Both of these are fairly thin episodes with really lovely moments. Every scene with Vincent is a gem, and Bill Nighy’s speech at the end is a work of art in itself. This is also the first – the only? – episode I can think of in which the Doctor actually tries to comfort his companion’s hurt feelings. Mostly he doesn’t have the patience for feelings. This may be why younger/newer fans find Twelve so jarring; Eleven was such a nice guy by comparison.
James Corden is wonderful in his episode, but I find his humiliation through the first half – while important to the story – hard to stomach. Just not my thing. And the story itself is weak. Still, Craig and Sophie are sweet and it’s nice to see that whole thing get off the ground. And the missing second floor is cool.
‘Vincent’ is sort of a take on the classic historical, where the Doctor goes to meet someone cool from the past and finds something weird – in this case, a monster. Overall it works pretty well, though obviously the point of the story is Vincent. And once again, as with Madame de Pompadour in particular, and probably others I can’t think of, the story sticks to the character’s personal truth as much as possible.
‘The Lodger’ is kind of a weird pointless episode. Not sure what they were going for here, except maybe to demonstrate that the Doctor is good at everything and to give James Corden something fun to do. If it wasn’t for Corden’s fabulousness – and the lovely Daisy Haggard – the whole thing would probably be a write-off.
Only two left in the season, and the DVD is due back Monday – will I finish it, or will I have to wait?
By the way, in case anyone’s interested in the non-existent numbering controversy, there’s one major (and one minor) reference in ‘The Lodger.’ Eleven shares his background with Craig via headbutt, then indicating his face he says ‘Eleventh.’ Clearly in his mind his is the eleventh incarnation of the Doctor. Of course anyone can take or leave anything they like – I prefer to leave Clara’s interaction with One, for example – but personally I take this as a pretty firm indication that to the Doctor at least, the War Doctor is not the Doctor at all.