Jul 29 2010 4:38pm

Doctor Who S5, EP11: “The Lodger”

Who would’ve thought The Doctor would be so good at soccer?

Okay, okay, football. Football.

In “The Lodger,” we see a Doctor Who rarity. We get to see what would happen if The Doctor experienced life as a normal human being, though I suppose “normal” is relative when talking about The Doctor. As Amy says to him, “Have you seen you?”

The TARDIS attempts to materialize in modern-day Colchester, but only The Doctor manages to get out. Amy is stranded in the TARDIS, which remains trapped in the time vortex and cannot land. They trace the source of the temporal disturbance to the top floor of a house, and so, in an effort to find out what’s going on without giving away the fact that he’s a Time Lord, The Doctor answers an ad for a lodger in the first floor apartment and tries to blend in as a human. Craig, The Doctor’s new roomie, is an average guy who goes to the pub, plays in a football league, and is in love with his best friend, Sophie, who is a constant presence in the apartment.

The source of the disturbance turns out to be an alien ship that has crashed. Using a perception filter (those perception filters sure are handy when you don’t want to explain anything and would rather just make it appear!), the ship can look like the house’s non-existent second floor. The ship’s emergency holographic program has been luring passersby into the house to test potential pilots, but none prove suitable. Eventually, the hologram lures Sophie, and when Craig and The Doctor go up to save her, the ship tries to test The Doctor as well. The Doctor struggles against the ship, saying that if he touches the controls, he will destroy the ship and take the Earth along with it. The only one who can save the day is Craig, who because of his love of Sophie and his complete lack of desire to travel is the perfect anti-pilot for this ship. When he professes his love for Sophie out loud and kisses her as he touches the controls, The Doctor is released, and the three escape just in time to watch the ship implode. The power of love prevails.


And so it seems The Doctor had two missions in this episode: figure out what’s stopping the TARDIS, and hook up Craig and Sophie!

It’s a shame that this sweet, fun standalone had to come immediately on the heels of “Vincent and The Doctor,” another standalone that just happened to be one of the best episodes this year. I think that watching “The Lodger” after “Vincent” gave me a more negative impression of it than I would’ve gotten had they aired it after “The Beast Below” or something similar. Perhaps it was placed here for that reason, as a salve to all the big goings-on in the surrounding episodes. However, I think the placement does this episode, which is charming in its own right, a disservice. This isn’t to say writer Gareth Roberts’ story, which was based on his own comic strip from Doctor Who Magazine, wasn’t good, but compared to the episodes surrounding it, it seems too simple.

However, there is plenty of charm in the episode, not the least of which is due to James Corden as Craig. He is the perfect Everyman, and his comedic timing is flawless. His reaction to The Doctor appearing from behind the couch as he tries to confess his feelings to Sophie for the first time is priceless. Matt Smith also shines in this episode that allows The Doctor to have certain human experiences for the first time. His reactions to things like having a set of keys to a flat, paying rent, or playing team sports were wonderful. Smith and Corden had amazing chemistry, and it’s their rapport that held this episode together.

Also, I’d just like to point out that Matt Smith looks damn fine in a towel. However, I’d also like to point out that I’d totally go for James Corden, too. What this episode lacked in substance it made up for in man-candy.

And then there is the exciting, albeit tacked-on ending, where Amy stumbles onto Rory’s engagement ring. It’s just the tip of the iceberg for Amy, as we soon see in Doctor Who’s two-part finale!

Pandorica, what?!

Teresa Jusino was born on the same day that Skylab fell. Coincidence? She doesn’t think so. Her “feminist brown person” take on pop culture has been featured on websites like,, and (edited by Kevin Smokler). She is currently working on several fiction projects, including a web series for Pareidolia Films called The Pack, which she hopes to debut by the end of the year! Get Twitterpated with Teresa, Follow The Pack or visit her at The Teresa Jusino Experience.

Alex Brown
1. AlexBrown
I thought Doctor Who ended in the States over Comic Con? Or are you just behind? I was certain that "The Big Bang" aired on the 24th...

Personally, I was rather indifferent to "Vincent and the Doctor". If it were more about the poor blind Krafayis I'd've been far more interested. And yet I loved "The Lodger". Easily one of my fave eps, up there with "The Empty Child", "The Doctor Dances", "New Earth" "Blink", and "Turn Left". I loved this ep so much I watched it twice.

And since none of the American reviews have given Daisy Haggard her far share of the praise, I'll do it here. She's fan-fraking-tastic and a staple of British TV. She was briefly in my all time fave Britcom Green Wing, as well as Man Stroke Woman, Sense and Sensibility, The Lenny Henry Show, and a ton of others:
David Goldfarb
2. David_Goldfarb
I've noticed that often towards the end of a series they'll have an episode which is light on the Doctor and his companion, in order to allow for more intensive filming on the ending two-parter. In series two it was "Love and Monsters", in three "Blink", while in series four they had "Midnight" which had the Doctor without Donna and then "Turn Left" which had Donna without the Doctor. This one had the Doctor without Amy, although they didn't seem to have a corresponding one spotlighting Amy.
Teresa Jusino
3. TeresaJusino
Milo1313 @1 - Doctor Who HAS ended here. I just wanted to space things out since I'm writing a double review for the finale. Also, I submitted this days ago, but it's taken a while to post. Writing my review of "The Pandorica Opens"/"The Big Bang" now. It's not like there's a rush. There'll be a Doctor Who drought soon. Then again, I'm sure I'll have something else to write about it soon enough! :)

Sometimes I can't believe how differently you and I react to this show we both love! :) It's like, we're exactly the same, but COMPLETELY different!

And actually, I wasn't terribly impressed with Daisy Haggard in this. I'm sure she's a fine actress in other stuff. But I was more fascinated here by the relationship between The Doctor and Craig. Sophie was pretty "generic love interest" to me. When her character did light up for me, it was only because of something that Craig or The Doctor was doing to/for/about her. It's like, she was there to give each of them reason to do cool things, but she wasn't cool in and of herself.
Teresa Jusino
4. TeresaJusino
David_Goldfarb @2 - That's an interesting point. There was never really an episode that was primarily about Martha either (unless you count Human Nature/Family of Blood since The Doctor wasn't The Doctor, which I don't). Though we've just gotten started with Amy. I'm sure there will be opportunity for a totally Amy-centric episode.
Ashe Armstrong
5. AsheSaoirse
This was my favorite episode of the season. Yes it was simple and stood alone from the rest of the story but I don't care. The simplicity was genius and just watching the Doctor be the Doctor in everyday life was fantastic. Superhero adventures are grand but it was so refreshing to see him take the mundane and fill it with delicious. I hate to use the adjective of quirky since it gets tossed around so much for indie stuff anymore but this was fantastically quirky. Sophie was alright but Craig and the Doctor were where it was at.
Jason Henninger
6. jasonhenninger

Man Stroke Woman...ah! I kept wondering where I'd seen her before.


I loved this episode as well as the Van Gogh one. I think Matt Smith does excellent comedy and this one had some of his funniest moments yet. The story itself I thought was ok. But the comedy was great.
mark Proctor
7. mark-p
I expected this episode to be terrible since it had James Corden in it (most things he is in make me switch off quickly) but I thought it was one of the best episodes in the series.
The Dr trying to be inconspicuous by attempting to act human and living with Craig was great.
The only thing I didn't really like was the end in the spaceship but that was ok.

I thought the time traveling from the end of the to leave the clue at the start was a good Idea. They have used the Tardis/time travel to better effect in this series that many others in the past. They have a powerful device to mess with the story line but usually the TARDIS is just a just a doorway to the weeks adventure.
Mary R
8. MaryArrrr
At first I was a bit put off by how poorly the Doctor fit in as an ordinary bloke. He usually does much better. But then I realized - no companion! After that, part of the fun was appreciating the nod to importance of the companions.
9. Tatterbots
Too quirky for me. I would think that after nine hundred years of phone box travel and being a general know-it-all, the Doctor ought to have a better handle on football by now. And I know so many houses that look like that one, and can't think of a single one that has only one storey - the design just doesn't look plausible to me. (And someone will probably tell me it was a real one-storey house, but if so, that's just one of those times when truth is more unbelievable than fiction.)

Having said that, there was plenty to like about this episode. James Corden doesn't normally appeal to me, but he did in this. And I always like stories that are a bit more mundane, as well as ones where the threat isn't something evil so much as a malfunction or a misunderstanding. I was really looking forward to this episode from the time I first saw what it was going to be about, and perhaps it would have disappointed me less if I hadn't had time to build up such high expectations.
Ian Brown
10. RunawayPenguin
I rather enjoyed this episode. Like it's been said, it was quirky and fun. Just seeing the Doctor trying to be ordinary is always a treat, and Matt Smith really shines with the comedy aspects. He tries so hard, but is always just a bit off on being human. From not having a good handle on money, to the bit about where he learned to cook, seeing him have trouble remembering how time normally flows, it was great.

And man, he really seemed to enjoy that shower, I thought the Tardis had bathrooms and even a pool?
Teresa Jusino
11. TeresaJusino
MaryArrrr @8 - That's a great point! I hadn't thought of that, but it's true! The companion is an important tether to humanity for The Doctor. Great observation. :)

RunawayPenguin @10 - You just made me wonder about how time travel affects one's need to shower. Is it that time doesn't seem to pass for you, so when you time travel you are less dirty, or don't even get dirty? Or when you jump through 100 years of time, do you pile on 100 years of smelly? :) I would think the first one. So he probably enjoyed that shower, because it's the first time he's needed one in a while.
12. kristen mchugh
I had to sit with this episode for a little while and watch it a few times, to really appreciate it. Quirky, yes. Funny, yes. However, there are tiny little things threaded through it that don't absolutely make sense in context of the episode, but seem to be part of the overall arc for not only this series, but for series 6. I do agree that coming on the heels of Vincent and The Doctor, (which STILL moves me to tears, every time,) The Lodger's charms are obscured. Halloooo the fanservice, too! That towel... erm, yeah.
James Corden and Daisy Haggard are lovely and awkward, but Corden and Smith just NAIL it.
Ursula L
13. Ursula
As far as the need to shower goes, I think a time traveler would need to bathe according to how time passes on their personal timeline - every 24 hours or 48 hours experienced, or however often they'd bathe in ordinary time.

Perhaps less in places like the TARDIS which is clean and climate controlled so there is little dust and little need to sweat to cool down, and more when running away from monsters and falling into who-knows-what.

But there might be some futuristic bathing mechanism on the TARDIS, rather than bathing in water. The TARDIS doesn't seem to stop to pick up fresh water or empty waste water the way it stops at the Cardiff rift to refuel. Even if Time Lords like water for swimming in, they might prefer some other way of getting clean.
Ursula L
14. Ursula
The Doctor isn't just without a companion in this episode. He's also without the TARDIS.

And it seems to affect him without him realizing it. He's risk averse, not going up to the upper apartment just to check things out, the way he'd normally go running in. On the communicator, he asks Amy how he's doing, but he reacts much more strongly to listening to the TARDIS when Amy holds up the microphone so he can listen.

And he's just not paying attention to how he interacts with humans. That's not just the lack of companion. In the episodes where he didn't have a regular companion, he found surrogate and temporary companions, and did fine. But without the TARDIS, and the assurance of returning to his normal life, the Doctor just doesn't make the effort to fit in.
Eli Bishop
15. EliBishop
Really loved this. Two things that haven't been mentioned so far:
1. The Doctor is good at football because Matt Smith is good at football.
2. High-speed conveyance of exposition via head-butts!
Ursula L
16. Ursula
They trace the source of the temporal disturbance to the top floor of a house, and so, in an effort to find out what’s going on without giving away the fact that he’s a Time Lord, The Doctor answers an ad for a lodger in the first floor apartment and tries to blend in as a human.

Minor correction on this point.

The Doctor goes to this house because he sees a note in Amy's handwriting advertising the room and giving the address, which Craig had planned to rent out but hadn't put the address in the advertisement.

And Amy finds the ring when looking for a pen, after the bulk of the episode is over, so she can write that note and retroactively advise the Doctor to go to that house.

There is timey-whimeyness going on here, which is always worth appreciating.
Teresa Jusino
17. TeresaJusino
Ursula @16 - I appreciated the timey-whimeyness too. I just hate writing synopses, and tend to keep them as short as possible. :) So, I left that bit out. If people want a long synopsis, there's plenty of them elsewhere on the intarwebz. I figure, if people are reading these, they've already seen it. Timey-wimeyness can be discussed in the comments. :) Like now.
Ursula L
18. Ursula
I can understand disliking synopses!

I pointed it out for reasons that are spoilerish, so I'll ROT-13:

V fhfcrpg gung n gvzr-ybbc jnf chg va guvf rcvfbqr orpnhfr vg jnf whfg orsber gur svanyr. Univat gur cbffvovyvgl bs gvzr-ybbcf serfu va lbhe zvaq znxrf vg rnfvre gb npprcg gur ahzrebhf gvzr whzcf bs "Gur Ovt Onat" nf gur pbaprcg qbrfa'g pbzr bhg bs abjurer.

Juvpu vf n ybiryl naq vagevpngr ovg bs cybggvat naq fgbel-gryyvat. Gur nhqvrapr vf orggre cercnerq gb sbyybj fbzr irel pbzcyrk whzcf, va n jnl gung qbrf abguvat gb fcbvy gur npghny rcvfbqr orvat cercnerq sbe.
19. Nicholas Waller
Daisy Haggard is worth catching in Psychoville, a wacky seven-part psycho serial killer mystery brought to us by some of the people who made The League of Gentlemen.
20. MarianMoore
Surely you jest about Matt Smith in a towel.  Lordy, the Doctor needs to remain suited at all times!  :-)
I loved the humor in this episode also.  I watched it twice and laughed at each watching when the Doctor made his wry comment that he didn't know why Earth had 6 million inhabitants based on watching Craig with Sophie.

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