Doctor Who Series Five, Episode 11- The Lodger

(I wrote this for popular tellyblog Watch With Mothers)

When I heard James Corden was going to star in an episode of Doctor Who, I went through the traditional stages of grief: annoyance, anger, vomiting, depression, more vomiting, bargaining and then back to annoyance.

I’m afraid I’m not a fan of Corden. I think he’s overhyped, overexposed and about as funny as an explosion in a kitten factory. However, I have to say he was pretty good in this episode and I saw snatches of the down-to-earth actor he used to be, before the success of Gavin and Stacey went to his head and gave him an ego almost as big as his inside leg measurement.

In this episode he plays Craig, a harmless bloke who works in a call centre and is slightly less ambitious than the chair he sits on (which secretly dreams of winning Britain’s Next Top Chair).

But Craig’s life isn’t all pizza, telly, booze, pies, lard and secretly fancying his best friend Sophie. Oh no. He’s also got upstairs neighbour problems. Major ones. And by that I mean his neighbour is an alien version of Fred West who keeps luring in passers by using the entryphone, then doing Unspeakable Things to them behind a rather attractive stained glass door.

Cue the Doctor, who answers Craig’s ad for a lodger with a camp euro air kiss on the doorstep and a paper sack full of used notes. But the Doc didn’t pick the house at random, oh no- he’s figured out it’s the source of whatever caused the TARDIS to strand him in Colchester and then prance about the universe like a skittish pony with his sidekick trapped inside (yep, sorry Amy fans, it’s another Karen Gillan-lite episode. Maybe she had tired legs or something).

From there, it all goes a bit Doctor Who-meets-Spaced, but it’s a great set up that allows Matt Smith’s oddball Doctor to let his alien side run loose. He wanders around like a bemused starchild, looking for a screwdriver’s ‘on’ switch, constantly interrupting Craig’s attempts to confess his feelings for Sophie, talking to cats and building a scanning device out of bits of umbrella and an old zimmer frame.

Comedy misunderstandings abound. Despite mistaking Craig’s invite to join his pub league team as a summons to a drinking competition, the Doctor turns out to be an ace football player, scoring A Lot of Goals. Yeah, try doing that with a vuvuzela droning in your ear, mate. It’d put you right off your stride.

In another nice touch, the budding relationship between Craig and Sophie turns out to be the key to defeating the rather lame bad guy – the auto pilot of a crashed time engine. Yes, the Doc was being menaced by something that was basically an alien Sat Nav. And it nearly won. Not the most impressive performance by ol’ Squareface, to be honest.

On the whole, this was a lighthearted, very enjoyable, slightly daft episode that played like a ‘dog rescues kitten’ human interest piece at the end of an in-depth news feature, paving the way for the much more dramatic season finale next week.

Yes, you heard me right, it’s nearly the end of the series! Next week: ‘The Pandorica Opens’. Not sure what the Pandorica is, possibly a new kitchen equipment showroom in a Welsh mining village if this series’ low budget feel is anything to go by.

Nah, just kidding. I’ve seen the trailer. It’s got Cybermen in it. And Romans! And Stonehenge! And Amy Pond’s actually around for once.

It looks proper ace.

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About Hilary Wardle
Hilary is a freelance journalist and copywriter who writes for a wide range of websites, magazines and newspapers, including Buzzfeed, MSN, The Poke, Chortle, the Guardian and the Independent. She specialises in arts and entertainment, comedy, video games and viral content. Contact her at Hilary3@gmail.com.

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