Doctor Who: Series 6, Episode 12- Closing Time

Originally written for TV Pixie

200 years have passed for the Doctor since the events of last week’s ‘The God Complex’, which saw Rory and Amy so abruptly written out. No emotionally devastating farewell scene for them: instead they get a nice new car and a house, as if travelling with the Doctor is some kind of game show they’ve just won.

In the intervening 200 years, the Doc seems to have made absolutely no new friends whatsoever. At least, that’s the only conceivable explanation as to why he’s decided to spend his last night in the Universe in Colchester with Craig ‘James Corden’ Owens and a squalling baby named Stormageddon: Dark Lord of All (according to him). Or Alfie (according to his parents).

We first discovered the Doctor could ‘speak baby’ when he was chatting away to Melody Pond in A Good Man Goes To War. They should really explore the concept further: possibly by having the Doc uncover a Stewie from Family Guy-style psychobaby bent on world domination. As baddies go, that’d make an interesting change from Cybermen: that creepy ‘Baby MD’ from the Double Velvet adverts could take the lead role.

Craig is having a terrible time adjusting to parenthood so he’s very pleased to see the Doctor: even more so when he realises he can shut little ‘Stormy’ up with just a single ‘shhh’. If only he knew the Doc’s terrible track record with babies: Craig’ll be lucky if Alfie doesn’t end up kidnapped by an eyepatch wearing space-harridan and trained up to be a time travelling assassin.

Still, better than growing up in Colchester.

It’s all terribly domestic until the appearance of the Cybermen ramps up the drama a bit, but they’re underused and come across as strangely emasculated, lurking around in women’s changing rooms in a city centre department store like a herd of metallic Gok Wans.

Their minions – the ‘Cybermats’- are slightly more threatening, which isn’t saying much given they’re effectively a computer mouse with a set of false teeth glued on. The Cybermats are apparently siphoning off electricity from the shop to restore a crashed Cybership buried deep below ground. Sorry, but wouldn’t Debenhams have noticed something was up when they got their monthly electricity bill for five and a half million pounds?

It’s all rather silly and built on very little: the plot equivalent of the foam on a cappuccino without the coffee. The whole thing seemed to be an excuse to put the Doctor in a ‘normal’ setting – in this case, a shop – and watch the hilarious results. Unfortunately unlike last year’s The Lodger, which saw Mr Who fail to grasp the basic concept of working in a call centre, there wasn’t much payoff. It turns out he’s actually a very good shop assistant: striking up friendships with his colleagues, playing with kids and generally not messing anything up. It’s more fly on the wall BBC 4 documentary than Are You Being Served.

Without much in the way of plot, the episode has to fall back on the interplay between the Doctor and Craig to sustain it. Luckily for us, both Matt Smith and James Corden played a blinder, filling the many gaps with amusing asides and genuinely witty, warm moments. The misassumption that he and Craig were gay dads taking their baby shopping should have been a bit tired, but instead it was a rather charming and funny take on the whole companion idea.

The Amy and Rory cameo was another surprising – and poignant – touch. The Doctor is captivated when he sees them: so much so that he almost forgets to hide behind a rack of dainty ladythings. They’re clearly a few years into their post-Doctor life and Amy’s now a model… hmm. Not a very impressive fate for someone who’s been used to travelling the Universe riding around on Space Whales, hanging out with Van Gogh and generally having a jolly surreal time of it all. Standing around pouting while someone takes a photo isn’t terribly challenging in comparison.

Moments like that, and the interplay between Craig and the Doctor (not to mention the slightly snide commentary from baby Stormageddon) are almost enough to redeem this mixed bag of an episode. But then came the terrible, schmaltzy ending: so bad that it brought the rest down with it.

The idea that Craig defeated the Cyberman conversion process with ‘love’ (i.e. his fatherly bond with Alfie) is both face-punchingly simplistic and painfully hackneyed. Surely by now the Cyberpeople must have released a system patch that solves the human emotion problem. If not, they’ve clearly not been hitting the ‘report error’ button often enough.

Closing Time was by no means an unpleasant way to spend 45 minutes, but on the whole it felt like a bit of filler: surprising given the sheer volume of dangling plot threads left to tidy up by the end of the series finale next week. We got a bit of a head start at the end: a teaser tagged on in the final few moments which saw River apprehended by Eyepatch Lady and strapped into that fatal astronaut suit.

Judging from the complex and exciting ‘next time’ trailer it seems unlikely the outcome is as simple as ‘Doctor shows up at Lake Silencio. Gets shot’. But one thing’s for sure, there’s not much time left to finish telling the River/Doctor story arc after this unexpected detour to suburbia.

Tick tock goes the clock, and all that.

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About Hilary Wardle
Hilary is a freelance journalist and copywriter who writes for a wide range of websites, magazines and newspapers, including Buzzfeed, MSN, The Poke, Chortle, the Guardian and the Independent. She specialises in arts and entertainment, comedy, video games and viral content. Contact her at Hilary3@gmail.com.

6 Responses to Doctor Who: Series 6, Episode 12- Closing Time

  1. Chewster says:

    The bit that still confuses me its that professor river song dies by getting ‘saved’ by doctor moon in the library planet where David Tenants doctor meets river for the first time. The silence will fall when the question is asked. That question? What the fudge is going on around here?

  2. The question “hidden in plain sight” will be to do with the Doctor’s real name, probably. When he did the thing that sealed the Time War, his name was apparently written in the stars. Or something.

  3. “Standing around pouting while someone takes a photo isn’t terribly challenging in comparison.” – it’s a massive let-down is what it is. Young Amelia Pond would be disgusted at her older self’s lack of ambition, and kick her with her wellies. Also, if Amy is going to be a model, why couldn’t it be for Agent Provocateur or something?

    Can’t disagree with most of what you said, I really liked Stormageddon, I’ve always been a fan of a creepy department store, and I was pleasantly surprised by how little Corden annoyed me. Unfortunately, that was all taken away by the lazy use of Cybermen.

    Still, we can all settle down for our Depeche Mode* moment next week, safe in the knowledge that the whole series will be tied up neatly in 45 minutes in a way that will please absolutely nobody: ~sets snark generator to maximum~

    *enjoy The Silence – I amaze myself with how consistently funny I am.

  4. iworm says:

    I say this as one who loves Who, and is genuinely excited to see the final episode. But holy crap, that one was awful…

  5. the silence says:

    BTWs, it’s episode 12… 😉

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