SYNOPSIS: “Sci-fi drama. The Doctor's final days are upon him - but when he drops in on an old friend, the Cybermen are waiting.” (bbc.co.uk)
The amount of enjoyment you’ll get from this episode is probably directly proportional to how insufferable you do or do not find James Corden, who returns (quite triumphantly) as Craig Owens, last seen in episode eleven of the previous series, 'The Lodger'.
I tend to find Corden quite irritating (it’s the laugh) but his character, Craig, is as loveable, amusing and inept as ever – now with the added complication of a bundle of joy named Alfie. Following the sudden but heavily foreshadowed departure of Rory (Arthur Darvill) and Amy (Karen Gillan) at the end of last week’s episode, 'The God Complex', the Doctor (Matt Smith) seems to be craving human companionship, which leads him back to Colchester, Craig and Cybermen.
'Closing Time' is an amusing romp, filled with plenty of camped-up shouting and ‘bromance’ moments. Matt Smith and Corden have great comic chemistry, and the script is peppered with shrewd pop-culture references, one-liners and quips – baby Alfie (aka. Stormaggedon, Dark Lord of All) provides a steady stream of humour.
These funny moments leave a bittersweet after-taste, however, as the Doctor lurches between mania and melancholy, plagued with the knowledge of his imminent doom. The episode explores his fraught relationship with humankind – his role as both saviour and destructive force, paternal figure and cynical observer.
The Cybermen plot seems rather small-scale and anti-climactic, but in many ways it is merely incidental - the whole episode feels like a prelude to next week’s series finale, which promises to finally address the ‘elephant in the TARDIS’ that is the Silence, the death of the Doctor and just what exactly is up with River Song anyway.
Watch 'Closing Time' on BBC iPlayer until 18:54, 8 Oct ’11.