This week's episode sees the Doctor separated from the Tardis. Amy is stuck on-board and has to try to control it while the Doctor works out what is stopping it from fully materialising. The episode was written by Gareth Roberts (previous 'Who' credits include 'The Shakespeare Code' and 'The Unicorn and the Wasp') and stars James Corden and Daisy Haggard (known for her work on the BBC3 sketch show 'Man Stroke Woman')
The episode starts off with the Tardis landing in a small park in Colchester, not the intended destination of 'the fifth moon of Sinda Callista' Just as the Doctor notices this small inconvenience he is thrown from the Tardis and it de-materialises in front of him, taking Amy with it "Amy!". Cut to a day later and we follow a random man/boy as he walks past a normal looking house. A disembodied voice talks through the intercom and gets the man/boy's attention, beckoning him into the house. Inside a figure stands at the top of stairs asking for help, so unsuspecting man/boy heads up the stairs and disappears inside the first floor apartment. Never to be seen again.
Now in another scene we meet the downstairs tenants of the same building. Here lives Craig (Corden) and he needs a new lodger, so he and has put an advert in the paper-shop window. He's just about to sit down for some pizza and TV with his friend Sophie (Haggard), they have a conversation about the ominous dry rot on the ceiling and loud noises coming from the upstairs flat. Sophie then gets a phone call and has to leave, there's awkwardness (love) in the air between these two. Craig can't tell her he wants her to stay etc... all these "staying/going" feelings play out later of course. Then door bell rings, it's the Doctor and Craig mistakenly declares his love to him, thinking it was Sophie who came back for her keys. The Doctor wants to be Craigs new lodger. Credits.
The Doctor pushes a bag full of cash in to Craig's hand and barges his way into the flat. Quickly ingratiating himself on Craig with cheek kissing and cooking skills, the Doctor gets the room and sets about investigating exactly who or what is upstairs. Whatever it is, it's powerful enough to stop the Tardis from materialising. That's very powerful indeed.
Uncertain of what he's dealing with, the Doctor doesn't want to use his Sonic Screwdriver (good), for fear of being detected. So he goes the ET route and gathers random junk to build some kind of analyser thing. This takes a little while so the Doctor embarks on some human pursuits to kill time, such as football (timely). Craig takes him off to the park for a kick about and naturally, the Doctor is good at it.
The episode builds slowly from here. The Doctor and Craig have a few problems, Craig being jealous of the Doctor. Then Craig gets sick because he touches the mould that's emanating from the thing upstairs and the Doctor helps him out. Throughout Amy has turbulence problems in the Tardis, caused by time distortions, which were intern caused by the thing upstairs.
It all culminates in Sophie getting drawn into the upstairs flat by the voice/figure, so the Doctor and Craig rush in and discover that there actually isn't a first floor flat. What's upstairs has a reality distortion field and it's an alien space ship perched on the roof of the building. Apparently the ship's autopilot is searching for a new captain. It's working it's way through random humans in search of a new captain, some one who's "willing to travel". unfortunately it kills it's test subjects in the process. But now the Doctor has arrived, so the computer thinks it's found a suitable replacement. So the ships console starts sucking him into the console, which is bad. The Doctor says Craig can stop it, his love for Sophie means he really really does not want to travel, so can use that 'power' to overload the computer or something. Craig and Sophie use their love and 'not going places' feelings to stop the ship.
That ending kind of worked and was fine on first viewing. But on reflection it didn't make a whole lot of sense. If they are together then they are willing to travel, they are happy to do that together. The ship could have just as well have taken both of them, it had the spare consoles. Also there was a moment earlier in the episode where the Doctor does a 'mind-meld' with Craig, administered with a head-butt. This was to quickly bring him up to speed on the Doctor's back story and the situation at hand. Again that was fine I guess and convenient, but on reflection just seemed a bit silly. I'm sure there was a better way to do it than a head-butt.
On the whole this episode was pretty good, I liked the relationship that developed between the Doctor and Craig. Corden does a good job as the 'normal' guy to the Doctor's 'wacky'. His performance was much more toned down that his Gavin and Stacy work, which is good and he should do it more often. Even though this episode wasn't written by Moffat, Smith had a good enough script to keep this Doctor's comedy stylings firing on all cylinders. That hasn't been the case for many of the non-Moffat penned episodes this series. I also found the relationship between Craig and Sophie believable; so Haggard did a fine job also. There's isn't really anything big to complain about here. On the other hand there isn't anything big to praise, it's certainly a better than average episode. It flows well and is competently written. It just never hits any notable highs. It's a high pitched “Meh” of an episode.
Next week brings the first part of the Pandorica finale. Ooh... wonder what's in it. Probably Daleks or something.