Monday, June 14, 2010

Doctor Who 5.11 The Lodger Review

The Doctor: All I've got to do is pass as an ordinary human being. Simple. What could possibly go wrong?
Amy: Have you seen you?

Hello, I'm your new lodger!

The Doctor getting his own set of keys.

Written by Gareth Roberts (The Shakespeare Code, The Unicorn and the Wasp and Planet of the Dead), this week's Doctor Who episode, titled The Lodger, offers a different contrast to the last two weeks' tearjerkers with it's light comedic and romantic overtones. But it wouldn't be Doctor Who if it didn't have some dark, terrifying danger lurking in the shadows, and this week was no different.

Amy Pond, alone in the Tardis.

The plot is quite simple. The Doctor gets left behind in Colchester, Essex, when they were supposed to land on the fifth moon of Syndicalista(sp?); while the Tardis takes off with Amy still trapped inside.There's something on the second floor of a flat on Aickman Road that keeps the Tardis in a materialization loop. The Doctor decides to investigate by passing himself off as human and becoming the flatmate of Craig Owens (played here by a rather subdued James Corden), who happens to live on the main floor of said flat and is incidentally looking for a lodger. See, the thing is that passersby are being lured to the second floor and they never come back out. The mystery thickens when the Doctor discovers there's a very disturbing rot stain on the ceiling of Craig's flat, a localized time loop, and some time distortion going on in the area .

The Doctor taking a shower. What did you say?

The Doctor to the rescue. That's not a sonic. That's a toothbrush.

I had to put that pic on. Yep, I did. No explanation necessary. That is all.

For those of us who ever wondered if the Doctor could ever lead a normal life as a human being, The Lodger certainly allowed us a glimpse of what normal, human life would be like for the Doctor (which brings to mind the question of how is Meta-crisis Doctor really holding up on parallel Earth with Rose? but I digress). Of course, some may say that the Doctor did lead a normal human life before in the wonderful series 3 two-parter story Human Nature and Family of Blood, but then the Doctor did, for all intents and purposes, become human. He didn't have to pretend to be.

The Doctor wonders if he's good at football.

Is that a cone or are you just happy to see me?

Writer Gareth Roberts has written a very funny episode here, which he adapted from his own short comic strip published in Doctor Who magazine in 2006 (which you can see here). There were some very funny one-liners which were delivered with superb aplomb from both guest-star James Corden, who's a strong comedic actor (just watch him on Gavin and Stacey), and by Matt Smith. This one certainly relished being able to let his hair (read that towel) down, or rather wet (Yes, I'm talking about that shower/towel scene which will certainly go down in many squeeing school-girls' book of favourite Doctor Who scenes ever) for the episode. Smith also had the chance to stretch his football playing muscles (well-timed for the World Cup don't you think?) and show that the Doctor is a great sports proficient not only at cricket.

The Doctor and alcool. Maybe not a good match?

Awww a sweet moment between Craig and Daisy. OK, I had to put this because I want everyone to see how horrendous that pic on the wall is. Really.

Though we get to see the Doctor in fun “human” and “normal” situations, like cooking an omelet and making breakfast for Craig because “it's normal,” or awkwardly kissing everyone he meets like the french do because that's what he thinks everyone does, all is not just fun and games. There was a sense of danger with what was happening upstairs, and for those of you wondering why the Doctor took his sweet time to go upstairs and investigate, the Doctor himself explained that he needed to be cautious and gather information before barging in, since he had no idea what he could be facing. If something happened to him, in other words if he died, Amy would probably end up being stuck in the time vortex – something Amy doesn't relish at all. So since the man upstairs mustn't know who and what the Doctor is, there's no sonicking,  and no use of advanced technology happening for most of the episode, and that's certainly not a bad thing.

The Doctor and one of his non-advanced technology scanner.

The Doctor playing nurse to a rot poisoned Craig. You don't want to know what he put in that kettle.

Hello, I'm the Doctor. I'm also a great receptionist.

Since The Lodger focused primarily on the Doctor and his experiences and antics as a human, it was a fairly Amy light episode, which I admit to have enjoyed. She wasn't absent from the whole episode like, for example, Midnight, where Donna was only briefly seen at the beginning and the end of the episode. In The Lodger, the Doctor keeps in direct communication with Amy the whole time, and we get to see her regularly, having her own hands full on board the Tardis, but only for brief periods of time. But it made me realize that I truly appreciate Amy more when she was with Rory, than by herself.

The Doctor gets his information anywhere he can. Even from cats. Everybody talk to cats.

No, that's not a scanner. That's modern art!

Again this week the Doctor is faced with an almost invisible and faceless enemy. But the different figures standing in the landing upstairs, along with the great use of flickering lights and shadows – supported by a great score by Murray Gold - made the danger palpable. It was surprising, however, to find out that the monster of the week turned out to be an emergency crash program, a hologram to be precise, that belonged to an alien spaceship intent on slaughtering the population of Earth (OK, that last bit was not so surprising). Since the crew was dead, and in order to escape, it was building it's own Tardis, and luring passersby in the hopes of finding a compatible pilot for it. Turns out, the ship only attracts people with a desire to leave, which is why it always left Craig alone: “mister Sofa Man” the Doctor calls him. Unsurprisingly of course, the compatible pilot turns out to be none other than the Doctor, which would in turn be catastrophic to the whole solar system if he were to touch the ship's controls.

Someone's building his own Tardis!

If the Doctor touches this, the Solar System is in trouble.

That's the second floor of the flat. Wonder if that ship will be back again . . .

One of the episode's strength comes from it's main guest stars, James Corden and Daisy Haggart, who are absolutely adorable together. You can't help but root for their characters to finally admit their feelings for each other. Of course, it has to happen during the resolution to the “alien” threat, thanks to the Doctor's superb deductive and matchmaking skills. t's funny that the Time Lord had time to notice human behaviour after a few centuries spent amongst them, even though he sucks at doing it himself. Corden was more subdued than usual, making Craig a very sympathetic fellow, who you'd definitely want to be friends with. Matt Smith, again, what can I say. He was absolutely great as usual. And a bit less of Amy this week was sort of a good thing.

The Doctor quickly making his way out the apartment while Craig and Daisy are busy.

The Lodger may not be everyone's cup of tea, and with only two more episodes left in series 5 of Doctor Who, this week's storyline may seem slightly out of place. However, I think it's good that they chose to make this week's episode a light little love story, because from what I saw of the trailer for next week's episode, I have a feeling that the next 2 weeks will definitely be heavier on emotions and action, and special effects. Supported by a fine score by Murray Gold and some decent special effects, The Lodger turned out to be a nice filler episode. And with an ending that featured the return of the Crack, and showed that Amy is starting to remember things after finding Rory's engagement ring conveniently tucked away in the Doctor's coat pocket, we know we're in for a wild ride. Steven Moffat will not let us down.

The Crack is back! There Ya Go.

Next Week: The Pandorica opens! The return of River Song, Stonehenge, Romans, Oh my! Basically, shit will hit the fan.

My Rating for the episode: 8/10

Interesting Tidbits

The Doctor doesn't know why he's called the Doctor.

The Doctor's football shirt's number is 11 (he's the Eleventh Doctor)

The Doctor imparts some of his memories to Craig by butting heads with him. In the first headbutt the Doctor imparts Craig with general background while the second headbutt provides him with specific details of the events that led him to his flat.

Once again we get to see all the Doctors (except for Doctors 6 and 7 – why, I don't know) and I'm really thinking this will definitely be significant to the entire storyline somehow.

Is there some significance to the numbers 9 and 5 that appear on one of the Tardis's screens?

Craig has a Van Gogh exhibit postcard on his fridge.

Biggest geekgasm of the episode – the Doctor saying: “Hello, I'm Captain Troy Hansen of International Rescue. Please state the nature of your emergency.” That's the Doctor almost quoting verbatim the EMH, also called the Doctor, from Star Trek: Voyager – who also happens to be a hologram – who always say when activatesd: "Please state the nature of the medical emergency."

Some Favourite Quotes:

The Doctor: Less of a young professional more of an ancient amateur but frankly, I'm an absolute dream.

The Doctor: Yes, quite right, have some rent. That's probably quite a lot isn't it. Looks like a lot. Is it a lot? I can never tell.

The Doctor: I'm the Doctor. Well, they call me the Doctor I don't know why. I call me the Doctor too, still don't know why.

The Doctor: No, I'll fix it, I'm good at fixing rot. Call me the rot meister. No, I'm the Doctor, don't call me the rot meister.

Craig: Is that a reference from the archbishop of Canterbury?
The Doctor: I'm his special favourite (presses his finger on his lips) shhhh.

Craig: Why an I telling you this, I don't even know you.
The Doctor: Well I've got one of those faces, people never stop blurting out their plans when I'm around.

Craig: Where did you learn to cook?
The Doctor: Paris, in the 18th century. No, hang on, that's not recent is it. 17Th? No no no 20th sorry I'm not used to doing it in the right order.
Craig: Has anyone ever told you that you're a bit weird.
The Doctor: They never really stop.

The Doctor: Yeah football. All outdoorsy. Now, football's the one with the sticks isn't it?

Sean: You are so on the team! Next week we've got the Crown & Anchor. We're going to annihilate them!
The Doctor: Annihilate no. No violence, do you understand me, not while I'm around, not today, not ever. I'm the Doctor, the oncoming Storm. And you basically meant beat them in a football match didn't you?

The Doctor: Right, shield's up. Let's scan.

The Doctor: Hello Craig! How you feeling. Had some time to kill, I was curious. Never worked in an office, never worked in anywhere!
Craig: You're insane!

The Doctor: Craig, you can shut down the engine. Put your hand on the panel and concentrate on why you want to stay.
Craig: Will it work?
The Doctor: Yes.
Craig: Are you sure?
The Doctor: Yes!
Craig: Is that a lie?
The Doctor: Of course it's a lie!
Craig: It's good enough for me. Geronimo!

The Doctor: For God's sake kiss the girl!


  1. As always, I was waiting your review to tell me more abt the episode and again you succeed at it.
    This last 2 episodes were very light, I mean, not a real threatening monster but lovely stories. Although they add nothing to the bigger scenario, I can't live without Vincent and The Doctor anymore.
    This week's ep was absolutely blah aside from the shower scene and The Doctor being wierd. I wish David Tennant was there long enough to be in that shower...
    Anyway, I guess it's kinda hard to write sci-fi with the budget always on your mind. It was light, it was cute, it was fun but that's all. Well, at least Amy found the ring.
    I'd like to say that I really, really didn't like the fact that the Doctor says he doesn't know why he's called that since we all know he personally chose that title. Not nice of them to let this slip pass. I thought it was disrespectfull to DW history and fandom. Please don't rewrite DW history, Mr Moffat.
    BTW, I had no clue who Troy Hansen was untill you said it here and I've read two other reviews before yours where they don't mention it.

  2. When Craig shows the Doctor his room, Craig says "it used to belong to Mark, he owns this place, but all of a sudden he was left a load of money by an uncle he didn't know he had."

    This is a common strategy in fiction to remove someone from a scene by giving them a "convenient" inheritance. But later in the story, the Doctor tells Amy they have to go back to the past to write the address of the flat on the back of Craig's note. But he doesn't say anything about creating an inheritance for Mark which would have to be engineered by someone.

    Now that you've mention the appearance and disappearance of the Doctor's jacket in "The Time of the Angels/Flesh and Stone" I wonder if this is another sign of an alternate timeline for the Doctor.

  3. I know this is a bit late but I feel like pointing out that "Captain Troy" is a reference to Captain Troy Tempest of Stingray, while "International Rescue" is a reference to Thunderbirds, two series both made by the same people.

    1. Actually, Captain Troy Hansen was a minor character in Thunderbirds - he was one of very few recurring civilians, and he piloted Fireflash in both 'Trapped in the Sky' and 'Operation Crash Dive'. It's canon that he knew who was behind International Rescue, though - he calls Scott 'Tracy' on at least one occasion, and was present for radio communications in which at least Gordon and Virgil were mentioned by name. So, he was pretty much an honorary IR operative; certainly someone they trusted, anyhow. Anyways, tangent over - my point is that it is, in fact, Doctor Who referencing Star Trek, referencing Thunderbirds.

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