Oh, we’re sneakin’ up on the end of the season really quickly here, folks. I can feel some sad coming on; why oh why oh why can’t the BBC release DW seasons on DVD for the rest of us a bit more quickly? A year and some odd is a long time to dodge spoilers.
Someone! Quick! Run over the London — before Cams, Cleggie, and the rest shut down the TV Centre entirely and shitcan the whole BBC — and tell them! If they sell them, we will buy!
|The Doctor never does well at playing human.|
What, really, is not to love about an episode with not only Matt Smith (okay, okay, so he’s the Doctor, he kind of has to show up) but also with Timms from The History Boys? aka James Corden (yes, I had to look it up, and, yes, I find that embarrassing given that he’s done so well with other projects.) I officially apologise, Mr. Corden. But, sadly or not, like Russell Tovey, you will always be identified with your History Boys character.
And that starts with something inordinately creepy? “Help me…can you help me?” Who is it in the screenwriting team who has been totally traumatized by people asking for help? We’ve got this, The Empty Child, The Doctor Dances, Midnight, Silence in the Library…this is just not a good universe to outright ask for help in, apparently! Especially if you have a high-pitched, creepy voice and might be speaking through something: say, an intercom. Or a gas mask, obviously. It does kind of beg the question of how foolish these people are to wander into the house in response to a completely disembodied and rather eerie voice — but I suppose it shows a nice display of public-spirited-ness. I did see a blog post on the episode — where, I don’t remember — that mentioned wanting some more closure with these people: like the girl who looks like she’s just been mugged. Was someone waiting for her at home? Does anyone miss her? Is someone looking for her? Is she part of the alien ship now or has she just vanished?
So this is another monster o’ the week episode that manages to dodge true monster of the weekitude by…not really having much of a monster, honestly. Yes, there is the creepy thing upstairs that continually wants help but no-one ever comes back which is absolutely very creepy, but the heart of this episode is with Craig (Timms) and his continually baffling relationship with Sophie who he really fancies but can’t quite ask out and his strange new lodger.
The Lodger is, I think, a lovely demonstration of what much of Season 5 has done so well, which is to give some time to the Doctor as a character: what is he like? what does he like? what does he do with time off? does he get time off? and is he any good at footie? (Corden claims not.) The alien threat is there, yes, and the Doctor leaps to challenge it when Craig is temporarily made ill by it and in the end the Doctor vanquishes the problem as reliably as ever (maybe), but the point of the show is not to toss around the sonic screwdriver and banish things into the void. This is an episode that wants to see what the Doctor does when he has a chance to hang around on the couch and watch telly.
|This sort of thing, apparently.|
There isn’t much Amy, unfortunately, since she’s trapped in the TARDIS and spinning in the void due to the efforts of the invisible monster. But she does quite well and, in the end, is revealed as the one who started the whole thing off by telling the Doctor where to go and, roughly, what to look out for. As always, Amy is more critical to the entire story than she at first appears to be.
And there’s that nasty nasty little crack again.
Still, most of this episode is pretty light-hearted fun: a much-needed break after the weightiness of Vincent and before the undoubted drama of the season ender.
I hear that Craig and Sophie might return for Season 6 — I hope it’s true; if nothing else, I doubt that monster of the week was really such a lightweight as it appeared. That was a pretty — familiar-looking spaceship floorplan, if nothing else, and the way the Doctor managed never to comment on that seemed attention-grabbing. So it’s just perfectly normal for malfunctioning timeships to grab onto passing semi-detached houses and grab pedestrians for potential pilots? We’re not going to comment on this at all? Okay, fine, but we know there’s something you’re not telling us.