Saturday, July 3, 2010

Doctor Who (US) - The Lodger

The fifth season of 'Doctor Who' airing in the US on BBC America is a few episodes behind those in the UK. If you are only following 'Doctor Who' in the US on BBC America and do not wish to be spoiled, read these reviews only and not those labeled "Doctor Who (UK)".

Review by Antony Ellis

'Doctor Who'
Season 5 - Episode 11
"The Lodger"

This time last year, I’d never, ever watched an episode of ‘Doctor Who’ and was turned off by the budget charm and notion that I’d have to be a real sci-fi nerd to find it enjoyable. I remember seeing the actors and actresses in the show too, at various points in the reboot’s run and thinking, “nah, this just isn’t for me!” I was, thankfully, shown the errors of my ways, and the show, is the only show I endeavour to catch live each week.

Whilst beginning to enjoy the show, I still had little stubborn thoughts in my brain, particularly on hearing that renowned comedienne Catherine Tate would join the cast as The Doctor’s companion in Season Four. I thought that this was just crazy, and she’d ruin the tone of a very serious, character driven show. Catherine Tate’s remarkable performance as Donna Noble made me see the error of my ways, again, with her portrayal of Donna Noble being perhaps my favourite character in any medium ever. But, and I’m getting to my point here now – promise, why could I not help feeling the same way knowing that British goon, James Corden, was going to be an episode of my precious ‘Doctor Who’?

I really am not a fan of James Corden. I don’t find him charming in the least, or funny either for that matter, so discovering that he was, for much of the episode, to be Matt Smith’s companion, was not an exciting prospect. But Gareth Roberts, writer of ‘The Lodger’, had not disappointed in some of his other episodes on Who including one of my favourites (as it was a Donna adventure) ‘The Unicorn and the Wasp’, and I thought it was cool that Roberts was getting to revisit his 2007 Doctor Who comic strip in adapting ‘The Lodger’.

‘The Lodger’ sees the TARDIS stuck in a materialisation loop (and as such Amy features very lightly throughout the show) and The Doctor has to work alone to discover what in the local area is causing his time machine to act in such a manner. The Doctor essentially has to go undercover, and it was a delight to see Matt Smith (who’s Doctor is perhaps the most alien in some time) to have to act human in order to keep said cover. The episode really did showcase Smith’s excellent comic acting, and I too have to give credit for Corden’s performance. I did find him charming beyond belief and felt myself wanting Craig and Sophie’s relationship to flourish.

We also were treated at the end of the episode to some progression for the series arc regarding Amy as the companion, and with the end now in sight my excitement is building to dangerous levels (or that might have something to do with the sight of Matt Smith in nothing but a towel!)

All in all ‘The Lodger’ was fantastic, and the third time is a charm. I shouldn’t have prejudged and though ‘Doctor Who’ wouldn’t be my cup of tea; I shouldn’t have written Catherine Tate off as a comedy actress only, and likewise, James Corden can be charming and likable. I promise I won’t judge a time machine by the colour of its wooden exterior again!

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