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New Who 5.11: The Lodger

The world which this story presented was very sweet. The Doctor out of his depth in the midst of normality is always good value, and I loved his incompetence with money, his description of Craig's kitchen-diner as a 'parlour', his cheek kisses, his guess that football is a game played with sticks, his emergency tea-making ("Reverse the enzyme decay! Excite the tannin molecules!"). Ten might have protested at the idea of Christmas dinner with Rose's mum - but actually, he fits in perfectly well once he accepts. We've seen him scoffing chips, drinking mugs of tea, sitting on a bus. Yes, he was alien when he needed to be - but he could be very human too. For all the time Eleven has spent on Earth this season, he has much less of that - and in that respect feels much closer to past Doctors (especially Four) than his most recent predecessor.

Injecting the Doctor into the story of Craig and Sophie worked nicely, too. I liked his obliviousness to Craig and Sophie's UST - even while picking up on the fact that she has two sets of keys for Craig's flat, one of which Craig has been fondling. And his needling of Sophie about why she doesn't just go off and see the orangutans; and the way he somehow does recognise, deep down, why neither of them really want to be anywhere other than suburban Colchester, with one another. It's interesting to note that the basic tension in their relationship is exactly the same as the one in Rory and Amy's. Craig is for booze + pizza + telly while Sophie is for crises and orang-u-tangs - except that really what both parties in both couples want most, and are failing to communicate, is each other. Maybe this is just a Moffatesque trope - people who paid more attention to Coupling than I ever did will have to let me know. But it feels in the current context like a microcosm of how Rory and Amy's storyline will pan out.

I thought at first that the story was going to be companion-lite, along the same lines as Ten's Midnight. It was a little lighter on Amy than most of the other episodes so far this season (perhaps excepting The Hungry Earth, where she gets captured early on), but it isn't properly 'lite' in the RTD sense of barely featuring one of the regular characters at all. Have we seen the last of this format, for either Doctor or companion? As far as single, stand-alone episodes go, it would appear so. But the BBC's synopsis for the last episode of the season suggests that Doctor-liteness will be an aspect of the finale.

I found the resolution pretty disappointing, though. Things started to go downhill for me at the point where the Doctor just conveyed everything Craig needed to know about him via a head-butt, rather than talking him round as he has done EVERY OTHER TIME he has needed to convince someone to go along with his plans FOR THE PAST 30 SEASONS. I don't want to be the annoying Old-School fan who insists that all continuity must be maintained at all costs - but when you literally have to jolt your plot along with a head-butt, you may have a problem.

As for the figure in the upstairs flat, it has been built up into something pretty scary by the time we climb the stairs with the Doctor. It was stopping the TARDIS from landing; it was causing hysteresis; it has something that looks awfully like a TARDIS of its own; it has a perception filter. There are some pretty big implications, there - what is this incredibly powerful being, and where has it come from? But as it turns out, we go from the shock realisation of OMG A TARDIS! right down to something vague about a crashed ship which can be defeated by a kiss in the space of about three minutes. I recognise that there is some possibility that we will find out more about this ship in the season finale, like who the original crew were and how they crashed. But in the context of this particular story, it felt weak and under-resolved.

Anyway, we have lots of Romans coming up next week! And the promise of resolution about River Song and the Time Crack - or at least the first half of a resolution, anyway. I'm pretty excited about that.

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( 30 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 12th, 2010 07:52 pm (UTC)
At first I thought you'd typed "lots of Romanas" - yes, please...

I've not written my own response yet, but the head-butt reminded me of the 'contact' telepathic link between the Doctors in The Three Doctors - presumably the Doctor has to initiate this with unsympathetic humans physically. Or so my flaw-excusing brain decided.
Jun. 12th, 2010 08:04 pm (UTC)
I'm entirely sympathetic to your desire to excuse flaws, and I'm also happy enough with telepathy via physical contact - Moffat himself has done that before, of course, in Girl in the Fireplace. But there it's done because the Doctor needs to see what is inside Reinette's head, and it's also part of a growing intimacy between the two of them which is central to the story. Here, it felt very much like Gareth Roberts couldn't be bothered to come up with dialogue to get his characters where he wanted them to be, so he just head-butted straight through the problem instead. Definitely not a good thing.
(no subject) - parrot_knight - Jun. 12th, 2010 08:11 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - strange_complex - Jun. 12th, 2010 08:14 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - surliminal - Jun. 12th, 2010 10:23 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - strange_complex - Jun. 13th, 2010 11:12 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - rhube - Jun. 13th, 2010 09:14 am (UTC) - Expand
Jun. 12th, 2010 08:08 pm (UTC)
I loved the fact that he made tea using a Lady Diane teapot - one of a kind I'd love to own by the way but the rest of it (apart from the cat) left me a bit cold. I am loving Matt Smith as the Doctor but the character of Amy Pond is really getting on my nerves - she's just too pouty and shouty.
Jun. 12th, 2010 08:15 pm (UTC)
I hadn't noticed it was Lady Di until you said - but that's a cute detail!
(no subject) - ms_siobhan - Jun. 12th, 2010 08:17 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - surliminal - Jun. 12th, 2010 10:25 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - rhube - Jun. 13th, 2010 09:15 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ooxc - Jun. 13th, 2010 02:00 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ms_siobhan - Jun. 14th, 2010 10:23 am (UTC) - Expand
Jun. 12th, 2010 08:44 pm (UTC)
Ah... surely the headbutt was just a comedy light moment of the doctor being in touch with his "new lad" side? Lager, football and a bit of a fight?
Jun. 12th, 2010 08:50 pm (UTC)
I think it's what they call "a Gallifrey kiss".
(no subject) - steer - Jun. 12th, 2010 08:56 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - surliminal - Jun. 12th, 2010 10:25 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jun. 13th, 2010 09:17 am (UTC)
Indeed, but it was a bit of a lame joke for something that simply doesn't make any sense for the Doctor to do, and undermines several decades of *not* doing it for no good in character reason.
Jun. 12th, 2010 09:09 pm (UTC)
I liked it. But I thought the music was horrible.
Jun. 13th, 2010 09:46 am (UTC)
Invisible timeship hiding on the roof of a building? Sapphire & Steel did that 30 years ago..
Jun. 13th, 2010 09:55 am (UTC)
AFter a rather shaky start I actually really enjoyed this one and I can't stand James Corden.
Jun. 14th, 2010 08:04 am (UTC)
I liked this story but I think its going to be an important Linking story to the last 2 also the fact the Dr said *Someone tried to build a TARDIS* notes that who on Earth or Space knows HOW to build/fix a TARDIS apart from another Timelord so I maybe (& this is a BIG maybe) think the Prisoner in the final 2 episodes is some kind of Timelord (NOT The Master tho)!?
Jun. 14th, 2010 08:48 am (UTC)
Yes, we definitely need to know more about that ship, don't we? People just don't go around building TARDISes on Earth every day, and if someone is, the Doctor really ought to be making more effort to find out who they are. It's starting to feel like there is a lot to be resolved in the season finale!
Jun. 14th, 2010 02:12 pm (UTC)
I agree with you totally re: the telepathy thing. I'm also rather concerned that this week lots of little kids will be headbutting their schoolmates in order to "telepathically communicate with them"!

I wondered about that line about the ship being someone's approximation of a TARDIS, too, and was wondering who it could possible be. I hope that'll be followed up in the finale ...

The Daleks seem too obvious, and anyway they have time travel already. The ship looked to me quite like the Jaggaroth one from "City of Death", and the "time-loop" bits reminded me of the weirdness that happened in that story when Scaroth operated his Time Reversal Doodad, but I can't believe they'd bring back such an obscure monster at the end of this season! But OTOH, that's two stories in a row that have referenced "City of Death" ... perhaps it's Romana! 8^O
Jun. 21st, 2010 10:11 am (UTC)
Maybe this is just a Moffatesque trope - people who paid more attention to Coupling than I ever did will have to let me know

It's there in the early stages of the Patrick/Sally relationship, and a bit in the Oliver/Jane one. And I suppose you could argue that it's also there in Geoff/Julia. It's certainly not there in Steve/Susan. And it all of these examples, it's done with more subtlety than in "The Lodger".
Jun. 21st, 2010 10:27 am (UTC)
In the examples where it is there, is it always the chap who wants security and stability, and the girl who wants adventure and really wild things, or does that vary?
(no subject) - swisstone - Jun. 21st, 2010 11:14 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - strange_complex - Jun. 21st, 2010 11:25 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - swisstone - Jun. 21st, 2010 01:50 pm (UTC) - Expand
( 30 comments — Leave a comment )

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