A silly and (mostly) drama-free episode that focuses on a minor character. "Love & Monsters" was the first example of a "Doctor-lite" episode in the new series: because the lead actors only appear for a few minutes in this episode, they're free to film another one simultaneously.
The story relates what happens when the Doctor isn't around to fend off an alien invasion. For the first time it focuses on people on the Doctor's periphery: the ordinary people whose lives are upended by the chaos associated with the Doctor, and who usually never even get an explanation.
Elton Pope, our manic, dorky and Unreliable Narrator
, idolizes the Doctor. He's been fascinated by the strange man and the weirdness that follows in his wake ever since the Doctor turned up in his house when he was a child. Like Clive from "Rose
", but more successfully, Elton forms a club (LINDA; London Investigation 'n' Detective Agency) with a few other like-minded individuals. They bond over their shared experiences with the supernatural and quickly become fast friends. Over time, their weekly meetings drift away from the topic of the Doctor and towards baking sessions and Electric Light Orchestra
cover band practice. Elton even falls in love with fellow member Ursula
Then Victor Kennedy shows up. The neatly-dressed man (who claims he can't be touched because of his "eczeeeema"
) takes over the group and begins to act as its boss, assigning members the task of following up on this lead or that lead. Some of the members don't agree, and they suddenly and mysteriously stop coming — or, indeed, responding to any
contact from other members — but Elton is still interested in the Doctor, and stays on. Elton is given a snapshot of the Doctor in the company of an unknown blonde woman, and told to find her. He stumbles across her identity — Rose Tyler — fairly quickly, and Victor instructs him to ingratiate himself with Jackie Tyler, Rose's mum. Elton does so, but grows to genuinely like Jackie (who sees him as a very nice piece of ass) and is prepared to tell Victor off... until Jackie finds the photo of the Doctor and Rose, and deduces that he has been using her to get close to the Doctor. Enraged, she orders him out.
If Elton wanted the Doctor's attention, he's got it now: the TARDIS materialises near him so that Rose can chew him out for upsetting her mum. All three are just in time to see Victor Kennedy, who is now in his true form: the "Abzorbaloff" (coined by Elton - and the Doctor
- after a few much sillier names), an alien that absorbs its victims but does not consume them. Now he's out to absorb the Doctor and all his knowledge. Elton defeats the creature, but it's too late to save Ursula, or any of the other members who had been disappearing, but the Doctor can grant her a semblance of continued life as an animated lump of concrete. What's left of her is still quite beautiful, and Elton takes her home in her new form as his loving girlfriend.
- Acrofatic: The Abzorbaloff is surprisingly nimble for a loaf.
- Adorkable: All of LINDA are endearing Doctor fans.
- Aerith and Bob: Raxacoricofallapatorius and its neighboring planet, Clom.
- Affectionate Parody: LINDA is a gentle poke at the real life Doctor Who's fanbase.
- And I Must Scream: Ursula is turned into an immortal slab of concrete. She says it's "very peaceful". There's also the Word of God-influenced implication that Elton is hallucinating / wishful-thinking the situation; we never see or hear Ursula on the web-cam.
- Arc Words:
- This episode references not only "Torchwood" but also "Bad Wolf" from the previous season.
- Mr. Saxon is referenced yet again.
- And Clom from the arc after that. That's four arcs in one episode.
- Berserk Button: Elton inadvertently hits Jackie's with his snooping, as Jackie feels she's both being used and all the attention only goes to the Doctor. The fact that Jackie gets upset also hits Rose's as well.
Rose: You upset my mum.
Elton: Great big absorbing creature from outer space, and you're having a go at me?
Rose: Nobody upsets my mum!
- Breather Episode: After several intense episodes, this one is much lighter.
- Character Development: Jackie, who was initially very concerned about Rose travelling with the Doctor, valiantly declares that she will keep both Rose and the Doctor safe.
- Contest Winner Cameo: The monster was the winner of a Blue Peter design-a-monster contest.
- Contrived Clumsiness: The drink-spill variant is used very overtly by Jackie. When Elton doesn't take the first hint, she does it again.
- Deus ex Machina: Defied. While The Doctor shows up in time to save Elton, he ultimately does nothing to help and LINDA defeats the creature on their own.
- Evil Plan: The Abzorbaloff wants to absorb the Doctor in order to gain his vast knowledge and exploits LINDA in order to find him.
- Fate Worse than Death: Anyone absorbed by the Abzorbaloff becomes a talking face somewhere on his body. Bliss has it worst because she's stuck on his ass.
- Failed Attempt at Drama: Going back to get something after the dramatic exit. It doesn't end well.
- Fat Bastard: Victor / the Abzorbaloff looks like a morbidly obese man and he eats people.
- Fun with Acronyms: Lampshaded, as Elton made up a cool acronym for his club long before he founded it.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: Elton says that he and Ursula, who's reduced to a face on a block of concrete, "still have a love life".
- Good Is Not Nice: Lampshaded after the Abzorbaloff takes Elton hostage, betting on the Doctor to sacrifice himself for Elton.
The Doctor: Sweet; yeah. Passionate; maybe. But don't ever mistake that for nice.
- Heroic Sacrifice: The rest of LINDA pull themselves apart to kill the Abzorbaloff, at the cost of being absorbed into the Earth itself.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: By absorbing Ursula, the Abzorbaloff gives her access to his mind and his knowledge, which she uses to find out how to kill him.
- How We Got Here: Lampshaded at the beginning. When we get to that part of the story later, Elton reminds the viewer not to get too excited, as that's just the bit where we came in.
- Idiot Ball: The guy controls the lighting in the place by his voice, insists on not being touched with a disease he gets wrong, and people always stop coming to group and become unable to be contacted after he talks to them in private. And nobody suspects a thing until a fortunate accident blows the guy's cover.
- Inherently Funny Words: The Abzorbaloff's home planet, sister planet to Raxacoricofallapatorius... Clom.
- Karmic Death: The Abzorbaloff is killed when all of those he's absorbed tear him apart from the inside. Then, for added irony, Elton breaks his cane, cancelling out a limitation field and causing the Abzorbaloff to be absorbed by the Earth.
- Living Shadow: An "elemental shade" murdered Elton's mother. The idea of shadows killing people would be explored later, in a different fashion.
- Lower Deck Episode: This episode focuses on those on the edges of the Doctor's adventures, like Jackie and the Doctor fans.
- Most Wonderful Sound: Elton describes the TARDIS noises as "the most beautiful sound... in the world."
- Mrs. Robinson: Jackie toward Elton. The kid had no idea why things "broke" so often in her apartment.
- "No. Just... No" Reaction: Elton tells the camera that he still has a love-life with Ursula (who is just a head at this point) and gets an embarrassed "don't tell them THAT" from her.
- Obviously Evil: Victor Kennedy, a.k.a. the Abzorbaloff. His introduction is accompanied by a power outage, he wears black, and asks to be alone with them one at a time for an unspecificed reason.
- Oop North: Bridget. It's stated she lived far north, but never failed to show up to LINDA's meetings.
- Romance-Inducing Smudge: Jackie uses this trope on Elton to get him to take his shirt off.
- Scooby-Dooby Doors: Rose, the Doctor, and a snarling alien have a hilarious version of this inside a warehouse.
- Strange Minds Think Alike: Both Elton and the Doctor arrive at Abzorbaloff as a name for Victor after shooting off several variants.
- Take That: The episode is essentially an Affectionate Parody of Doctor Who fandom. Most of the Doctor's fans are odd and eccentric, but basically sweet and decent people. Victor, however, represents that small toxic minority of Doctor Who fandom (and fandoms in general) who ruin it for everyone by demanding they take it too seriously.
- Tastes Like Chicken: Victor says this when he absorbs Ursula.
- Toilet Humor:
- Too Happy to Live: Most of LINDA. They were having a splendid time with their impromtu band under the library and then the fat bastard showed up.
- True Art Is Incomprehensible: In-universe; LINDA's reaction to Bliss' sculpture, which is supposedly a representation of what the Doctor is, what the Doctor isn't, and what the Doctor should be, but isn't, anyway.
- True Companions: LINDA start off as strangers interested in the Doctor, then they start sharing their other hobbies, and then opening up to each other about important personal issues (missing daughter for instance) and then starting a band.
- Unreliable Narrator: Word of God is that not all of what Elton says in this episode should be taken at face value. Mostly this refers to things like the Scooby-Doo chase seen early in the episode, but some things about the episode make a lot more sense this way.
- Villain Ball: Victor Kennedy has it the moment he arrives. His mission is to find the Doctor and absorb him to gain his knowledge. He finds five people willing to help him. Then, right as they start, he begins picking them off one by one, dwindling his own manpower pool, and complains that they are not yielding results.
- What the Hell, Hero?: Elton's life is crumbling around him — the fun, harmless little group he joined has been corrupted from within, and one-by-one been subjected to a Fate Worse than Death, including the woman he's only just realized is his dream girl, and he's completely exhausted after being chased through London by a creature that's about to do the same to him — and Rose and the Doctor choose now, of all times, to tell him off for what, compared to what the Abzorbaloff's been doing, doesn't even register a blip on the Atrocity-o-meter. Elton points it out: