JReviews: Doctor Who Series 8 Episode 6- The Caretaker

Ok, review time.

I will kick by saying this episode turned out to be ten times better than I thought it would be. But that isn't saying much because from the previews this episode looked terrible, like Doctor Who was trying to do an episode of The Sarah Jane Adventures (not that that show was bad in any way, but the style wouldn't have worked for the current Doctor Who). However, it turns out I was wrong. But that still leaves the question, was this a good episode?

I'll get back to you on that one.

Sorry, I actually am struggling to call it, was this episode good or not? It's sort of 50/50. And it comes down to a split between our three protagonists. I liked Danny Pink in this episode, as with pretty much all his appearances so far, and he's quickly becoming my favourite "boyfriend" character (against Mickey and Rory, I know it's a short list but one with two very highly commended names on it). He managed to take what was going on around him much better than most people would, though that's probably down to the fact that he was a soldier. Also, his whole attitude towards Clara and her secrets was, I can't think of the word at the moment….. direct? His character is very interesting, his aversion to lies is something I hope they explore and obviously they've given a nice lead on with what he says to Clara at the end about the Doctor pushing her and that he will help her if she needs him. I like his side of their relationship, I just wish we knew more about him. Oh, one thing though, I know he's ex-army and quite fit and all, but doing gymnastics over a killer robot from outer-space? Really?

Then we have the Doctor. Hmmmmm. Ok, it was very hard to like Peter Capaldi in this episode. He was too blunt, too wrapped up in being secretive and too harsh. Why exactly did he need to keep Clara out of the loop on this one at the start and then, a few minutes later, turn around and tell her everything, was it just so he could annoy her for a bit? Surely if she had know what he was doing, she could have prevented anyone from touching the time line devices, because obviously people at a school are going to trust one of the teachers telling them something, or did the Doctor forget that. Also, I'm really struggling to get a read on Capaldi's Doctor still. He's very enigmatic. Through out this series so far, for everything he does that makes me like him, he'll turn around a few minutes later and do something that makes me think "actually, I'm not sure about this guy." I know he's meant to be a darker Doctor, and I like that. I like the angry eyebrows and the harsh Glaswegian bark, but I'm struggling to warm to him the same way I struggled to warm to Christopher Ecclestone.

And finally we have Clara, who for me sits slap bang in the middle, just like in the episode. She did nothing that made me go "wow" and nothing that made me go "oh dear". I can't tell if this episode was meant to be a character building episode for Clara as well as the Doctor and Danny's meet-up episode, but there were bits that added bits to her character, but not much. I dunno. Two episodes ago we had a high point of Clara as a character and now we're back to the same level as before; Clara does some stuff, is the Doctors companion, yay. I don't get why it is so hard to actually care about her. I mean I care for Danny Pink more than Clara and he's only been in the series for 6 episodes.

Other stuff; the robots design was a bit awkward. I liked it over-all, the face was cool as were it's legs, but it's arms were too short and stumpy and it had an odd love of flail shooting by just waving its arms in the direction of its target and hoping it hit. Not exactly the most fearsome weapon in the galaxy or whatever the Doctor called it. Nice to meet more members of staff at the school. The vortex effect was pretty nice. Oh, and now Chris Addison is helping Missy (who still creeps me out no end). I'm looking forward to seeing what this whole "Promised Land" thing is leading up to at the end of the series.

So overall, good episode? Still not sure. Better than I thought it would be, but suffered because of the Doctor for once.

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3 Responses to JReviews: Doctor Who Series 8 Episode 6- The Caretaker

  1. Agreed. I keep waiting for Pink to prove to be a fifth column to assassinate the doctor without knowing it. Or Capaldi to resolve.

    It’s like he’s still cooking internally.

  2. I think this episode was awesome and excellent. After reading all the whining on russian forums where everyone felt like pouring a bucket of diarrhea on this episode I was scared to half death that the episode would be awful – but I enjoyed every minute of it. I genuinely love how the Doctor was shown in this episode, especially with Capaldi’s magic hand gestures and stuff. Pink was great, too, and I liked his amazing leap however unrealistic it may look. Who needs realism in sci-fi show anyway? That concerns the alien-robot thing, too.

    About the Doctor – funny thing, Capaldi version of the Doctor somehow reminds me of Strax the sontaran. I mean with all those jokes about how humans look. I find it really funny and…alien.

    The only thing that confused me is a scene from near the end of the episode, with Courtney barfing in the Tardis. I got confused – how come Clara and Danny didn’t notice her?

  3. I enjoyed this one, although ditto on the robot design – I felt like they spent way too much on the vortex effect. Plus I agree with your point about telling Clara: the Doctor knows there’s a soldier in the school, goes planting things around the place that look distinctly like bombs (I did think his plan was just going to be destroy the entire school, dust his hands and walk away). That being said I think originally he had no idea it was Clara’s school, which is why he didn’t tell her anything to begin with. It just wouldn’t be the kind of thing he concerns himself with, and as soon as he arrives he does a quick double-take and makes it look like he knew all along and was just being his usual prat self.

    @Malfar: I think that might’ve been intentional, as Strax is a big hit with the younger audience and the Doctor needs /some/ element of humour to him, and after all children are the show’s target audience. Plus we all know how much Moffat loves re-using ideas. I must disagree with your point on realism – there’s a difference between, say, quibbling about the realism of the Doctor slapping the devices seemingly randomly about the school and it being okay, and thinking ‘this robot/sequence is so unrealistic it is now silly and out of place’, which is a thing Moffat enjoys doing and his lazy writing gets far too much leeway with the whole ‘oh it’s only sci-fi’. The best sci-fi series are the best because they are grounded in realism, or at least what popular society considers a realistic view of the future based on logic and reasoning, such as why 2001: A Space Odyssey and Aliens still look amazing today despite coming up on 50 years old. If they’d been lazy about the whole affair it’d look weird and dated, like so many other mediocre sci-fi shows *cough*Babylon5*cough* and this is something I think both the show has lost and is a significant loss. Indeed, it was something the previous episode had a great deal more of and I think was a contributing factor to how good that episode was (despite the melty-head. I can happily put that down to ‘sci-fi shenanigans’).