Written by Gareth Roberts, directed by Steve Hughes, 2011
Being a fan of The Lodger, I was very much hoping this’d make a hat-trick of high-quality consecutive episodes, yet in the end it erred somewhat too much on the side of mundanity. Not quite as funny or likeable as the previous Colchester-set offering, the general tone is undoubtedly congenial, but let down by the marginalised and somewhat ineffectual Cybermen. Seriously: impassive robot men with the strength of ten who make people like themselves – this stuff should write itself, yet the Cybermen have nary a handful of effective stories under their shiny belts (for my money, Tomb and The Invasion, and, er…?), and, while it kind of worked in The Lodger, the love-conquers-all ending is pretty weak; conversion is the thing that should give the Cybermen a frisson of abjection, so to have the process overcome by fatherly affection is just… weak. Having said that, it’s characteristically snappy and fun, and I think will no doubt repay multiple viewing, but seems a little bit nothingy at this point in the season.
I know nothing about the finale beyond having seen the RT cover [at the time of originally writing this], so I know Amy and Rory are on hiatus here rather than gone for good already – and let’s face it, they were never going to be written out at the end of an inter-season story – however, I quite like the disruption of the norms of companions’ coming and going by having them not appear. Craig makes a surprisingly good surrogate comp, though it makes me realise, given the Tenth Doctor’s multiple pairings (…slag), how much I’d like to see Eleven in the context of someone new.
As for the coda… Well, let’s leave that until after The Wedding of River Song…though it was nice to see Alex Kingston get to do some Actual Acting for once, as opposed to her usual vamping.