John Connors reviews the Doctor Who episode `Closing Time`
When people used to go on about the flexible format of Doctor Who they were talking bunkum because it’s only since its return in 2005 that the series has been flexible enough to include episodes like this. Likeable though conceptually slight, `Closing Time` (another pun title) makes you smile and keeps you entertained. It seems to have been designed to appeal to those who like Matt Smith and James Corden messing around which they do with much gusto whether battling a Cybermat or looking after a baby. They are a good team punctuating the episode with some amusing behaviour. Perhaps JC chose the wrong partner for his comedy series of a few years ago.
|Will Matt catch any bargains?|
Course, there is a message to all this larking with both characters learning something from the encounter. Craig’s parental doubts are vanquished as he learns what a good a father he can be (parental issues being something of a running theme this year) while the Doctor realises his responsibilities and picks up a Stetson and some blue envelopes. Thus the season has gone full circle.
The episode works despite the fact that- like its predecessor `The Lodger`- we know that the Doctor knows more about humans than it suggests because he spends so much time here. Whilst the chemistry between the two actors is entertaining the overall impression is that far less attention was afforded the rest of the episode.
The Cyberplot aspect is less rewarding and might have been better with a new enemy. Tempting though it must be in these difficult financial times to re-use old costumes, when it weakens the story why do it? They could have used humanoid aliens if they couldn’t afford the prosthetics for something new. As it is the idea of a bunch of Cybermen skulking under a department store picking off people one by one- and the idea that the police would not have been swarming over the place after disappearances- is one of those woolly premises other series would never be allowed to get away with.
The defeat of the metal meanies is so sugary that even Russell T Davies would surely baulk at using it. It must rank as one of the worst of its kind, up there alongside Azal’s ridiculous demise for sheer silliness. Mind you does it really matter? The Cybes are largely incidental as it turns out and I can’t even remember what the Cybermat was doing there other than providing the opportunity for some physical comedy.
As ever with this sort of episode, you do spot the odd moment that gives you a thrill and here it’s the last couple of minutes in which we are lurched into the finale with considerable velocity. By which time of course we’ve forgotten Craig already. It was fun to see him again but perhaps we shouldn’t make it an annual visit otherwise he will wear out his welcome.