In this episode Lucia and Talia tackle the infamous Love & Monsters with the help of their friend Priya. We gush about Jackie and her journey, discuss gender roles in fandom spaces, and try to get to the bottom how an Abzorbaloff even … works? Are there secret hidden depths to Love & Monsters or is it really the worst episode of Doctor Who EVER?
Lucia Kelly: Hello and welcome to the Wibbly Wobbly Timey Wimey Podcast!
Talia Franks: I’m Talia Franks media critic, fanfic enthusiast, and I’m not looking forward to this episode. (Lucia laughs)
Lucia Kelly: And I’m Lucia Kelly, expert at applied analysis and I am your salvation.
Talia Franks: But salvation and damnation are basically the same thing.
Lucia Kelly: Oh yeah. Well, Isn’t that so true to me, (Lucia and Talia laugh before Talia sighs) though?
Talia Franks: And we’re here today to talk about Love & Monsters. (Talia sighs again) The 10th episode of Series Two of Doctor Who.
Lucia Kelly: Love & Monsters aired on June 17th, 2006. It was written by Russell T Davies and directed by Dan Zeff.
Talia Franks: Reminder, time isn’t a straight line, it can twist into any shape, and as such, this is a fully spoiled podcast. We might bring things in from later in the show, the comics, the books, the audio dramas, or even fan theories and articles,
Lucia Kelly: With that out of the way, the blue bucket made it worse! So, let’s get into TARDIS!
Lucia Kelly: According to IMDB, this is the one where Elton Pope is an ordinary man intrigued by the world of the Doctor. When he and fellow enthusiasts, LINDA, meet the mysterious Victor Kennedy their lives will never be the same again.
Talia Franks: This is the one where we talk about the people who get left behind aka when an alien ruins a perfectly fine group of friends who are all just vibing, having a good time.
Talia Franks: And he just decides to fuck it all up. And oh my God, they were having such a good time. They had a little band, they were baking cookies. They were just vibing. They were having a good time. And then the fucking Abzorbaloff decides to go fuck it all up. And I’m sorry, but this episode is terrible.
Talia Franks: You cannot convince me otherwise.
Lucia Kelly: I’m interested because I didn’t know, up until the point, you said Abzorbaloff, whether you were talking about the Abzorbaloff or the Doctor, because this is the one where we put it in text. The Doctor ruins people’s lives. His lack-a-daisy, devil may care attitude.
Lucia Kelly: We haven’t had something as explicit as this, since I think, World War Three. I love it.
Talia Franks: I don’t think it’s the Doctor’s fault that evil aliens take advantage of vulnerable people.
Lucia Kelly: Hmmm. We’ll see. But before we get super into it, we have a guest! Whoa!
Lucia Kelly: Priya, would you like to introduce yourself?
Priya D: Sure. Yeah. I’m Priya. I’m a longtime fan of Doctor Who, going back to probably the mid 1980s ish. (Lucia ooos in an impressed way) And I think I’m in the middle between the two of you, when it comes to this episode, there are things I love and there are things that are just so aggravating about it. (Lucia and Talia laugh)
Lucia Kelly: So you say you’re like, fan from the 1980s. What’s your story with Doctor Who? How did you get into it?
Priya D: I don’t know. It was just this bonkers show that used to come on public television. And I grew up in one part of the U.S. that aired Doctor Who like for 30 years before it came back in its modern form.
Priya D: And every Saturday night they used to air it. And actually one of my earliest memories is watching it in the middle of the day. Like, the first episode that I remember seeing is, you know, Tom Baker, regenerating into Peter Davison at the end of Logopolis.
Lucia Kelly: Pretty bonkers introduction to the show, then. (Lucia laughs)
Priya D: Yeah. It was an absolutely wild introduction. Like I was three and a half years old, sitting on the sofa, and here’s this curly haired you know, man falling from a height, turning into a blonde haired man, and I was like, “What on earth is this?” And so I just kinda like, kept watching after that? (Priya laughs) That’s the long and the short of it. (Lucia laughs)
Lucia Kelly: Yeah.
Talia Franks: Yeah. I think my first Classic Who episode was also a regeneration episode. It was the one where Five turned into Six.
Priya D: Caves of Androzani, yeah.
Talia Franks: Yeah, I liked that episode, (Talia laughs while saying um) but yeah, no, my first proper Doctor Who episode was Rose.
Priya D: I think my first proper Doctor Who story was Time and the Rani, which is not a good story to start with. (Talia laughs)
Lucia Kelly: And neither is this one, honestly, like this is not the episode that you introduce people to Doctor Who with, but the reason I’m saying that is not because it’s bad or because it’s weird. It’s because it breaks the narrative structure of the show. This episode is filmed in a very specific way. The way the story is structured is done in a very specific way that is outside of the language of the show for the rest of it. We never see an episode like this again. (Lucia laughs)
Talia Franks: Actually, you know what? I was thinking when I was watching this episode, is that I hate this episode for a lot of reasons, and one of them is because of the way it’s structured, and it reminded me that a lot of the reason I hate Sleep No More is because of the way it’s structured, (Talia laughs) because it’s also structured in a weird way where it’s where, like you’re watching a recording of people talking about things.
Lucia Kelly: Uh, live footage.
Talia Franks: Live footage. Yeah.
Lucia Kelly: Or found footage.
Priya D: Found footage. Yeah.
Talia Franks: And I don’t like found footage. (Talia laughs and Lucia sighs)
Lucia Kelly: Yeah, no, this is a really weird episode. Cause it’s found footage. It’s completely out of chronological order. And it’s told in this very kind of mockumentary, boots on the ground, style that is completely unpolished and amateur.
Talia Franks: I don’t like it because it’s a mix of mockumentary, unpolished, mixed in with the actual episode. Just pick one! Just pick! Either commit to the found footage mockumentary or be a regular episode. Don’t play with me like this. I feel like the direction’s all over the place. It’s trying to do too many things at once.
Talia Franks: It doesn’t know what kind of episode it wants to be.
Lucia Kelly: Yeah. There is a bit of that I’m thinking particularly of the little “Mum montage,” that’s like, two minutes. The tone is all over the place as well. ” It just cuts and breaks a lot.
Talia Franks: The way in which it’s a Doctor-lite episode and like, it’s so obvious that the Doctor and Rose were only there (Talia laughs) for like, a few seconds, like with Blink, where the Doctor and Martha are only slowly interspersed. I feel like that’s also a Doctor-lite episode, where they’re only there for a few scenes, but like — it’s unfair to compare this episode to Blink — but that episode, it’s also Doctor-lite. The Doctor and the companion are only there for a few scenes, but those scenes are so tightly interwoven into the episode. Whereas this episode they just feel tacked on.
Lucia Kelly: I actually don’t think it’s a bad idea to compare Love & Monsters to Blink.
Talia Franks: I didn’t say it was a bad idea. I said it was unfair because Blink is an excellent episode and this episode is a trash basket. (Quiet unidentifiable laughter)
Lucia Kelly: What I was going to say was that I feel like Blink, kind of, takes what Love & Monsters did wrong and fixes it. So we’ve got a lot of similar elements between Blink and Love & Monsters. We’ve got these ordinary people who are being affected in all of these sort of outside ways by sort of, brushing against the Doctor and against alien interaction and trying to figure it out.
Lucia Kelly: And there’s this whole conspiracy theory element to it. And so the type of episode this is, is referred to as a “Lower Decks” episode, and that’s a reference to when it was done in Star Trek, I believe Star Trek Next Generation? I’m not so strong in my Star Trek knowledge.
Lucia Kelly: But basically that’s an episode where we focus on the lower decks. We focus on like, not the main characters, and it breaks this notion of, “Why does this only ever happened to the main characters? What’s happening with the rest of the world?” And so we see everything outside of the narrative, and Blink does that in a similar way.
Talia Franks: I want to also preface that I fucking hate Blink. I hate that episode so much. Not because it’s a bad episode, but because it upsets me (Talia starts laughing) on a spiritually level.
Talia Franks: So I’m not saying that I like Blink. I’m saying that it’s a good episode and Love & Monsters isn’t. I just don’t want any of you to be under the misapprehension that I enjoy Blink because I don’t.
Lucia Kelly: Oh. (said with fond exasperation)
Priya D: Can I just say that even though it is a Doctor lite episode technically, I don’t know that it’s truly a Doctor lite episode cause isn’t Elton supposed to be The Doctor, but like a fan version of The Doctor, because this episode is basically about fandom, right?
Priya D: At it’s heart, it’s, it’s about a bunch of people who are fans, and they get together, and you know, the true power of fandom makes everybody friends, and then you have this toxic fan element, gatekeeper type of fan who comes in and he’s actually the Abzorbaloff, and he destroys the fan group quite literally. (Lucia mhmms in agreement)
Priya D: But the way that the episode focuses on Elton and he even has a companion in Ursula, it felt like Elton was supposed to be the self insert version of The Doctor, or like, how a fan might engage with Doctor Who, dressing up as the Doctor in cosplay, and doing a fan story, or a fan script, or a fan movie, or what have you.
Priya D: So even though it is Doctor lite, and even though there’s a lot about the way that it’s structured that aggravates me, I still think that with Elton’s character, it’s sort of a show, or sort of a story about The Doctor in its own way? If that makes sense?
Talia Franks: I also kind of love that and it makes me hate the episode more. (Talia laughs)
Priya D: No, it’s one of the reasons I hate the episode, because of what happens to Ursula, and it’s emblematic of all my problems with The Davies Era.
Lucia Kelly: Please expand on that, Priya.
Priya D: So when I watch Classic Doctor Who and when I watched the 13th Doctor’s Era, companions have their own arcs, right? Some of them die, some of them truly, they’re — they’re horrific ends, but then also you have stories like Joe Grant, finding somebody, falling in love, and getting married. You have stories like Ryan and Graham deciding they just want to walk away. They still chill with The Doctor, but they just want to leave, you know, they had their own thing going on. When I watched the Davies Era a lot of the time, not all the time, but a lot of the time, it seems like bad things happen to the companions so that The Doctor can feel things about it. I’m thinking in particular of like, Donna Noble and the way that her ending was framed, as tragic as it is, and as interesting as it is, it was also kind of, framed in a way, in my opinion, to be sort of about The Doctor and The Doctor’s emotions around it. And when I watched Love & Monsters, you see the ending of the story where Ursula comes back. I just had so many questions about like, is she able to leave the house without Elton?
Priya D: What happens if they break up? Does she have a life outside of him? And even the way that it was filmed was very strange because he’s doing this video blog and at no point does he actually turn her around to face the camera? Like she’s just there, and it felt like she was almost an accessory, and that’s how I feel about the way The Doctor or I guess the way the script often treat companions in The Davies’ Era.
Priya D: They’re almost just accessories, where things happened to them so The Doctor feels things and they don’t necessarily have arcs. If they do have arcs at their own, there’s still so many unanswered questions and it’s just basically to make The Doctor have an emotional response.
Talia Franks: Yeah. That articulates a lot of how I feel about the companions, especially Donna, because her whole arc is undone. Her whole arc is undone. It’s so unfair.
Talia Franks: And Rose’s arc is just all about The Doctor. And that’s why Martha is my favorite companion because, to the extent that her arc is about The Doctor, it is about divesting herself from The Doctor.
Priya D: Very much so.
Talia Franks: Part of what I enjoy about it is, yes, it is Doctor centered, which is less than ideal, but it’s about growing away from him rather than growing towards him.
Talia Franks: And this is something I think I’ve mentioned to you before, I find it really interesting that all the companions who have voluntarily left The Doctor have been Black. (Talia laughs)
Priya D: I — I would say in the modern era. Yes. That’s very strange. It’s very strange.
Talia Franks: And I’m talking about the Modern Era, there’s no Black companions in the Classic Era, but in the Modern Era, all of the companions who have voluntarily left have been Black. Like, you have Rose trapped in an alternate dimension. Donna got her memories erased. Amy and Rory died in the past. Clara, died, left in her own TARDIS, whatever. But, Martha, she’s just like, you know, “Peace I’m out. (Talia laughs) I got to do me now.”
Talia Franks: And Mickey, he left on his own. (Priya mhmms in agreement) He was just like, “Rose, you don’t need me anymore,” he left. Bill was like, “You left me to die, I’m ” a leave you to die.” (Talia laughs) Ryan is like, “We had a good time, but people need me on Earth, so I’m Gucci, we can still hang but I’m going to be my —” and like, and Graham only left because Ryan was leaving.
Talia Franks: So. I’m just saying all these white folks are ride or die, literally, they’re like, “I’m going to be here till I die.” But the Black people are like, “Okay I’m going to be, and then I’m going to leave before things get too hot.”
Lucia Kelly: And it is interesting that apart from Ryan, who does leave on good terms, that all of those companions specifically called The Doctor out on “You don’t value me as a person,” right? “My personhood is compromised by being near you” And “you literally see me as a companion, as an accessory to your life rather than my own being”.
Lucia Kelly: “That’s going to stop and I’m not dealing with that anymore. I’m not dealing with your white nonsense anymore.”
Talia Franks: (Lucia and Priya laughs) It’s an interesting thing to think about, you know, have that in the back of your brain.
Lucia Kelly: Yeah. So to get back to the episode.
Talia Franks: (Lucia and Priya laughs) Yeah. That was a bit of a tangent.
Lucia Kelly: I kind of want to keep going down this road of exploring this episode as a examination of fandom culture, cause Talia, as you say, right?
Lucia Kelly: And Priya, as you say, it’s a parody, but it’s almost an affectionate parody. Like, “We see you making art. We see you making music. We see you connecting on deeper levels. We see what this show has brought. This show was what connected you, but look at how you connected to each other.”
Lucia Kelly: But at the same time, Ursula is an accessory for Elton, and there might be a little bit of POV stuff happening there as well, where we’re seeing it from Elton’s perspective. So that’s his view of Ursula rather than who she actually was as a person.
Priya D: That’s a writing choice too, right? Like (Lucia mmms in agreement) it’s the choice to say “Well, this is Elton’s episode and not Ursula’s,” episode. —
Lucia Kelly: Yeah.
Priya D: — right?
Lucia Kelly: Yeah. And the way that women get silenced and minimized in fandom spaces.
Priya D: Yeah. Yeah.
Lucia Kelly: Quite, quite literally, they get just absorbed into the butt of everything. (Lucia laughs)
Lucia Kelly: Bless Bliss.
Talia Franks: Yeah, Bliss and Bridget died first.
Lucia Kelly: And got absorbed into the butt! Into the worst space! And we get ups on everyone else’s faces. We never see Bliss again.
Talia Franks: Nope.
Lucia Kelly: We don’t see Bliss’s absorbed face. Just hear her voice.
Lucia Kelly: I do love — Mr. Skinner’s presentation just brought joy to my heart. That is what I live for. (Lucia laughs) That is exactly the kind of presentation that I would give.
Lucia Kelly: “Let’s talk about the Doctor as a collection of archetypes.” like, “Yes, Mr Skinner! Speak to me!”
Priya D: Very strong English professor vibes. (Lucia mhmms in agreement)
Lucia Kelly: Love it!
Talia Franks: I also love the bit where it talks about like “His first name was Collin, but we all called him Mr. Skinner.” It reminded me a lot of how — and this obviously came out years later — but it reminded me a lot of how in Good Omens, there’s the character named Wensleydale. (Lucia mhmms in agreement) Where it’s like, ” His first name is Jeremy, but everyone called him Wensleydale, except for his parents who called him youngster.”
Lucia Kelly: But that’s not why we’re here. Let’s talk about the meat of the episode. Let’s talk about Jackie. Oh my goodness!
Talia Franks: I love Jackie.
Priya D: Jackie was great.
Lucia Kelly: I love Jackie. I love Jackie so much. And this episode finally does her right! Gives her justice! Gives her like, what she needs! What — I did find it hysterical that Rose is all like, up in a — I mean, should we expect anything less of her — but like, she’s all up in arms, like “You upset my mum!” I’m like, “Who did it first, hun?” (Lucia laughs)
Priya D: Yeah. I mean, like Jackie has this whole thing about, you know, Rose has left and she’s left alone and doesn’t know when Rose is coming back and it’s like, okay. I know Rose is like 20, but still. Ma’am. Ma’am. I don’t know if you know what you’re doing to your own mother.
Lucia Kelly: The lack of self-awareness.
Talia Franks: Like no, one’s allowed to upset my mom, except for me.
Lucia Kelly: I love it. I don’t even have like, anything concrete to say about it. I just adore that they gave Jackie space and they’re like, “Yeah, remember Jackie? Remember the mum?” It’s so interesting putting this episode right up against The Impossible Planet and The Satan’s Pit, (sic. The Satan Pit ) where we have a conversation between Rose and the Doctor kind of justifying the fact that they will never be able to contact Jackie again and how that’s okay actually. I’m like (Lucia makes grumbles of discontent) ” It fucking isn’t. It’s fucking not. And I’m—
Lucia Kelly: (Lucia descends into annoyed disgruntled noises) Call your mum!
Lucia Kelly: The cringe moment for me in this episode is the um, how shall I — how should I categorize this scene? The seduction scene? (Lucia laughs)
Talia Franks: Oh yeah, the seduction scene?
Priya D: Oh yeah. That was painful. (Lucia groans uncomfortably)
Talia Franks: That was painful.
Priya D: That was painful.
Talia Franks: I—
Lucia Kelly: Ugh. Like, like, Jackie, my babe, my darling, shoot your shot. But at the same time, I don’t want to see it.
Lucia Kelly: Like, chase that bliss, but no! Not in front of me!
Talia Franks: I did not want it. I kept my eyes closed and covered my ears starting when, I think the last thing I remember, is she brought him wine and splashed it. I covered my ears and kept my eyes closed until she hung up the phone on Rose.
Talia Franks: I was just like “La la la la la la la la la. Not watching this.”
Priya D: Yeah. I mean, that was kind of a recurring thing with the era, right? Like, treating Jackie and treating any woman over a certain age as cringe and weird if they had any kind of sexual drive at all and framing it in such a way that it was like, okay this is clearly meant to be cringe-worthy.
Priya D: This is clearly meant to make us feel like, “Oh my God, why is she hitting on Elton?”
Priya D: God forbid a woman over a certain age want to have sex with a handsome young man. Who cares? It’s not that big of a deal and yet somehow with this episode it is a sign of her own desperation, and loneliness, and everything else.
Lucia Kelly: Well, the slut-shaming of Jackie is something that’s present throughout the whole series, the whole of her run.
Talia Franks: There’s a way to write sex scenes that isn’t so cringe-worthy and uncomfortable. This episode did not succeed in doing that.
Lucia Kelly: Yeah. It’s meant to be cringy, right? It’s written to be cringy. They’re not going out of their way to empower Jackie sexual choices, right? (Lucia laughs) And that’s sort of part of it, right? Is they’re framing, Jackie trying to connect with this younger man as a mark of her loneliness and desperation, right? She literally says “I was just being a bit stupid,” and it’s like, (Lucia groans in frustration) I hate it, but I love how Elton deals with it. I love the way he takes that situation and is like, “You know what? Fair enough. I’m going to go get pizza. Let’s put on the telly too loud, proper mates.” And that is such — Like, I’m sorry. I find Elton really endearing. I do. He’s an idiot! But like — (Lucia dissolves into giggles)
Priya D: Yeah. I mean, the problem is never Elton. Like the problem has never Elton himself. He’s a great kid. Great guy. It’s the episode around him.
Lucia Kelly: Yeah. And I think they do a really good job of characterizing him as this very particular kind of nerd, as well. Despite the fact that it’s so choppy and doesn’t quite flow nicely, I do like how they film all of the Elton pieces, like when he’s very clearly in charge of the camera himself, and also the way that the actor plays that. Like, the world of Elton and the world of The Doctor are separate things and they overlap, but when Elton’s just by himself when Elton’s with LINDA, it’s filmed very differently and acted very differently.
Lucia Kelly: And it’s this idea of The Doctor as this transformative force that comes in and changes things.
Talia Franks: Yeah. I just want to make something very clear. I absolutely loathe this episode so much, but I love Elton. I love LINDA. I love Ursula. Mr. Skinner, Bliss, Bridget. They’re all fantastic. Chef’s kiss. Love them.
Talia Franks: I just, really hate this episode with every fiber of my being. I wish I could just pick them up out of this episode and put them in a safe, soft little bubble far away from Victor Kennedy. Because I think, like Priya said, it’s a perfect example of what toxic fandom does to people.
Talia Franks: And like, they’re all such sweet, soft cinnamon rolls, and I just want to protect them. (Talia laughs)
Lucia Kelly: Yeah, no, Victor Kennedy’s that guy who thinks that because he got a DM from The Doctor that they’re now best friends. (Lucia, Talia, and Priya laughs)
Priya D: Victor is the kind of guy who collects information and he thinks that makes him the super fan, right? Like he’s that guy at the convention, on the message boards, on Reddit, whatever.
Talia Franks: He’s got Torchwood files! Notice Torchwood’s back again! (Lucia and Priya mhmm in agreement)
Lucia Kelly: And also the newspaper that he is holding has a very interesting headline.
Talia Franks: Wait, what does the newspaper say? I didn’t catch that.
Lucia Kelly: There’s some seeding of season three. The headline says “Saxon leads polls with 64%.”
Lucia Kelly: Followed by four more months of government paralysis.
Lucia Kelly: So, So Saxon’s on the move. He was definitely doing shit behind the scenes.
Lucia Kelly: Are there any other points that anyone wants to bring up or talk about in this episode? Or like?
Talia Franks: This episode doesn’t sit right with my spirit. (Lucia quietly snorts with laughter)
Priya D: You got what you—what I had to say about it. I just think it’s both a really great love letter to fandom, but also just really emblematic of all the things that I just didn’t like about this era as a whole.
Lucia Kelly: Hmmm.
Priya D: With the way that it’s just centered on, T he Doctor-lite Doctor AKA Elton Pope, and the other characters as wonderful as their characterization is, get brushed to the side and they don’t really get very much after they all die, except for Ursula.
Lucia Kelly: Hm
Priya D: Who gets turned into a paving stone and we never see her.
Lucia Kelly: Yeah, actually I want to talk more about paving stone Ursula. What the fuck? (Lucia laughs)
Priya D: Yeah.
Lucia Kelly: What the fuck?
Talia Franks: Can I just jump ahead and say that my least favorite moment is that sex joke at the end?
Priya D: Oh God yeah.
Lucia Kelly: Oh yeah like—
Priya D: Yeah. (Lucia mmms uncomfortably)
Talia Franks: We haven’t gotten to least favorite moments and favorite moments yet, but my least favorite moment is that sex joke at the end. (Lucia and Priya laugh)
Priya D: I mean it just — it raises so many questions, not just the sex joke, which I don’t want to answer any of those questions, (Lucia mmms) but it raises so many questions of like, you know, how does she get around? How does she live her life outside of Elton’s room?
Lucia Kelly: Like, I’m sorry. I know. We just said we didn’t want to talk about it, but like, does he move her up and down his body? (Lucia laughs)
Priya D: Oh God, I, you know, this is—
Lucia Kelly: And how does that—how does she get satisfaction?
Talia Franks: I don’t—
Priya D: And that’s the thing, right? Like—
Lucia Kelly: She’s a head!
Priya D: She’s the accessory! Right?
Lucia Kelly: She’s half a head!
Talia Franks: And actually, does she still have a phantom body that she can feel, or she just a head?
Priya D: See, that’s the big question.
Lucia Kelly: Half a head! Half a head!
Talia Franks: Half a head. So my question is, like I’ve read stories about people who are amputees, who can sometimes phantom feel the limbs that they have lost. So can she phantom feel her body?
Priya D: We don’t know.
Lucia Kelly: Also Doc, can’t you like build her a little body? Or, like make the concrete form a body or something?
Talia Franks: Nardole got his body back? Why couldn’t Ursula? (Talia laughs)
Priya D: Fair point. But that’s the thing, they just basically treat her as like, “Oh, well, she’s alive for Elton, therefore we don’t need to answer a single question about her life and her quality of life.”
Lucia Kelly: Elton can still get regular blow jobs. Nothing else matters. (Lucia laughs)
Priya D: Pretty much, right?
Lucia Kelly: The fuck?
Priya D: I— I have so many questions.
Priya D: Did Ursula have a job? Did she do other stuff? Did she have family outside of LINDA. Does she have friends outside of LINDA? Do they know what’s going on? And we never get any — it doesn’t matter, because it’s focused so much on Elton, and that’s it, and it’s just frustrating. It’s so frustrating, even without the joke, which was, wow.
Talia Franks: It does not sit right with me and my spirit.
Lucia Kelly: Also, there’s no hole at the back of the— (Lucia descends into notes of distressed confusion) I’m so confused.
Priya D: You’re— You’re overthinking something that they never wanted you to think about, is what it is. (Talia laughs)
Lucia Kelly: If they did call me to think about it, they shouldn’t have brought it up. (Lucia laughs) They brought it up. They did this. (Priya sighs)
Talia Franks: I don’t know. Maybe we’re over thinking it. It’s not technically a sex joke. He just said that they still have a love life. Maybe it’s not a sexual love life. Maybe they’re aromantic. Maybe they just have a lot of long conversations and they don’t have any sex.
Lucia Kelly: I mean, He’s literally holding her in position on his lap, I don’t think we were meant to miss it. (Lucia giggles)
Priya D: Yeah.
Talia Franks: As someone who has romantic relationships without having sexual relationships I would like us to be open to this alternative.
Priya D: It’s possible, but it’s also a Davies script, right?
Lucia Kelly: Oh yeah. Did you catch that vague little mention of like, “There are two ladies living there now and they’re a bit severe,” like, okay.
Talia Franks: Oh my God. That was actually in my notes. Like what the fuck is this against lesbians? Does he not like lesbians?
Priya D: To be fair to RTD, this was like 2006, right? I don’t know. It just —
Lucia Kelly: Who knows, they might’ve been sisters.
Talia Franks: Oh my God. Just wait until we get to Gridlock and the cat man. (Priya laughs)
Lucia Kelly: Alright. So Talia, you’ve given us our least favorite moment, which has given us so much to talk about. (Lucia laughs)
Lucia Kelly: Priya, what was your least favourite moment?
Priya D: Oh, my least favorite moment is probably just Ursula coming back and we don’t know anything about what that means for her. Like the whole of it. The whole of that.
Lucia Kelly: My least favorite moment is the seduction scene. I didn’t need to see that.
Talia Franks: My favorite moment is that quote at the end, which is the only good moment of the episode. That’s not true. I actually really liked the moment where they’re vibing in the band, and they’re having a good time, and they’re all dancing, they’re jamming out. The reason it’s not my favorite moment is because Victor Kennedy ruins it, and so my actual favorite moment is when Elton says “When you’re a kid, they tell you it’s all grow up, get a job, get married, get a house, have a kid, and that’s it, but the truth is the world is so much stranger than that, so much darker, and so much madder, and so much better.” And that’s the only reason I don’t want to give the writing for this episode a zero.
Priya D: Honestly my favorite moment’s probably the love letter to fandom montage, like where they stopped being about the Doctor. You know, we learn about Bridget’s daughter, you know, we learn more about Bliss, and who she is, and the kind of things she’s into, and then leading into obviously the scene where they’re the ELO cover band, that whole scene, like that’s really what fandom is, the best of fandom, when you meet somebody with a common interest, and then you become friends, and then you actually know them as people beyond just your common interest. I really loved that part of it.
Talia Franks: Yeah. That was going to be my favorite moment, except for the fact that I hate how Victor Kennedy comes in and stops it, and then that sullies it for me. (Talia laughs with little humour)
Priya D: Fair.
Lucia Kelly: My favorite moment, which is a very me favorite moment.
Talia Franks: Oh no. (Lucia laughs)
Lucia Kelly: My favorite moment is when Jackie confronts Elton. I love it. It’s so good. It’s just —
Talia Franks: How did I know that was going to be your favorite moment? (Lucia giggles and squeaks)
Lucia Kelly: And like, all of the props to Camille Coduri. Oh my God. It’s so good. It’s such a good breakdown of what The Doctor does, right? And what it means to be left behind and to not be considered a person in your own right, and holding people accountable for that. And then the follow-up of Elton being like, “Oh yeah. Fuck. I messed up. Let’s — let’s address this.” (Lucia, Talia, and Priya laugh) That whole bit of it is great, and I love it.
Talia Franks: Yeah. It’s pretty great.
Talia Franks: So, my question is who are the Hero and the Adam?
Lucia Kelly: I think
Lucia Kelly: we can safely say that the Abzorbaloff is the Adam, or Victor Kennedy, or whoever. The question is, (Lucia laughs) is the Reddit incel worse than The Doctor?
Talia Franks: I think he’s worse. He’s the one who’s actively eating people.
Lucia Kelly: True. True. But who was the Hero?
Priya D: My vote’s Ursula. She does everything. She literally does everything. She destroys the Abzorbaloff at the end. She is the one who comes up with the idea to break the cane, to get the rest of LINDA to fight back against the Abzorbaloff. Throughout the episode, she’s the one who’s fighting back against Victor Kennedy.
Priya D: You know, my vote is her. I know Elton’s probably the fandom choice if there were a fandom choice, but he doesn’t do it very much. He just doesn’t do very much at all.
Talia Franks: Elton doesn’t do shit.
Priya D: He really doesn’t.
Lucia Kelly: No. He’s the observer. He’s the documenter. His whole story is about him being a side character to his own narrative.
Lucia Kelly: Even his name Elton, right? He is overshadowed by his very name. It’s all about how he is constantly sidelined by his own life.
Talia Franks: Honestly, every time I watch this episode, which is not often, (Lucia laughs) I don’t actually think of Elton John, I think of Clueless. (Talia starts giggling) I think of that Elton.
Lucia Kelly: I love that for you.
Talia Franks: And I also then think of Emma and that Elton, (Lucia mmms in recognition and agreement) because I love Emma. My mom used to compare me to Emma and then I actually read Emma when I was in middle or high school, and I was like, “The fuck mom, why you always comparing me to her?”
Lucia Kelly: I was about to say, that’s not exactly a compliment!
Lucia Kelly: There’s a letter that we found of Jane Austen, where she’s writing for one of her friends about the book she’s writing and that book is Emma, and she says something along the lines of “I’ve written a heroine who I’m afraid everyone else will hate, but I love her very much”. Something along the lines of “I’ve put all of the worst and the best of me in her.”
Talia Franks: Yeah, I think I remember reading that letter. She said something like “I think no one, but myself will like her,” or something like that.
Lucia Kelly: She had awareness.
Talia Franks: The funny thing is I actually do like Emma. I like her a lot and (Talia laughs) I feel like my mom might’ve been right. And I’m annoyed.
Lucia Kelly: (Transition wobbles) So what we do at the end of each episode is that we grade the episode on five elements, and Talia, I see you filling it in. No! We’re talking about this! (Priya and Lucia laugh)
Talia Franks: You can’t see what I just did, but I just gave everything a zero except for science, which I gave a five. (Talia laughs)
Lucia Kelly: I’m feeling production between a two and a three, because the sets, the costuming, the differentiation of the shots, all of that stuff, like I said, I actually really like, but it’s also so choppy. And so, there’s a bit of overlap between production and writing in terms of just how tone deaf or tone mismatched it is.
Lucia Kelly: And I keep coming back to that stupid, stupid “Mum montage.” it makes no sense. The mum montage makes no sense. It shouldn’t be there.
Talia Franks: Okay. I want to give it a zero. You want to give it a two. Let’s give it a one to compromise. (Talia starts laughing) Priya, what do you think?
Priya D: I probably would go for the one here because I’m with you on the mom montage. It’s like, yet another instance of bad things happen to a woman for a man to feel sad about it. Like, I’m over it, I’m over it. I’m —
Lucia Kelly: Yeah. I’m over it.
Lucia Kelly: But also like — Okay, so up to this point, we’ve had either the found footage that Elton makes or we’ve had following him in his actual life, what’s happening. And then we have this mum montage where it starts off as found footage and then turns into this metaphoric space where she’s leading him by the hand on a soccer field and leaves him behind and it all goes white? What is that? (Lucia laughs) No pre-establishment of fantasy elements!
Talia Franks: Like I said, I want to give it a zero. You want to give it a two. Let’s give it a one. We’ll give it a one.
Priya D: It’s a one. It’s a one.
Talia Franks: I want to give the writing a one, because it has that good line at the end.
Lucia Kelly: I also really like the little moment. I think about this moment a lot, because it’s so cute. Where Mr. Skinner and Bridget kiss, and then you have the three of them walking outside and Ursula’s asking like, “Was that a little kiss? Will there be more little kisses in the future?” And I’m like, that’s so cute! That’s adorable!
Talia Franks: Yeah, except for the fact that Bridget is dead, because this episode is trash! Okay. We’ll give it a two.
Talia Franks: All right. The acting is a five. (Lucia mhmms in agreement) I like the acting. The acting is good.
Lucia Kelly: Now, I would not give the science a five. The science doesn’t make sense.
Talia Franks: I forgot about the Abzorbaloff. I Blocked the Abzorbaloff out of my brain. I was like, “Oh no, there’s no science in this episode, the science obviously makes sense, cause there’s no science.” Because I forgot about the Abzorbaloff because I wanted to forget about the Abzorbaloff because I wanted to forget about all of this episode because I hate it.
Lucia Kelly: Also, Victor Kennedy, as a char — I’ll get to like, why the science of the Abzorbaloff, as a creature, doesn’t make sense in a minute.
Lucia Kelly: But Victor Kennedy doesn’t make sense. He finds LINDA, right? He’s like, “Oh, cool. A bunch of like, vulnerable and naive humans to take advantage of. I can like, make my little minions,” and then he starts eating them?
Lucia Kelly: Like? (Lucia starts laughing) Eat someone else! That’s you team! What are you doing? You’ll actively sabotaging yourself.
Priya D: Yeah, no, I mean, he was trying to use them to find the Doctor. Then he starts eating them. You’re right. That makes no sense whatsoever.
Lucia Kelly: It makes no sense. What would make sense, if there were two Abzorbaloff’s and they both — like if it was a competition? Like, there are ways to make this episode make sense.
Talia Franks: How does he not have a species name?
Lucia Kelly: Right? He just steals — he just takes what Elton tells him he is.
Talia Franks: And Elton and the Doctor both decide on the same thing to call him?
Lucia Kelly: Mhmm.
Priya D: Yes.
Talia Franks: Is being an Abzorbaloff not actually his species, because it’s somehow connected to his little cane thing?
Lucia Kelly: Right! This is what I want to talk about. How can there be a species, that its entire thing is it either absorbs or is absorbed, so that you need an external contraption to ensure that you live?
Lucia Kelly: To ensure that you can walk around (Lucia starts laughing) and be a being. Like, a species like that will never get off the ground, because you need to be effective enough to make the thing, but if you haven’t made the thing first, you can’t make the thing, because you’re already absorbed, like —
Talia Franks: Nevermind. We’re giving the science a zero. (Lucia and Priya laugh) I was going to be generous and give it a one, but we’re giving it a zero.
Priya D: I think it was like implied that the Abzorbaloff was not a normal member of its species, whatever the species is, he’s from Klom, wherever that is. But I think the implication was that he wasn’t a normal whatever, and that’s when he had the cane, but it was never fleshed out.
Lucia Kelly: I dunno. The way that I’ve justified it in my head is that Earth is made out of different materials —
Priya D: Yeah.
Lucia Kelly: — to Klom.
Lucia Kelly: And so on Klom, you wouldn’t be absorbed, but on Earth you would be. That’s the only thing that could make sense to me.
Talia Franks: I’m giving the science a zero.
Lucia Kelly: And rewatchability.
Talia Franks: It’s not rewatchable. This episode cannot be redeemed. This episode is terrible. I never want to see it again.
Lucia Kelly: No!
Lucia Kelly: This is going to get such a bad grade! (Lucia and Priya laugh)
Talia Franks: Do you think I give a fuck? I’m out of fucks. They’re gone. They’ve escaped.
Talia Franks: What’s your personal rewatch ability? We’ll average it out.
Lucia Kelly: It’s a little rewatchable. Like a little bit. Like by a one? (Lucia laughs)
Talia Franks: My personal rewatchability is a zero.
Lucia Kelly: Okay. So I don’t, here’s the thing, I don’t go out of my way to watch this episode. Which, I — like, five out of five rewatchability, is you’re like, I need to watch a Doctor Who episode. I’m going to choose this one. I would never in that mood pick this episode. (Lucia and Talia laugh)
Lucia Kelly: But also, I don’t skip it. If I’m watching the season, I’m going to watch Love & Monsters, and maybe if I want to think about how story is made and constructed, because I’m in an analysis mood, I might put it on for that specifically.
Lucia Kelly: So like, maybe a one or a two? (Lucia laughs)
Priya D: Being honest, I have not watched this episode since it aired until I had to watch it for this podcast, (Lucia, Talia, and Priya all laugh) so i t’s been like, 15 years, so I think that probably makes it like, if I’m asked to watch it for a podcast, I’ll say yes. So that’s a one?
Talia Franks: All right. I’ll concede to a one.
Talia Franks: All right. Where is my grading spreadsheet?
Talia Franks: 32%. It’s the worst episode we’ve ever had. Wait, no. 36%.
Lucia Kelly: 36%. Yeah. That is a hard F. That is a hard F. So, aww. Love & Monsters my beloved. F.
Lucia Kelly: Thank you for listening to The Wibbly Wobbly Timey Wimey Podcast.
Talia Franks: We hope you enjoyed this adventure with us through space and time.
Lucia Kelly: You can find us elsewhere on the internet on Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram @WibblyPod. Follow us for more Wibbly Wobbly content.
Talia Franks: You can find out more information about us and our content on wibblywobblytimeywimey.net, and full transcripts for episodes at wibblywobblytimeywimey.net/transcripts.
Lucia Kelly: If you’d like to get in touch with us, you can also send us an email at email@example.com.
Talia Franks: Please rate and review us on Apple Podcasts and other platforms as it helps other people find us and our content.
Lucia Kelly: If you’d like to support us, you can send us a donation at paypal.me/wibblypod
Talia Franks: Special thanks to our editor, Dee who has been a vital member of the Wibbly Wobbly Team.
Lucia Kelly: That’s all for now. Catch you in the time vortex!
Priya is a long time fan of Doctor Who and loves talking about the show with anyone who will listen.