Doctor Who: The Lodger

I believe that the revived series of Doctor Who does have a tendency to want to cash in on whatever or whoever happens to be trendy at the moment. I can’t seem to turn the telly on these days without seeing James Corden. If you’re the flavour of the moment then every drama seems to wants you. For example, sometimes I don’t know which TV programme with Caroline Quentin in it I’m watching!

As there’s this thing called the World Cup going on at the moment there are fewer opportunities to see any actors anyway. So was that why we had the Doctor play an apparently pointless game of football? Why exactly was the Doctor fart-arsing around in the park when a lot of very nice helpful people were being done away with? If it had been nasty, selfish, horrible people it might not have been so bad. We can afford to lose some of them and anyway I thought that was supposed to be the convention? You start off randomly killing the unlikeable characters, then build up the tension by making the victims more and more likeable. There was a veritable conveyer belt of serial killings going on while he was faffing about kicking a ball, creating a whirly non-technology-technology detector (couldn’t he have just said ‘passive’ detector rather than all that guff?), cooking an omelette and working in a call centre.

Ah, but that’s missing the point isn’t it? This was the sit-com episode. The ‘thing’ at the top of the stairs was just there to make it “fit” into the Doctor Who canon. It was mostly about the Doctor being alien in the style of Mork and Mindy, ALF and My Favourite Martian amongst the mundane of everyday life. It did for Matt Smith’s Doctor what Human Nature and The Family of Blood did (more stylishly) for David Tennant’s Doctor. It contrasts him with ordinary human beings so that he is revealed more clearly to be alien and extra-ordinary. And it all meshed rather well. James Corden was (am I really saying this?) well cast. The chemistry between him and Matt Smith’s Doctor actually worked. Matt Smith seems to have a reached a point where he is confidently defining his Doctor. And it made a pleasant change for ‘her indoors’ (that’s Amy I’m talking about) to be stuck inside the TARDIS for most of an episode. The overall effect was very enjoyable with the humour actually complementing the story rather than jarring with it as in some episodes.

The creepy upstairs lodger was nicely presented with those, almost iconic, top of the stairs moments reminiscent of Psycho. Like the first floor flat the plot’s internal logic of the spacecraft needing a human to pilot it required something of its own perception filter, but you could put that down to alien internal logic perhaps. The ship, when finally revealed, was nicely designed with its spider-like legs giving it a parasitic insect look. It was also reminiscent of the Jagaroth spacecraft in City of Death that had also come to grief on Earth and whose sole survivor was attempting to save it and its crew at all costs (to humanity that is). Maybe this was an episode with so many errors they cancelled each other out to produce something that was very entertaining? Or maybe it was just well done?

Written by Peter Grehan



3 comments


    J Garner

    June 15, 2010

    ok. this is the one that turned my family back into Dr Who fans, I thought the writing was of a lovely, informal style ,the chemistry between James C and the Dr worked well as did the female lead. It was well written , well acted,albeit tongue in cheek and well directed. Was it made better by the fact that the annoying and unnecessarily shouty and pouty Miss Pond was safely locked away in a Tardis, pouting and unnecessarily shouting only occasionally and only to herself? YES I THINK IT WAS. Lets have More of less Miss Pond please.

    Frank Sable

    June 16, 2010

    It’s funny you should say that about Miss Pond JG. It wasn’t until she wasn’t in much of this episode that I realised how much she gets on my nerves.
    WHen will the makers of the show realise it’s called Doctor Who for a reason? It’s not called “The Doctor’s – shouty and pouty – Companion.”

    John Campbell Rees

    January 4, 2011

    The thing about the Doctor is that after a regeneration, he becomes the polar opposite to the key trait of his previous incarnation. David Tennant’s Doctor was so very human, he would have fitted into the scenario with no problems, and dear me, wouldn’t it have been a dull episode, a bit like the comic strip this episode is based on. Matt Smith’s Doctor is now so far away from the Human Race he loves so much that he is semi-detached from humanity, (A long way from the stately mansion in its own grounds of William Hartnell’s Doctor, or the detached villa of Tom Baker, but well on his way). This is what makes this story work so well, as the Doctor is trying so hard to recapture what he knows he used to know, and fails so miserably.
    To be honest, he does not know the alien technology is killing innocent people at first, he just knows it is there and stopping him getting back to Amy and the TARDIS.

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