Sunday, 25 September 2011

Doctor Who: Closing Time

Doctor: 'It's a papoose.'

Tonight's episode reminded me a little of 2005's 'Bad Wolf'. It likewise started off relatively lightweight, before revealing some unexpectedly devious depths. Despite enjoying 'The Lodger' (Gareth Roberts' last effort and prequel to 'Closing Time'), it didn't exactly set my world alight. Tonight's offering was a slight improvement. It's rare we get to see the Doctor in a bromance story—it's even rarer we get to see him almost copping off with another character. Steady on, Matt. You're not in Christopher and His Kind now.

A considerable period of time must have elapsed between 'The God Complex' and 'Closing Time'—becoming a perfume model doesn't just happen overnight. Amy also seemed to have a hand in Petrichor's marketing campaign: from its naming, to its advertising slogan (For the Girl Who's Tired of Waiting.) An odd choice of name, considering Petrichor means 'the smell of dust in the air when it rains on a summer evening'. A perfume which smells of dust? Nice. And great idea to name it after the TARDIS' control room password. Way to keep it secret, guys, by hiding it in plain sight in massive letters on the walls of every perfume department in England.

How uncomfortable did Rory look at Amy's new found celebrity? Poor Rory, the guy just can't catch a break. Why can't he be the famous one for once? He looked as sick as a chip, traipsing around after Amy, arms full of bafflingly weightless shopping. Wasn't he once a hero? What happened to that guy? Must he always live in Amy's shadow? Maybe it's time he came out with a fragrance of his own, and called it 'Last Centurion: For the Boy Who Likes to Wait.'

The Doctor we met in 'The Impossible Astronaut' was 200 years older than the Doctor we saw last week—another hint that a significant chunk of time has elapsed out of sequence. Imagine the centuries of unseen adventures. (All, no doubt, to be documented by Big Finish Productions.) Does this mean that the Doctor's been without a companion for 200 years? His conversation with Craig seemed to suggest that he was still racked with guilt over constantly endangering his companions' lives. How sad that he didn't get to say hello to Amy or Rory. He looked so proud of Amy's success, too. Still, I suppose he'll get to see them tomorrow.

This wasn't a bad outing for the Cybermen. Like the Daleks (with the possibly exception of 'Dalek', and 'The Parting of the Ways'), they never seem to get the best stories, or maybe it's just the best stories have already been told. Which makes episodes like this—where the villain is of secondary importance to the main story—probably the best option. I quite liked the way the Cybermen looked tonight; the gloomy lighting really suited them. I was glad to see the Cybermats essentially unchanged. They looked identical to those in 'Tomb of the Cybermen', apart from their CGIed mouths, smaller eyes and missing crepe paper beards.

It's just a shame that the Cybermen are as soft as proverbial doo-doo. Forget glitter guns, heavy explosives and electro-magnetic pulses—tonight they were killed by love. Which would have been a whole lot more convincing had it not been the exact same device Roberts used to defeat the spaceship at 79B Aickman Road. As with 'The Lodger', the theme behind tonight's episode was love conquering all—but can it really break steel? Still, I guess there was a cruel irony to defeating the emotionally stunted metal men from Mondas with emotion—an event which caused something of a renaissance in Craig. It seemed to ignite his self belief.

The Doctor's relationship with Craig was the real centrepiece of tonight's episode. Most of Gareth Roberts' stories are light-hearted romps ('The Shakespeare Code', 'The Unicorn and the Wasp', 'Planet of the Dead'), and tonight's episode was no different. It felt like the calm before next weeks' storm. Great performances from Smith and Corden—their off-screen chemistry really showed though in their character interaction. I liked, too, that Craig was able to help the Doctor realise that, rather than being a danger to mankind, he was actually its saviour. Without him the world would have been doomed several times over—a truth which seemed to kill the Doctor's self-pity dead.

And what an ending! It's been hinted at for three seasons now that River will one day kill the Doctor. At one point, it seemed such a foregone conclusion, that I started to doubt it—it seemed just too obvious—but after that closing shot of River submerged in Silencio Lake, there can surely be no doubt. It's going to happen! Unless, of course, the Moff has some gargantuan rug pull still left up his sleeve.

Other Thoughts:

—How is it that Madame Kovarian can remember the Silence? Something to do with her eye patch, maybe?

—The Doctor used Sophie's blue envelopes to send letters to himself, Amy, River, Rory and Canton

—Shame the Cybermen didn't convert Corden. He can do a killer robot.

—Nice cameo from Lynda Baron. She still looks exactly like Nurse Gladys Emmanuel from Open All Hours.

—How cute was Stormageddon?

—Excreting alien gases? It's like the Slitheen all over again.

—The Stetson we saw the Doctor wearing in 'The Impossible Astronaut' was a gift from Craig. Stetsons are cool!

—Frances Barber needs to turn the Panto Dame down a notch. Enough with the evil laugh, already!

—Alfie's first word was 'Doctor'.

Quotes:

Doctor: 'Yes, he likes that. Alfie. Though, personally, he prefers to be called Stormageddon, Dark Lord of All.'
Craig: 'Sorry, what?'
Doctor: 'That's what he calls himself.'
Craig: 'How do you know that?'
Doctor: 'I speak baby.'

Doctor: 'Yappy, the robot dog. Not as fun as I remember.'

Doctor: “No, he's your dad. You can't just call him not-mum.'

Doctor: 'I'm the Doctor. I work in a shop now. I'm here to help . Look, they gave me a badge with my name on; in case I forget who I am. Very thoughtful, as that does happen.”

Doctor: 'It's a papoose.'
Craig: 'Why do I need a papoose?'
Doctor: 'Alfie wants you attached to him. You are far too slow when he summons you.'
Craig: 'When's he going to stop giving me marks?'
Doctor: 'Never! That's parenthood. Couldn't you have just got a baby sitter?'
Craig: 'No!'
Doctor: 'Any baby sitter... doesn't have to be a hot one.'
Craig: 'I told everyone I know I didn't need their help this weekend. They won't even answer my calls. I didn't know there was going to be an invasion of Cybermen.'

Craig: 'Metal rat, real mouth! Metal rat, real mouth! Metal rat, real mouth!'

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