The premise – and I’ll tell you that rather than the plot because this close to the finale all things are spoilers – is that the Doctor sets out to become James Corden’s Craig’s lodger, due to some drift compensation worth of The Ark in Space, but he’s not the only one staying in the house, and things, as always, take a sinister turn as soon as he arrives.
Despite the fact that this was written originally for the Tenth Doctor, there is no way David Tennant’s persona could have tackled – excuse the pun – this particular incarnation of the story because, well, the Doctor is just so gormless. Matt Smith plays it entirely for laughs in this pseudo-sitcom and does a great job mugging scenes from a likeable and affable Corden, but Roberts has got the Eleventh Doctor completely wrong. A faux-Starman, or pseudo-Mork, the Doctor’s social skills have been degenerated to those of someone who doesn’t know Earth at all. He’s far savier than this, the Doctor, and not knowing about football, social etiquette or the like just comes across as fake and silly. Sticking his finger in a jam pot in Fear Her is one thing, being rude or loud or bossy is another, but this script turns the Doctor into an idiot, whether by intent or design it doesn’t matter, and, despite the humour to be had, really debases the character. Matt is great – his comic timing and relationship with Corden, for once the straight man, is well crafted – but many will feel that there is a lack of dignity in the character, depite his typical heroics.
The football scene, well, I’ve nothing against that at all. If the Fifth can play cricket, then why not football, but it does seem a bit bolted on.
This episode, again, isn’t about the monster, it’s about the people and the ending.
James Corden and Daisy Haggard are engaging and believable as the every-day not-quite couple, but it’s a cliched sitcom device which, despite being done well here, isn’t really Doctor Who. There’s some humour to be had at the Doctor’s fish-out-of-water experience, but I really don’t think the same man who ingratiated himself into the Tylers, or spent three years with UNIT or even sent his granddaughter to Coal Hill School would be such a flounderer. It’s quite awfully misjudged.
Directorily, Catherine Morshead echoes the domesticity of Amy’s Choice but with a much more point-and-shoot approach more noticeable in her other TV work like Heartbeat and The Bill.
This episode may divide fandom – some nice continuity and some very decent revelations may placate many – but it tries the same experiment as Vincent and the Doctor and shows, perhaps unkindly, that Roberts just doesn’t have the writing chops of Curtis. My least favourite episode of the season, I’m afraid.
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