So this is what happens when you overindulge in snacks before dinner. You leave yourself not hungry for the main course. Gareth Roberts has established himself as the change-of-pace author, cemented in last years The Lodger. Amongst the problems with Closing Time however is not so much that it is a change-of-pace, which it certainly tries to be, but that it echoes so many other elements of nu-Who that it could make you dizzy.
The milieu of the department store runs out of Rose. Killing the Cybermen with love is remindful of Victory of the Daleks. The dad (re)connecting with his son occurred only three weeks ago in Night Terrors. It goes on and on. Smith and Corden as an unlikely double act is fine, but since this is the double-bank story two years running it all seemed like a distant replay and as such for the main story alone comes in at the bottom of our informal 2011 Dynamic Ratings Table, even with the tonal shifts weighted by Smith and the coda at the end with River and the astronaut. One could be forgiven if you felt it was a 40-minute prelude for a 5-minute story. Come to that, cliffhanger aside, wouldn’t we all have been better served by making River’s appearance a pre-credits sequence for a longer season finale?
On the trivial side Lynda Baron now holds the distinction of having the longest appearance span in the history of the program, having sung in The Gunfighters (in 1966), been a pirate in Enlightenment (1983), and now in Closing Time. What other program can claim such a distinction?