Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Overuse Of Humor Undermines "The Lodger!"

The Good: Adequate performances
The Bad: Forced humor, Poor mix with horror, Dull plot, No real character development
The Basics: "The Lodger" is an unremarkable episode of Doctor Who that is a clear tonal departure for the show, without positive results.

When it comes to Companions in Doctor Who, there is a surprisingly regular pattern to the show. In addition to there being, effectively, no male Companions for The Doctor since the show returned, the series very seldomly gets rid of Companions. The departure of a Companion is usually something that happens in a season finale and by the Christmas episode, there is a new or temporary Companion. Steven Moffat's tenure as showrunner tried to shake up the formula. As a result, after having Amy Pond mope through "Vincent And The Doctor" (reviewed here!), "The Lodger" ditches Amy and auditions Craig as a potential Companion.

"The Lodger" is a one-shot Doctor Who episode that follows Steven Moffat's trend of removing The Doctor from his familiar elements. Moffat's first major success was "Blink" (reviewed here!) which barely featured The Doctor and relied on new characters to even find the TARDIS and when Moffat took over as executive producer with "The Eleventh Hour" (reviewed here!), the first thing he did was trash the TARDIS and leave The Doctor without his sonic screwdriver.

The TARDIS returns to Earth, then disappears with Amy, leaving The Doctor stranded. A day later, a young man is wandering the neighborhood when he hears someone call for help from inside a flat. The flat is Craig's and there is someone upstairs who is luring people inside. Craig needs a boarder to help with rent and The Doctor arrives to take the position. The Doctor instantly notices the seeping rot or other mysterious thing on the kitchen ceiling and takes the room anyway.

After getting in touch with Amy, The Doctor figures out that the TARDIS cannot land because of a localized time distortion. Craig heads upstairs and survives an encounter with the man there before Sophie visits and Craig and The Doctor go out to play football. Returning home, The Doctor interrupts a would-be date between Craig and Sophie. Frustrated, Craig touches the mold and is poisoned. Saved by The Doctor, Craig recovers, though The Doctor fills in for him at work. When The Doctor learns of the people who have gone upstairs at the flat that have not come back down, he becomes convinced he has to stop whatever is going on upstairs.

Craig is played by James Corden. Corden's appearance instantly presages the comedic nature of "The Lodger." Craig is a lovesick guy who pines for Sophie and he is basically a straightman for The Doctor's gags. Sophie is pretty much a generic blonde for whom the plus sized man pines. Daisy Haggard plays Sophie well-enough with her eye glances to make the viewer believe that Sophie is into Craig long before The Doctor's lines make it explicit. Haggard and Corden have decent on-screen chemistry.

"The Lodger" is a mystery that feels incredibly forced, beginning with the idea that The Doctor being unable to use his sonic screwdriver because he does not want to tip off the man upstairs. The episode does not commit to the idea of being a supernatural mystery before it falls into an absurd comedy. There is no real character development in "The Lodger" and the plot plods along in an aimless fashion until it finally arrives at its decidedly mediocre conclusion.

There are few Doctor Who episodes that flop so hard that the viewer is left wondering how it ever got past the pitch; "The Lodger" is one such episode. "The Lodger" fails to commit on any front and it plays out in an entirely unsatisfying way.

[Knowing that single episodes are an inefficient way to get episodes, it's worth looking into Doctor Who - The Complete Fifth Season on DVD or Blu-Ray, which is also a better economical choice than buying individual episodes. Read my review of the debut season of Matt Smith as The Doctor here!

For other works with Daisy Haggard, please check out my reviews of:
Harry Potter And The Deathly Hollows, Part 1
Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix
Nicholas Nickleby


For other Doctor Who episode and movie reviews, please visit my Doctor Who Review Index Page!

© 2016 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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