Doctor Who Series 2 Episode 10: Love and Monsters

Dan Owen reviews
Cover
Series 2 Episode 10: “Love and Monsters”Broadcast on BBC1, Saturday June 17th, 2006
CoverSeries 1 Boxset:
Series 2 Part 4:
Series 2 Boxset:

    Director:

      Dan Zeff

Screenplay:

    Russell T. Davies

Cast:

    The Doctor: David Tennant
    Rose Tyler: Billie Piper
    Jackie Tyler: Camille Codouri
    Victor Kennedy/Abzorbaloff: Peter Kay
    Elton Pope: Marc Warren
    Ursula Blake: Shirley Henderson
    Mr Skinner: Simon Greenall
    Bridget: Moya Brady
    Bliss: Kathryn Drysdale
    Old Woman: Bella Emberg


CoverSynopsis: An ordinary man named Elton Pope (right) becomes obsessed with TheDoctor and joins a group of like-minded people in hopes of finding him.But when the mysterious Victor Kennedy joins the group, the fun soonstops and Elton discovers a darker side to his hobby.

Russell T. Davies eschews the Doctor Who formula for Love & Monsters,an episode that removes the emphasis on The Doctor and focuses on obsessiveloner Elton Pope (Marc Warren, a sort of younger-looking Malcolm McDowell- DVDfever Dom adds: “I’m so glad I’m not the only one whothinks this!”)

It transpires that Elton met The Doctor when he was small boy and has becomeobsessed with finding him ever since – so much so that he joins a groupof like-minded people who call themselves the London Investigations ‘NDetective Agency (L.I.N.D.A).

Love & Monsters walks a fine line between being agreeably differentand embarrassingly awful. For the most part is succeeds on a silly levelthat kids will enjoy, and Davies is clearly having fun with the chance tofool around with Who conventions. The episode also gives Davies a chanceto flex his comedy muscles with more success than when he shoehorns gagsinto dramatic stories.

Here, the emphasis is clearly on comedy from the opening sequence (whichincludes The Doctor, Rose and a monster in homage to Scooby Doo!) Istill don’t find Davies particular brand of family-friendly comedyparticularly amusing, but there are some nice scenes and a few gags thathit their targets.


CoverPeter Kay makes an impression as Victor Kennedy (a posh eccentric with a cane, top-right),and his alter-ego The Abzorbaloff (a sort of cross between Fungus TheBogeyman and Fat Bastard from Austin Powers, right).

Marc Warren performs well in a comedic role, managing to keep the rightlevel of dramatics and comedy bubbling along. The supporting cast aremainly inconsequential, although Shirley Henderson (Moaning Myrtlein the Harry Potter films) was a memorably geeky love-interest.Camille Codouri also returned as Jackie Tyler, a character thatcan veer from extremely irritating to lovably real in the blink of aneye. Fortunately, Davies wrote her particular subplot with just the rightcombination of laughs and humanity – as Elton infiltrated her lifeto find Rose, while Jackie had more romantic thoughts in mind.

The effects are fairly good, particularly the rubber-suit of theAbzorbaloff with its CGI-assisted faces of past victims appearing allover its body. Quite a freaky effect and expertly achieved. However,later sequences when the Abzorbaloff is called upon to run around outsideshould have been abandoned. There’s nothing quite as silly as seeing afull-body shot of a man running around in a rubber fat-suit (but maybethat was the intention.)

In essence, I was entertained by Love & Monsters most of thetime, particularly in its first-half, but the joke began to wear thinafter a while. Davies is still completely out of his depth when it comesto plotting science-fiction, and the whole Kennedy/Abzorbaloff plot wasobvious and sign-posted at every turn.

The Jackie/Elton romance was far more interesting, yet tragically underused.Davies is also a writer clearly in love with his own written mythology, sothere are lots of comments about past Davies-penned episodes and flashbacks.Luckily, in the context of the plot these worked much better than you’dexpect – particularly the scenes where Elton witnessed key events suchas the Auton attack (Rose), the alien ship crash-landing (AliensOf London) and a giant spaceship appearing overhead (The ChristmasInvasion).

Overall, this was a brave episode for daring to think outside of the box,but a stronger overall plot would have made all the difference. Love & Monsterswas just too frivolous and empty most of the time, lacking an emotionalbite – despite a ham-fisted attempt to provide one when Elton’s relationshipwith The Doctor is finally explained.

I can’t say I hated this episode, because at least it attempted to dosomething different and it did provide a few cheap laughs along the way,but ultimately it was just too unsubstantial and light-hearted to make muchof an impression.

However, I suppose Russell T. Davies does deserve some kudos for managingto allude to a face-on-a-paving stone giving its boyfriend a blowjob.

NEXT WEEK: The Doctor and Rose arrive in 2012, just in time to witnessthe London Olympics…


OVERALL
Review copyright © Dan Owen, 2006.E-mail Dan Owen

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Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.
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