So the last two episodes were pretty terrible and too dull to even write about, but this one was actually … okay fine so it wasn’t great either. And I can’t even say “but at least Amy Pond AKA the Worst Companion Ever Yes That Includes Adric There I Said It wasn’t in it” BECAUSE SOMEHOW SHE WAS. The Girl Who’s Tired Of Waiting? Oh, honestly. Just when you thought she couldn’t get any worse etc etc let’s not be too negative maybe I’m just cranky because I watched Turn Left again recently and it reminded me of:
a) How good Doctor Who can be when it tries and
b) How very, very much I miss Donna Noble.
But let’s talk about Closing Time. I actually do like Craig a lot, I think he and The Doctor have a nice little dynamic going on. He’s kind of awed by him but also grounded in that he’s constantly questioning just how The Doctor does what he does (granted, it’s usually in the context of “and how can I do it?” but even so, it’s fun and interesting). The Doctor needs someone to argue with him and question him and get ratty with him, rather than just blind unquestioning worship. This is part of why I loved Donna so much, she didn’t take any of The Doctor’s nonsense and that kept his feet on the ground even while his head was in the clouds. She was his best friend, she really, really was, and as his best friend she said things to him that he needed to hear.
Back to the episode. Let’s see … Cybermen. Hm. To be honest they do nothing for me as villains, they’re just kind of dull and flavourless. Ask them to define love and they explode. Although the brilliantly vicious little cybermat was pretty good. Get a couple of dozen of those zipping around somewhere claustrophobic and ill-lit, there’s your nightmare Doctor Who villain. The Doctor speaking Baby kind of worked as a one-off gag but as a running thing, no. In fact the whole business with the baby was the weakest and most irritating part of the episode, it’s just such a played-out, rubbish trope ‘the dad being useless with the baby’, it’s sexist and stupid and not even particularly truthy–sure, some fathers have trouble coping. Some mothers do (‘ave ’em) (goodness, I really honestly couldn’t resist that) too. Meanwhile the rest of us–representing the vast majority–get along just fine, thank you very much.
Although Craig being The Doctor’s baby was funny.
Oh, and the bit where they almost kissed, I loved that! That was adorable and funny and brilliant, didn’t you love that? I loved that.
The rest of the episode was pretty standard good-not-great fare, the plot stumbled along adequately, there were a few nice lines, Matt Smith was reliably good (actually, to be fair, reliably excellent), and it all kind of fell down at the end. Love Conquers All again, eh? Really? I mean … really? Don’t get me wrong, I wanted to feel it, I really did, and with better writing and direction I would have likely been in tears–a father fighting through anything to get to his crying baby, I teared up just writing that sentence but in the context of this episode? No. Nothing. And yet, and yet and yet and yet, The Doctor tidying Craig’s house? Using the final hours before his death to help out a friend in such a simple, mundane way? Yep, that got me. Also The Doctor’s genuine appreciation for the Stetson, that was great.
And that’s where I’m … irritated. Irritated? There’s probably a better word. The thing is, there are so many great things about Doctor Who. It’s a fantastic show. But there are so, so many things wrong with it. It is so much less than it should be. That it goes from such amazing highs to such pointless, annoying, silly lows hurts. I want it to be great, and sometimes it is, but so often it’s not.
Still, though. Better than most of the rubbish on TV these days. And although I don’t have particularly high expectations for the finale, I do hold some small hope that the next season will be better. Perhaps a new companion or two. Perhaps some new writers. Actually Gareth Roberts isn’t bad, if they teamed him up with someone who could work out the plot issues it could result in a really fantastic episode. The Lodger was my favourite episode of last season, and The Unicorn & The Wasp was pretty fun. If the rumours about Terry Pratchett writing an episode are true then I’d certainly be very definitely happy about that also. At this point I’d also welcome a return by RTD, I think that he and The Grand Moff working together could create something pretty special.
Anyway, though. Finale next week. Will the Ponds finally remember their baby daughter is missing? Somehow I doubt it, but we’ll see.