Three and a Half Cybermen
The Lodger 2 introduces us to the cutest character seen on the programme since Zoe Herriot. He’s adorable while lying quietly in Craig’s upstairs room, and practically irresistible when held tightly by the new Dad. Even the Doctor carries him about and talks to him. Yes, ‘Bitey’ the Cybermat is an absolute delight, no doubt greeted all over the country by cries of “I want one!” when he first appears.
There’s a baby in this as well (Doctor Who does babies now, babies are cool?) and Stormageddon ultimately saves the day by doing what babies do best, loudly and persistently. It’s endearing to see that the eleventh Doctor, utterly clueless around women (unlike his sleazy predecessor) is completely at home with babies. He even speaks the language, although understanding cats in The Lodger 1 was much more useful.
Unfortunately the Cybermen continue to be comedy relief in this series, brought to a standstill earlier by Rory in a Roman costume and now forced to chase the Doctor and his chum Craig round and round a table like the Mummy in an Abbot and Costello film. Well, not quite, but you get the picture. A note to the Production team, please don’t use a first tier monster for the ‘comedy’ episode again, it’s just damaging and disrespectful. Get the Hoix out, instead.
Having said this, however, I have to confess to a moment of real shock as the Cyber face-plate closed over the helpless Craig’s features. I really did believe that this story might have come with a whopping great sting in the tail. It does, but that wasn’t it. Sad also, to establish the Doctor’s incompatibility with cybernisation, thus contradicting probably the best Cyberman story of all time – Big Finish’s Spare Parts.
It’s lovely to see Lynda Barron back, and she has some great scenes with Matt Smith. Something about the department store setting seemed to recall the two previous Doctor’s stories – contemporary Earth is now no longer represented by the hamlet of Leadworth, but an altogether more urban setting. Smith is of course wonderful, especially when facing the inevitable begins to weigh more heavily upon him. Craig handing him the Stetson is this Doctor’s Metebelis crystal, and his brief moment with the children before leaving is a touching, bitter-sweet moment. Matt Smith does ‘face acting’ like no other Doctor can, which is a little surprising when you consider how youthful and relatively unlined his features are.
The sting I referred to does tend to rather overshadow the episode it closes. Series Six-wise, all the pieces now appear to be in place for the finale, although the next time trailer seems to bring many more to the board – including another first tier monster whom I sorely hope gets a better deal than the poor Cybermen!