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Doctor Who XXXI.11: The Lodger

June 13th, 2010 (12:35 am)

Part One

Like Amy's Choice, this episode was produced as part of the last block in the season. Catherine Morshead came across in the accompanying Doctor Who Confidential as capable and this episode was as successfully visualized, if not more so, than Amy's Choice. Insofar as one can tell, she brings out the best in Matt Smith's performance, and I hope she returns next year.

It was good to see Gareth Roberts's name on the credits again. I wasn't too enamoured of Planet of the Dead, nor for that matter The Shakespeare Code, but enjoyed The Unicorn and the Wasp's parody of television Christie adaptations and suggestions of unreliable narration greatly. Roberts once pointed out in DWM that he could be taken for Russell T Davies's avatar, and this story returned us to a contemporary urban milieu (RTD's favoured arena) for the first time this year. The lengthy pre-credits sequence was at pains to point out to the viewer that this wasn't London, nor Cardiff, but Colchester. The action takes place in a town of ambivalent identity - too far out to be only a satellite of London, but too small and too close to the metropolis to be a place of excitement and fulfillment itself. This is the dilemma of Craig and Sophie, whose various frustrations are unacknowledged to each other, and sometimes even to themselves, trapped between the comfort of the familiar and local and the unknown wider world of difficult choices. Roberts returns the series to the challenge RTD enjoyed exploring: the need for a person to become whole by entering a dangerous world despite the wish of a parent to keep them 'safe'. Here, there's no parent but the house; but the force in the room upstairs exploits fear and frustration to trap people and then harness their repressed or badly-expressed desires. Or such seemed to be the parallel towards which this episode was groping.

Thirty years ago, a nine-year-old boy feeling betrayed by Doctor Who Weekly's abandonment of its original format would have been even more downcast at the Doctor actually being so unintellectual as to play football. Thirty years later, his older self is more relaxed about the Doctor being able to draw on the sporting talents of the actor who plays him, particularly as the scene was used to show both the Doctor's ability to become the social glue that makes the football team a better and happier group, his ability to disarm (Craig wants the Doctor to disclose his real name, as just being called "the Doctor" is weird, but the team just accept it) but also his arrogance and tactlessness, when he follows his exuberance and usurps Craig's free kick.

I'd been distracted from it by the flashback sequence, but strange_complex's review pointed out something else which would have appalled my nine-year-old self: the Doctor headbutting Craig, twice, to convey information. The more I watch it, the more gratuitous the action seems. Comedy skull-bashing is not the way to go.

There will be a part two in a few hours, but I need to sleep...

Comments

Posted by: philmophlegm (philmophlegm)
Posted at: June 13th, 2010 11:54 am (UTC)
Cantona

Nothing unintellectual about playing football!

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: June 13th, 2010 01:20 pm (UTC)

I don't disagree - but I would have done thirty years ago!

Posted by: philmophlegm (philmophlegm)
Posted at: June 13th, 2010 02:50 pm (UTC)
Cantona

Oh, I see. Fair enough then.

Posted by: A Meticulous Catalogue of Wrongs To Be Avenged (splendorsine)
Posted at: June 14th, 2010 12:39 am (UTC)
crown

Football is a game for gentlemen played by thugs: as such, the Doctor is the perfect ambassador for the rehabilitation of its image!

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: June 14th, 2010 11:12 am (UTC)

I'd forgotten that line!

Posted by: ooxc (ooxc)
Posted at: June 13th, 2010 01:55 pm (UTC)

>>>The lengthy pre-credits sequence was at pains to point out to the viewer that this wasn't London, nor Cardiff, but Colchester.

I missed that - and, weirdly, i thought "Chelmsford!" because the houses looked exactly like a street I know. Not very far off? But it still makes no sense that a house like that in a street like that hadn't always had a top storey

Posted by: muuranker (muuranker)
Posted at: June 14th, 2010 07:22 am (UTC)

Yes - what would have made sense is if the 'real' house was not a strangely bungalofied end-of-terrace, but a post-war bungalow, inserted into a bomb-created space.

Posted by: ooxc (ooxc)
Posted at: June 14th, 2010 08:12 am (UTC)

That is just about possible - I suppose - and it would have made sense to build it in the same style as the lower part of the other houses. I don't know how much bombing Colchester got.
Another possibility is that there was a gap for some other reason - but that's unlikely in streets built at that date and in that style

Posted by: muuranker (muuranker)
Posted at: June 14th, 2010 07:56 pm (UTC)

I'm not convinced that in 1952 (say) that a small local builder, infilling, whould have done anything other than something like this.



I think you're right - a semi, not a terrace, so highly unlikely that one half would have come down with a bomb....


Posted by: ooxc (ooxc)
Posted at: June 14th, 2010 08:39 pm (UTC)

Yes, that looks much more likely as an infill
Houses did come down in "bits" - there are many pictures of outside walls missing, with interior exposed - but highly unlikely that a replacement one storey build would look as the ground floor looked at the end of the programme

Posted by: ooxc (ooxc)
Posted at: June 14th, 2010 08:35 am (UTC)

Afterthought - strictly speaking, that isn't a terrace - the owners of those houses would be very miffed by that description!
Also, was it the end house?
It was one of a pair - which makes it even odder that one would be a bungalow, but I can't remmeebr whether it was the end house or whether they were all semi-detached - gap between pairs?

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: June 14th, 2010 11:16 am (UTC)

The CGI/matte shot of the 'bungalow' suggests that the house would have been locally celebrated for its oddness and thus difficult to disguise with a perception filter, I'd have thought...

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: June 14th, 2010 11:14 am (UTC)

'Colchester' was Cardiff stretching its thespian muscles again; and architecturally the CGI/matte painting one-storey house didn't work; it would have been a locally-celebrated exception and not a good candidate for a perception filter, I'd have thought.

Posted by: ooxc (ooxc)
Posted at: June 13th, 2010 01:57 pm (UTC)

>>>>>The action takes place in a town of ambivalent identity - too far out to be only a satellite of London, but too small and too close to the metropolis to be a place of excitement and fulfillment itself

Eh? Colchester small and close to the metropolis?

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: June 13th, 2010 02:04 pm (UTC)

Speaking relatively!