“Scooby Dooby doo, where are you? We’ve got some work to do now. Scooby Dooby doo, we need some help from you now. Come on Scooby Doo, I see you pretending you’ve got a silver. You’re not foolin’ me ‘cause I can see the way you shake and shiver”.

When I saw the “Scooby Doo” reference at the beginning of the episode (Rose, the Doctor and the monster were chasing each other), the “Scooby Doo” theme song began playing in my head. This must be the second or third time a reference for the show has been made. Perhaps, Russel T. Davies is also a fan of Scooby Doo. Regardless, I found it absolutely funny. It was a good way to start an episode that’s designed to veer away from the familiar narratives of the show.

On its own, TV is a symbolic technology because it is a portal to a dimension unfamiliar to us. For “Love and Monsters”, the doors to the world of cult fandom is opened. It presents as a documentary that Elton, one of the Doctor’s biggest fans, posts in the internet on meeting the famous Doctor. In doing so, it cleverly focuses on characters such as Jackie Tyler, Victor Kennedy and the members of L.I.N.D.A. to create the holistic approach on life once the TARDIS materializes.

I like the unique change in story-telling technique because it focused on Elton, a man who experienced most of the invasions that occurred in London (ex. attack of the mannequins and the Sycorax invasion). It was risky to shift the show’s focus on a new character but this was necessary to add a sense of realism to the Doctor. The new characters provide an outsider’s point of view that adds a new dimension to the Doctor while their cult fandom proves that the Doctor does exist. His time and space travels doesn’t go unnoticed, a fact that I’m glad the show finally established. Since series 1, I have been watching the show thinking how the blue police box remains inconspicuous given its appearance, the loud whirring noises that it produces and its ability to disappear and reappear.

“Love and Monsters” mainly approaches “Doctor Who” in the context of cult fandom as the members of L.I.N.D.A. meet every week to discuss their views, experiences and interpretations of the Doctor. Every week, they treat the Doctor as a cult object and declare their love and present in completion. For an outsider’s point of view, their connection with the Doctor, a man they fleetingly met, has driven them mad because of their level of commitment. For example, Mr. Skinner showed the group a presentation of the Doctor as a collection of archetypes while Bliss showed an interpretative sculpture that shows what the Doctor is to them.

    Bliss: What I’m trying to do is sum up the Doctor – what he means to us.
    Elton: She was so sweet – bless. Bless Bliss, we used to say.
    Bliss: What he could represent and what he should represent. And what he…never
    won’t represent…sort of thing.

In L.I.N.D.A., different kinds of fans of the Doctor were represented. Despite their variety, they failed to completely grasp the Doctor; proving that TV has a varying scale unit. TV doesn’t need to be holistically appreciated or comprehended because it is not bound in the reality of art rather over reaches it. In effect, their attachment to the Doctor inspired them to analyze him at such lengths; absorbing him into their lives. In these sessions, they lost their identities as Bliss, Elton or Mr. Skinner because they became L.I.N.D.A., an organization that merges its identity with its cult object. By this point, their fandom reached the level where they wish to live in the Doctor’s furnished world. But they eventually found a viable common ground than just a man who came in and out of their time zone. Their love for the Doctor grew to their love for each other. Their discussions about the Doctor were replaced with stories, songs, breaking bread and novel readings.

But Victor Kennedy made L.I.N.D.A. into a secret organization that studied the Doctor’s every move and began to explore the world of “what ifs”. Again, the narrative is pushed further to bring better trained “Clives” and show the lengths fans go. With this respect, “Doctor Who” is no longer bounded as merely a television show because it becomes an experience of the viewers to see the Doctor in a different perspective and see themselves in the members of L.I.N.D.A.

As a side note, if I were to choose between L.I.N.D.A. and Victor Kennedy, I’d pick the former. For me, L.I.N.D.A. understands that fandom means enjoying the cult you’re part of. It shouldn’t be burdensome because the cult object is something that you love. Victor seems to be a one-tracked man. But to be fair, it would be difficult for anyone to have fun if you’ve been craving for the very person you’re after.

I also like the character development in Jackie Tyler. After the last sound of the dematerialization of the TARDIS fades, she’s left alone in a unit without any indication of the next time she’ll hear or see Rose again. Although I have known Jackie as the annoying character from series 1, seeing the emptiness that she felt from Rose’s travels humanized her. Likewise, the notion that she’s always second best made her relatable and the knowledge of her loyalty (even to the Doctor) made her commendable.

    Jackie: I went in your coat. For once in my life I thought “I’ll pay. I thought ‘He’s such a
    nice man, he won’t accept anything, so I’ll just slip a tenner in his pocket’. And look what
    I found. A photograph of my daughter.
    Elton: No no no no no, it’s not like that. I can explain!
    Jackie: I bet you can.
    Elton: I wasn’t being pervy or anything, I wasn’t after her! I was looking for the Doctor.
    Jackie: Oh I know that. I worked that out. ‘Cos it’s never me, is it?
    Elton: No, but that’s how it started, but I changed my mind!
    Jackie: Let me tell you something. About those who get left behind. Because it’s hard.
    And that’s what you become, hard. But if there’s one thing I’ve learnt, it’s that I will
    never let her down. And I’ll protect them both until the end of my life. So whatever you
    want, I’m warning you: back off.

On a lighter note, I like the comment about Clom being the twin planet of Raxacoricofallapatorius hilarious. I also found the scene where the Doctor and Rose appear to scold Elton for hurting Jackie quite funny because of its irony. Although I did expect the Doctor to make an appearance once Elton has been cornered by the Abzorbaloff. I guess gaining a level of familiarity and stability with the show and its characters increases the difficulty in surprising us even by just a notch.

All in all, I think that this episode was good given the risks that it took. It took the risk in using the Abzorbaloff. As a reward, its participatory fandom added to the show’s charm and prestige. It took a risk in focusing on former background characters such as Elton. In return, the Doctor became more real than he was in previous episodes. It took the risk of revolving the story about after the TARDIS dematerializes. As a result, new inputs became available so it added new dimensions to its characters.

Advertisements