Sunday, September 25, 2011

My Review of Doctor Who's 6x12: "Closing Time"

Written by Gareth Roberts
Directed by Steve Hughes

Craig: “You always win. You always survive.”
The Doctor: “Those were the days.”

Is it me or has there been a huge pile of déjà vu with this episode? I mean the way the Doctor and Craig (minus the not-snog moment) were with each other in this one reminded me once too often of the way a previous incarnation and Wilfred were during “The End Of Time”. That isn’t actually a bad thing by the way.

I was surprised that Craig was brought back as part of the Doctor’s farewell tour but really pleased by it as well. The character was endearing during “The Lodger” and with a great rapport between Matt Smith and James Corden, this was an excellent reunion story for the pair of them.

It made sense that Craig’s life had taken several changes when the Doctor met him again. This time around, he had moved into a house with Sophie and they had a baby boy named Alfie and with Sophie gone for the weekend, it was nice to see another side to Craig as well in this episode.

His struggling with fatherhood seemed better explored here than in “Night Terrors” with Alex and George and it was amusing how the Doctor’s alleged ability (can he really do it or is he just screwing with Craig?) was used in this episode. Maybe the Doctor has a new vocation in life if he can manage to survive his impending demise first that is.

Of course, much as I wished that the Doctor had been just visiting solely to see Craig; it did seem that once again he was drawn to Colchester because of alien activities. Last time around saw people disappearing and this time around, the same also happened, though this time there was no mystery ship attached to a house.

Instead we got the return of both the Cybermen and the Cybermats and wasn’t this an interesting outing for them? Well, personally I think the Cybermats fared better than their masters in this one. At least the Cybermat got to show some menace on screen and with those teeth, both the Doctor and Craig should count themselves lucky they didn’t get by the thing for real.

Plus the Cybermat was excellent at playing clever too. It got the Doctor into thinking it had been slowed down long enough to try and attack again and it was also causing all the electrical problems within Colchester as well. You know it’s worrying when the minions are actually more successful than the main monsters themselves.

Ah, the Cybermen. They always seem to be overshadowed and their latest scheme here felt more like an afterthought than anything else. A ship of six Cybermen trapped within Sanderson And Grainger and a few conversions here and there, including one on Craig, except this time around, a conversion doesn’t spell the end.

I wasn’t surprised that the ‘power of love’ (i.e. Craig’s response to Alfie’s distress cries) ended up being the very thing that stopped the Cybermen from successfully converting Craig and I certainly wasn’t shocked that it shot through their emotional inhibitors and destroyed them once again. Poor Cybermen – maybe one day, they get another story where they’re not so easily defeated.

At the same time though, this story was never about the Cybermen, they were only ever an obstacle to overcome – it was about the Doctor’s final days and his friendship with Craig. Even with his own life and Alfie’s in danger, Craig never blamed the Doctor for what happened. I found that to be an amazing gesture on Craig’s part.

Heck, the Doctor even rewarded that by getting Craig to come out of his shell as a parent and even by fixing the place up before Sophie returned home. The best part though was connecting the story to the events of the season opener. The Doctor got both his Stetson and his stationary from Craig.

As for the last scene with the three kids – I found that scene really powerful. The Doctor seemed to be embracing his death, which is an obvious contrast to his tenth incarnation but at the same time, there’s no way the Doctor is going to remain dead. Something in next week’s episode is going to ensure that the events with the astronaut in Lake Silencio is not going to be his last.

Speaking of the astronaut – of course it was going to be River but I always assumed it would be the pre-Mels version rather than her grown up self. If I didn’t hate Madame Kovarian and the Silence beforehand, I sure as hell do now. Them along with the Clerics forcing River (on the day she became a doctor herself) into the astronaut suit and leaving her underwater at Silencio actually got to me scene wise.

It’s not like we haven’t seen River vulnerable before but something about this scene just got to me more than it should’ve done. I think it’s because River had already believed that she saved the Doctor’s life and Kovarian’s malice ensured that once again, River was put in the awkward position of having to be the one to kill her love.

I really hope in the last episode we actually find out why Kovarian has it in for the Doctor. What exactly did he do to both her and the Silence that they would go to these lengths to ensure that he died? It’s definitely something that as a viewer, I need to know just as much as any of the other important bits about River that we still don’t know already.

Last but not least – I loved the brief appearance from Amy and Rory in this one. I’m not bothered that they were in Colchester without reason and I certainly have no qualm with Amy becoming a perfume model and being asked for an autograph, it was just nice to see them, even if the scene did last less than a minute.

Also in “Closing Time”

Gareth Roberts mentioned in DWM that he originally intended to call the episode “Three Cybermen And A Baby”.

Craig: “I need something. I’m rubbish at this.”
The Doctor: “At what?”
Craig: “Being a dad.”

Sophie was only in two scenes for this episode because Daisy Haggard was in a play at the time of filming it.

Craig (to the Doctor): “You’re here for a reason, aren’t you? You’ve noticed something and you’re investigating and because it’s you, it’s gonna be dangerous and alien.”

Craig: “Doctor, are you gonna kiss me?”
The Doctor: “Yes, Craig, yes I am. Would you like that? Bit out of practice but I’ve had some wonderful feedback.”

Lynda Baron made her third contribution to the series (after “The Gunfighters” and “Enlightenment”) by playing Val in this one. I loved that no-one corrected her when she mistook the Doctor and Craig for a couple.

Craig: “Can you put that on quiet?”
The Doctor: “No, it’s a sonic screwdriver. Sonic equals sound.”

The Doctor (to Alfie): “Stop crying, you’ve got a lot to look forward, you know. A normal human life on Earth.”

Yappy the robot-dog was an obvious allusion to K9 and Alfie liked to be called Stormageddon and he called everyone who wasn’t Sophie “not mum” and “peasants”.

The Doctor: “Do you still feel safe with me, Craig?”
Craig: “Can’t help who your mates are.”

Cybermen (to Craig): “Your designation is Cyber-Controller, you will lead us. We will conquer this world.”

Amy’s perfume was called Petrichor and had the tagline of “for the girl who’s tired of waiting”.

Cybermen: “What is happening?”
The Doctor: “What’s happening you metal moron – a baby is crying and you better watch out because guess what? Daddy is coming home.”

The Doctor (to the TARDIS): “Well, then old girl. One last trip, eh?”

I’d like to say that this is the first episode not written by Steven Moffat to feature River but I have a suspicion that he might have written the last scene of this episode. Kovarian also delivered a much more malevolent version of that nursery rhyme from “Night Terrors” as well.

River: “It’s only a story.”
Madame Kovarian: “And this is where it begins. You never really escaped us, Melody Pond. We were always coming for you.”
River: “How do you know who I am?”
Madame Kovarian: “I made you what you are – the woman who kills the Doctor.”

Chronology: It’s been two hundred years for the Doctor since “The God Complex” but how long has it been for Amy, Rory, River and Craig since they’ve last seen him?

Well, that was certainly an entertaining episode. “Closing Time” probably could’ve put the Cybermen to better use but I liked the return of the Cybermats, every scene between the Doctor and Craig sparkled, Amy/Rory’s brief appearances were nice and the River/Kovarian bit at the end was a good way of leading into next week’s finale.

Rating: 9 out of 10

4 comments:

noybusiness said...

"didn’t get by the thing for real"

Didn't get what by the thing for real?

He could do the thing, he did it to Craig as well as Alfie, remember?

Did you notice Amy's perfume was called Petrichor, from "The Doctor's Wife"?

noybusiness said...

I want to burn away the lower half of Madame Kovarian's body. Something tells me she'd be annoyingly calm if I just shot her.

shawnlunn2002 said...

Kovarian should get her comeuppance hopefully this week.

I noticed about Amy's perfume as well, I mentioned it in the second half of the review. Good tagline she had for it too.

noybusiness said...

Sorry, I missed that.

There was a newspaper that said April 19. So when the Doctor said his death was tomorrow (two days after that paper was shown), he was being literal. So he dropped Amy and Rory off such that they existed twice-over on April 22. Not his usual behavior, but it does explain why a post-Doctor Amy and Rory were the ones to experience the aborted timeline on April 22 and not the ones on the beach.