Doctor Who – The Lodger (S05E11) – Episode review

The Lodger. The episode where [[The Doctor (Doctor Who)|The Doctor]]goes to live with James Corden and Corden manages to not be nearly as annoying as he’s been for the last three years. But we’ll get to all that in a second.

First off, The Doctor gets booted out of his [[TARDIS (Doctor Who)|TARDIS]] by a puff of air, and it dematerialises with [[Amy Pond|Amy]] ([[Karen Gillan]]) trapped inside. What’s a Time Lord to do when stranded on present-day Earth? Well, settle down for a while and find a flat share. And that’s where we end up with the first episode of Doctor Who to be a sitcom. Doctor In The House, anyone?

Not that I’m complaining. [[The Lodger (Doctor Who episode)|The Lodger]] was by no means as strong as the last few weeks of whimsical or thought provoking episodes. What it did bring to the table was a fantastic culture clash – the Oncoming Storm sharing a flat with an overweight, lovestruck, call center worker. And bizarrely, it worked. The Doctor bluntly telling Craig that he was starting to look like his own sofa. The Doctor playing football. The Doctor excelling at everything and almost becoming a Time Lord version of Single White Female.

Let’s not be sniffy about this. It was frivilous, is was beyond belief. Even for a sci-fi format, the idea that The Doctor could score repeatedly in a football match is ludicrous. But it was a moment of lightweight fun before the season finale begins in earnest. Gotta say, [[Matt Smith]] was in his element as The Doctor, channelling all his quirky comic timing. And as you’ll see from this week’s quotes section, Smith got all the best lines.

And there was a monster of the week. It was a strange presence lurking upstairs in the house, luring passers-by up the stairs and doing things to them. Like a lot of the myserious threats this series, they’ve played to the fears of young children. Dark figure, obscured face, flashing lights and a sinister stain. Yes, I said sinister stain.

I’ll bet all your ears pricked up whenever The Doctor eventually went upstairs and found himself inside a TARDIS. Not his own TARDIS. A completely…other TARDIS, with no crew and a holographic programme trying to find someone compatible to pilot the ship. Disappointingly, those scenes are extremely short and utterly frustrating. After four series’ of “last of the Time Lords”, the definitive Time Lord technology turns up above a flat in Essex. And nobody bloody blinks? Surely The Doctor’s going to be a little bit concerned about this thing turning up?

For the moment, let’s write it off as a “future plot pertinent thingy”. Knowing that the TARDIS is due to explode at the end of the series, we’ve just had another TARDIS dropped in our laps. Phew. So our one isn’t the only one? That’s reassuring, isn’t it? But my head’s spinning from the implications of another TARDIS existing in the universe.

I did find the story a bit deriviative though – didn’t [[The Girl In The Fireplace (Doctor Who episode)|The Girl In The Fireplace]] have a similar situation: a spaceship using human body parts to rebuild itself? In this instance, it was a time machine looking for humans to pilot it.

As the episode concludes, I found my heart sinking slightly at the preview of The Pandorica Opens. River Song? Again? After a run of charmingly intelligent Doctor Who episodes, it’s almost an anti-climax to see Moffat returning with his new old standby. I’m sure it’ll all pan out in the end, but I’m on overblown finale alert – Pandora’s Box is about to open and spill out all the evils of the universe. And River Song will be there, quipping about spoilers and being a general pain in the arse.

I’ll stop being a pessimist now. Here’s to the finale!

Notes:

  1. There’s a poster for a Van Gogh exhibition on Craig’s fridge. Coincidence?
  2. When Craig goes upstairs, there’s a grey-haired man behind the flat door. I was hoping against hope that it was a William Hartnell lookalike. How cool would that have been – to have a timeline crossover with the first Doctor?
  3. How in the hell does the TARDIS data bank have the layout of this random building? And how the hell does Amy Pond know how to access this strange Gallifreyan technology? Does it have an iPhone app?
  4. Headbutting as a way of exchanging information. Fast, effective, painful.
  5. Someone’s attempt to build a TARDIS. WTF? Who would be building a TARDIS, and why, and where are they? Not enough information! Not nearly enough information!
  6. Perception filters. There’s a growing theory that perception and vision are a standing theme throughout this series. Just noting that yet another perception filter is in effect, masking a new TARDIS.
  7. Corden says “Geronimo” before touching the other TARDIS console. Whatever happened to that new catchphrase of The Doctor’s?

Quotes from The Lodger

  • The Doctor: “Less of a young professional, more of an ancient amateur. But frankly, I’m an absolute dream.”
  • The Doctor: “I’m The Doctor. Well, they call me the Doctor. I don’t know why. I call me The Doctor too. Still don’t know why.”
  • The Doctor: “I’ll fix it. I’m good at fixing rot. Call me the Rotmeister. No, I’m the Doctor. Don’t call me the Rotmeister.”
  • The Doctor: “I’ve got one of those faces. People never stop blurting out their plans while I’m around.”
  • The Doctor: “Football’s the one with the sticks, isn’t it?”
  • Corden: “Sorry, what’s happening? Are you going to live with monkeys now?”
  • Amy: “You said I could be lost forever. Just go upstairs.” The Doctor: “And get myself killed? Then you really are lost.”
  • The Doctor: “Hello, Mr Jorgensen? Can you hold, I have to eat a biscuit.”
  • Amy: “You can’t be upstairs. It’s a one-storey building. There is no upstairs.”

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7 Comments

  1. Rosie-Lee

    I really enjoyed this episode, and it was well co-ordinated with the World Cup, having the Doc playing footie with the local pub team.  I am not a James Corden fan, but I have to admit, he did a good job in this.   Seeing the Doc with his supermaket trolley full of junk to make yet another amazing gizmo, was reminiscent of Elliott and ET’s similar achievment.  I love the idea of the perception filter, I think I have one of those.

    I remember seeing an old film called The Lodger (1944), which was about a landlady who suspected her lodger upstairs might be Jack The Ripper.

    Bring on the Pandorica!

  2. jefft

    Well.

    Crikey!

    Let me say up front that I loved this episode. I do have many of the same quibbles as Gerard but I spent the first half howling at the one-liners. (Can you still call them one-liners if there are a lot of them?)

    I always find that the quibbles set in after the episode ends, but I really dont care while Im watching it. And thats fine by me. (Its when they hit me during a show that I give up. )

    Matt was just great here.

    Amy’s part showed all the signs of being shoehorned in; just so that she had something to do during the episode. I was reminded of Martha’s pointless ‘come on Doctor!’  and other interjections during Blink. (and actually, off topic, most of Spike’s dialog in the first 3 or 4 episodes of series 5 of Angel..)

    How to keep the Doctor and an absent Amy in touch? Invent a ‘purple-tooth’ earpiece (never seen before or likely to be seen again) to allow conversation during time events and potentially across galaxies. Honestly guys.. it might have been more interesting to have her isolated in the TARDIS.. wander around a bit… press the wrong button.. try on some clothes.  

    (now theres an idea..)

    “Seeing the Doc with his supermarket trolley full of junk to make yet another amazing gizmo, “

    ..made me think the kid-designed tardis console was about to make an appearance. So I guess it will turn out to be in Amy’s shed after all.

    I havent seen James Corden’s other work, so I came to this without prejudice, and I liked him. What should I avoid so as not to lose this bonhomie?

      So our one isn’t the only one? That’s reassuring, isn’t it?

    Well, there is the Master’s TARDIS lying around somewhere. The RANI was last seen floating about in E-Space. And lets discuss the elephant in the room: these are Time Lords. They travel in Time. You can kill the lot of them in 50,000AD but they’ve been hopping about through time all their lives. Any of them could be ‘out there’ right now.

    Ditto the Daleks. (Does that sound like an episode title?)

    Even the Doctor has been to 1963 London three times (if the Adventure Game is to be considered canon).

    To stretch a point, consider the ‘Girl in the Fireplace’, although the Doc was stranded, he only had to wait for a year or so (in the company of Sophia Myles) and he could have hitched a lift with himself in London.

    So another TARDIS should be easy to engineer.

     

    ‘I was hoping against hope that it was a William Hartnell lookalike. How cool would that have been – to have a timeline crossover with the first Doctor?’

    That didnt occur to me, but it would be in keeping with the glimpses we’ve had of WH throughout the series. Cool indeed.

    River Song did say she would be back for the opening of the Pandorica in episode 1 when she was doing her Wicked Witch impression, so not greatly surprised there, (even if I hadnt seen the trailers including her to this point).

    Moffat has a tricky task to create a series finale without relying upon the Daleks, Cybermen, or the Master as the sole ‘big bad’. Both of the shiny monsters are much less effective en masse. 

    (‘Dalek’ was sublime. There was a real sense of menace. Yet by Doomsday, with millions of Daleks and Cybermen to match, they become toothless. Mainly because of budget. Who wouldnt want to see Earth ravaged by Dalek attack? Cybermen exploding under the onslaught? Daleks destroyed as the Cyber troops advanced?

    No money for it, so we get CGI duplicated Cybermen doing morris dancing in front of the Taj Mahal, or knocking on old ladies’ doors. And Daleks having a bit of a fly about until the Doctor turns on an enormous vacuum cleaner and sucks them all up again.)

     

    ..err , where was I?

    Oh yes.. Good episode. Worth another watch.

     

     

     

    (edit for spelling)


  3. redblu

    Really enjoyed that one. Not a favourite but it is nice to have frivolous episodes like that thrown in to the show, genuine low key character interaction is something that has sadly been lost to the 45 minute format, so this was welcome to me.

    It was a definite model for this seasons successes and failures, the build up was superb, the atmosphere has changed with this series from making the aliens the source of ridcule (the wasp in the last last of Roberts scripts being an example of this) to putting the task of comic relief back into the Doctors hands (where it always was in the original series). I acknowledge that taste is a personal thing but I am finding this season significantly more watchable as a result. The failure came it not quite being able to tie up the loose ends in a satisfactory manner, but then we learned so little about the origin of the TARDIS perhaps that information is to come.

     

    I do like River Song, or rather what she promises. I like her character best when not around the Doctor, the two don’t interact well but that may well be intentional. She is however a necessity, the Doctor used to be perceived as a simple intergalactic hobo, no real control or understanding of his ship, a hero simply due to his beliefs and willingness to fight for them. With the Timelords gone and the Doctor the last survivor this changed dramatically, River Song is the one character who seems to bring back that dynamic.

    As for the finale… I’m torn. I somewhat enjoyed the first two, despite their obvious flaws, the idea of a grand finale was still new and fresh, but the third and fourth were just in such poor taste, layered with so much magic buttons and chants that I’d pretty much given up on them. I hope Moffat can pull it off, he has a task ahead of him.

    On a sidenote I’ve found a lot of the hint dropping for the finale to be too widely spread out, yes I’m excited about it, the hints have been very effective, but to go back to fairly low key episodes after the bombshell that was dropped in Cold Blood feels a little wrong. I know building up to the finale isn’t something the RTD era really accomplished either, simply relying on the occasional name drop, but I do think this arc might have worked better in the style of the Big Finish arcs, 3-6 linked stories (half a season). 

    1. Gerard McGarry

      What I find about this episode – even with its largely sitcom stylings – is that it beat the hell out of most of the weaker RTD-era episodes. I had a little smirk during The Lodger though because there was a gay reference that – just a year ago would have drawn groans about Russell’s gay agenda. This series isn’t that different – we’ve still got a lot of those magic button solutions. Funny how two stories have ended with the “power of love” solutions – this one and Victory Of The Daleks.

      The style of storytelling in this series has been very… other. I don’t think I’ve seen anything like it in recent years. I still insist on watching each episode twice before I review it. And those early episodes that I hated notwithstanding, Series 5 has been a total delight.

      I’m rambling a bit here. On balance, I’ve enjoyed this series, and I kind of look forward to watching it start to finish again.

      I’m also looking forward to the finale, but dreading it becoming an overblown affair. And the reason for that is because I still feen burned by those early Moffat episodes. I’ve so much enjoyed the whimsical stories that I almost don’t want to see an overblown finale. But I still think/hope it’s going to be brilliant.

  4. Jeffrey Scott

    I think I really enjoyed the episode though I have to agree with how so many things were not explained. Was this truly supposed to be a Tardis or just Tardis type technology?

    What no one seems to have mentioned so far, what about Amy finding the ring? Does she suddenly remember Rory? Or could she possibly think the Doctor wants to propose to her? How funny would that be!

    Regarding the finale: I’ve got a crackpot theory that River Song is perhaps another renegade Time Lord, possibly hiding under a chameleon arch? I keep going back to that line, “He still doesn’t know who OR WHAT you are.” As for other aliens, or we led to believe we are going to be seeing Sontarans, Cybermen, Slitheen and some of the others? Also, wouldn’t technically Slitheen be wrong? That’s supposed to be just a family name.

    1. jefft

       >>I’ve got a crackpot theory that River Song is perhaps another renegade Time Lord, possibly hiding under a chameleon arch? I keep going back to that line, “He still doesn’t know who OR WHAT you are.” <<

      Hmm..

      Time for the annual RANI rollout? Im not convinced.. I think they were referring to her as a, (or his) murderer.

      The Big Finish series has references to Romana doing battle with Pandora (I seem to recall) but that would be a lot of exposition to fit in after 5 series without a mention.

       

      >>As for other aliens, or we led to believe we are going to be seeing Sontarans, Cybermen, Slitheen and some of the others? Also, wouldn’t technically Slitheen be wrong? That’s supposed to be just a family name.<<

      Dont forget the uncle Tom Cobbley and all monsters. Looks like a rollcall of creatures.. could be a problem if not handled right.


  5. Jeffrey Scott

    I would love to see the return of Romona. Though it would be fun if River Song turns out to be the Rani. Though I don’t see it. The Doctor knows she killed someone, and that he was a good man, but it looks like it was possibly something done as an accident or self defense. That’s just the way I’ve been reading it.

    As for the Big Finish audios, I’ve only listed to a dozen or so, so really behind on those. I think the last one I listened to was with Tegan. I understand she might be doing more? I’ll have to look into that.

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