What the hell was this picture all about?
As I write this The Pandorica is due to open in about three hours time so getting down this review is a tactic to stop myself from just flitting about the house in an excitable haze. I say review, but it will be more like a selection of thoughts that arose during the recording of the now lost podcast episode. As you all should know by now there won't be an episode this week due to unfortunate technical problems, but I offered to write this, so that you'd at least have our general reaction to it.
Using the patented Eleventh Hour Two Tier Rating System (tm) we both decided that we liked 'The Lodger'. However, if the system were to accommodate an additional middle tier vocalized by Chris as 'fleeeeurgh', then I think we agreed that Gareth Roberts' latest effort would be fully in 'fleeeeurgh' territory.
The central plot, what the episode was really "about", as it were; was pretty effective and well done: The Doctor has to live as an actual human, uniquely apart from important people and events, for an unusually lengthy amount of time. This is the main concept, if you didn't know, lifted from Roberts' 2006 comic strip of the same name, as featured in Doctor Who Magazine. If, indeed, this episode felt most like a holdover from the Rusty era then this would be why, although both Chris and I were of the opinion that Matt Smith was more successfully weird and alien in the role than Tennant would ever have been. People have pointed out that the Doctor (especially in his third incarnation) spent a lot of time on Earth but as I pointed out he never had to sit around in someone's living room eating Murray Mints and watching Timeslip. So the Doctor getting the intricacies of human interaction just slightly wrong was mostly a joy to watch.
However, it seems the rest of the plot bolted on by old Gareth (some have forgiven him for this episode, but I still can't forget The Shakespeare Code) was somewhat less enjoyed by us at EH? Towers. In particular, the denouement seemed critically short of decent explanation. I don't mind not knowing how the ship got there or how long it was there for. But the actual details of the perception filter - and are some of us ever tired of hearing that term, seemed a bit sloppy. How could one go up non-existent stairs? How did it extend as far as the intercom? Also, did the ship have some kind of crazy self-destruct sequence that only activated when people didn't want to leave? Doesn't sound like a particularly good design feature. I also wondered how dead bodies could produce a poisonous rot, even if that rot could be cured almost instantaneously with tea, the apparent Phoenix Down of the Whoniverse. The trouble is that it forced us to make up theories to explain stuff that the writing didn't cover, which is never any fun.
Speaking of people not wanting to leave the developing romance between Craig and Sophie, although not written in a hugely original fashion, was played out quite nicely, even if Chris found James Corden rather more anonymous than most fans. True, his appearance had been hyped up quite a lot, when it wasn't a huge amount more than decent. And again, the end of this particular strand was faintly ridiculous - as mawkish as Professor Bracewell's defusing in 'Victory of the Daleks', and just as unsatisfying.
I think when recording we were a bit meaner to 'The Lodger' then we initially thought we were going to be, but in truth it was just quite an average, though mostly fun, adventure. Perhaps in Rusty times it would have been a good solid above-average episode, but in what has been quite a remarkable series it just sort of just kept things chugging along in the slightly poisoned chalice nature of episode 11 (before we got Utopia or Turn Left). It was funny, yes, but low on particularly gripping plot. But we've got next week's episode (by which I mean it's on in a few hours) for oodles of plot, and we're definitely jizzing ourselves inside-out waiting for that. Let's just hope it isn't actually Russell T. Davies inside The Pandorica, ready to take over the series again, without Moffat's knowledge. That really would be scary...
Finally, though: SURPRISE!
It's an episode! Right when we said there wouldn't be one. It's just five minutes long, introducing the voicemails we would have included in the great lost episode. For those who emailed, our apologies for not getting to you.
Kevin gives us his CRACKWATCH
MB gets confused
Ros gets excited
Tosus gets ahead of himself.
LISTEN TO "THE LODGER" (emergency voicemail only version)
We'll see you again quite soon, when the Pandorica opens.
Image from Sonic Biro
And, for what it's worth, have the one-track SPOTIFY PLAYLIST