashbacks to seeing the Doctor in his house as a child. The Doctor should be, to some extent, shrouded in mystery and enigma, and I feel some of the magic is lost when the Doctor becomes too familiar a figure, as, I think, he does at certain times during the Tenth Doctor’s run. Here, however, there was no lack of magic at all. Finally “We forget because we must” was an uncharacteristically mature and poignant point in this episode, and a quite beautiful addition to Elton’s story.
The good points of this episode, I’m afraid to say, don’t redeem it enough for me to bring myself to give it more than a rating of 2. It was substantially an awful story, and I would not willingly watch it again unless I was feeling particularly masochistic.