Doctor Who review: Closing Time

by Gerard McGarry
Doctor Who: James Corden being captured by Cybermen

Our records show you haven't paid your TV licence, sir...

If this were an episode of Friends, it would be called “The One With The Cybermen And James Corden“. Yes, tonight’s episode of Doctor Who saw The Doctor reunited with his old buddy Craig, who he lodged with briefly 200 years earlier. In his own timeline.

Yeah, not stopping to say goodbye to longer-established companions like Martha Jones or Mickey or Captain Jack, The good Doctor pops in on Craig and his new baby, Stormageddon *cough* Alfie. And, as luck would have it, the local council have woken up a couple of slumbering Cybermen who’ve decided to do a few “upgrades” to pass the time.

The chemistry between The Doctor and Craig is wonderful as ever. Writer Gareth Roberts brings out the brilliant social awkwardness of The Doctor trying social niceties with Craig and luvvie-kissing everyone he meets. And discovering that The Doctor “speaks baby” gives us some brilliant comedy moments. Likewise the fact that he can silence any lifeform with an under-developed brain with a simple “Shhh”!

Sadly, the Cyberman plot is completely toothless. Like a few of the recent episodes, the ‘adventure’ is playing second fiddle to the character study taking place between the lead characters. And in that regard, Closing Time was a lightweight episode of Doctor Who, and a wasted opportunity in bringing Corden back. However, Closing Time did have the dark cloud of The Doctor’s impending death lending a depth of emotion to his every interaction with Craig.

Here are a few random thoughts on tonight’s episode of Doctor Who:

  1. We laughed every time The Doctor called the baby Stormageddon. His every interaction with the child was brilliant, and of course the baby’s deadpan expressions helped out enormously!
  2. We loved how The Doctor had to implore Craig to believe in him after breaking Amy’s heart last week by telling her he couldn’t always save her. Some people might see that as a massive inconsistency though.
  3. But we thought Gareth Roberts missed a comedy moment by making it impossible for the Cyber-suit to fit across Corden’s pot belly. That would have been comedy gold right there.
  4. Amy makes a brief appearance, but she’s become a model and the face of a perfume “for the girl who’s tired of waiting”…
  5. Er…so those weren’t the Cybus Industries Cybermen, they must’ve been the original type from Mondas?
  6. Some lovely moments of continuity with the series premiere – when the Time Lord borrows some notepaper and envelopes from Craig’s kitchen in a familiar TARDIS blue.
  7. And of course, the emotional overtones between Craig and The Doctor were wonderful. What’s better is that The Doctor seems to believe that his death is inevitable. 200 years to think of a way to avoid his fate, and he’s drawing a blank? That doesn’t bode well for next week, chums!

And in a shock revelation that we were right all along, the final scene shows River Song being trapped in a spacesuit and made to meet The Doctor in Lake Silencio. Haha! We knew it was her all along!

Still, the series finale looks set to be a mind-bending bit of television. With Steven Moffat back in the writer’s chair, we’re hoping for big answers, and prepared for the next set of crazy plot developments that will lead us to the next season.

On a final note, though, I’m hoping that the quality of the episodes improves in series 7. There have been too many filler episodes that have left me cold, and Closing Time disappointed by having a weak adventure story at its core. Once again, the Cybermen are a toothless threat. Defeated by love? Good lord…