As the Doctor prepares for his inevitable death at Lake Silencio, he visits a former roommate and learns that the Cybermen are responsible for a series of disappearances at a local department store and resolves to investigate.
Doctor Who airs in the UK Saturday nights at 7:00PM on BBC ONE.
Doctor Who airs in the US Saturday nights at 9:00PM on BBC AMERICA.
Writer: Gareth Roberts
Director: Steve Hughes
I’m not going to have nearly as much to say about “Closing Time” as I have about the last few episodes of Doctor Who, because frankly, it’s a fairly thin story that doesn’t even attempt the suspenseful horror of “Night Terrors”, the character work of “The Girl Who Waited”, or the thematic explorations of “The God Complex”.
Instead, it’s a knockabout comedy episode that serves as a sequel of sorts to last season’s “The Lodger”, reuniting the Doctor with Craig Owens–who has recently become a father for the first time–and plunging the pair into a slightly silly adventure involving Cybermen, Cybermats, and a department store.
The first half of the episode plays out like a Carry On movie, wringing as much comedy as possible out of the mistaken impression that The Doctor and Craig are a gay couple and treating the Cybermen and their evil plot with more ridicule than reverence.
This isn’t helped once the story kicks into gear by the villains’ main threat manifesting itself as a cheap-looking metallic rat-creature that never manages to look like anything other than the lifeless prop that it is.
And once we get to the genuine drama at the end of the episode–in a scene which initially looks as though it might take the story in a much darker direction than expected–the story pulls out a lame “power of love” resolution that’s so cheesy that the characters themselves find time to make fun of it.
All that said, there’s still a fair amount to enjoy here. A couple of interesting pieces of character development include advancing Amy and Rory to quite a different place in their lives, as well as implying that The Doctor has spent 200 years traipsing around time between the end of “The God Complex” and the beginning of this episode, meaning that he’s just a day away from his death (as seen at the start of this season).
This gives Matt Smith the chance to add a little depth to The Doctor’s characterisation, occasionally stepping outside of his childlike mode to ruminate on his own mortality and his importance to the people of Earth.
But I think it’s the lighter stuff that I’ll remember from this episode, as silly as it is, such as The Doctor’s interactions with Craig’s baby son (which include revealing the boy’s chosen name) or his chaotic attempt to work as a shop assistant in the toy department. And the comedic chemistry between The Doctor and Craig is pretty great, showing obvious signs of their off-screen friendship as seen in the making-of show Doctor Who Confidential (which, this week, is arguably better than the main show itself).
So although it might be silly and disposable, “Closing Time” actually works pretty wel a palate-cleanser before the season finale, which looks to be a big mess of River-Songy timey-wimey Silence-happy craziness based on this episode’s coda.
Just don’t expect it to have the depth or complexity of the last few episodes.
A journalist and sometime comics reviewer, Dave Wallace was raised on a traditional European diet of Beano comics, Asterix collections and Tintin books before growing up and discovering that sequential art could — occasionally — be even better than that. He has an unashamed soft spot for time-travel stories, Spider-Man, and anything by Alan Moore or Grant Morrison, and has been known to spend far too much on luxurious hardcover editions of his favorite books when it’s something he really likes. Maybe one day he’ll get around to writing down his own stories that have been knocking around his head for a while now.