Isn’t it interesting that one of New Who’s most reviled episode follows the same theme as one of it’s most lauded?
Love & Monsters came 153rd in DWM’s Mighty 200 poll; Turn Left came in at 12. Suffice to say, there’s a pretty large gap between them in people’s affections. (At risk of losing all credibility and each of my followers, I actually really, really, really, like Love & Monsters*)
Love and Monsters follows the story of Elton Pope, telling the tale of how his life, and those of the people in London, were affected by the Doctor. Turn Left follows the story of Donna Noble, telling the tale of how her life, and those of the people of the world, were affected by the Doctor.
It is the same theme, the same central concept. The only difference is the way in which the idea was approached. Love and Monsters is what happens when the Doctor is there; Turn Left the story of when he isn’t. Despite the superficial differences, it is still the same idea – it’s how the Doctor affects people. (Taking it a bit further, you could argue that Love and Monsters is about the accidental evils that he causes, and Turn Left is about the greater evils that he prevents.)
I suppose the reason why Love and Monsters isn’t appreciated as much as it should be is the Abzorbaloff**, which is certainly a shame. It’s really a brilliant concept, when you distill it down to it’s base elements – it’s about the removal of your autonomy, isn’t it? (It is) I wonder if people would like this episode more had it featured, say, the Zygons or the Krillitanes in the place of the Abzorbaloff – but I think that would probably be to the episodes detriment, on the whole…
So, that’s why New Who’s alleged-second-worst episode is, in fact, very, very similar to it’s sixth best.
* As much as I like the episode, I think they made a mistake with the title – it really, really should’ve been called “Love ‘n’ Monsters”
** Yes, I like the Abzorbaloff as well.