TV Review: “Doctor Who” – “The Caretaker”

Written by Caitlin Cooper September 30, 2014

Doctor Who

“Doctor Who” is known for taking us to the far corners of the universe, to odd planets with aliens ranging from human-looking to incredibly weird. The TARDIS has traveled to the future, to the past, and everywhere in between. It’s been awhile, however, since the TARDIS has been parked on earth for days. When there’s a problem for the Doctor (Peter Capaldi) to solve on earth, it usually means big trouble. The whole planet and all of its inhabitants could be under threat. And the most dangerous part of all? The Doctor goes undercover at his companion’s (Jenna Coleman) workplace. My oh my.

 

“The Caretaker” is one of those “Doctor Who” episodes which brings things – danger, adventure – closer to home. What could be more interesting than seeing an the Doctor attempt to be normal? It’s also one of the lighter episodes. Every now and then, the British sci-fi drama likes to do an episode that’s much lighter and more comedic than dramatic, similar to season 8’s earlier episode called “Robot of Sherwood”. “Robot of Sherwood” is one of my favourite “Doctor Who” episodes this season so far, but “The Caretaker” doesn’t have the same magic that’s present in the episode about Robin Hood. The comedy is pretty on-point, but there’s some weak aspects which bring the episode down. Like in “Listen”, it had the potential to be a great episode. In “The Caretaker”, the Doctor is rude to Danny (Samuel Anderson) for no reason at all. The only thing I can think of is that he feels threatened by him, but that doesn’t make sense given Amy (Karen Gillan) often brought along her husband, Rory (Arthur Darvill). The Doctor’s rudeness was really off-putting. Also, the so-called threat was barely the focus of the episode, and so didn’t really seem that frightening.

“Every caretaker has their own box.”

Something that continues to be done well in “Doctor Who” season 8 is the comedy. It’s been picking up with a rapid pace since the first episode, and is now a very frequent mode of conversation in the majourity of scenes. The episode is particularly comedic because Clara is so stressed out by having the Doctor at her workplace (partly because he meets Danny and treats him like an imbecile). There’s one cut and funny scene in which the Doctor is proud to think Clara’s boyfriend wears a bow-tie, probably because the previous incarnation of the Doctor loved bow-ties. A lot of comedy also comes from the interactions between Clara and her students, or the Doctor and students. There’s a scene in which the Doctor makes fun of and then bonds with one of Clara’s students which is especially funny.

Doctor Who

One of the most interesting plot-points of “The Caretaker” is quite dramatic. The Doctor behaves, as I said before, horribly to Danny. Clara is sort of caught in the middle between the two most important people in her life. When the Doctor sort of pushes her to choose between them, she chooses Danny. I think the Doctor is forgetting that Clara has a life outside of her adventures in the Tardis. She isn’t with him 24/7, so she’s got to build a life for herself outside of their journeys. The scene was tense and well-acted, but made me worry about the future of these characters when this season of “Doctor Who” is still fairly new.

“I trust him. He’s never let me down.”

In contrast to the relationship between Clara and the Doctor, the relationship between Clara and Danny doesn’t seem especially hurt, in the end, by the truth coming out. Sure, Danny is pretty hurt she kept something so big from him, and he’s worried about her being in danger so much. That being said, he helps Clara and the Doctor defeat the alien robot. There’s also a sweet scene in which he makes her promise to confide in him about what happens when she goes off with the Doctor. I don’t particularly like that he gives her an ultimatum, but I do like that he decides to accept support this part of her life. If anything, “The Caretaker” cements Clara and Danny as a serious couple, especially given that now Danny knows about the Doctor. Something curious, though, is that Danny accepted the truth of aliens way too easily for an ignorant human. There’s something about him we still don’t know. “Doctor Who” thrives on mysterious characters.

6

Overall, “The Caretaker” isn’t one of the best episodes of “Doctor Who” season 8, but it does bring Clara and Danny’s relationship from awkward, embarrassed, and tongue-tied to serious. The comedy, as usual, is pretty spot on especially with the student who the Doctor brings in the Tardis. I can only hope that the drama of this episode doesn’t mean trouble ahead for the Doctor and his companion.

My Rating: 7.5/10

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About Caitlin Cooper

Caitlin Cooper

Caitlin is an avid watcher of movies and television shows so she decided to use her passion to write about them. She has a B.A. in English Language and Literature with a Minor in Creative Writing.

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