Doctor Who 5.11 – James Corden and Matt Smith
Doctor Who 5.11 – Craig (James Corden) and The Doctor (Matt Smith), ready to save the day with a toothbrush © BBC

The TARDIS is unable to materialize properly in the present day, so, using knowledge from the future, the Doctor becomes a lodger in what seems – yes, seems – to be an ordinary house…

Finally, a story without some kind of monster. The villain of the piece turns out to be a variation of a later Star Trek-like emergency hologram that is slowly – very slowly – working its way through the population of Earth to enable its TARDIS-like time ship to leave. I’m not sure of the minutae of this hologram’s motives or the time ship’s origins, as they were mostly drowned out by the over-loud music and effects, Otherwise, as it happens, the music was rather good, and a further example of the improved incidental work from composer Murray Gold this year.

Craig (James Corden), The Doctor (Matt Smith) and Sophie (Daisy Haggard) © BBC
Craig (James Corden), The Doctor (Matt Smith) and Sophie (Daisy Haggard) © BBC

It’s the sub plot that rounds this episode off, with Craig’s and Sophie’s all-to-real unstated mutual attraction. The Doctor sees this state of affairs pretty quickly, but in the 20th Century series style leads the two to this conclusion rather than telling them right out. This is the Doctor as meddler and manipulator, but ultimately letting people make their own choices.

In this new-approach series it’s a joy the way the viewer is led to ask “..but what about..?” questions, only to have them answered later on. In this episode one instance is Sophie letting herself in, when we know she left her keys behind. Sneaky, and fun…

James Corden plays Craig as a real and credible character. I don’t warm to the antics of this obese person making a virtue of his sad condition in other tv shows, but here that is all forgotten as I believe Craig is real. Likewise, Sophie comes across as a believable potential girl friend.

The low point of the episode is the whatever-it-is comedy problem with the TARDIS. Amy Pond bounces around in the errant time ship, but is far too conveniently still in contact with the Doctor in another time and space; or rather outside of time and space. We have come such a long way from those 20th Century days of the series when the disappearance of the TARDIS was a near catastrophe! A plus is the minimal appearance of Amy.

The Doctor (Matt Smith) about to enter an amusing, if slightly over-long, football match with Craig (James Corden) © BBC
The Doctor (Matt Smith) about to enter an amusing, if slightly over-long, football match with Craig (James Corden) © BBC

So now we come to Matt Smith’s Doctor. In short, he is quite, quite charming. Unlike the brash, know-it-all Doctor of David Tenant, this version is indeed still someone whose knowledge is vast and beyond our understanding, but still susceptible to the minutiae of Society. He can’t, and shouldn’t, know all the “ways to behave” in the vastness of Space and Time. And in more than one occasion in this episode he superbly combines his knowledge of the Universe with his ignorance of the little stuff. I believe this man could be a time traveller in a relatively strange world. I believe Matt Smith’s Doctor – probably the best since Peter Davison’s portrayal. He continues to prove himself in the role, and long may he do so…

[Rating: 4]

Jan Vincent-Rudzki

UK editor of Film Review Online