Doctor Who The Lodger review (spoilers) – ‘I love this game!’

The Lodger, with Matt Smith, James Corden and Daisy Haggard

The Lodger, with Matt Smith, James Corden and Daisy Haggard

ON THE same night as England struggled to overcome America in the World Cup, the Doctor showed he should have been in Fabio Capello‘s 23 with an astonishing display of footballing skills in The Lodger.

With a natural gift for finding plenty of time and space, the Doctor and his lethal right foot succeeded where Steven Gerrard and his team-mates could not in seeing off his opponents and netting a hatful of goals, all while brilliantly wearing the number 11. Can he kick it? Yes he can.

And as for The Lodger itself? Well, in football parlance, obviously the boy done good and the latest Doctor Who episode was literally more than the meaningless end of season kickabout it looked like it would be, setting us up for the title decider over the next two weeks.

Alot of that is down – once again – to Matt Smith, who gave 110% (I’ll stop now) and perfectly captured the fish out of water feeling of the Doctor as he tried to appear normal while figuring out how to handle the thing upstairs that people went up to help, but didn’t come back down.

I didn’t think anyone could match David Tennant who absolutely owned the role, but Smith has been perfectly odd and engaging from minute one this series and he made Gareth Robert’s solid script sing.

Smith seemed to channel Kramer from Seinfeld crossed with Eric Morecambe and Patrick Troughton as the Doctor immersed himself joyfully in the minutae of everyday life, be it having his own room or working in an office.

In James Corden as Craig he had a likeable everyman to bounce off with the pair finding an easy chemistry and interplay that was great fun to watch.

In fact I think we could have seen the birth of a new sitcom, like The Odd Couple but called The Doctor is In. I think it’s got legs.

Who wouldn’t love the Doctor as a flat mate? Although given some of the weirdos I lived with at Uni, maybe not (and if you’re thinking you’ve never lived with a weirdo, it’s because you’re the weirdo).

While predicatable, Corden and Smith’s antics were a nice counterpoint to the eerie visuals of the shadowy evil upstairs which again preyed on millions of children’s nightmares of heading up to bed.

Put together, it meant the Amy in the TARDIS section of the episode  lost any sense of urgency or jeopardy as the Doctor seemed to put playing football and working in a call centre above actually going upstairs and saving his friend, or the poor unfortunates who wandered in from the street.

Even his plan for sorting out whatever it was seemed half-hearted – building a scanner (that he said didn’t show anything, but did look wonderful) and talking to one of Novice Hain’s ancestors? Gives a whole new meaning to Doctor Dolittle!

When he eventually ran out of things to do and did go upstairs, the episode quickly came to a head as the series’ theme of perception and seeing what is hidden in plain sight came to the fore again.

First of all upstairs was revealed as a prototype TARDIS hidden by a perception filter, and which caused the TARDIS to scarper.

Who built it? I have a feeling we may find out over the next couple of weeks.

Secondly Craig and Sophie saved the day by seeing through their own perception filter and realising they loved each other, with those feelings shutting down the spaceship.

I’m always sceptical of shows where love saves the day and watched this with a wince, but this is the second time this has happened this series after Victory of the Daleks and the robot professor switching off the bomb in his chest.

Given Amy found Rory’s ring on the TARDIS at the end – Rory who had been erased from history – and the effect her discovery seemed to have on the crack, I wonder if The Pandorica will also be humbled by, erm,  love and how important a role emotions will play in sealing the cracks for good?

And did anyone else get another dream reference? I’m an absolute dream said the Doctor, another theme of the series, along with the new customary flashback to all the other Doctors.

I’m rambling now, but what does it mean? I guess we will all find out next week as the series reaches its two-part finale, which did look frigging ace in the extended trailer.

And to sum up The Lodger? If I’m honest, my desire to reach that climax meant that The Lodger benefitted from a perception filter of its own. As long as it was fun and entertaining – which it was – I was never going to look too closely at it.

Just like the Doctor, and the rest of the viewers, I had other things to concentrate on which took my attention, in the same vein as a looming penalty shoot-out focuses the mind in extra time.

Seven days and counting until the Pandorica opens – let the silence fall.

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