Let me quickly dispel any doubts about the tone of this review. I would sooner eat my own feces than watch The Lodger again anytime soon. I have watched it twice, because I refuse to review a Doctor Who story on the strength of first impressions, and you can be sure the second helping was even worse. After what has been an incredibly excellent fifth season (for all its faults, Victory of the Daleks was a fun ride and largely successful introductory vehicle to the rebooted race), it is painful to see Matt Smith saddled with drivel like this, and on top of that I find myself trying hard to forget that Gareth Roberts scripted a great story like The Shakespeare Code.
Apologists might argue that it seems worse than it is sandwiched in between Vincent and the Doctor and the much-anticipated season finale. But frankly The Lodger is so bad that placing it in between any other stories, no matter how dire -- even lemons like Boom Town and Fear Her -- would amount to little more than trying to polish a turd. Even if I could excuse the paucity of the plot, the fact remains that it is intensely uninteresting. It's worse than pedestrian and plays like a garden variety sitcom, with the monster at the top of the stairs a throwaway, and it's never clear why the Doctor can't go up the stairs right away to deal with the problem other than to satisfy the demands of an empty script. The direction is barely adequate, the design uninspiring; the cast struggle bravely to deliver what is essentially a trivial love story. The set up of the staircase is promisingly sinister, but it delivers manure.
The best thing about the episode is the sight of Matt Smith naked from the waist up. We caught a hint of his sensuous form in The Eleventh Hour when he traded in his "Raggedy Doctor" clothes for the new look, but here we are treated to a much grander spectacle in the context of sharing a flat with someone else, showering, and getting all touchy-feely with Craig. It's quite exciting and warmed me in my nether regions, and even had me wishing Doctor Who was an adult show. If we're going to be subject to soap-sitcom episodes, more skin like this would be appreciated. And if my commentary in this paragraph is a bit off-putting, the story deserves nothing more. The Pandorica can't open soon enough.
Rating: 1 star out of 5.