Tardisode: A man who clearly isn’t Peter Kay, but who we conveniently only see from behind, is Googling The Doctor when he comes across the website of an organisation called Linda. He does some Mickey Smith style hacking in order to trace the IP address or something, then kills the tea lady.
* Ah yes, the single most divisive episode of the revived series so far, and possibly to date. I’ve always been a bit of a fan, but you can’t deny that they handled the double-banking a lot better in subsequent series, especially the following year. But I’m fine with the silly bits like the Scooby Doo-esque running around – what we’re being shown isn’t necessarily meant to have happened exactly as we see it, it’s a depiction of Elton’s memories and his recounting of the story, and he’s just an unreliable narrator. His computer didn’t literally blow up when “the Internet went into melt down”, and his little band doesn’t literally sound exactly like ELO the second time we see them.
* I love that this links up with established continuity from previous contemporary Britain stories. I’ve always been interested in how The Doctor’s adventures affect everyday people, and it’s been a cornerstone of the RTD years. It grounds the show by reinforcing its place in the real world – our world – which we haven’t really had since the UNIT days.
* Much like the crew from last time, Linda are a right bunch of recognisable telly stalwarts. Marc Warren! Simon Greenall! Shirley Henderson, the woman who permanently looks about twenty years younger than she is! The annoying one from Two Pints Of Shit And A Packet Of Shit (no, the other annoying one. No, the other other annoying one)! The only problem with Linda is that they are totally ineffectual before Peter Kay turns up, and terribly smug with it.
* So, having caught up on the classic series, read up on what went on behind the scenes, and all the politics within both the production and the fandom… Peter Kay is Ian Levine, right? One of those entitled, self-righteous tossers who you find in every fan community, who ultimately want to make it all about them and who like nothing better than to nitpick and moan, in order to give the impression that they’re somehow superior to the thing they supposedly love. I should know, that’s what half of Red Dwarf fandom thinks of me.
* I have a complex position on Peter Kay. Everything I’ve heard about him leads me to believe he’s a terrible person, his stand-up persona isn’t much better, and he’s an incredibly lazy and unimaginative comedian. But I adore That Peter Kay Thing and Phoenix Nights, so I never know what to expect. He’s not bad at playing Victor, who’s quite an old school variety of rotter, and I enjoyed the “eczema” business. But when he turns into the Abzorbaloff, he’s self-consciously trying to be funny, so he falls back on his tedious comedy northerner shtick. The creature effects are weird; the prosthetics are fine, but the performances of the absorbed victims really stilted and unconvincing.
* Meanwhile, it’s one of Jackie’s best appearances, and it’s good to see her in the spotlight as the character we’re most familiar with. Her seduction at the laundrette is great, as is the rather risque reading of “you could always splash out on a taxi or… whatever.” My favourite bit is the look on her face as she drops the facade and pours wine over Elton for the second time, but Camille Coduri can also handle the emotional stuff really well.
* “We’ve even got a bit of a love life” is the single rudest joke the series has ever seen, and therefore one of the best jokes the series has ever seen. Utterly amazing that it ever made it to screen in a family show. It’s probably best not to think about whether The Doctor did the right thing in turning a dead woman into a sentient fuck-pavement without her consent, though.