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!
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 PinkRaygun.com, PopMatters.com, and CentralBooking.com (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.