27 September 2011

Doctor Who - Closing Time

This contains spoilers and I'm writing this on the assumption you've seen the episode.

I watched this with my mother-in-law who hasn't watched any recent Doctor Who. She said the show had changed a lot and then asked us if it was usually that trivial. All we could say was that it varied. Obviously this was (mostly) a light episode before next week.

It seems that the BBC had heard, but failed to understand, my lack-of-baby rant. Yes, there was a baby in this episode, but not the one who was abducted. Is this a sign once and for all that the Doctor has no intention of trying to find his friends' baby? Seems likely, especially as they don't seem too bothered about having her back. Well what parents don't want their unplanned infant to be raised by antagonist kidnappers?

Emotional Response
Oh look, a shop. Well the Doctor does love a shop, and also Rose was from a shop. When's someone going to point out the role shops have in all this, hmm? Also, why is a cyberman in a ladies' fitting room?

James Corden is funny as Craig, I don't know why people disliked him. Craig is a funny, likeable character and Corden is good at playing him. It was nice that he was nervous and overwhelmed about the baby, though you notice how TV mums never seem to be like that? The chemistry between the characters is very strong, Matt Smith is an actor who works well with others.
The Doctor speaks baby again and it's a lot of fun. I like that the baby named himself Stormaggedon, his attitude does explain that very judgmental way that babies look at you.

I was confused when the Doctor was working in the toy shop then seemed to know a woman in a clothes shop. Then I realised it was one big department store, that wasn't clear earlier, I thought it was mall. He makes a pretty good toyshop worker, though seriously how did he get a name badge saying Doctor?

Look it's Rory and Amy, do they live near here?
And now some kid seems to have been allowed to go autograph hunting in the middle of a shoot, not professional BBC. Oh, actually it seems Amy is now a perfume model on an ad campaign with a slogan that's weirdly meaningful to the characters (though in fairness it's not that weird for a perfume slogan, usually they just string words together). Well what young girl doesn't go around getting the autographs of perfume models? Rory and Amy fail to see the Doctor despite the little girl pointing in his direction. This whole bit is kinda surreal, and I don't even know what it's for. Seriously what's this bit about?

The Doctor keeps brooding every few scenes, rather spoiling the comedic tone. Obviously we need to remember that he is weighed down with concerns, though goodness knows what they are and why he isn't doing something about them.

Cybermen are not so impressive when there aren't many of them. Why do they want Craig as cyber-controller? I see no particular reason to choose him over any of the other homo sapiens they find. Also I must say there seems to be remarkably little of the sawing and cutting that there's been every other time cybermen convert people.
I was a bit confused that Craig didn't know about cybermen since they invaded the country (or London anyway) a few years ago. Then my husband pointed out that the universe got rewritten so that might not have happened.

So things are all wrapped up nicely, Craig's house is thoroughly cleaned (lucky sod) and the Doctor has a cool cowboy hat. Except there's these randomly staring kids in the street. Seriously what's up with these kids, were they in the toy shop earlier? Did their mothers not teach them it's rude to stare?

Turns out the staring children were a baffling link to the bit at the end.
More on that below.

Intellectual Response
Well that lady who was left on her own is clearly dead, also I suspect she's breaking some kind of lone working policy. Surely she should have checked the shop was empty before letting the other staff go?

Craig has a baby now, how long has it been since The Lodger? It's not easy keeping track in a time travelling show. Craig's worries over being a father are understandable as everyone seems to treat him like a large man-child. Sometimes bumbling dad characters can be a bit too ridiculous, it seems unfair that men should be generally painted as useless idiots (what if I want to be a useless idiot?). That said I find Craig endearing enough to pull it off.

The Doctor speaking baby reminds me of the first Mary Poppins sequel novel Mary Poppins Comes Back.
In the book the Bankses have another baby called Anabel and Mary Poppins can understand her. At first Anabel is very poetic and speaks of fire and wind, but Mary Poppins smiles indulgently and knows that it won't last -it never does. Later Annabel has forgotten all the grand stuff she said before and is only concerned with baby-stuff like sleeping and eating and being comfortable. I rather guessed that Stormaggedon would come to identify himself as Alfie by the end.

The Doctor's upcoming death is hanging over this episode, but I don't understand why. He's a time traveller why does he need to go to his death now? I thought the Doctor who was killed was a good 100 years older, surely he should have plenty of time left?

So the saving the day with love ending was cheesy as hell, but at least the Doctor tried to explain it away with techno-babble (in proper Sci-Fi TV the day is always saved by techno-babble). It still isn't as cheesy and dumb as everyone being cured by hugs and so I can forgive it.

The bit at the end
I'm doing this bit separately because it didn't feel like part of the episode. Those staring kids acting as witnesses and the creepy song had no part in what had just happened.

I think I'm supposed to be excited and intrigued by the bit at the end, but I'm just confused and kind of annoyed. My barrel full of questions have been routinely ignored for almost a month and now I'm just having information clumsily thrown at me. Information that just creates yet more questions. It's just a way of getting me to watch next week, and I was always going to watch next week (I mean possibly not on the day cos of Fantasy Con) because I want some bloody answers!
It's a reminder that there's only one episode to go and I need far too many answers for one episode to easily provide.

It just strikes me as bad storytelling to have created a lot of ongoing plot that is just left dangling and unimportant for weeks only to be (presumably) concluded in a big rush at the end, which will probably be disappointingly jumbled. I realise that the episodic nature of the show and the writing is probably the main reason for this, but the lack of continuity on something that should be so important to the characters just makes them seem a bit stupid.
The whole eyepatch lady thing from the first half of the series worked because it was a thread that ran through multiple episodes, it was something to look out for, something that kept us in intrigued. When some of the content of those earlier episodes was related to the unfolding plot you could see things coming together and that was fun. In this half of the series it seems like nothing is coming together, it's been stalled and has just been restarted. Overall the last three episodes -good as they were on their own- have felt like little more than filler and wasted opportunity.

I was going to sum up what I knew of the ongoing plot so far and try to slot the bit at the end into that. However thinking about it just makes me confused.
So instead I'm going to quote a song that sums up nicely:

Hey, what's going on?

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