Monday, 26 September 2011

'Closing Time' Review

'Doctor Who' Series 6 Episode 12 - 'Closing Time'
Written by Gareth Roberts - Directed by Steve Hughes

In Series 5, we were all treated to a wonderfully funny and refreshing episode from Gareth Roberts called 'The Lodger' which starred James Corden alongside our favourite Time Lord. Now we are lucky enough to see the twosome join up again in Series 6's penultimate episode, 'Closing Time', but after such a strong streak of great episodes in the second half of this series, will this episode join the list of hits, or fizzle out rather than bang?

Plot Outline:
It's 200 years later and tomorrow The Doctor will face his inevitable fate so he decides to visit his old friend Craig. After noticing strange disappearance stories in the local paper, the pair investigate along with Craig's young son Alfie. Soon it's revealed the Cybermen are back, and they won't leave quietly.

 After some strong emotional heft from the last two episodes, 'Closing Time' offered some of that great 'Who' wit we all cherish. Roberts' script is pin-pointed and smothered in brilliant humour making Smith and Corden a timeless double-act; a time-travelling Morecambe and Wise if you will. At points, one's sides were splitting at the great comedy that ensued throughout the episode and it was a great feeling with knowing what is round the corner for the Gallifreyan. Co-workers thinking the pair were a couple and The Doctor speaking 'baby' to Alfie (or has he wonderfully calls 'Stormaggedon') were amongst the comedic highlights.

 Much like in 'The Lodger', Roberts' story side-swipes Amy and Rory leaving The Doctor and Craig as the single driving forces. In the duo's previous outing, Amy was stuck in the TARDIS in a different time stream whilst here she happens to be famous and has her own fragrance on sale at the shop The Doctor decides to get a job in. There is a beautiful moment where The Doctor sees Amy's face on an advertisement billboard and Hughes camera angle makes it look like she's still watching over her Raggedy man. The product's strap-line is also "For girls who are tired of waiting" which is rather cool in my books.

 But aside from all the laughs and the usual companion alienation, 'Closing Time' offered the Eleventh Doctor his first proper Cyberman story. Although the robots have appeared in episodes with him ('The Pandorica Opens', 'A Good Man Goes to War' ect.), there hasn't been a good old fashioned tale with my favourite villains as the 'monster of the week' since Tennant's Tenth Doc. 

 Here the Cybermen are 'building' underneath a large department store and taking employees and stripping them of the emotions as they put them in that infamous armour; all in a normal day's work for the cyborgs. However, in this episode audiences are presented by Cybermats - small rodent-like robots which can bite and can lead victims to the Cybermen. The Doctor has faced these pests in the past, in fact they first appeared alongside the Second Doctor in 'The Tomb of the Cybermen' but these up-to-date Cybermats look sleek and creepy. It was great to see Roberts bring back a past, and perhaps forgotten element of the 'Who' world.

 The performances were equally brilliant - as previously mentioned, Smith and Corden have such electric chemistry together; they feel like they have been partners and best of friends for years even though they have only met twice. The thing that made 'The Lodger' so special was trying to see The Doctor adapt to 'normal' human life - seeing a man so intelligent having trouble brushing his teeth and showering was timeless, and a similar format applies here. The Doctor's job in a toy department was quite frankly amazing and both leads were tremendous here.

So in answer to my earlier question, 'Closing Time' snuggles in nicely to the winning streak of Series 6 and what really bumped up tonight's episode was that ending. River, The Silence, The Diary, The Impossible Astronaut, THAT CREEPY SONG. If those two minutes have not wetted your appetite dramatically for 'The Wedding of River Song' then nothing will, and I for one cannot wait to RSVP my invitation...

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