Mâvarin and Other Inspirations

A Fantasy Writer's Journal

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NuWho Review Redux: The Lodger
Fried Brain
mavarin
Re: Rate / Review "The Lodger"

9 out of 10 for me. I thoroughly enjoyed every moment of that. Well, except for the air kisses. Someone should have told the Doctor that only actors do that. Which of course MS is, but let's not get too meta here. The placement of this story in the season is pretty much perfect - from caverns full of Silurians to famous artist plus monster to ordinary people in Colchester, all leading to the season-ending blowout.

Having no prior experience liking or disliking James Corden or his work, I expected, and got, exactly what I saw in the preview clips, a likable, low-key Everyman character, convincingly played. I genuinely felt for Craig, with his ongoing dilemma over his inability to express his love for Sophie, his helpless frustration over the status quo (the Doctor's analysis of Sophie's personal rut applying equally to Craig) and his bewildered discomfort over the upheaval the Doctor brings to his life.

As for Matt Smith's wonderfully eccentric Doctor, I don't find his performance here at all a departure from his excellent portrayals throughout the season. Not one incarnation of the Doctor, even Pertwee, could pass as normal while sharing a flat with a human. The Eleventh Doctor is a bit more "out there" than most of his previous selves, and that's part of what I love about him. That said, I have a very low tolerance for "embarrassment humor," the kind that comes from a character behaving idiotically or unrealistically. (For example, I pretty much can't watch I Love Lucy.) Gareth Roberts flirted with the edge of my tolerance range in The Unicorn and the Wasp (mostly in the poisoning antidote scene), and this episode could easily have sailed over the edge and become unwatchable for me. But it never did. By the time the Doctor did his third set of air kisses, I was even prepared to accept those! Transmitting what Craig needed to know by head butt was unusually violent, but on the other hand I can't see Craig agreeing to let this weird guy he's trying to evict hold his head in his hands for a gentle and loving tête-à-tête. And the Doctor was in a hurry, after all! Also, he and Craig clearly found it painful, and the Doctor said he would never do it again, so that's a clear warning to the kiddies not to "try this at home."

The Something at the Top of the Stairs really worked for me as well, so much so that I was genuinely stressed out as Sophie headed up there. That was clearly not the contest winner's TARDIS design, but given the plot constraints it probably couldn't be a cobbled-together Rube Goldberg creation like the Doctor's TARDIS. The episode didn't try to explain the origin of the timeship, but that doesn't bother me. There may well be a payoff to it in a future episode. Nor does the "kiss the girl" denouement seem nearly as nonsensical or contrived as (for example) talking Bracewell out of exploding earlier this season. In fact I think it kind of worked and made sense!

And finally, there's Amy in the TARDIS. I wasn't expecting to see much of her this episode, and applaud the idea of the "TARDIS Bluetooth." That fits right in with Rose's and Martha's Superphones and the TARDIS having a phone number that Churchill can call. People who complain that Amy is "shouty" here are not taking into account that she's being thrown about in an extra-loud TARDIS in crisis. She's hardly going to use her quiet voice. I can understand if people don't enjoy the character at her loudest, but Karen G. is matching Amy perfectly to her situation here.

The crack at the end started out to be a step back to the almost-gratuitous appearances at the end of The Beast Below and Victory of the Daleks, only to turn into a big step forward. When Amy finds and opens her ring from Rory, the crack starts to open. Clearly it's a cause and effect! Is it next week yet?

Karen

"It's a Thing; it's like a plan, but with more greatness."

Find me using that magical word, Mavarin.

The Eleventh Hour: 10.
The Beast Below: 8.
Victory of the Daleks: 7 (but should have said 6).
The Time of Angels: 10.
Flesh and Stone: 10.
The Vampires of Venice: 8.
Amy's Choice: 8 (should have said 9)
The Hungry Earth: 9 (should have said 8)
Cold Blood: 8
Vincent and the Doctor: 9 (should have said 10)

(I don't grade on a curve.)

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I was actually of two minds in this episode -- on one level, I really loved it - I find myself becoming extremely fond of Matt Smith as the 11th Doctor. On the other hand, I thought the plot seemed only half baked at best -- maybe more like cookie dough (which is, of course, delicious and yummy so it wasn't all bad) than anything else (though, maybe it will redeem itself with the last episodes...but I doubt it).

I wish Amy had had a bigger, more integral role - though I think KG did an outstanding job as she usually does.

I had thought the head butt with Craig was oddly violent -- but I do admit I'm not all that familiar with the psychic connections the Doctor can form except what's been shown in New Who (I've never seen classic Who, though). At the time, I thought it was rather out of character, but your thoughts have given me a new perspective, and I'm more inclined to be more accepting of it in that light.

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