Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

Well, this would be this season's silly episode then.

For the first time in the show's 31-season history (correct me if I'm wrong), the TARDIS is prevented from landing by an external power.

This is a bit of a snag because it separates Amy in the TARDIS from the Doctor on Earth. (yes, we're on Earth yet again)

Faced with tracking down and neutralising the interference, the Doctor has to pass himself off as a 'normal bloke' in order to hire a room downstairs from it, and it's here that the story's actual agenda seems to emerge.

This is Matt Smith's eleventh full episode in the role, and despite a haphazard start, he has now nailed down exactly who 'his' Doctor is.

A weirdo.

(Somewhere deep inside his psyche, the vain tenth Doctor must be turning in his radiation-soaked grave…)

This is deliberately accentuated through a series of convoluted situations, such as his having to say hello to people, use tact, and generally act normally, which of course he can't.

Well, I use the phrase 'of course', and yet to witness him having so much trouble simply greeting others correctly does make one wonder what on Earth has become of his memory. He didn't use to find dealing with present-day English folks this difficult.

All the same, he's a huge hit with most of the people who he meets, including when he plays in a game of football. Nicely timed that, with the World Cup just getting underway this weekend too.

He also gets a job in a callcentre.

"Hello Mr Jorgensen! Can you hold? I have to eat a biscuit!"

Yes, his memory does indeed seem to be a little confused. At one point he decides to reveal who he actually is to Flatmate Craig by literally headbutting the explanation into his mind. This gives way to a quite unmotivated datablast of stills of earlier Doctors, which also enables William Hartnell to sneak in for only the fourth time this series. Sheesh, I'm calling him a current Doctor again.

A few notes on these shots - according to my pause button they're incomplete, in non-chronological order, and the still of Jon Pertwee as the third Doctor looks like a very late one. Most curious however, is the image of Paul McGann as the eighth Doctor with, bottom-right, a woman

Or is that just my TV on the blink?

It's great to see the show being so unashamed of its past once more, and together with the continued use of TARDIS sound effects from the early 1980s, I have to wonder just how much the Eric Saward years have influenced the current production team. Well, maybe not that much, given the absence of Peter Davison, Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy from the above sequence.

Nonetheless, that was the era when I really got into following Doctor Who as a kid, so I welcome the return of these non-intrusive elements with open arms! Is it too intensive? No, repeatedly referencing an actor who left 44 years ago is hardly a bad thing, it just feels unfamiliar because it's the first time it's been done.

Overall however, as seems to be a trend this season, this story has sadly little interest in science fiction. There isn't a single element in here that isn't a well-trodden SF cliché, and the tale is so thin that the series itself seems to be taking a week off along with absent Amy.

Oh, and the lazy plot-device of making stupidity the enemy's motivation makes a return too. Oh well.

For all that, such a weak storyline offers little opportunity for contradictions, and as I've said in previous posts, Matt Smith's eleventh Doctor is highly watchable. Well, introverts always are.

There are a couple of moments which the damaged trust from previous episodes make uncomfortable to watch, such as when the Doctor air-kisses Sophie while dressed only in a towel, but despite how much it threatens to fall down and get cheeky, it doesn't. If only the preceding episodes had been similarly clean, then I might have been able to relax as I watched this with my mum.

The Lodger is a strange, off-beat episode, which is directed and edited as awkwardly as its title character converses with people, but it doesn't offend.

After the crowd-pleasing tenth Doctor, I do wonder what the general public is making of this non-conformist eleventh one though. Despite his quirks, Matt Smith's take on the role is quite likable, and I hope that this will lead to greater acceptance of people with unconventional attitudes in society.

The alternative might be for the Doctor to get rejected by his viewers for being too weird.

He's right about one thing though - bow-ties are cool.

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