After two weeks of battling dark forces and demons at the outer rim of the universe, Doctor Who takes a break from hardcore horror with a light, silly, and completely rewarding episode. Not since Tom Baker tumbled over his scarf while fighting an egg-headed Sontaran Warrior umpteen-zillion years ago has there been a chuckle-fest quite like “Love & Monsters.”
The Doctor and Rose occupy very little actual screen time in this fine Russell T. Davies script. The lionâ€™s share goes to Elton Pope (Band of Brothersâ€™s Marc Warren), a geeky-sexy, good-hearted bloke whose brain has been slightly on the scrambled side since he found his mother dead when he was a little boy. Not coincidentally, the Doctor was standing over her corpse at the time, having just defeated a shadowy alien menace hiding in the familyâ€™s flat. Thereâ€™s been a lot of that about London lately, and Elton and the Doctor have continued to cross paths during these moments of galactic crisis. (Cases in point: the murderous mannequins in the previous seasonâ€™s premiere episode, “Rose,” “The Aliens of London,” and the Sycorax invasion that so beautifully introduced David Tennant as the Tenth Doctor in this seasonâ€™s “The Christmas Invasion.”) Elton’s got issues, all right. Heâ€™s an outcast with a mostly harmless, but growing, obsession with the mysterious Doctor.
Elton surfs the Web for info on the Doctor, and connects with a quartet of fellow Who-is-he’ians. They name themselves L.I.N.D.A. — the London Investigation ‘n’ Detective Agency. At first, L.I.N.D.A. does little actual investigating. But with Elton’s addition, the group bonds and enters a brief golden age filled with homey potluck dinners, out-loud readings of one member’s novel-in-progress, and jam sessions of ELO cover tunes. Elton falls in love with tough girl-geek Ursula, while the Doctor falls off their collective radar for the time being.
All of this changes when a gas bag named Victor Kennedy storms into the clubhouse (cue that whistling The X-Files music) and takes control, turning L.I.N.D.A. into a focused, well-oiled machine whose sole mission is to hunt down and capture the Doctor. What Kennedy hasn’t told the club is that under his crisp black suit, heâ€™s really a bloatateous, blobular alien in disguise, resembling Jeffrey Sebelia from Project Runway. He’s hell-bent on devouring the Doctor, but en route to that end, he’ll snack on the unsuspecting L.I.N.D.A. membership, one by one.
“Love & Monsters” is filled with almost as many sight gags as a Benny Hill sketch, including one of those madcap, fast-motion, door-to-door dashes across a hallway from left to right. Elton Pope is absolutely delightful, especially when heâ€™s shown dancing around his bedroom to ELO. Given what awaits in the weeks ahead — an all-out attack on London by both the Cybermen and the Daleks, and the death of Rose, which is again foreshadowed by Elton — this lighthearted romp was just what the Doctor ordered.Village of the Damned.