Wednesday 29 May 2024

Inspirations: Closing Time

Unlike previous series since 2005, Steven Moffat decided to forego the usual two-part finale and produce two separate stories to conclude his second year in charge. Series 5 hadn't been a conventional two-parter anyway.
Closing Time is, first and foremost, a sequel to The Lodger. Gareth Roberts' Series 5 episode had seen the Doctor temporarily stranded on Earth and having to adapt to normal day-to-day living. Part of that had involved him standing in for new pal Craig at his place of work. Roberts takes this element and expands it into a full story.
"What would happen if the Doctor got a flat", becomes "what would happen if the Doctor had to hold down a job?".
Rather than plant the Doctor into an identical set-up - the same flat and Craig in the same relationship - things have moved on. He's living in a new house in Colchester, and has a baby. There's less room in the story for Sophie, so Daisy Haggard is reduced to a cameo role topping and tailing the episode. The actress had only limited availability anyway, as she was appearing on stage in London at the time.
The episode is all about what Craig and the Doctor get up to in her absence, with her fretting about how he will cope whilst he manages very well indeed, thank you - helped by the Doctor.
The baby was originally going to be girl, named Grace - later Tess.

Roberts based the interaction between the Doctor and Craig on that between the Second Doctor and Jamie.
(On entering Craig's new house, the Doctor comments: "You've redecorated. I don't like it" - a phrase coined by the Second Doctor, and used by others since).
The episode becomes a companion-lite story, with Craig fulfilling this role. Amy and Rory only feature in one scene and don't interact with the Doctor.
The name of the perfume she advertises - "Petrichor" - derives from one of the things Idris put into Rory's mind in The Doctor's Wife. It's the smell of earth after rainfall.
The reason for the Doctor's visit to Craig is that he is revisiting old friends as he thinks he is nearing the end of his life - just as the Tenth did in The End of Time Part II.

The setting of a department store came about after a police station, hospital and a supermarket had been considered. The latter was problematic as too many brand names would appear, and there was little narrative justification in the Doctor and Craig continually visiting a police station. Hospitals had featured several times already. A department store setting had formed the basis for the first version of The Faceless Ones, before shifting to an airport.
Roberts wanted a double name for his store - like Swan & Edgar or Marks & Spencer. Sanderson was named after a character in a book he had just read, whilst Grainger was one of his old teachers.

For the main threat we have the return of the Cybermen - in their first full episode of the Moffat era. He had featured them as part of the Pandorica Alliance, and then as part of the pre-credits sequence of A Good Man Goes To War. Moffat is on record as stating that they are one of his favourite monsters, and he will use them a lot - appearing in the penultimate episode of five of his six seasons.
Roberts gets to bring back the Cybermats - seen only in two Troughton stories and Tom Baker's Revenge of the Cybermen, their last appearance. (The Doctor actually quotes his earlier self from that story - "Not a rat. It's a Cybermat").
They were going to appear in Silver Nemesis, and Mike Tucker even created a new prop, but it ended up being dropped. His Cybermat can be seen in the (More Than) Thirty Years in the TARDIS documentary, menacing Colin Baker and Nicola Bryant.
For their new design, it was decided to accentuate the fact that these were converted animals, so they were given sharp fangs.
The exact nature and origins of the old Cybermats were never very clear.
A working title for the story was "Three Cybermen and a Baby" - a play on the name of the popular 1987 film starring Ted Danson, Steve Guttenberg and Tom Selleck.
Initially a lone converted human guarded a pod, inside which was a Cyber-Controller and a pair of Cybermen.

The Doctor plans a trip to Exedor. This name was made up by Roberts from Exxilon and Aggedor, from Season 11.
The door to the Cybership is said to be made of disillium - a metal first mentioned in Carnival of Monsters.
Mention is made of Star Trek - making it a fictitious TV programme in this universe. A Series 14 episode suggests instead that it isn't. (Around this time there was a crossover comic book series featuring the Cybermen and the Borg).
Once the Cybermen have been defeated - emotions being fatal to Cybermen from The Invasion to The Age of Steel - we have a coda with River Song which links into the final episode. This shows her being abducted from the Luna University and becoming the "Impossible Astronaut".
Next time: it's all happening at once, quite literally...

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