Doctor Who The Lodger
The Doctor has been just about everything. Explorer, Scientist, Teacher, Lover, Fighter, Grandfather, etc. And now we can add Wacky Roommate to that list. In arguably the most Doctor-centric episode since the first of the season, we get to see what it’s like to live with the Doctor. Or more appropriately, what it’s like for the Doctor to live with you.
The origin of the concept is no different than that of any companion. People typically meet the Doctor when his world “invades” theirs. The only difference is that those who choose to live with him for any length of time then have to enter HIS world, and in effect become lodgers in the TARDIS. The dynamic shifts completely here. This is almost like “the Doctor on vacation.”
Craig’s reaction to the Doctor is pretty expected. At first it’s all fun and games with the wacky Doctor, putting on a show and being entertaining. But don’t you just hate when people come into your life, and out perform you at work, get along better with your friends, and just generally do a better job of living your life than you do. And the fact that they are so likable that you can’t actively hate them only makes it worse.
In a way, this story reminds me of “Love and Monsters,” only better. For one thing, the Doctor’s actually in this episode. But like L&M, this one shows what it’s like to try and be normal in the Doctor Who Universe. Something that struck me was that throughout Russell T. Davies’ run, the Doctor made several references to his inability to live a normal life, and how that made him feel sad. But here, we get a Doctor that is not so bogged down in his feelings of isolation, like a little kid standing outside your window in the snow, eternally outside looking in. None of that, just a good Doctor having fun and kicking butt at being normal.
This was probably Matt Smith’s finest performance since episode 1. All season long, I’ve regretted that Smith just hasn’t seemed as daffy or assertive as I generally like my Doctors to be. I like my Doctors to say ridiculous, off the wall stuff that makes perfect sense in retrospect, and I like to see them charging around, getting stuff done. But Smith has generally been a more passive Doctor. Perhaps the absence of Amy helps. Maybe she manages to overshadow the Doctor in some way, with her forceful personality.
Whatever the case, this was a much stronger performance than I’ve come to expect. I knew that Smith had that zany wackiness inside him this whole time. Maybe that’s why it’s bugged me that he’s been so average the whole year.
The idea of a busted ship acting as the villain is something we’ve seen before, but it came as a bit of a surprise this time. As did the all-too familiar design of the console room. Hopefully we’ll learn more about it later.
This episode did a marvelous job of making the Doctor seem strange and alien again, while at the same time cementing his actions in real world scenarios such as taking a shower and going to work. A really great Doctor-heavy episode. Just what we needed.