Some twelve years on, ‘Love & Monsters’ is still one of the… odder… things to come out of the modern era of ‘Doctor Who.’ It is, on a good day, a deeply divisive episode, with fan response ranging from “It’s ambitious and a bit sweet” to “it’s an execrable story whose few bright spots are owed more to the cast than the script.” (Guess which side I come down on.) Yet despite its reputation, ‘Love & Monsters’ is an almost paradoxically noteworthy hour of ‘Who’.
Most notably, it served as the first of the modern show’s now largely defunct tradition of “Doctor-lite” episodes (these were episodes that only featured the Doctor in a minor role, and thus could be produced alongside more conventional shows, a practice also known as “double banking”). It also featured a monster – the Abzorbaloff, played by Peter Kay – that had been designed by a young fan as part of a contest conducted in association with the children’s show ‘Blue Peter’.
And now, that fan – William Grantham – has addressed the subject on his YouTube channel. In the video (which we’ve included below) Grantham mounts a defense of the infamous installment while acknowledging his own biases in its favor. And frankly, as dreadful as the episode might be, none of that is Grantham’s fault. The only thing you can hold Grantham responsible for is the design of the monster. Not its on-screen realization, not how Peter Kay played the part, nothing other than the core visual idea… And even then it’s fine for what it is. Which is, lest we forget, a one-off monster of the week that was *designed by a child*. No, it’s not going to win awards, but to be blunt, it’s not even the worst monster design we’ve ever seen on ‘Doctor Who’.
He also touches on the responses to the episode, and while he’s fairly sanguine about much of it (even if he does feel some of the hate is overblown), he also acknowledges that fandom’s distaste for the episode has sometimes dipped into more personal territory, including some schoolyard bullying. It may be a relatively mild example, but it’s a reminder that toxic fandom – perhaps best exemplified nowadays by the cesspool that the ‘Star Wars’ community has become in the wake of ‘The Last Jedi‘ – is hardly a new phenomenon. Hell, it’s not even new to ‘Star Wars’. Anyone else remember the public blowback that people like Ahmed Best, Jake Lloyd, and Hayden Christensen faced, merely for doing their jobs? I don’t care how much you hated Jar Jar, the fact that the actor who played him was nearly driven to suicide is unconscionable. But I digress, and hopefully, dear reader, I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know.