Friday, June 11, 2010

Review - The Lodger [SPOILER~FREE]

PLEASE NOTE: The review copy is not the final version of the story there may be differences/additions in the transmitted episode.


"Less of a young professional, more of an ancient amateur.
But frankly I'm an absolute dream."

And so begins The Doctor's time as the flatmate of, according to the latest issue of Doctor Who Magazine, James Corden. Of course, it's actually Corden playing Craig Owens - a twenty~seven year old working in a dead~end job and in lurve with a colleague, Sophie (played by Daisy Haggard), who spends much time in Owens' abode.


As you'll no doubt have gathered, there's something at the top of the stairs in this, if you'll pardon the cliche, tale of two halves. The mystery of what's going on upstairs is brusquely handled, teasing us every now and then, reminding us of the sinister goings on. Unsuspecting passer~bys are lured in through a rather eerie intercom and a shadowy figure on the top floor. These moments are handled superbly, juxtaposing with the familiarity of the fun downstairs. Genuine shivers are felt when the voice and figure changes to that of a little girl. Brrrr!


The sitcom taking place on the ground is an absolute treat. Corden and Haggard are perfect as the couple in silent lurve - never playing it for larfs always playing the moment's emotion. Indeed, all the hilarity comes from everyone's favourite Time Lord. Smith has delivered a number of beautiful performances this year but The Lodger sees yet another side to the actor. His portrayal here borders on schizophrenic at times, driven by an urge to appear human and coming off as the guy walking down the street who you don't want to meet - yet utterly engaging.


Right from the off Matt delivers Gareth Roberts' hilarious lines with a trouser~tightening and engaging oddness. I shan't ruin the gags for you (and there are many, many, many LOLs for you all to enjoy) but I'll highlight his constant air~kissing; the shower scene with full nudity (yes, actual nakedness from Mazza and it's not brief) and a misappropriation of an electric toothbrush;; another outing for "bow ties are cool"; and the line "ain't modern society awful?" spoken not unlike Eastenders' Dot Cotton.


More giggles are to be had in the sight of a football game taking place during Doctor Who (good luck to England in the World Cup, by the way). Thankfully it's not too brief and we get to enjoy some genuine skills from Gallifrey's finest. For those of us who enjoyed the cricket scene in Peter Davison's Black Orchid, this is a wonderful touch. Another amusing (if not intended?) reference is the fact that the crowd start chanting "Doctor, Doctor, Doctor", willing him on to score. Remind you of a particular series finale....?


But what of Amy? Whilst not quite "Amy~lite" she doesn't feature much though her role is important and, like the ongoing mystery at the top of the stairs, she is returned to constantly throughout the story. The ending of the episode will also... ah. That's right, spoilers. On the ending, I will say that the eerie~o~meter is cranked up to eleven. Freaked me right out. There also appears to be some references during the episode that will also take fruit in the coming weeks....


Without spoiling the denouement, in the words of Whitney Houston, love saves the day. Literally. Not entirely satisfying, I have to admit (and would people really be tricked into entering a house through an intercom?), but then The Lodger isn't really about the monster at the top of the stairs (just as the previous episode wasn't about a monster hidden in a painting), it's about people. It's about how the 'normal' person tries to deal with an ordinary life. And how The Doctor is really quite an unusual fellow.


After such an emotionally~charged story like Vincent & The Doctor, this is a most pleasant detour though it's certainly filled with that most everyday of emotions, lurve. Specifically, and this was also RTD's favourite kind, unrequited. Gareth Roberts has delivered, yet again, a hugely entertaining but also heart~warming piece. Although it's essentially half~sitcom, half~mystery, The Lodger has much to offer in the simply dynamics of human relationships and aspirations. Not everyone in the world is going to be a hero, not everyone in the world will realise their full potential. But plenty of people will be happy with, in the words of the episode's couple, Pizza, Booze, Telly. Happy with their lot, happy where they are with each other. Not a bad way to live your life at all.


BLOGTOR RATING 8/10

Visit The Lodger section HERE

With thanks to the BBC

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