Closing Time

NTSC Region 1
14-episode
DVD box set

PAL Region 2
14-episode
DVD box set

Ltd.
DVD
6-episode volume
See below for Blu-Ray options
(Doctor Who Story No. 228, starring Matt Smith)
  • written by Gareth Roberts
  • directed by Steve Hughes
  • produced by Denise Paul
  • music by Murray Gold
  • 1 episode @ 45 minutes
Story: An 1103-year-old Doctor decides to pay a social call to his friend Craig, but can't help noticing that a group of Cybermen are draining electrical power from the neighbourhood. Why are the Cybermen focused on invading a nearby mall? Will Craig manage to look after his newborn son Alfie by himself all weekend long? And how many inescapable horrific future events is the Doctor keeping secret from Craig?

DVD Extras (box sets only) include:

  • Doctor Who Confidential featurette: Open All Hours (12 min.) with Matt Smith (The Doctor), James Corden (Craig Owens),
    Greg James (extra), writer Gareth Roberts, director Steve Hughes, and executive producer Steven Moffat.
  • Monster File featurette: The Cybermats (10 min., also included in 6-episode volume) with Roberts, Hughes, producer Denise Paul,
    prosthetics designer Neill Gorton, and animatronics operator Tim Rose.
  • "Up All Night" Prequel Scene (2 min.)

In-Depth Analysis Review

by Martin Izsak

WARNING: This review contains "SPOILERS", and is intended for those who have already seen the program.
To avoid the spoilers, read the Buyers' Guide to the season instead.


Gareth Roberts is another writer who seems to get stuck with the less brilliant parts of the modern season template, and often isn't able to make them appeal to me. Here he gets another double-banked story at the tail end of the season, and another backyard alien of the week concept to put us to sleep.

But there is some appeal here. His characters of Craig and Sophie were successful last year, and here we get a second helping of them, which boosts their importance in the canon and makes both stories more enjoyable. Plus, they're fun to see. Adding to the fun is the return of Lynda Baron to Doctor Who, who previously excelled at playing Captain Wrack in "Enlightenment" (story no. 128), and had sung the not-so-brilliant ballads back in "The Gunfighters" (story no. 25). Here she plays store clerk Val, who adds a lot of good humour to the story. Nice. In some senses, Roberts is getting away with one of the usual ruts by making it a bit more fun.


I also like Cybermen, and what little plot we have here concerning them managed to be varied and interesting enough to hold my attention better than what we got in either "Night Terrors" or "The God Complex". It's still not great though, and knowing that this is a double-banked single-episode story deters my investment in this cyber-plot. Curiously, the Cybermen seem to have reverted to their original space-faring alien backstory from the classic series, despite the fact that their look is now tied to the parallel present-day Earth origin that won't give them the scope they want to enjoy here.

I will also give this episode a point in that it manages to visualize the conversion of human into Cyberman in a manner that is more convincing and believable than director Graeme Harper could manage in his season 28 epics, with the added disturbing factor that it is happening to a character we really love, and unlike the case with Star Trek's Borg, this process has ALWAYS been fatal, or perhaps it's better to say irreversible, to the human in the Doctor Who universe. I was really emotionally upset at this point in the episode. But then, the reset button is pushed, and Craig walks out unscathed. I do prefer Craig to live, most definitely, but there doesn't seem to be a plausible mechanism for it in the story. Gareth Roberts says it happens for love, and he's not apologizing for it. No, he shouldn't. Love is a great reason. I'm there. Now give love a plausible mechanism through which it can overpower automatic cybernetic processes, and we'll have a climax no one will want to argue with.

Mind you, there is a lot of dialogue in the concluding moments making some attempt to flesh out a mechanism, but Roberts has a bizarre fixation with writing too wordy a climax once more, when there will be too much noise and energy and not enough time for the audience to hear it and absorb it. I'm only getting half of what I might need to believe in the mechanism here. At least the teleport was established earlier in the story.

Perhaps more importantly, all this raises the question of why the Cybermen are so desperate to be led by a brand new recruit? Can't they just designate and promote the best of their current members, while recruiting Craig to the bottom of their totem pole? This problem seems to be echoing a similar one from "The Next Doctor" (story no. 204). In any case, all this in addition to being relegated to backyard alien of the week has not done the Cybermen any good. Of the four modern stories in which they have had major roles, this is easily their weakest, and may put huge dents in their popularity.

Cybermats are back for the first time in the modern show. I don't know why. Their popularity has always been dubious, and "The Tomb of the Cybermen" (story no. 37) is possibly the only story in which cybermats work remotely well. I'm not much impressed with them here. The updates they get in design, etc., are all fine enough. I just think they take too large a role in the story, while being unable to be anywhere near as interesting as the story's underused actual Cybermen.


Again, the best parts of the story are probably at the very end, when we play to our position in the season rather than to the episode's own narrative. I suppose that between the last story and this one, we have now switched from the "supposedly 909" year old Doctor to the one who is 1103 years old. Cool. The Doctor gets his cowboy hat and his envelopes, helping cement the sequence of events into place for the next story, and playing to some worthwhile emotions. Good stuff.

Curiously, Madame Kovarian and the Silents also get a more interesting scene to play here than probably anywhere in the upcoming finale. Nice. The timing of this event in River Song's long and confusing journey is intriguing but seems a bit puzzling as well. Apart from that, the big cliffhanger reveal is in a sense just going through the motions of showing us what we already learned back in The One where Vultures Circle (story no. 224), although perhaps this makes it more obvious and explicit, or helps people who may have missed that prior story. Is it really a big revelation though, no matter where it ends up in the season? If, during "The Impossible Astronaut", you stop and ask yourself who Moffat might actually put inside that space suit, there really is only one answer, since he failed to develop any other worthy or credible red herring answers.


Ultimately, I am disappointed that we got six little formula episodes in this half of the season. For my money, we should probably have not wasted any time on "Night Terrors", "The God Complex", or "Closing Time". Strike them out of the schedule. Expand either Tom MacRae's "The Girl Who Waited" or the season finale to a proper two-parter, and get another brand new two parter from whoever you want. Double-bank issues can be taken care of similarly to the way Sarah Sutton was only required for the first half of the studio sessions for "Earthshock" (story no. 122). And with four two-parters in the season as a whole, the exercise of changing the template would have been good.

In the end, we ended up with fewer two-parters than before. I think this season can just about get away with it though, since every River Song episode is working as another chapter of a longer saga, and some of the between-story cliffhangers have been such plot-twisting shockers.



This story has become available on DVD and Blu-ray.
Click on the Amazon symbol for the location nearest you for pricing and availability:

DVD NTSC Region 1
14-episode box set
for the North American market:
in the U.S.
in Canada
DVD PAL Region 2
14-episode box set
for the U.K.:

(Limited Edition)
DVD 6-episode volume

Blu-Ray NTSC Region 1
14-episode box set
for the North American market:
in the U.S.
in Canada

Blu-Ray PAL Region 2
14-episode box set
for the U.K.:

(Limited Edition)

Note: The full season sets contain commentaries, behind-the-scenes featurettes, and other extras. The smaller volumes feature little more than the plain episodes.


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Read the In-depth Analysis Review for the next story: "The Wedding of River Song"



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