Sep 24, 2011
Nearly two hundred years have passed for the Doctor after leaving Amy and Rory in "The God Complex"; and the Doctor is on a farewell tour as he knows he has one more day in his relative time before his death (depicted in "The Impossible Astronaut"), saying goodbye to his past companions. He stops by Craig ("The Lodger"), finding he is living with his girlfriend Sophie, moved into a new home, and now raising their baby, Alfie. Craig, tending to Alfie alone while Sophie is away for the weekend, suspects the Doctor is investigating something alien. As the Doctor leaves, he notices an strange electrical disturbance in the area, and decides to investigate.
Craig, while at a new department store with Alfie, discovers the Doctor working in the toy department. The Doctor reveals that he has traced the electrical disturbances to the store and using the job to allow him to investigate more. The Doctor and Craig enter a lift and find themselves teleported to a Cyberman spacecraft, but the Doctor manages to reverse the teleporter and disables it. As Craig returns home, the Doctor sees Amy and Rory shopping, but stays out of their sight.
The Doctor continues to follow rumours of a store clerk's disappearance and of a "silver rat". With Craig's help, the Doctor enters the store and catches a Cybermat, which has been siphoning small amounts of energy to the spacecraft. The Doctor also encounters a malfunctioning Cyberman in the building's basement, and is curious how it arrived in the store. At Craig's house, while the two are distracted, the Cybermat reactivates, but they are able to stop it, and the Doctor reprograms the unit to track down the Cybermen signal.
The Doctors leaves on his own to locate the Cybermen at the store, but Craig shortly follows, bringing Alfie along. The Doctor finds the spaceship actually sits below the store, underground, accessed by a tunnel from a changing room. The ship has been slowly siphoning energy from the store's power lines, reactivating its crew. The Doctor is captured by the Cybermen, who tell him that their ship crashed long ago, but with this new energy, will soon have enough power to convert the human race.
Craig, leaving Alfie with a store clerk, follows the Doctor into the tunnel, and is also captured and placed into a conversion machine. The Doctor reveals his own impending death and urges Craig to fight, but the conversion appears to be complete until Alfie's cries over the closed-circuit television echo in the ship. Craig fights the conversion, sending the rest of the Cybermen into overload as they painfully experience the emotions they have repressed. The Doctor and Craig escape via the teleporter as the ship explodes, the blast contained by the cavern. The Doctor slips away unseen, but Craig returns home to find that the Doctor has used time travel to clean the mess from the previous night. The Doctor tells Craig that Alfie now has a much higher opinion of his dad. The Doctor leaves just before Sophie returns.
Nearby, the Doctor tells the TARDIS he knows this is his last trip in her and offers some parting words to a small group of children. In the far future, River Song, recently made a Doctor of Archaeology, reviews eyewitness accounts from those children, and also notes the date and location of the Doctor's death. She is interrupted by Madame Kovarian and agents of The Silence; Kovarian tells River that she is still theirs, and will be the one to kill the Doctor. They place her in an astronaut's suit and submerge her in the lake to await the Doctor.
Two hundred years have passed for the Doctor since the events of "The God Complex", taking him to the age his older self was in "The Impossible Astronaut". Multiple events in the episode correspond to those of "The Impossible Astronaut": the Doctor takes from Craig's home the "TARDIS blue" envelopes he uses to bring Amy, Rory, River, Canton Delaware and his younger self to Lake Silencio; Craig gives him the Stetson hat he wears at the start of that episode; and the "impossible astronaut" is confirmed to be River Song.
The Cybermen, like those in "A Good Man Goes to War", do not bear the Cybus Industries logo on their chests. Cybermats are shown for the first time in the revived series. In the classic series, they appeared in Tomb of the Cybermen, The Wheel in Space and Revenge of the Cybermen.
The Doctor stops by to see Craig before he dies, as the Tenth Doctor popped in on his former companions before regenerating in The End of Time. The Doctor claims to be able to "speak 'baby'", as he did in "A Good Man Goes to War". The Doctor expresses his dislike for Craig's "redecorated" house in a variation of lines spoken by the Second Doctor in The Three Doctors and The Five Doctors, and Craig explains to the Doctor that the reason his house looks different is that it is a different house from the one he had in "The Lodger"; Craig also remarks that he has inspected the upstairs level, alluding to the false story shown in "The Lodger". The Doctor echoes himself in the classic series serial Revenge of the Cybermen when he recites the mini-poem "Not a rat, a Cybermat" from the novelization of Revenge of the Cybermen.
Amy appears in an ad for Petrichor perfume, with the tagline, "For the girl who's tired of waiting." The concept of petrichor was used as a psychic password in "The Doctor's Wife" and means "the smell of dust after rain". The Doctor frequently refers to Amy as "the girl who waited".
Writer Gareth Roberts said in an interview that he was considering bringing the character of Craig back when James Corden was cast and he saw his performance, saying that "it already felt like he was one of the Who family". It was also his idea to bring back the Cybermen, because there were no other returning monsters in the series and he thought "there should be a sense of history about the Doctor's final battle to save Earth before he heads off to meet his death".
This episode marks Lynda Baron's third involvement with Doctor Who, having provided vocals for the "Ballad of the Last Chance Saloon", heard in The Gunfighters, and appeared in Enlightenment as Wrack. The accompanying Doctor Who Confidential to "Closing Time" is entitled "Open All Hours" in honour of Baron's role in the sitcom of the same name. BBC Radio 1 DJ Greg James appears in a non-speaking cameo role, as a man shopping for lingerie.
"Closing Time" was first broadcast in the United Kingdom on BBC One on 24 September 2011 and in the United States on BBC America on the same date. It achieved overnight ratings of 5.3 million viewers, coming in second for its time slot behind All-Star Family Fortunes.
The episode received generally positive reviews, with critics praising the comic interplay between Smith and Corden. Jack Pelling of Celluloid Heroes Radio praised Roberts' deftly crafted comic script, and described it as "one of the most enjoyable episodes of Doctor Who in recent years". Dan Martin of The Guardian questioned the decision to air a standalone episode as the penultimate show of the series, calling "Closing Time" "something of a curiosity" as well as writing positively about "Smith and Cordon’s Laurel and Hardy double act". Gavin Fuller of The Daily Telegraph awarded the episode three out of five stars, comparing Smith's performance favourably to that of Patrick Troughton. Neela Debnath of The Independent said it was an "intriguing change of pace" and succeeded with "great comedic moments" and the "brilliant chemistry between the Doctor and Craig". She praised Corden for excelling after his "average" performance in "The Lodger".
Patrick Mulkern, writing for Radio Times, thought that the ending was an "emotional overload...but what better way to deal with the emotionally deprived Cybermen?" He was pleased with the "sweet cameo" from Amy and Rory and the "tense coda" with River Song and Kovarian. IGN's Matt Risley rated the episode 7.5 out of 10, praising the chemistry between Smith and Corden as well as Smith's interaction with the baby, but was disappointed with the Cybermen, who he said "never really delivered on the threat or horror fans know they're capable of". SFX magazine reviewer Rob Power gave the episode three and a half out of five stars, saying it "[worked] wonders" as a light-hearted episode before the finale and with "properly bad" Cybermen. Though he thought the Cyberman lacked "real menance" and Craig escaped in a "cheesy way", he considered the main focus to be on the Doctor's "farewell tour" and praised Smith's performance. He thought that the moments of "sad-eyed loneliness and resignation" added weight to "what would otherwise have been a paper-thin episode". He also praised the ending for bringing things together for the finale, though he thought the final scene with River Song felt "a little tacked-on".