Two hundred years later, and the Doctor is preparing to meet his end at Lake Silencio. As part of his “farewell tour”, he calls in on Craig Owens (James Corden from The Lodger) to make a social call, but with mysterious power shortages and disappearing shop attendants, he can’t resist investigating one last mystery…
After exploring the darker side of travelling with the Doctor in The Girl Who Waited and The God Complex (don’t forget to check out our audio commentaries on those episode), we’re back to a much lighter action-adventure in this week’s encounter with the Cybermen. The domestic humour combined with something sinister in a department store harks back to Russell T Davies-era Who, especially the first episode Rose, which is no bad thing in my book.
As might be expected from the pen of Gareth Roberts, who brought us last series’ The Lodger, as well as the witty The Unicorn and the Wasp and The Shakespeare Code, the jokes come thick-and-fast. The bromance between the Doctor and Craig reaches new levels (and the return of the so-called “Gay Agenda”!) One of the Doctor’s new abilities from earlier in the series provides a great running gag too.
James Corden is one of those comedy guest stars, like David Walliams last week or Catherine Tate before, who tend to polarise opinion. I really enjoyed both Gavin and Stacey and The Lodger, and Corden’s turn as the hapless but likeable Craig Owens is just as entertaining a second time round, though sadly Daisy Haggard only gets a cameo as Sophie. There’s a fun reappearance for Lynda Baron, making her third guest showing in Doctor Who: she was Captain Wrack in the Peter Davison story Enlightenment, and sang ‘The Ballad of the Last Chance Saloon’ all the way back in 1966 for The Gunfighters!
Some might find the ending a bit too sentimental – the Doctor says as much! But I really enjoyed it – it’s fun, touching and scary in the right places. The Cybermen get treated properly as monsters and are nicely effective, even on a small scale.
Although an unashamedly fun episode, the shadow of the Doctor’s impending death looms large, and the closing moments lead directly in to the events we saw back at the start of the series, where the Doctor was struck down by the Impossible Astronaut. Closing time indeed…
Check back on Saturday night for our audio commentary on ‘Closing Time’ and to let us know what you thought!