10 and 1 Things About The Lodger

(Spoilers for episode 11 of Doctor Who Series 5.)Item 1: Doctor Who does the Odd Couple! Veering a little close to Mork & Mindy, the Doctor's antics were sometimes silly as he attempted to pass himself off as human. This works within the 11th incarnation's characterization to date, but can seem bizarre when you think back to 10's much more grounded character. Then again, the eccentric 4th Doctor sprang out of the manners-conscious 3rd and then gave way to the personable 5th, so there's a precedent. Just because you used to know which fork to use, doesn't mean your next incarnation won't have had his head rewired to omit that bit of information. Part of the show's charm that all these interpretations can all be considered "Doctorish". (I now like to fantasize about what each Doctor would have been like in a Lodger scenario.)

Item 2: Of all the episodes this series, The Lodger seemed to me the most RTDish. There's a soap-sitcom element to this tale that reminds you of Love & Monsters and the investment in Craig and Sophie's relationship is made the central point of the episode. The Doctor saves Amy, the TARDIS and humanity, yes, but he's mostly there to play matchmaker. I'm surprised to see Gareth Roberts' name on this. Not that he can't do comedy (his other two episodes are very comedic), but it's just so domestic compared to his other work (which is all historical/literary lampoon or crazy silly futuristic sf). The throwback to the RTD era is a bit odd.
Item 3: There's something about UK actresses I find incredibly charming, and I dutifully add Daisy Haggard (Sophie) to the list. Of course, the script is pitched just right for sheltered geeks who regularly fall in love with their best friends to fall in love with her. It plugs right into the fantasy because, hey, in this case, she loved him back! And that's the fiction in science fiction, kids.

Item 4: Is there a "love solves everything" theme running through Series 5? Bracewell stops exploding by remembering the love of his life in Victory of the Daleks. Amy's Choice of Rory dispels the Dream Lord's realities. Cold Blood sees a newborn couple stay together through the Silurian sleep cycle. And now Craig and Sophie's wish to stay together destroys the faux-TARDIS. If it is a conscious theme, then how might it resolve itself at the end of the Series? Can Amy's love for Rory restore him back to existence? Can heal love the cracks in the universe?

Item 5: Black Orchid moment when the Doctor goes out to play football Jersey number #11!). I must say that these sports sequences are much better than the molasses-paced padding cricket scenes from that 5th Doctor story.
Item 6: And that's not the only reference to a past Doctor in the episode (and I don't mean the flashback to former incarnations). Doc11 seems intent on being the second Doctor to do anything. Pertwee used to be the only Doctor ever seen to take a shower. Now he's merely the first (he sings La Donna Mobile in Inferno as well). Other potential references include 4th's City of Death (Paris and the Jaggaroth-style timeship), the 8th Doctor-style TARDIS console room, and the aforementioned sports match. Given the many such references this series, is it imposed on each writer or added by the production team? And to what end? Still, Matt Smith remains the only Doctor to work in a call center. As yet.

Item 7: No need for a Doctor-lite episode this year because the Christmas special is filmed with a series' first block. So if they keep doing things the same way, there should be one next year. However, there have been two Amy-lite episodes to date. What's up with that?

Item 8: The quick timey-whimy time loop, in case you missed it, goes like this... At the end of the adventure, the Doctor must have Amy write the flat's address on a card (which then goes in the paper's shop window for the Doctor to find) AND must write a will from an uncle the flat's owner never even heard of so that it frees up the room. Only one of many paradoxes this Doctor's been involved in. No wonder he ends up cracking the universe wide open.
Item 9: Who was trying to build a TARDIS? Fans of Classic Who have found that the exterior look of the ship reminds them of the Jagaroth's from City of Death, but that's probably a superficial similarity. The design might as well be Dalek (the gear-like designs and suction cup-height circles fit their aesthetic). A similar design is also on the Pandorica in the preview, so one interesting notion is that it might be the work of the "future Doctor" I've talked about before. If indeed, in the finale. the Doctor must return to past episodes to fix the cracks, he'll have to return to The Lodger and look behind the fridge. Does he also have to build a new TARDIS to replace his blown up one? Does he fail, causing his own dilemma in this story? Is it another shade of the actual TARDIS that cannot co-exist with itself, causing it to run away at the start of this episode? Is this faux-TARDIS' ambiguous destruction a way of hiding its survival and use in a future episode? Is the aesthetic relationship between its interior design and the 8th Doctor's TARDIS more than coincidence then?

Item 10: I love me a psychic pet. In fact, our Doctor Who role-playing campaign/series features a cat that is built like a Gadget, but plays the role of a familiar. It, too, gets sent on scouting missions up scary stairways. Just another fun way to use one of our Time Lords' telepathic abilities. Never tried the psychic headbutt though.

Item 11: "Please state the nature of the emergency." So one The Doctor's catchphrase in another's series. Or wasn't it done on purpose? Seems like there were a lot of Star Wars references in the first half of the series, but since the Jem'Hadar Silurians came out, Star Trek seems a more obvious inspiration. Either way, I wish Doctor Who didn't refer to either of them. DW is the top dog in the cult science fiction kennel. You refer to IT, it doesn't refer to you.

Next: I can smell the Pandorica opening. Uh-oh...

6 comments:

LiamKav said...

For all of RTD's many over the top, big bang, it's about the BIG moments not the overall story, fanboy pleasing habits, he was curiously reluctant to mention that there were Doctor's before the 9th. Aside from very small injokes (the 9 strands of DNA on the scanner in The End Of The World), the only references to old-series Doctors were the brief look at the Journal in Human Nature and the JNT-esque montage of Doctor's faces in The Next Doctor. So just two, pretty much.

Since Moffat took over, it's been an almost costant stream. Hartnell has been seen 3 episodes running now. Is this leading up to something, or does Moffat just love going "look! Old doctors!)

Siskoid said...

I was thinking about that this morning, wondering if the references (to Classic Who, Star Wars, et al.) were getting a bit much for this viewer.

Still, better "easter eggs" than JNT-style continuity porn.

LiamKav said...

I also found myself playing a "how would each Doctor cope as a housemate" game in my head. Of course, this story is based off of a comic strip starring the tenth Doctor and Micky, so we know at least how one other would cope (or we would, if I'd read it).

I imaging the tenth Doctor would have assumed he'd have been brilliant at the social stuff, but would have been a bit hyper and excitable and probably annoyed his housemate that way. Maybe he'd have been that guy who turns up at your house and starts changing your TV settings because he says he can get your picture better.

Jeff R. said...

You know, it's just possible that Moffat's playing a longer game than everyone thinks he is, and he's actually doing a two-season arc of which this year's finale is the midpoint. Just throwing that out there...especially with regards to the 'future doctor' business.

Siskoid said...

That also crossed my mind. I think it could be brilliant, but at the same time, I sort of dread it, possibly because he's got to prove something to so many fans and that might not happen if spread across 2 years.

But I'm definitely in the trust column.

Loki said...

One small detail that I loved - for no readily apparent reason, one of the things on Craig's fridge is a postcard-sized print of Vincent Van Gogh's self-portrait. So in additiona to all the other callbacks, the episode also has a callback to the immediately preceding episode.

 

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