Love & Monsters
||This article is in a list format that may be better presented using prose. (October 2011)|
|175 – "Love & Monsters"|
|Doctor Who episode|
The Abzorbaloff reveals his true self to Elton and Ursula
|Writer||Russell T Davies|
|Script editor||Simon Winstone|
|Executive producer(s)||Russell T Davies
|Incidental music composer||Murray Gold|
|Originally broadcast||17 June 2006|
"Love & Monsters" is the tenth episode of the second series of the British science fiction television series Doctor Who. In this episode, an ordinary man named Elton Pope becomes obsessed with a man called the Doctor and his strange blue box, and joins a group of like-minded people in hopes of finding him. But when the mysterious Victor Kennedy joins the group, the fun stops and Elton discovers a darker side to his hobby. Peter Kay appears in the episode as an alien villain who was based in part on a design by a Blue Peter children's TV competition winner. The episode features allusions to all of the first three annual story arcs in the revived programme; mention of the "Bad Wolf virus" affecting "Torchwood Institute files" was inserted into the script to cover a potential plothole in the two-part series finale, and is the first episode to include series three's recurrent motif.
The episode, which was inspired in part by the fact that the actors David Tennant and Billie Piper were filming other episodes, and following the model of Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "The Zeppo" and Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Lower Decks", gave significantly less screentime to the show's two lead actors. Instead, actor Marc Warren takes up most of the episode's acting responsibilities. It has since inspired an annual tradition of successful "Doctor-light" and "companion-light" episodes, such as Steven Moffat's "Blink" in 2007, Davies' own back-to-back 2008 episodes "Midnight" and "Turn Left", Gareth Roberts's "The Lodger" in 2010, and Tom MacRae's "The Girl Who Waited" in 2011.
The episode is presented as an excerpt from the video diary of Elton Pope, a young man who is describing his encounters with the Doctor. Elton's on-camera narration forms a present-day frame story to a series of flashbacks related to the Doctor. Elton recalls a chance meeting with the Doctor and remembers having seen the same man as a child in his living room one night. On the internet he discovers others, including Ursula Blake, who have also reported similar experiences with the Doctor. Elton and Ursula form a group known as LINDA, the "London Investigation 'N' Detective Agency". They are joined by three others people: Bridget, Bliss, and Mr. Skinner. LINDA meets in a library basement to discuss their experiences, but soon their meetings become more social in nature.
One day a man by the name of Victor Kennedy interrupts a meeting and points out that LINDA has lost focus. He reinvigorates the group's efforts to locate the Doctor by teaching them spying techniques. Elton is given the task of getting close to Rose Tyler's mother Jackie. He manages to meet Jackie at a laundromat and is invited to her apartment. She tries and fails to seduce him, but when she finds a picture of Rose in Elton's jacket she demands that he leave her alone. Meanwhile, Bridget and Bliss disappear from the group unexpectedly. Victor explains their absence by saying that they quit to move on with their lives. After a meeting Elton, Ursula and Mr. Skinner stage a walkout. Victor convinces Mr. Skinner to remain behind, but Elton and Ursula leave. Ursula realises she forgot her phone, and she returns with Elton only to discover that Victor is an alien being known as the Abzorbaloff. They see the faces of the former LINDA members and others victims protruding from Victor's body. Victor manages to absorb Ursula, but Elton gets away from him.
Victor chases Elton into a dead end alley. Before the Abzorbaloff can touch him, the TARDIS materializes and the Doctor and Rose step out. Rose begins to chastise Elton for disturbing her mum Jackie before she sees that something is wrong. The Abzorbaloff tries to absorb the Doctor but the already absorbed members of LINDA use their willpower to hold back the Abzorbaloff's body. The Abzsorbaloff drops its cane, which Elton breaks at Ursula's instruction. The cane contained a field generator that kept the Abzorbaloff in control of its body, without it the creature dissolves into the Earth. The Doctor explains that he was at Elton's house years ago tracking an elemental shade, but he was too late and the shade killed Elton's mother.
In Elton's concluding narrative, we hear Ursula's voice and learn that the Doctor was able to use his sonic screwdriver to keep Ursula's essence alive. Ursula's face is alive in a piece of paving stone that Elton keeps in his room. Elton explains that he and Ursula have an unconventional relationship and even have a love life.
- This episode is set two years after "Rose" and new footage of the Auton attack is seen here that is designed to feature Elton in it (if one looks closely, during the part of the flashback where Elton is nearly hit by a cab, the bridal mannequin that attacks Jackie can be seen in the background). New footage featuring the Slitheens' ship from "Aliens of London" and the Sycorax ship from "The Christmas Invasion" is also included in this episode, again shown through Elton's experience of these events. In the episode commentary, Russell T Davies notes that in an early draft, Elton would have been witness to more events in Doctor Who history: in this draft, Elton's third birthday party was evacuated because of the Dalek invasion of Shoreditch, his mother was killed by a plastic daffodil (instead of by an elemental shade), and he also would have been one of those who saw the Loch Ness Monster rising from the Thames. Prior to the revival of Doctor Who, Davies had considered pitching this story idea to Doctor Who Magazine as a comics story. Davies had also considered making the viewpoint character of the story a woman but felt that he already had enough focus on female guest characters that series.
- During the new version of the Auton attack sequence, the logo of Henrik's department store can be seen both on Elton's shopping bags and on the taxi which almost runs him over. Henrik's was the department store at which Rose used to work, which was destroyed at the beginning of "Rose", but was seen to have re-opened in "The Christmas Invasion".
- Jackie informs Elton that her friend Mickey Smith is now gone, a reference to his decision in "The Age of Steel", to take place of his parallel world doppelganger.
- Victor Kennedy's pictures of Rose include stills from the episode "Rose", as well as two of her entering 10 Downing Street in "Aliens of London" in which the Ninth Doctor can also be seen from behind. Bridget also mentions "different forms of the Doctor, which come and go" from time to time.
- He mentions that "Rose's Torchwood files are strangely lacking" because they were corrupted by a "Bad Wolf virus". "Torchwood" is a recurring phrase in the 2006 series, as "Bad Wolf" was the previous year. This line was included to establish why Torchwood does not know what Rose looks like in "Army of Ghosts", as explained by writer Russell T Davies on the MP3 audio commentary available on the bbc.co.uk website for that episode.
- The copy of The Daily Telegraph that the Abzorbaloff reads has the headline "Saxon leads polls with 64 per cent". Russell T Davies observes this in the commentary, saying, "Look at the headline. That's all I'm going to say." This is the first appearance of the name of "Mr Saxon", a feature of a story arc in Series Three of the series.
- Rose remarks on the Abzorbaloff as being a little bit Slitheen-ish in appearance— the Abzorbaloff states that he comes from Clom, the sister planet of the Slitheen homeworld Raxacoricofallapatorius. Clom was later mentioned in "The Stolen Earth" as one of the 27 stolen planets, and again in series 6 episode "The Girl Who Waited" where "Disneyland Clom" was mentioned.
- Nearing the end of his story, Elton wonders how long it will be before Rose and Jackie "pay the price" - for being with the Doctor - a hint to what will happen in the next story, the two-parter "Army of Ghosts" and "Doomsday".
- In "Time Crash", the Fifth Doctor mentions LINDA when he mistakes the Tenth Doctor for an obsessed fan.
- A Hoix is later seen briefly in the Torchwood series 2 finale "Exit Wounds",among the legion of the Doctor's enemies seen in "The Pandorica Opens", and another member of the species (with an artificial respirator fitted to it's snout) was among those attending the Festival of Offerings on Akhaten "The Rings of Akhaten".
According to Doctor Who Magazine #370, this episode had the working title of "I Love the Doctor". The decision to focus on a different character was inspired by the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "The Zeppo" and the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Lower Decks".
The Abzorbaloff was designed by nine-year-old William Grantham of Colchester, Essex for a "Design a Doctor Who Monster" competition held by Blue Peter. The first prize for the competition was to have the monster appear in an episode of Doctor Who. William was (according to Phil Collinson in the commentary) disappointed with the rendering of the monster because he had envisaged it being "the size of a double-decker bus."
Unlike the vast majority of Doctor Who stories, "Love & Monsters" has only nominal appearances by the TARDIS crew. This was a production necessity to allow Tennant and Piper to film other episodes, and has become a tradition with "Doctor-lite" or "companion-lite" episodes such as "Blink", "Midnight", "Turn Left", "The Lodger", and "The Girl Who Waited".
The creature that Elton sees at the start of the episode is credited as the "Hoix". Davies notes in the commentary that the name was invented only after the episode was shot and a name was needed for the credits.
Russell T Davies cast Peter Kay after Kay wrote a fan letter to him in praise of the new series. Kay was originally to play Elton Pope, but he felt that the role was too similar to roles he had played in the past, such as Eric Gartside in Coronation Street. Consequently, he got back in contact with Davies and asked if he could stretch himself as an actor and play the villain, and Kay was cast as Victor Kennedy/the Abzorbaloff.
Totally Doctor Who presenter Barney Harwood appears as an extra in this episode wearing a red hat, when Elton asks Mrs. Croot where Rose lives, and also during the flashback to when Elton sees the Slitheen spaceship crashing into Big Ben from "Aliens of London".
||This section may contain original research. (January 2008)|
- Elton John appears in a video clip on Elton Pope's video diary.
- The scene where Elton watches the Doctor and Rose flee from the Hoix has them running back and forth through a series of doors lining a long hallway, a set-piece characteristic of classic cartoon or comedy series such as Scooby-Doo, The Benny Hill Show, or in the Three Stooges shorts. Later in the episode, Elton remembers the LINDA band playing an Electric Light Orchestra (ELO) song perfectly, where earlier we had seen their actual far-from-perfect version. In the commentary it is noted his memory may not be entirely reliable, so whether events in the episode happened the way he remembers them is debatable.
- As noted in the commentary, the acronym "LINDA" was previously used on the British children's television programme show Why Don't You?, which featured the "Liverpool Investigation 'N' Detective Agency". Russell T Davies worked on the series for some years.
- Elton, a fan of ELO, dances to their "Mr. Blue Sky", which is later used as incidental music. LINDA also perform ELO's "Don't Bring Me Down", and the song "Turn to Stone" appears during the montage of Elton in Jackie's house. Ursula and Bliss perform an acoustic version of "Brand New Key" with guitars.
- Jackie plays Il Divo's Spanish cover of "Unbreak My Heart" when she is trying to seduce Elton.
- The Stephen King quote which Elton mentions ("Salvation and damnation are the same thing") is from The Green Mile. The actual quote reads: "Sometimes there is absolutely no difference at all between salvation and damnation."
Broadcast and reception
The overnight viewing figures for this episode's original broadcast were 6.22 million, a 38.3% audience share and the highest rated programme of the day. Its final audience figure was 6.66 million making it the 15th most watched programme of the week. The episode gained an Appreciation Index score of 76, just short of the 2006 average rating of 77.
The scene where Elton says he and Ursula have "a bit of a love life" was criticised by some commentators, who felt that the resultant implication of having oral sex with a paving slab was unsuitable for Doctor Who's large family audience; others, however, dismissed this dialogue as a harmless joke that children would not understand.
- Davies, Russell T. "The Next Doctor Commentary Podcast". BBC. Retrieved 2 June 2010.
- Doctor Who Magazine (Royal Tunbridge Wells, Kent: Panini Comics) (370). 21 June 2006.
- "Review: Doctor Who 2x10 - Love and Monsters". The Medium is Not Enough. 19 June 2006. Retrieved 22 March 2013.
- Lyon, Shaun (2006-06-28). "Love & Monsters Final Ratings". Outpost Gallifrey News Page. Retrieved 2006-07-11.
- Doctor Who Magazine: Series Two Companion (Royal Tunbridge Wells, Kent: Panini Comics) (14 - Special Edition). 9 November 2006.
- Hilton, Matt (28 December 2006). ""Runaway Bride" AI Figure". The Doctor Who News Page (Gallifrey Base). Retrieved 25 July 2010.[dead link]
- Outpost Gallifrey "Blink-AI figure and Sunday Ratings". http://gallifreynewsbase.blogspot.com/2007/06/blink-ai-figure-and-sunday-ratings.html 2007-06-11. Retrieved 2009-12-21
- See Second Flight - Back to the Vortex 2: The Unofficial and Unauthorised Guide to Doctor Who 2006 by J. Shaun Lyon for information on this controversy.
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Tenth Doctor|
- Love & Monsters on TARDIS Data Core, an external wiki
- TARDISODE 10
- "Find me that Girl" - episode trailer
- Episode commentary by Russell T Davies, Phil Collinson, and Susie Liggat (MP3)
- "Love & Monsters" episode homepage
- "Love & Monsters" at the BBC Doctor Who homepage
- "Love & Monsters" at Doctor Who: A Brief History Of Time (Travel)
- "Love & Monsters" at the Doctor Who Reference Guide
- "Love & Monsters" at Outpost Gallifrey
- "Love & Monsters" at TV.com
- "Love & Monsters" at the Internet Movie Database
- "Love & Monsters" reviews at Outpost Gallifrey
- "Love & Monsters" reviews at The Doctor Who Ratings Guide
- "Love & Monsters" review at Strange Horizons