The Lodger

* Oh shit, it’s James Corden. Not a fan. He was absolutely ubiquitous in the UK when this first aired, so I wasn’t thrilled to see him hog the centre-stage in Doctor Who as well. Nowadays, he’s inexplicably a huge success in the States, with his unique and very special talents of being able to drive pop stars around and also remember the words to their songs. But at least that’s keeping him busy, and it’s easy to ignore, which means I’m now more able to tolerate his presence. Turns out that, for once, he’s not just playing Smithy, and Craig is a much more likeable and toned-down version of his usual persona.

* It’s never really occurred to me before how strange it is that this season has a companion-lite episode, but not a corresponding Doctor-lite episode. Turns out that it was an artistic decision rather than a logistical one, with it being based on a comic strip about The Doctor being separated from the TARDIS and forced to share a flat with someone. In order to do that story, you have to leave the companion behind too.

* Similarly, I’d always assumed that the reason The Doctor plays football in this episode is that Matt Smith was once a promising youth player IRL, but it turns out that this sequence was in the comic strip too, and was included in the script even before Smith was cast. It’s a nice little scene, although Smith seems slightly too ungainly to pass for a footballer. Mind you, so does Peter Crouch. The bit after the game, when The Doctor misinterprets the captain saying he wants to “annihilate” their opponents, is my highlight of the episode.

* There’s a scene later on where Craig and Sophie are chatting in the hallway and WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT PICTURE BEHIND THEM? It’s smack bang in the centre of the frame and it’s staring straight at us. There is no logical reason for it to be there. JUST LOOK AT IT. It will haunt my dreams.

* Headbutting someone in order to share information is a new one. Just think how much better The Three Doctors would have been if Troughton had stuck the nut on Pertwee. Maybe The Doctor really only needs to gently touch someone’s head with his, but he’d just had enough of James Corden.

* The plot is less important than average in this story, as the fish-out-of-water comedy is the main appeal. For the most part, it’s confined to a few isolated incidents that merely serve to punctuate the real story, of The Doctor accidentally ruining Craig’s life by being better at it than he is. Eventually it comes to a head, and Craig saves the world with love. It could easily have been nauseating, but to my surprise I found myself quite liking Craig this time round, and as I already really liked Daisy Haggard, they just about get away with it. I remember being mildly pissed off when a sequel to this story was announced, but now I’m looking forward to re-assessing that too.

* Mind you, the ominous crack in the wall appears just as The Doctor leaves Craig and Sophie alone in the flat… have they been erased from existence now? That would have been brilliant – a big happy ending where Craig gets his life together and finally gets the girl, and then they’re both immediately killed.

RATING: 7

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