Closing Time - Doctor Who blog
(SPOILER WARNING: The following is an in-depth critical analysis. If you haven’t seen this episode yet, you may want to before reading this review)
Today is a double whammy for me. Not only did I have to sit through another episode written by transmisogynist and arsehole Gareth Roberts, but the obnoxious James Corden is back too. Dear God, where’s the cyanide when you need it?
You may recall I wasn’t very fond of The Lodger (and it had nothing to do with the fact that Gareth Roberts is a bigoted fuckhead, though I admit that did give me added incentive to rip his piece of shit episode apart), so you can imagine I wasn’t looking forward to Closing Time.
So how was Closing Time? Was it as bad as The Lodger? Well it may surprise you to learn that I didn’t think this was as bad as The Lodger at all. No. It was actually WORSE than The Lodger.
Yes, not only did Closing Time contain all the things I hated about the previous instalment, but it also dragged my all time favourite Who baddies the Cybermen down with them as an added insult. I’ve always loved the Cybermen. Granted not every story featuring them are good, but they’ll always hold a special place in my heart due to their huge potential. They’re infinitely more interesting than the Daleks in my opinion, who often come across as a bit one note, and they’re arguably Doctor Who’s most socially relevant and timeless monsters. (In fact I once wrote a whole post explaining why the Cybermen are the best monsters in the whole of Doctor Who and why you should think that too. I’ll put a link here if you’re interested in reading it. It’s one of the first ‘Scribbles’ I’d ever written, so it’s a bit rough around the edges and a little soppy looking back, but I think it gets my point across). So it really hurts when I see them get horribly mistreated like this. They’re pretty much confined to the background while Matt Smith and James Corden are faffing around being unfunny, and they’re painfully ineffectual here. It’s one thing to have the Cybermen be beaten by the power of love, but having the power of love be so powerful that a crying baby can reverse a Cyber conversion? Are you taking the fucking piss?!
What’s worse is that Gareth Roberts decides to resurrect one of the more embarrassing parts of the Cyber mythos:
Yeah, I’ve never liked them. And just for the benefit of @captainivyb and others who have never watched the classic series, here’s what the original Cybermats looked like:
I mean I love the Cybermen, but even I can’t defend these. They’re just so silly. And honestly, I think the Doctor Who production team were just as embarrassed by them as I was, hence why they seemed to overcompensate in the Doctor Who spinoff books and audio dramas by implying that these cute and adorable looking Cybermats are actually composed of the body parts and internal organs of rodents, babies and small children.
The words ‘tonally confused’ leap to mind.
The main problem I’ve always had with the Cybermats is that, no matter how hard you try, these ‘silver rat things’ aren’t scary. Not even remotely. They’re at best cute and at worst unintentionally hilarious. Either way, they’re not very threatening, and these new Cybermats are definitely not threatening. In fact Roberts undermines them even further by giving them chattering teeth. That whole sequence with Craig wrestling a Cybermat on the kitchen floor was just utterly cringeworthy. I despair at the number of people who’s only experience of the Cybermen is this. I swear they’re a lot better than this. You’ve just caught them on an off day. Look, let me recommend some good, classic series Cyber stories for you. There’s The Tenth Planet, the first ever Cyber story. That’s very frightening. There’s The Invasion, which explores the impact of capitalism and technological advancement on modern society. Bit camp and OTT, but really entertaining. Finally I’d recommend the Big Finish audio drama Spare Parts, which explores the origins of the Cybermen and is in my opinion the best Cyber story ever written.
Outside of the Cybermen, I don’t really have much else to say about Closing Time. As I said, all the problems with The Lodger are here too. Just as The Lodger contains all the tired old jokes and cliches you’d often find in a really bad romcom, Closing Time contains all the tired old jokes and cliches you’d often find in a really bad sequel of a really bad romcom. Namely the clueless everyman trying to cope with unexpected fatherhood. It’s boring, not remotely funny and James Corden is an utter tit. Please stop trying to convince me he’s likeable or charming. It’s not working.
I suppose I should be grateful for small mercies. At least the story doesn’t focus too much on Craig. Part of the reason i found The Lodger so insufferable (apart from the James Corden factor) was because Craig was a childish little prick that represented the very embodiment of male entitlement. By the time I got to the end of that episode and Craig’s shitty little love story, I was praying my spleen would burst. Here Craig is just tagging along for the ride, so he’s slightly more tolerable. Although it does mean you could replace him with a mop and it wouldn’t make any difference. In fact one could argue the episode would improve dramatically if Craig had been replaced with a mop. That way we would be spared of James Corden’s gurning and shrieking.
Craig: “Metal rat, real mouth! Metal rat, real mouth! Metal rat, real…”
Oh yeah. Matt Smith is annoying too. Just like last time, he’s been forced to ramp up the goofiness for no other than reason than just for the sake of being goofy. Why does the Doctor sprinkle pepper on Craig randomly? Why is he so obsessed with his name tag? How can he talk to babies or shush people with the power of his mind? How can he be confused by the idea of someone moving house? He’s alien, but he’s not that alien. What’s worse is that Roberts takes it one step further and turns the Doctor into this really patronising nobhead. He talks to Craig and everyone like they’re fucking children, even down to the whole shushing thing, and at one point says that the reason he takes humans with him on his adventures is so other aliens will be more inclined to talk to him like when a parent takes their baby out for a walk. What kind of condescending bullshit is this?!
But as much as I despise Closing Time, I always like to give credit where it’s due. Admittedly there’s one scene I liked and that’s when the Doctor talks to the baby. Oh no, I don’t mean all the Stormageddon crap. I wouldn’t even wipe my arse with those scenes. I’m talking about the scene where the Doctor describes all the wonders of the universe and the things you have to look forward to in life before showing the baby what real stars look like. It’s a very touching scene that stands out in the sea of dross, perfectly demonstrating the Doctor’s view of life and the universe around him. In fact had they have toned the obnoxious goofiness down a notch and focused more on this bittersweet nostalgia trip the Doctor goes on before his impending death, I’m confident I would have enjoyed Closing Time a lot more. His final scene where he says goodbye to those children outside of the TARDIS packed more of an emotional wallop than the rest of Series 6 combined.
Sadly this is all somewhat undermined by the fact that we know the Doctor isn’t really going to die. And I’m not just saying that with the benefit of hindsight. Did anyone at the time truly suspect the Doctor was going die? Really?
Anyway, the episode ends with Moffat’s series arc shuffling into view. River Song gets bundled into the spacesuit while Eye Patch Lady sings that shitty nursery rhyme from Night Terrors. Poor Alex Kingston. Nobody could make a scene as awkwardly dreadful and as dreadfully awkward as this work. It’s all so utterly, fucking…
No. No Quill. Save your anger for the next review. You’re going to need all your energy for that one.