“Closing Time” – Review: Redux

Doctor “No. That’s impossible and also grossly sentimental and over-simplistic. You destroyed them because of the deeply-ingrained hereditary human trait to protect one’s own genes. Which in turn triggered a… a…. Yeah. Love. You blew them up with love.”

Closing Time

I’ve mentioned a couple of love-conquers-all endings that have popped up in recent episodes of Doctor Who where just wishing really, really hard or thinking of someone you love is enough to overcome the deadliest of adversaries. Well, here comes another one and, while it’s by far from being the last one you’ll see in these final episodes of my mini-marathon, it’s one of the most blatant. Don’t get me wrong it’s a pretty good episode, played by and large for laughs, but with a good dose of pathos brought about by the fact that the Doctor knows that he’s nearing his ultimate demise, a fact which has been on the back of viewers’ minds since the opening instalment of Series Six. Additionally, there is an incongruous River Song / Madame Kovarian scene at the end that sets up tomorrow’s Series Finale “The Wedding of River Song”. However, the addition of this scene did diminish the impact of this bromance tale by reducing it to being little more that an appetiser, as we await the main course. The decision to revert to standalone, movie-of-the-week stories for the duration of Series Seven begins to look smarter by the minute

“Closing Time” is, in all but name, “The Lodger” Part 2.  Once again we meet up with Craig and Sophie but this time with their new baby, Alfie, in tow as well. In the middle of a perfectly normal day, with nothing more odd than a flickering light happening, the Doctor, travelling on his own again, turns up on Craig’s doorstep. Unfortunately (because I could watch her all day), Daisy Haggard is reduced to bookending the episode as her character Sophie, leaves Craig in charge of the house and Alfie, while she goes off for a well-earned weekend with friends just before the Time Lord’s arrival. This obviously leads to all kinds of fun as the Doctor and Craig are left holding the baby as a Cyber invasion threatens Colchester. This leads to a lot of the comedy that we given here, ably assisted by a good turn from Lynda Barron as Val from the Perfume Counter. The comedy is off-set at times by the inevitability of what the Doctor must soon face, which probably hinders more than helps the telling of the story, in much the same way as the momentary re-appearance of Amy and Rory jarred against the story rather than adding anything to it.

I’ve heard complaint that this is an episode that further diminishes the Cybermen who are again too easily defeated and who are becoming  less of a threat with each passing appearance. However, I would say that this is to miss the point: it is made quite clear that the vessel in which they crash landed, hit the ground long before Colchester was built there and it was dead until the council’s new cables provided a modicum of power so that they could start their upgrade program. These were weakened, i.e. vulnerable Cybermen all along so I have no problem with their troubles here. I will, of course, gloss over the fact that any kind of seismic survey would surely have noticed something amiss with a humungous great big cavern just a few feet below the foundations of an Essex department store.

Of course, we then arrive at the final scene. After Eleven picks up the envelopes and is given the Stetson all set for his fateful trip to the USA, he is spotted by three kids. We then cut a voiceover of the three of them as adults recalling their encounter with the Doctor. It turns out that somewhere out there, River Song is researching these statements as part of her search for the Doctor too. That, however, is the least of her problems as Madame Kovarian, two members of the Silence and some Soldiers of God turn up to fit River into he spacesuit ready to kill the Doctor. Like I said, this all feels way too incongruous and “Closing Time” suffers from being distracted by too much other stuff.

Highlight: The Laurel and Hardy-esque interplay between Smith and Cordon

Lowlight: An unnecessary cameo from Rory and Amy

Talking Point: Does the arc-heavy stuff get in the way of a good story

Demon’s Run Rating: 13 out of 20

Original BBC1 Broadcast: 24th September 2011

Marathon Status: Feels like I’m nearly there.

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