James Corden’s return as Craig, the Doctor’s one time roommate, brings us a welcome change of pace from the angst stories, with writer Gareth Roberts once again giving us a story that’s not necessarily lighter in tone than we usually get (the show is pretty frothy at the best of times) but has the sheer audacity to be purposefully funny for no other reason than to be funny. Most of the jokes center on Craig as a young dad barely keeping it together and constantly in fear of making a horrible mistake with his infant son. But we also get an extended series of crowd-pleasing jokes exploring the Doctor’s ability to “speak baby.” These jokes work well, not only because we all secretly suspect that pre-verbal infants see the world in terms of “mommy” and “not mommy” with everything else as a barely real thing here for their amusement, and so Alfie thinking of himself as “Stormageddon” feels right in line with that. That it’s entirely possible that the Doctor is making this all up to mess with Craig’s head is never directly stated, but given that “Rule One” has been repeated with some frequency this season, it’s still plausible that the Doctor is having a private joke on the monkey.
Roberts nicely contrasts Craig’s attitude towards his son with the relationship between the Doctor and his companion. Not just in that both Craig and the Doctor are worried for the safety and life of the person in their charge, but Craig’s total faith and belief in the Doctor’s goodness and ability to defeat evil is echoed in Alfie’s trust in Craig, which is what ultimately defeats the Cybermen. Speaking of, the annual presence of the Cybermen is starting to become almost as conspicuous as the annual reappearance of the Daleks. It’s nice that the show has stopped trying to rectify the Cybermen’s appearances with the continuity of the alternate universe versions. They’re simply around, and like the Daleks being re-established last season, as an ongoing threat instead of “one last band of survivors”, having Cybermen as a menace that could just randomly pop up feels like a needed adjustment back to the serial nature of the original series.