Thursday, December 15, 2011

Closing Time

Indeed for Doctor Who, if this story is to be taken as exemplary. Thankfully it's not; like The Lodger it's a single steaming manure-pile in a season of roses, and repeats the prequel's embarrassing sitcom strategy. The Doctor wants to play at being human so looks up his friend Craig. Once again, he ends up helping Craig with his personal problems, this time his insecurity as a father, while Craig in turn helps him see the good behind his taking on human companions. As before, people think they're gay, and I really wish they were, so we could at least get some base entertainment out of this horrible pairing. Gareth Roberts evidently had one great story in him, but after The Shakespeare Code has been determined to kill his reputation with astonishingly bad throwaways.

Closing Time actually reminds of Journey's End, which was not only atrocious, but went out of its way to be atrocious, as if Russell Davies reached a point where his bankruptcy of ideas caused him to throw up his hands and decide to not only not pay us off, but un-pay us off with mockeries and betrayals. Roberts isn't quite as vindictive, aiming instead for the plain preposterous -- the highest plane of it, in fact, seen in the new series. Craig, on the verge of being made into a Cyber Controller, hears his infant son crying at a distance, and his paternal love swells to such epic proportions that the influx of emotion causes the Cybermen's heads to explode along with their ship. Not only is this the same ridiculous ending as The Lodger's, it's worse for making horses' asses out of the Cybermen, and is the umpteenth time that evil has been literally defeated by love. Whether that's lowest-common-denominator marketing or sentimental incompetence I'm not sure, but I certainly expect better out of Moffat, who should have fired Gareth Roberts last season. At least Night Terrors involved a traumatized kid's nightmares owing to parental neglect, in which the triumph of love theme was much the point, and Victory of the Daleks could also get away with it since the android was trying to recall its own feelings when it was human.

River Song's wedding had best move mountains. I'm not surprised the editors tacked on the segue into the finale -- it's the only half-decent thing about this episode.

Rating: 1 star out of 5.


Blogger Mark Goodacre said...

I disagree with you fundamentally on this one, Loren. Often surprised by the strength of your feelings for episodes you dislike. The only thing I am inclined to agree with you on here is the weakness of yet another "love conquers all" conclusion, which is the bane of this series.

I suspect that the problem is simply the subjective nature of any comedy. You just don't find Gareth Roberts's writing or James Corden's acting particularly funny whereas I adore both. But even aside from that, this episode has some great strengths, perhaps more than anything the wonderful sense of foreboding and death right in the middle of something so apparently frivolous -- that's powerful stuff.

I think Gareth Roberts could be a future show runner, perhaps alongside Mark Gatis. I'd guess they are the top candidates at this point. If you haven't seen them yet, you simply must catch his two really stellar Sarah Jane stories, Whatever happened to Sarah Jane? and The Temptation of Sarah Jane Smith. They are right up there with the best of new Who -- absolutely outstanding.

Blogger Loren Rosson III said...

Often surprised by the strength of your feelings for episodes you dislike.

I suppose I get so furious over stories like this because I feel so damn betrayed. Betrayed that the writers wasted our time on pedestrian garbage that's supposed to, by rights, happen in between "real" Doctor Who stories. But I take your point about the appeal of comedy, a volatile subject with me.


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