14 June 2010
Doctor Who - The Lodger
Written by: Gareth Roberts
Directed by: Catherine Morshead
Plot: When the TARDIS dematerializes (with Amy inside) leaving The Doctor stranded on Earth, he becomes the new flatmate of Craig, a bloke who's biggest worry in life is romancing his friend Sophie.
A thankfully simple plot where even the villain of the week isn't of utmost importance, the episode is all about Matt Smith and James Corden (as Craig) showing off their fantastic comical and dramatic skills as actors. That alone has made this one of my favorite episode in weeks [my apologies, but the whole Sillurian story was simply not executed to its highest potential]. I honestly can't count how many times I had a ginormous grin on my face or restrained a high-pitched laugh [I was in the library]. Judging by the preview last week for "The Lodger", I instantly guessed it would be a waste of time. Instead it just happened to be one of my favorites of the season.
Watching The Doctor interact with humanity and go through the motions of a typical day in the life was great. Listening to him comment about us is even better. The highlights of the episode were particularly the most human: The Doctor falling out of the shower and reaching up to the sink to find his sonic screwdriver which is nestled right next to the toothbrushes and using said toothbrush to fight evil; The Doctor engaging in playing football and ending up being (as predicted) rather extraordinary at it; and The Doctor talking with Sophie about her life.
Corden as Craig was great. He played the stereotypical male who has a best female friend and is head-over-shoes in love with her, but can't possibly say a damn thing about it because it might ruin their friendship and he's scared shitless. Craig is entirely empathetic and also entirely hilarious to watch as his disapproving mannerisms become increasingly apparent as The Doctor shows off his awesome football skills, and ends up extremely jealous of him. It sorta turns into a who's better? match for a few scenes. For a bloke who isn't given too much time onscreen (I was actually quite surprised by the amount of running time allocated to The Doctor, since these eleventh episodes are usually Doctor-lite), Craig definitely will make a positive lasting impression as a love-sick roomie for The Doctor, and I actually wouldn't mind if he somehow found his way on the TARDIS for a one-off adventure.
Speaking of adventure, the Villain of the Week wasn't particularly memorable, but that wasn't exactly the point of the episode. "The Lodger" is about The Doctor and Craig and allowing these two actors do their thing. The Villain is just extra gravy fun. And it is. The shots of the miscellaneous forms it takes on top of the stairway was genuinely creepy, as was how it was constantly doused in darkness. Turns out what it ultimately wants was quite simple. Although for all the build-up, I wouldn't have minded something a little more menacing.
Oh! And Matt Smith is, of course, at his top form. A lot of The Doctor these past few weeks has been his unique mannerisms and speech, and not enough of The Doctor being, well, The Doctor. This episode gives us the opportunity to explore this eleventh incarnation more since the premiere. By the time I write a review for the finale, I'll have reiterated Matt Smith's awesomeness, I'll just leave it as a single sentence in Series 6 for each review: "Matt Smith was 'da bomb again." Make things simpler, no?
Another endearing quality of "The Lodger", and furthermore this season, has been the increase of great one-liners and self-aware dialogue. Multiple times The Doctor remarks on doing his "thing", as in his ability to come up with a plan rather quickly but first the "thing" needs to happen. Same thing happens in this episode concerning the title of 'The Doctor', which was quite funny. All in all, from a writing standpoint, the dialogues have all been stellar this season. In reference to the scripts, there's highs and lows, but overall, the positives far outweigh the negatives. So, bravo!
COMING UP: Somehow, someway, the first of the two-part series finale is upon us, and it sees The Doctor, Amy, and River Song battling some Big Bads from The Doctors past and (possibly) future. The 'fairy tale' mentioned by River in "Flesh and Stone", the Pandorica, seems to be quite real and housing some big villain of enormous importance. On one hand, I'm very sad that the series is coming to a end after waiting so long for it to start. But on the other - I'm so friggin' excited!!!