The TARDIS lands on Earth, only the Doctor isn’t expecting it to land there. When he steps out the door, the TARDIS practically ejects him – and then dematerializes with Amy aboard. The Doctor is able to contact Amy and deduces that something is preventing the TARDIS from making a full landing. The Doctor decides to rent a room from an affable bloke named Craig, who spends most of his time trying to overcome his fear of telling his friend Sophie that he has romantic feelings for her. But that’s far from the worst of Craig’s problems: a slowly spreading stain on the ceiling accompanies a recurring series of strange noises from whoever is renting the upstairs room. The Doctor is convinced that whatever is making the noise and the stain is also keeping the TARDIS from landing. As he spends several days at the house, the Doctor impresses Craig’s other friends, meets Sophie, and becomes a constant but still strange fixture in Craig’s life. When Craig decides to throw caution to the wind and investigate the room upstairs, that life may come to a quick and unpleasant end if the Doctor can’t intervene.
written by Gareth Roberts
directed by Catherine Morshead
music by Murray Gold
Guest Cast: James Corden (Craig), Daisy Haggard (Sophie), Owen Donovan (Steven), Babatunde Aleshe (Sean), Jem Wall (Michael), Karen Seacombe (Sandra), Kamara Bacchus (Clubber)
Notes: This episode is based on a comic by the same name that appeared in an issue of Doctor Who Magazine, originally centered around the tenth Doctor and Mickey Smith (with a very brief appearance by Rose) and set shortly after The Christmas Invasion; in that version of the story, of course, the Doctor moved in with Mickey, who would’ve rather been spending more uninterrupted time with Rose. When the Doctor telepathically transfers his knowledge to Craig, his fifth, sixth and seventh incarnations are not shown (whereas it’s the second appearance this season for the second Doctor, and the season’s third visual reference to the first Doctor).
LogBook entry & review by Earl Green
Review: Another great, way-off-kilter episode for the eleventh Doctor, The Lodger – despite a massive rewrite from the comic that inspired it – is further proof that Matt Smith’s incarnation of the Time Lord may well work best in stories that don’t feel like traditional Doctor Who.
The Lodger revisits some of the same territory as The Eleventh Hour, as it jams something extraordinary and more than a little scary into an ordinary situation populated by ordinary people. If anything, it actually does a better job of it than the season opener, mainly because the characters of Craig and Sophie have a dynamic that’s nearly universal (friends who want to be more than friends, and yet don’t want to ruin their friendship). Just about everyone has been there, and that – along with the portrayal of these characters as normal folks who just happen to like each other (a lot) who aren’t the Beautiful People one so often winds up casting for TV – grounds The Lodger‘s more bizarre moments.
The revelation, near the end of the story, that some alien race has had a go at replicating TARDIS technology is pretty shocking stuff, and it’s actually surprising that it isn’t addressed more directly. Of course, the fact that it’s coaxed into leaving of its own accord helps. (I also couldn’t help but notice that this craft was piloted by an emergency hologram, to whom the Doctor says “Please state the nature of the emergency!” – Doctor Who is just about the last place I ever expected to see a Star Trek: Voyager in-joke.)
It’s becoming increasingly apparent that the eleventh Doctor doesn’t just thrive, but excels in stories that aren’t cut from the same overly epic cloth as the tenth Doctor’s stories. In some ways, this season of Doctor Who is starting to feel like the 25th anniversary season of the original series: we still get occasional epics, but we also get completely off-the-wall stories like The Lodger, Vincent And The Doctor, The Greatest Show In The Galaxy and The Happiness Patrol, which are hard to envision with any other incarnation of the Doctor at the helm, and are completely unlike what we’d been accustomed to from Doctor Who stories up to that point. And that’s not a bad thing.