Fans of the older Cybermen from Earth’s twin planet Mondas were probably happy to see them make a return in this week’s episode of Doctor Who, “Closing Time”, which also sees the return of James Corden’s character, Craig Owens.
Between the events of “The Lodger” and “Closing Time”, Corden’s character has acquired a new house, a new baby and a new taste for danger. To ensure that Craig is alone for this week’s episode, his girlfriend buggers off for the weekend to see if he can cope alone. Cue the Doctor showing up to say goodbye as he marches off to his upcoming doom. I think it’s interesting that he’s dreading his upcoming death at Lake Silencio but throws himself into situations where he might die anyway as he does stay to help out Earth one last time.
As mentioned above, the Cybermen from Mondas last seen in “A Good Man Goes To War” (i.e, the Cybermen from our universe) show up here. One would be forgiven for thinking that the alternate universe ones somehow got a spaceship through to our universe, slipping it back through time in the process and crashed it beneath the ground to be buried until now. All of this explains why they look pretty much the same, sound the same and have a similar weakness to the ones from the universe known as Pete’s World. And it’s not as if that situation is totally unheard of, you just have to watch “The Next Doctor” where a similar situation occurs.
One of my main problems with “The Lodger” was that the “will they, won’t they” plot had been done better a hundred times before, so it’s good to see that was dispensed with in favour of a straight up horror story about the Cybermen with some humour in there. Admittedly the humour consisted of misunderstandings about the characters being in a relationship (something which Corden himself didn’t help the other day) but it was still pretty funny.
I have a couple of minor bugbears, but I bring them up to say that apart from these points, I thought the episode worked well and that I would certainly recommend it. Discussion of these does not mean that I hated the entire episode. The eyewitness accounts are given by children who met him for a couple of minutes while he introduced himself. For a start, one of them consisted of “I liked his hat” and the others weren’t that much better as eyewitness accounts. The second point is the fact that River is reading them in the 51st century. Why would some not very useful eyewitness accounts from three small children be preserved for three millennia? How does she know who he spoke to? Aside from anything, it goes against all sense as he spoke to them about 2000 miles away from where he eventually met his death.
The other minor point is that the baby named Alfie prefers to be called Lord Stormageddon (fair enough, children like stupid names), which according to this page translates to “fallen silence” in Greek. How the hell does a baby know what “fallen silence” is in Greek? This was round about the point where I started to suspect that the Doctor was just making it up.
When the main plot of the episode is tied up and all is well, the Doctor goes off to his death (picking up the blue envelopes from episode 1 of this season on the way) and the plot for next week is introduced as River is looking through some eyewitness accounts of some children meeting the Doctor (recounted when they were adults), when she’s kidnapped and shoved into an astronaut suit in a lake in Utah. Cue reveal of her adult self as “The Impossible Astronaut” and a trailer for the next episode.
I thought that overall, the episode worked about as well as you’d expect it to. It’s interesting to note that like “The Lodger”, this episode is the last one before the finale kicks into gear. I thought the episode took a bit too long to get going (and wasn’t resolved in the best of ways) but this allowed the Doctor to get a good few emotional scenes and spend more time with Craig and Lord. There was even a token glimpse of Amy and Rory which made for an interesting few seconds of screentime. Despite my personal dislike of Corden, I thought that this episode was good and I enjoyed it. Can’t wait for “The Wedding Of River Song”!