Love & Monsters
Love & Monsters was the tenth episode of Series 2 of the BBC Wales version of Doctor Who. It included the first mention of Harold Saxon and mentioned the Torchwood story arc.
From a production standpoint, it included a monster created by a child for a Blue Peter competition. It was the first story in the program’s history written specifically to be recorded at the same time as another story — a process called “double banking”. By minimizing the appearances of the Doctor and his companion, the production team recorded fourteen episodes in the same time that it took to make thirteen. Russell T Davies was sufficiently pleased with the results that the concept — dubbed a “Doctor-lite episode” — would be a regular feature of each subsequent season.
Tardisode 10, the prologue to Love & Monsters, shows a secretary falling victim to the main enemy of this episode.
An awestruck young man sheepishly approaches the Doctor’s TARDIS to find the Tenth Doctor and Rose tackling a Hoix in a warehouse. The Doctor asks the man if they have ever met before. He panics and runs away.
The young man, a typical Londoner by the name of Elton Pope, narrates his story via his video camera. He introduces himself and tells how, when only three or four years old, he came downstairs one night to find a strange man in his house: the Doctor. Elton was caught up in the massacre by the Autons. A year later he watched as an alien ship crashed into Big Ben. Following another alien invasion last Christmas Day, Elton looks for information on the strange goings-on and finds a photo of the Doctor, looking exactly as he did all those years ago. He meets Ursula Blake, who posted the photo on “My Invasion Blog” and believes his story about the Doctor. Ursula introduces Elton to her friends Bliss, Bridget Sinclair and Mr Colin Skinner. They have all heard of the Doctor and meet regularly to discuss their findings. Despite the name Elton coins for them (London Investigation ‘n’ Detective Agency, or LINDA), they soon become more of a social group, helping each other through their problems and enjoying each other’s company.
That all changes with the arrival of Victor Kennedy, an evidently wealthy gentleman who doesn’t touch people because of a skin condition. He also wishes to find the Doctor, and takes over LINDA, forcing the members to work harder. Bliss vanishes. Elton tracks down the Doctor and then panics and runs away.
Victor is furious, but decides to change plans: they will look for Rose. Elton locates Rose’s mum Jackie with surprising ease. He visits her often, supposedly to do odd jobs but really because Jackie finds him attractive. One night Jackie tries to seduce Elton, but a phone call from Rose brings her to her senses. Elton feels ashamed of using her and realizes that he loves Ursula. When Jackie finds a photo of Rose in Elton’s jacket, she rounds on him and tells him to leave. She says bitterly that no one has any interest in her.
Elton tells Victor he’s ruined LINDA and that the three remaining members are leaving, noting that Bridget has gone, just like Bliss. He asks Ursula out to dinner, but Mr Skinner stays behind as Victor offers to help him find Bridget. Ursula forgets her phone.
When they return for it they find Mr Skinner has disappeared and Victor has transformed into a corpulent green alien — the Abzorbaloff, as Elton calls it. The Abzorbaloff reveals he’s absorbed Mr Skinner. He is now on its belly. Bridget has been absorbed into his back. Elton asks where Bliss is. The sound of Bliss straining to say something comes from within the Abzorbaloff who takes his weight off one of his buttocks, allowing her to tell Elton, amidst the rumble of flatulence, that he doesn’t want to know. The Abzorbaloff wants to find the Doctor for the ultimate feast.
Ursula grabs the Abzorbaloff’s cane and threatens to beat him with it unless he returns the LINDA members to their former states. The Abzorbaloff seems genuinely terrified and begs for mercy. Ursula hesitates, which proves fatal as the Abzorbaloff grabs hold of her arm. A single touch is all that is needed for a victim to be absorbed. Elton watches in horror as Ursula is fused into the Absorbaloff’s body, her face ending up on his chest. Elton begs for Ursula to be returned, but the Abzorbaloff says that her original form is gone forever. He taunts Elton about the feelings Ursula had for him, which the Abzorbaloff now has access to. Ursula can also access the Abzorbaloff’s thoughts. She yells for Elton to flee. He’s next to be absorbed.
Elton runs, the creature chasing after him, until the TARDIS appears. An angry Rose has come to confront Elton about upsetting her mother, while the Doctor questions the Abzorbaloff about his home planet, which turns out to be Clom, the twin planet of Raxacoricofallapatorius. The Abzorbaloff tells them of his scheme to lure in the Doctor to absorb him for “a delicious feast”. Before he can consume Elton or the Doctor, the absorbed members of LINDA distract him. Ursula tells Elton to snap its cane. This destroys the limitation field that maintained its integrity. The Abzorbaloff dissolves into liquid and seeps into the ground along with the people absorbed by it.
The Doctor explains to the distraught Elton that on the night they first met, he was hunting a living shadow which had escaped its home dimension. He caught it, but not before it had killed Elton’s mother.
Elton muses that meeting the Doctor is fraught with danger, but that he did save Elton one last time: with the sonic screwdriver, he restored Ursula partially. She now exists as a face in one of the paving stones where the Abzorbaloff had melted. The pair have found some happiness despite their ordeal, and Elton comments that he now knows the meaning of Stephen King’s quote: “Salvation and damnation are the same thing.” However, he ends on a positive note, saying that the world isn’t all it seems — it is better.