Tuesday, July 13, 2010

As I Was Going Up The Stair

Obvious choice of title this week. It's either that or very obscure Bowie references.

So, The Lodger. Another good episode, I think. It may basically just be 45 minutes of Matt Smith being wacky, but this isn't the worst thing in the world (he's still the most right thing about this series). Can't do that every week, obviously, so it's as well that they work it for all it's worth while they are doing it.

Highlights include the Doctor's antics in the call centre – wish fulfilment for us all, I dare say – and just about the entire five minutes after the Doctor first enters the building. I imagine the business with the football match might grate with some fans, but it doesn't seem out of place to me. After all, Old Who had Peter Davison taking part in – and outrageously dominating – a cricket match, and for much the same reason of getting some light-hearted mileage out of the star's hobbies. (See also Sylvester McCoy and spoons, or Jon Pertwee and motorised vehicles.)

I've mentioned before that there's a tradition in DW of sending up other programmes, so it was only natural that a sitcom episode would turn up sooner or later. It's surprising that it hasn't been done before. (The show nearly included a spoof of George and Mildred in the mid-1960s, but I'm not sure it would have been such a success as this more general parody. Edit: ignore this bit, I'm talking bollocks.) Naturally the Doctor sees straight through the situation, just as the viewers at home can and the characters in the situation can't, and naturally he comments on it right from the start. I'm sure if we looked at this episode more closely, we'd find a lot of clever things going on, but we'd probably need to be a lot more familiar with real sitcoms to spot them all, and I'm probably better off just enjoying the episode as is.

There's a mystery left hanging as to whose time machine that actually was, but for what it's worth I don't think we're ever going to find out the answer. (Maybe next year I'll be proved wrong.) We're given all the information we need for the story to work, and besides, the script didn't labour the point in an arc-related kind of way. Plus I've seen the Internet scuttlebutt and... well, Gareth Roberts has a sense of humour... the intended identity of the missing pilot has been “revealed”, and it's pretty obviously a joke. The loose thread might be picked up at some later point, but it's not that important to the story.

Other points of interest. Last week the Doctor understands the vocalisations of an alien that seems to fall more into the category of “animal” than of “sentient being” – this week we see him getting some very specific information out of a cat. Hmmm. And what the hell was up with that second victim? Had she been out working the streets, or just partying really hard?

There's not much more to say. It's a light episode, after all. A nice complement to the heavier Vincent and the Doctor – they make a fine pair of episodes. I think it's another 9 this week – a lower 9, but certainly not an 8. At last, a Gareth Roberts episode that I like!

Next week, every old monster they could dig up. The omens are iffy.

This seems like a good point at which to check back on those recurring themes I listed a few weeks ago. Some are still going, some aren't, and there are a couple of new ones to add:
- Cheesy Voiceovers -
I'd thought the nursery rhyme voiceovers in The Beast Below were a one-off, but then came the rotten reminiscences of Werther's Original Silurian in Cold Blood. Arguably, we might include the reprise of Rosanna's dialogue at the end of Vampires of Venice, but that might be pushing the point. It'll be interesting to see if this one pops up in the finale. Notable previous instances include Moffat's own Forest of the Dead. A few of RTD's episodes had voiceovers too, but the only one I can think of that didn't turn out to be in-story was Rose's voiceover in Doomsday.
- Old Faces of '63 -
We've had the montage in The Eleventh Hour, the library card with Hartnell's face in Vampires of Venice, and a sudden burst of activity in the last two episodes – the faces of Hartnell and Troughton gratuitously displayed last week, and another montage this week. You can tell they've got a new set of action figures to sell, can't you? The old Doctors – gotta catch 'em all, kids! Surely a safe bet for the finale.
- Memory -
Well, this has practically become the entire basis for the series, what with all the business in Cold Blood about Amy needing to remember Rory. I don't think the last couple of episodes have added anything to this beyond Amy not remembering Rory and the Doctor discreetly worrying about it. Watch this space.
- Fairy Tale -
In The Lodger, the Doctor tells Craig he's a “dream”. Possibly significant. By and large, though, there hasn't been much more on this apart from the vague fairy tale resonance you'd usually expect from DW.
- Your Television is Watching You! -
All quiet on this front since Flesh and Stone, at least as far as I've been able to notice. Just a general Moffatism, then.
- Eyes -
To this list, add the mouth-eyeballs of the pensioner monsters in Amy's Choice, and the major theme of perception in Vincent and the Doctor. (And the Silurians' third eyes – oh no, wait, fumbled that one.) Plenty of malarkey with “perception filters” in this series too, but that just seems to be part of the standard schtick now, along with the psychic paper and “sonicking” everything. It may yet prove significant, it may not.


Darrel Manuel said...

(The show nearly included a spoof of George and Mildred in the mid-1960s, but I'm not sure it would have been such a success as this more general parody.)

Seriously? Doctor Who was going to do a parody of 1970's sitcom George and Mildred in the mid 1960's? Wow! I mean, I know it's a show about time travel, but, still, that's impressive.

I assume that this is a reference to The Celestial Toymaker which was supposed to feature characters named George and Margaret, who were drawn from a Thirties play entitled George And Margaret by Gerald Savory before he withdrew permission?

Or do you know something we don't know?

Well, technically, I should imagine you know lots of things we don't know. In addition, I imagine, I know lots of things you don't know. Pre-productions details of The Celestial Toymaker for one.

Perhaps a more appropriate way of wording it is: Do you you know something relevent that we don't know?

Christopher Pittard said...

But I loves a good obscure Bowie reference, me. And if you're thinking "We passed upon the stairs," then "The Man Who Sold the World" doesn't really count as obscure. Or did you have something from the Outside Outtakes in mind?

John Toon said...

Damn your eyes, Manuel! Can't I get some leeway for my gammy memory? Or do you expect me to "check" my "facts" before posting on my blog?!

Pitsy: I was thinking of a number of lyrics about moving on/getting away/etc from the aptly titled album "Lodger".

Darrel Manuel said...

Or do you expect me to "check" my "facts" before posting on my blog?!


That would be nice.

Though I do notice that you've now gone for more of a Soviet revisionist solution to the problem.

We have always been at war with Eurasia!

(OK, that's not fair. You are still acknowleding your error. But I don't care.)

John Toon said...

I'm pretty sure no Soviet leader ever issued a memo reading "Ignore that last bit, I was talking bollocks". In fact, that's one of the least Soviet things I can imagine.

Darrel Manuel said...

I'm pretty sure no Soviet leader ever issued a memo reading "Ignore that last bit, I was talking bollocks". In fact, that's one of the least Soviet things I can imagine.

But that's only because they wiped all the records of them saying that.

If you see what I mean.

Strabec said...

As I was going up the stair, I came across a spaceship that wasn't there... I actually didn't mind the football match. Reminiscent as you said of the Black Orchid. I thought it might have been a bit of a cash in on the world cup as well as showing of Matt Smith skills (former almost professional player as I am sure you know). I particularly liked the episode because of the absence of Amy. I do like her character but this was a showcase for Matt Smiths Doctor I think.