“The Lodger” – Review: Redux

Craig “Has anyone ever told you that you’re a bit weird?”

Doctor “They never really stop.”

DOCTOR WHO

“The Lodger” is a really lovely little episode from the pen of Gareth Roberts, long-term Who fan but first time writer with this story of a ground floor flat with mysterious goings on upstairs. This perspective of finding the episode lovely, I imagine, relies on the viewer finding James Cordon to be a watchable talent. I have heard of some people who say that they can’t stand the guy, but I can’t see what’s to dislike; he’s affable and polite with a childish sense of humour, he seems to throw himself into everything he does with gusto, and he has been widely lauded with critical acclaim for his acting talents in “One Man, Two Guvnors”. This story was originally based on Doctor Who Magazine comic strip in which the person looking for a lodger was none other than Mickey Smith. Seeing Noel Clarke in character with Matt Smith could’ve been interesting, although I am not sure if (a) this was ever considered, or (b) could’ve actually worked given that the last on-screen Mickey appearance was battling as a freedom fighter alongside his new wife, Martha Jones, at the end of “The End of Time”.

Undoubtedly, for the duration of this episode, in which Amy Pond is stuck in the TARDIS, Craig acts as the primary ‘companion’ and does a wonderful job in convincing me that his everyman persona, interested in “Pizza, Booze, Telly” could work for a few episodes as full-time TARDIS traveller. Here though, he is smitten with Sophie, played by the adorable Daisy Haggard and it is their relationship that the Doctor craftily fixes, as if he hasn’t got enough to do saving Amy from the clutches of the Time Vortex and working out why people keep going upstairs but never coming down again. Along the way, most of the story is played for laughs and that is no bad thing at all, coming as it does, hot on the tails of one of the most (brilliantly) downbeat episodes that Doctor Who’s ever done. So we get some fun and games. The Doctor goes off to play football for the King’s Arm pub team and is, inevitably, far too good at it. (Although, judging by the editing, I’m putting most of it down to some pretty tardy goalkeeping from the opposition more than anything else). Just for good measure, we also see a little nod back to 1970’s “Spearhead From Space” shower scene.

Througouht this, Matt Smith played the fish out of water pretty well although I wasn’t too keen on the head-butting method of imparting knowledge to Craig as it was something that impressionable kids might take a bit to heart. However, it was interesting to see the Doctor try to adapt to a mundane life and avoid all use of his technology. If I remember correctly, Matt Smith knew James Cordon previously from their work on Alan Bennet’s “The History Boys” at the National Theatre some years previously and their chemistry was certainly wonderful to watch from first to last. The script was good too, with some fun lines, expertly delivered.

By the time we get to the conclusion of the episode, we find ourselves in the upstairs flat trying to save Sophie from the clutches of the faux-TARDIS. I can’t have been paying too much attention to the techno-babble at this moment, but I still can’t quite figure out how Craig and Sophie finally declaring their love for another and wanting to stay caused the ship to stop its ambition to find a pilot and just disappear, but it was a sweet enough way to tie up the threads of the story. There is one question that comes to mind upon watching the story again, and that is wondering what the spaceship that was hiding behind the perception filter (that we later find was in fact a Silence’ spaceship) was actually doing there in the first place. Later events in Series Six tell us that the Silence had been knocking around on Earth, forgotten by everyone who looked at them, for years, but I’m still not sure what their big plan for Colchester might have been. The discover at the end of the episode when Amy finds Rory’s wedding ring in the Doctor’s jacket sets up another wrinkle for when the Pandorica opens tomorrow.

Highlight: The chemistry between Matt and James

Lowlight: No-one has *ever* directed a football match successfully during a piece of fiction, and they failed again here.

Talking Point: Did this feel like a filler episode?

Demon’s Run Rating: 15 out of 20

Original BBC1 Broadcast: 12th June 2010

Marathon Status: 71 down, 31 to go.

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