Wed, 16 June 2010
The TARDIS lands in Colchester rather than its intended destination, the fifth moon of Sinda Callista, and the Doctor finds himself stranded there with Amy left in the TARDIS. Meanwhile, passers-by are seen being lured into a nearby house by various voices seeking help, from the intercom at its front door. The door opens and they ascend the staircase to the first floor, entering the room which lies there; flashing lights are seen and screams heard emanating from the room.
The Doctor turns up at the house and rents a ground floor room from the flat's owner, a shy call centre worker called Craig Owens. Although Craig finds him odd, The Doctor quickly woos him and moves in. The Doctor tries to blend in his new environment with guidance from Amy, with whom he still manages to communicate through an earpiece. He also gets to know Craig who is locked in a platonic relationship with a colleague called Sophie and tries to manoeuvre them into declaring to each other. This backfires and Sophie decides to leave for an exotic destination.
The Doctor has become aware that the first floor room may not be all it appears to be, as a strange damp patch is spreading on the living room ceiling, but thinks using his sonic screwdriver might alert whatever is up there and is instead building a crude apparatus in his room. His experiences on Earth are punctuated by increasingly frequent "time-loop" events, in which his own time is separated from those around him, who are unknowingly involved in repetitive events. This also affect Amy in the TARDIS.
Craig touches the damp patch on his ceiling and is seriously poisoned. The Doctor revives him and goes to replace him at work while he recovers. Craig, however, far from being grateful, becomes jealous of the increasingly popular Doctor, since Sophie in particular has expressed enthusiasm, and tells the Doctor to leave the house, throwing his £3000 deposit back at him. While the two quarrel, Sophie turns up at the house and gets called upstairs by the voice from the first floor room. To save time, the Doctor reveals to Craig who he is and what he is doing... by head-butting him. Craig is overwhelmed by all the information, but the two hear screams upstairs and rush to intervene. Spotting Sophie's set of keys on the door, they realise that she is the one in danger. Amy meanwhile, having studied the house's plans in the TARDIS's database informs them that the building is supposed to be only one storey tall.
The Doctor and Craig enter the "upstairs flat" to save Sophie and discover that someone has been trying to build a TARDIS, which is now trapped on Earth and is disguised by a perception filter. Its pilot is an emergency AI hologram who is able to appear in the form of the various victims it has attracted, as well as Craig's seldom-seen neighbour.
After the Doctor and Craig prevent Sophie from being forced to activate the ship's console, the hologram informs the Doctor that as the ship has crashed and the crew was killed, it has rebuilt itself and attempted to fly away by luring in humans to act as pilots. However the human minds weren't sufficient and burned out, leaving only husks. Recognising the Doctor as a suitable pilot, the ship tries to pull him in. Knowing he cannot pilot the ship safely and he would destroy the entire solar system in the process, the Doctor realises that the ship had only lured in people who wanted to escape or leave somewhere, which is why it hadn't attempted to lure Craig, or Sophie, until the Doctor motivated her to leave. After finally admitting their love for each other, both Craig and Sophie touch the panel's activator, causing the engines to shut down and the ship to implode. The Doctor, Craig and Sophie escape in time to see the top floor of the house turn into a spaceship which then disappears.
Afterwards, the Doctor says his goodbyes to Craig and Sophie, who give him his set of keys to the flat as a parting gift. Back in the TARDIS the Doctor travels back in time a week and instructs Amy to leave the note in the newsagent's that directed him to Craig's flat in the first place. However, whilst rooting in the pocket of his discarded blazer for a pen, Amy discovers the ring Rory had given her before he was erased from time and becomes visibly unsettled. The crack from her bedroom appears once again, this time in the wall behind Craig's fridge, and glows ominously.
On Craig's fridge is a postcard advertising the Van Gogh exhibition at the Musée d'Orsay, which the Doctor, Amy and later Van Gogh himself visit in the previous episode. In the Time Engine, Craig also uses the Eleventh Doctor's catchphrase of "Geronimo!", introduced in The End of Time.
During the head-butting scene when the doctor performs a psychic link, the faces of some of the previous Doctors are seen. These include Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant, Paul McGann, Tom Baker, Jon Pertwee, William Hartnell and Patrick Troughton. Peter Davison, Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy do not appear in the montage. He also explicitly states that he is the eleventh incarnation.
The Doctor playing football is the second time he has shown exceptional skill when playing a sport, entering a team at the last minute. In Black Orchid, the Fifth Doctor plays a cricket match and proves to be equally skilled with both bat and ball.
The Doctor paraphrases the Doctor hologram from Star Trek: Voyager when he states “Please state the nature of your emergency.” (The original line being "Please state the nature of your medical emergency."). He also refers to himself as Captain Troy Hadsome of International Rescue, referencing Thunderbirds.
Gavin Fuller, writing for The Daily Telegraph, assessed the episode as "a delight", "thoroughly enjoyable (and) often amusing". In particular he praised Corden and Haggard for avoiding the usual "cliches of romcom", and Smith's portrayal of The Doctor as almost but not-quite human. He expressed some disappointment that the origin of the lurking time machine was not explained.
Location filming took place in Cardiff in early March 2010. The house in which Craig has his flat is in Westville Road, and the location for the football match was Victoria Park (building on Matt Smith's previous experience as a youth footballer, having played for the youth teams of Northampton Town F.C., Nottingham Forest F.C. and Leicester City F.C.); the play area there had previously been used as a location in "Forest of the Dead".