Saturday, June 12, 2010

My Review of Doctor Who's 5x11: "The Lodger"

Written by Gareth Roberts
Directed by Catherine Morshead

Craig: “Why am 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 whenever I’m around.”

It’s amazing how quickly you can detect a bottle episode from a mile away. “Amy’s Choice” was an excellent indicator given that everything was either Leadworth or TARDIS based and similarly this episode too also has the same effect because you know the money is going towards the finale.

I’ll let you into a secret – bottle episodes are fine, provided there’s a good story behind. Aside from “Amy’s Choice”, take a look at the excellent of “Blink” and “Turn Left” and it goes to show that a limited setting doesn’t always have to limit your story and this was certainly a different type of a story.

Sometimes Gareth Roberts gets a bit of a hard time from the online community because none of his stories are big arc hitters for the most part, it’s never really stopped from being interesting in their own right. The idea of having the Doctor as a flatmate for instance – why didn’t anyone think of it sooner?

The scene with the TARDIS literally ejecting the Doctor out and legging it with Amy was a nice set up moment. He’s stuck on Earth, the reason behind his ejection from the TARDIS involves something from this planet and the best way the Doctor had to get what he needed was to move in with Craig Owens. Problem solved, right?

Not really, because you have James Corden playing the role of Craig Owens. James Corden to me can be a little on the Marmite side of things. Sometimes I can find him very funny, other times not so much. Luckily for this episode, not only was he funny but he was also rather endearing as well.

I’m not a very laddish type of bloke but Craig to me was written as a rather believable type of character. He was working in a call centre that he didn’t really like, fancied his friend Sophie but was unable to tell her how he felt and he enjoyed a football game with his pub. All pretty believable stuff to be getting on and then he had to get the Doctor as a flatmate.

I love when the Doctor attempts to be normal that his eccentricities come to the fore just that little bit more. The Doctor might not view himself as eccentric but any outsider certainly would and Craig certainly found himself being confused by his new lodger as the episode went on.

The Doctor thought he was being heroic by trying to save Craig from the upstairs neighbour but only generated suspicions about his motives and Craig ended up becoming a little jealous of the Doctor at different points in the episode as well and personally, it was actually very easy to understand where it was coming from as well.

The Doctor ended up encouraging Sophie to try and better herself while inadvertently poking fun at Craig’s inability to do the same and even during the football game; Craig well and truly got shafted by the Doctor when Sophie started cheering for the Time Lord instead of her best mate.

Seeing the Doctor playing football was definitely as interesting as the nudity/shower moments in this episode. If I hadn’t known about Matt Smith’s footballer past, this episode certainly brought it to light and while I generally suck at the game, I do have to admit to being impressed with our new Doctor’s prowess on the field.

But of course these moments along with the Doctor doing Craig’s call centre job only served to show that the Doctor might be a little too good at things sometimes. I got why Craig suddenly wanted to eject him from the flat and I was also amused with the way the Doctor had to let Craig in on what he was really up to.

Under normal circumstances, I guess the Doctor would’ve given up on Craig and just bolted for the stairs to stop the baddie but giving Craig some rather intimate details on who he is was the better to watch option if I’m being truthful. And how predictable was it that Sophie would also be in danger?

In terms of episode baddies, I’m not sure about this one. The Time Loop aspect was intriguing enough and I liked that each time it was looking for a victim, it used a different type of a lull to bring them upstairs but I wasn’t overly compelled with it either. Though its reasons for rejecting Craig did make perfect sense.

The creature/auto-pilot needed people who wanted to escape to try and pilot it’s TARDIS like ship, which was why it ended targeting Sophie but it kept going for humans and generating the same results – them burning. Going for the Doctor would’ve caused the entire solar system to blow up.

Having Craig and Sophie be the ones to actually save the day through their admission of loving each (even if the trailers hadn’t spoiled it, it had been clear early in the episode that Sophie also loved Craig) was a nice touch, though pretty typical for the series as well. I kinda wished that the Doctor had stopped it himself without their help, much as I like the pair of them.

As for Amy, I was actually surprised with how much she was in the episode. I was only expecting to see her at the start and at the end of the episode like Donna in “Midnight” but TARDIS bound or not, she was still there and now she’s seen both Rory’s engagement ring and the crack in the TARDIS. It’s a good thing that next week is officially the start of the finale because I want answers on the cracks in time/Pandorica big time.

Also in “The Lodger”

This story was based on a 10th Doctor/Rose/Mickey comic of the same name that was done in Doctor Who Magazine back in 2006.

Sophie: “That’s your mission in life, to find me a man.”
Craig: “Yeah, otherwise you’ll have to settle for me.”
Sophie: “You’ll have to settle for me first.”

There was a flyer for the Van Gogh exhibit on Craig’s fridge door in this episode.

Craig: “I love you.”
The Doctor: “Well that’s good because I’m your new lodger.”

Craig: “Has anyone ever told you you’re a bit weird?”
The Doctor: “They never really stop.”

Did we get a specific name for the race of the Auto-Pilot in this episode? The Doctor also cured Craig of his poison rather quickly.

The Doctor: “Why would I want that?”
Craig: “In case you want to bring someone around – a girlfriend or a boyfriend.”

The Doctor: “So you’re just gonna be snide then? No helpful hints?”
Amy: “Hmm, well here’s one – bowtie, get rid.”
The Doctor: “Bowties are cool.”

This is about the fourth time this season that the Doctor’s alluded to bowties being cool. I think it’s time for someone to start commenting on the tweed jacket for a change. And we saw two cracks in this episode.

The Doctor: “I thought you might be in trouble.”
Craig: “Thanks. Oh, if I ever am, you can come and save me with my toothbrush.”

Amy (to the Doctor): “Only for you could too normal be a problem.”

We got another scene where we saw all Eleven Doctors when Craig was being informed properly of his new flatmate. Also the Doctor referred to being in his 11th incarnation and was wearing a number 11 football jersey in this episode.

Craig (to the Doctor): “I can’t take this anymore. I want you to go.”

Auto-Pilot: “The correct pilot has now been found.”
The Doctor: “Yes, I was a bit worried you were going to say that.”

Extra points to Confidential this week for the football feature on the King Arms (Craig’s team) vs. Rising Sun and Karen Gillan’s own stargazing this week. Amy used the Zig Zag plotter in this episode as well.

The Doctor: “Craig, the planet’s about to burn. For god sake’s, kiss the girl.”
Amy: “Kiss the girl!”

I wished for the trailer for “The Pandorica Opens” that they hadn’t used clips from previous episodes in the season. Oh and certain phrases were said again.

I rather enjoyed “The Lodger”. It’s far from the best episode we’ve had this season but it was a light hearted affair with a nice hook for the finale and a great guest performance from James Corden, who did exceed my expectations.

Rating: 8 out of 10.