Review of "Love & Monsters"
Written by Russell T. Davies, Directed by Dan Zeff                                                    First Aired 17 June 2006

Elton Pope discovers the TARDIS while investigating the Doctor.

by Monika Lewis                                                        Reviewed  3 July 2008

"Love & Monsters" was a controversial episode when it aired two years ago, but perhaps some of it is more relevant today on a second viewing.  Since 2006, YouTube took off, making video diaries like Elton Pope's commonplace even among presidential candidates.  However, the Abzorbaloff still seems out of place in what is otherwise a subtle and humorous exploration of fandom that brings people together.  The montage of scenes depicting Elton and Ursula Blake's relationship set to ELO's "Mr Blue Sky" is similar to the many YouTube fan videos about the Doctor and Rose's travels together, some of them using the same tune.  The LINDA (London Investigation 'N' Detective Agency) group also reflects the many types of people who have become fans of Doctor Who since 2005.  I've been watching Doctor Who since 1997 at age 11, and saw all the classic series (except the missing episodes).  I was glad to see the series come back, along with new opportunities to meet other fans through the Internet like Elton did in "Love & Monsters."  Read more about my history watching Doctor Who at my blog.  The young female demographic of David Tennant fans is widely represented with videomakers on YouTube, with pictures of the actor like Ursula's website image of the Doctor on Christmas in the snow from the Sycorax ship. 

This episode is the first since 1965's "Mission to the Unknown" to tell the story from the perspective of a character other than the Doctor and his companions.  In "Mission to the Unknown," a prelude to the epic 12 part "The Daleks' Master Plan," the story was told through the Space Security Service officer who is discovering plans for a Dalek attack.  "Love & Monsters" takes a ordinary man who happens to have encountered the Doctor as a boy and happens upon a group of the Doctor's fans.  Since then two other episodes, 2007's "Blink" and 2008's "Turn Left," have featured the humans drawn into the Doctor's world while taking the Time Lord out of the picture.  These shows leave the human companions to deal with the events on their own, mostly without the Doctor's assistance, showing how much he is needed in their world.  "Turn Left," like "Love & Monsters," shows familiar events from previous episodes in the series from a new perspective, while "Blink" also has the device of communicating through a video camera.  The more recent "Doctor-lite" episodes are more successful in consistency of tone than "Love & Monsters," but the 2006 episode has many good character moments for the LINDA group.

Though the Doctor and Rose are not in "Love & Monsters" very much, Elton becomes an identifiable character for many fans, like Rose in the first episode of the 2005 series showing how the Doctor can affect someone's life.  The Abzorbaloff, like the inhabitants of Clom's twin planet Raxacoricofallipatorious the Slitheen, don't seem to fit in with the Doctor Who monster tradition.  They seem too broad in an attempt at humor for younger viewers, when the interactions between Elton and LINDA, and his meetings with Jackie Tyler, were more amusing. 

Victor Kennedy, who appears to take LINDA's quest for the Doctor too seriously, is perhaps a satire of some classic series fans on the Internet who seem to find many faults with the new series, saying it's not being made "for them" but for the wider audience.  I think that the new series is just as good as the previous episodes, and it is being made for everyone since many of the writers, actors and production crew are long- time fans including showrunner Russell T. Davies and David Tennant.  It's fine to "have a laugh" watching the show, as LINDA does in celebrating the Doctor and sharing their other interests.  The show's message is that fans of Doctor Who shouldn't let spoilsports like Victor Kennedy absorb their fun. 

 

7/10