Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Doctor Who, Series 5 - Episode 11: The Lodger



Stranded in modern times after a sudden jolt knocks him out of the TARDIS and sends Amy spiraling out of control through the Time Vortex, The Doctor is forced to find a place to stay and blend in while trying to get Amy and the TARDIS back. This leads The Doctor to the building of one Craig Owens and the room he is renting.

Craig is a rather ordinary man - Bit overweight. Bit of a geek. Dull job working in a call-center. Hopelessly crushing on his friend Sophie. The sort of bloke whose typical evening plans consist of "pizza, booze, telly" and whose weekends are filled with football with his mates before a night out at the pub.

Being a reasonable sort, Craig has no problem with trying to reach out to his new flatmate and trying to help him get to know people. 3000 pounds in hard cash, up-front for the rent and the ability to cook omelets like a gourmet French chef will buy a lot of good will. At least up until the point that The Doctor proves to be a natural footballer despite not being sure if you need sticks to play it or not, starts encouraging Sophie to follow her dreams of working on a wildlife preserve and move away and, in what proves to be the final straw, fills in for Craig at his job and proves to be beloved by all even after insulting Craig's biggest client.

But The Doctor will not be moved when Craig demands that he move out. Because The Doctor is not the strangest lodger in Craig's house. There is something upstairs powerful enough to stop the TARDIS from landing properly and it will take some low-tech jiggery-pokery and yes - Craig's help - in order for The Doctor to sort things out.

Thankfully, things end happily with The Doctor recovering the TARDIS and Amy, setting up the stable time loop that enabled him to save her (she wrote him a note telling him he needed to go to Craig's house in the future) and Craig - having finally opened up to Sophie about his feelings - allowing The Doctor to keep his apartment keys, saying he'll always have a place to stay if he needs it.

Of course everybody is in such good spirits that they fail to notice the glowing crack behind the fridge in Craig's kitchen...


* More than any episode so far this year (and, possibly, in the entire new series), this one truly explores the nature of The Doctor as the eternal outsider and does it well.

* This episode also sets up and explores the differences between the Eleventh Doctor compared to the Ninth and Tenth Doctors. Whereas Nine and Ten seemed to recoil in horror from the idea of living a mundane or domestic existence (remember how pained he looked when Rose broached the subject of settling down and getting a job when it looked like the TARDIS was lost forever?), Smith's Doctor seems to revel in the novelty of the mundane and things like having an ordinary job or just hanging out...even as he proves to be truly horrible at managing it.

* Craig is a wonderful character and you can really feel with his plight in trying to deal with his strange new roommate and the weirdness around him as his routine is shattered.


* Really, I only have one problem with this episode but it is a big one. Namely. there are some aspects of The Doctor's lack of knowledge regarding what ordinary people do that seem a little far-fetched.

* To my mind, it would make more sense for The Doctor to be overly-knowledgeable to the point of confusion rather than ignorant, as he is here for the most part. The Doctor fixing up a gourmet meal as a light snack is believable. The Doctor not remembering what the standard month's rent is in the year 2010 and overpaying is believable. The Doctor not knowing what Football is and being unable to understand basic metaphors (i.e. annihilate the other team) isn't.

* On that note, granting that it is generally accepted that sometimes The Doctor's memories can fade somewhat following a regeneration and that skills and knowledge don't necessarily carry over between incarnations, it seems a little hard to believe that Eleven would be totally unfamiliar with how Earth screwdrivers don't have on-switches. After all, this is the same man (well, nearly) who criticized Romana's lack of historical sense when she complained that none of the artwork in the 1979 Louvre had been made on a computer.

* We get that Eleven is not nearly as much as a people person as Ten but it's a little hard to believe that The Doctor need instructions on how to hang out at a pub considering he spent a goodly while hanging out at a pub with Vincent Van Gogh not one episode ago!


It's hardly intentional but The Doctor cock-blocking Craig as he's trying to make his move on Sophie is heartbreaking. You can see him wanting to say "I Love You." You can see her wanting to hear him say "I Love You." Everybody can see what is happening and what SHOULD be happening... except for The Doctor, who is more than happy to socialize at the worst possible time.

The Final Verdict: Despite several large leaps in logic regarding what The Doctor shouldn't reasonably be able to know about modern British culture, this is a rather enjoyable episode that explores The Doctor's alien nature even as the personality of his 11th Incarnation. It is enjoyable enough but it really should have come earlier in the season where it really could have helped introduce the new Doctor to the masses.


  1. It was such a strong episode really should have come earlier. Loved it.

  2. It was a good one. But yes, should have come much sooner - great introduction to the 11th Doctor.