No sooner does the TARDIS land on Earth that it leaves again - but without the Doctor who had just stepped outside. The Doctor soon finds himself at the home of Craig Owens, who has been ...
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No sooner does the TARDIS land on Earth that it leaves again - but without the Doctor who had just stepped outside. The Doctor soon finds himself at the home of Craig Owens, who has been advertising for a lodger. There's clearly something odd in the house with people being lured to the upstairs room, but never reappearing. The Doctor is having a good time of it and is having a bit of fun; he proves to be a rather good football player. Craig the landlord is very much in love with Sophie but can't quite bring himself to tell her. The Doctor tries to help them out. But then there's always the problem of that upstairs room. Written by
In between saving planets the Doctor takes a few days off to sort out a young man and woman who won't admit they love each other, and to deal with the thing at the top of the stairs.
Gareth Roberts' comic script, based on his comic-strip -- originally featuring the 9th Doctor and Mickey Smith -- is quite a bit over the top, but all the more amusing for that as the Doctor simply takes over the life of his flatmate and replaces him. With a title that suggests a Jack the Ripper story and a plot set-up that looks positively Lovecraftian, the monster of the week actually takes up only a small part of the plot. That seems to be par for this season as the new production team reinvents the Doctor -- as, indeed, almost every one has.
Matt Smith shows again in this one, he is a fine comic actor. I quite understand the complaints about his performances, but I think those derive, in no small part, from the increased complexity of writing for this season. Eccleston and Tennant, Smith's two predecessors in the role, and, really, the only standards that most viewers have, played the Doctor as big and emotionally simple, driven by only a few key issues -- that's the way the role was written and they performed engagingly with big performances. But Matt Smith has his role written as someone who has lived more than nine centuries and character notes from previous versions keep showing through. In this one he seems to be channeling William Hartnell and Patrick Troughton, the first two doctors, with hints of other versions. James Corden makes a fine put-upon second banana.
I have missed the smaller, more overtly comic scripts. Under Russell Davies the stories kept getting bigger and bigger, each season topping the last in menace and threat. The constant insistence of saving the universe ignored the fact that most people, indeed, most villains, don't want to own everything. Sometimes they want a good meal or some money and are not too fussy as to how they go about getting them. Robert Holmes specialized in these small-time baddies and as a change of pace they helped the tone of the series and the complexity of the universe. Steven Moffat's game-changing strategy, including a clearer understanding of what frightens people and greater concentration on character is refreshing in more than one sense of the word.
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