Doctor Who 5.11 – The Lodger

Each season of the new “Doctor Who” has one or two “experimental” episodes – stories that just don’t feel like anything that’s come before. Thus far, most – if not all – of these stories have been successes. “Boom Town,” “Love & Monsters,” “Blink,” “Turn Left,” and “Midnight” have arguably been highlights in each of their seasons. It’s noteworthy that all but one of those was written by Russell T. Davies (and of course the one that wasn’t, “Blink,” was written by Steven Moffat). Davies seemed to be giving himself chances to think outside the [police?] box, and do something radical and different with the series on each occasion. I’m still not sure whether “Amy’s Choice” (which, like this one, was also directed by Catherine Moreshead) should be lumped into this group, but surely “The Lodger” is oddball enough to add to the list. So how does it stack up?

Well, it’s worth pondering why the story was made in the first place. For starters, it was very likely a chance to save some money. Aside from the episode’s climax, most of this tale is just people involved in seemingly everyday situations. But I think maybe there was more to it than just saving cash. Aside from “Boom Town,” the aforementioned stories were all designed to give the lead actors breaks. Given that this was the inaugural season of a new era for the show, it probably would have been a risky move to write the Doctor and Amy out for the bulk of a story, so instead what “The Lodger” does is remove Karen Gillan for most of the episode, while allowing Matt Smith the chance to chill out and just banter with James Corden (“Gavin & Stacey”) for an hour. Oh, and he also gets to play football, but since Smith has a history with the game, that probably wasn’t too taxing for him – the guy looks like he had a blast in that scene. Yes, for those of you who don’t know, Matt Smith once upon a time had dreams of being footballer, but a back injury led to him taking up acting instead.

Unlike Davies however, Moffat handed the oddball story over to Gareth Roberts, who has a long and winding history with “Doctor Who.” He’s one of “those” writers who’s been tied to it in one form or another for seemingly forever. I’m not familiar with the prose work he’s done over the years, so I can only really judge him on the scripts he’s written for the series, most of which haven’t been any great shakes. I quite liked “The Shakespeare Code” back when it was broadcast, but time hasn’t been too kind to my opinion of it. The following year he did “The Unicorn and The Wasp,” which I hated then, and hate only slightly less now. A recent viewing of it on BBC America led me to take it less seriously than I did a couple years ago, and hence, I was able to laugh at it a little more. The ending and the idea behind it is still pants though.

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TCA Tour, Day 2: “Doctor Who”

There are no two ways about it: it’s a great time to be a fan of the “Who”-niverse. Not only did the awesome “Torchwood: Children of Earth” miniseries blow away BBC America ratings records, thereby almost certainly insuring that we will see more of Captain Jack and company in the future, but we’ve just been witness to another great “Doctor Who” saga (“Planet of the Dead”) and will have two more coming up in the next few months, with “The Waters of Mars” premiering in the fall and the inevitable Christmas episode arriving…well, you know, somewhere around Christmas, probably. In fact, there’s really only one thing to be sad about: the imminent departure of The Tenth Doctor, otherwise known as David Tennant.

Oh, dear, I’m already starting to get sad about it. Let’s switch gears, then, and talk about how Tennant came to be The Doctor in the first place.

“I first met David when we did ‘Casanova’ together for the BBC,” said “Who” reinvigorator Russell T. Davies. “I remember doing rehearsals, and we used to make ‘Doctor Who’ jokes, which amused us. So he was already there in a way. When you work with these great actors, when you find a great actor, you just cling to them. They’re just so limitless and inspiring. So when it came to putting it together and writing it, we talked surprisingly little about it, really, didn’t we?”

“You just wrote it,” confirmed Tennant. “That was it, really. I just got the script and did it.”

So what was Tennant doing that was different from the other actors who were under consideration?

“He’s a great kisser,” replied Davies, before getting serious. “Actually, I’ll tell you what: it was the ‘Casanova’ audition, because that’s when I sort of thought, ‘Oh, my lord, that’s someone I want to spend many years working with.’ He had auditioned for ‘Casanova,’ and, you know, playing the world’s greatest lover, everyone came in and gave us very heavy and very serious would-be romantic portrayals. And David could just dance over dialogue like…”

At this point, Davies turned and addressed David directly. “I think you’re one of the few actors who understands that dialogue is sort of irrelevant,” he said. “You throw it away and you rattle across it with real speed, and it’s all going on underneath. You get the humor and the comedy, and there’s not many actors who do that. They take it very seriously. And I like stuff on the lighter end, no matter how dark the actual stuff is. It has that throw-away quality to it, and I love that.”

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Torchwood – Children of Earth (and a new companion for the Doctor!)

It’s been two days of steady announcements for fans of both “Doctor Who” and “Torchwood.” Yesterday came the news that instead of Sci Fi airing the latest episodes of “Who,” BBC America would instead be premiering the final five David Tennant adventures beginning in June with “The Next Doctor,” and then July will see the premiere of “Planet of the Dead.” Granted, it’s a shame that BBC America isn’t in as many homes as Sci Fi, but isn’t BBCA really the proper place for the Doctor?

This morning the BBC issued a press release naming the newest companion to travel with the Time Lord. Her name is Karen Gillan, and she’s Scottish and all of 21 years old. She’ll be time travelling with new Doctor Matt Smith when Season Five gets under way in 2010.

Incoming head honcho Steven Moffat had this to say about Gillan: “We saw some amazing actresses for this part, but when Karen came through the door the game was up. Funny, and clever, and gorgeous, and sexy. Or Scottish, which is the quick way of saying it. A generation of little girls will want to be her. And a generation of little boys will want them to be her too.”

And last, but certainly not least, the latest trailer – clocking in at just over 2 minutes – for “Torchwood: Children of Earth” has been unveiled. It’s still so difficult to tell anything about this miniseries. Will it rock, or will it just roll? Will the ante be upped, or will it flail around on the ground? Chances are this thing’s going to be a solid five hours of entertainment, based simply on the quality of the first two seasons, and yet the whole “kid” thing seems like a huge gamble for this series. Fingers crossed! Take a gander for yourself:

  

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