Some assumptions ‘Closing Time’ relies upon: a man being rubbish at looking after a baby is richly hilarious; James Corden has talent of some kind; it’s still amusing when someone wrongly thinks two men are a couple. All very questionable.
And, as ever, (heteronormative) love conquers all. It kills Cybermen because emotions ‘n’ stuff, yeah? Okay, they did something like that in ‘The Invasion’, but at least there it was any emotion, and it made the Cybermen go bonkers instead of just conveniently dying of endoftheepisodeitis. Notice the utterly pedestrian, idea-free logic here. You kill the loveless things with love. That’s like saying you kill poor people with money. I know the gold thing was stupid, but at least that suggested the logic of using a magical metallic talisman against the zombies. And at least, when the Cybermen got killed by gold or gravity or radiation, they were simply defeated and chased off rather than being negated or solved. Kill a Cyberman with radiation and you simply defeat his physical presence. Kill him with love and you solve him. You explain him away. You fill the empty space that he once was… with syrup. The Cybermen are worthless now. They have been emptied out of all threat because their hollowness has been stuffed with candyfloss. Thus is the rump gothic ritually defeated by the power of comforting banalities.
By the way… remember when Gareth Roberts scathingly wrote about how silly ‘The Green Death’ was because nobody in the audience needed to be told that pollution was bad? Well… does ‘Closing Time’ mean that he now believes people need to be reminded that loving your baby son is good? Are we to understand that banal statements about political issues are a Bad Thing while banal statements about personal feelings are Inspirational Drama? I guess so, since the former is about boring stuff like public health and business ethics, while the latter is about interesting stuff like oooo i wuv my pwetty ickle baby. Why are the British public assumed to need weekly reminders that love is a good thing? Why, furthermore, must love always be reduced to a simple and unambiguously positive thing, as though it’s a kind of neurological Angel Delight? And why is it thought that they need to be constantly reassured that it can conquer absolutely anything just by being felt? What right to these fucking hacks have to inform us how we are obliged to feel in order to be normal and earn the Doctor’s gormless yawp of excited approval? And isn’t this constant emphasis on love as something overpowering and perfect just an emotional version of the media peddling of body images? Just as we are constantly told how we should look, are we not also being told that our feelings should be just as glossy and perfect and swaggeringly healthy? There is a catwalk for the feelings, and yours must be capable of poseurising their way down it, looking just right. Fuck off.
There is something repellently wholesome and healthy about garbage like ‘Closing Time’. If it were a person, it would be the jogger with a muesli bar who sneers down his nose at you as you eat your Twix. (Yes, yes, I know James Corden is fat. It’s a metaphor. Give me a fucking break.) Babies and fatherhood and duty and love, love, love… and all that stuff that, if left alone, is just normal life for most people, but which gets turned into a kind of public school P.E. lesson for the brain when turned into saturday night ideology by people like Gareth Roberts and the BBC.
On top of all this, the Doctor is allowed to notice the revolting sentimentality of saying that James Corden defeated the Cybermen with love… and instead he briefly falls back on reductionist biological determinism. Before relenting and going back to the sentimentality. These are the two permitted poles.
Still, at least it has lots of emotional beats in it. In the same way that a Barbie house has architecture, I suppose.
This is the way the show ends, not with a bang but a simper.