WARNING: This post contains spoilers for The Caretaker.
Last night saw the Doctor go into deep cover in Coal Hill and finally come face to face with Danny Pink – but what did our team make of it? Read on to find out!
Louis (Assistant Editor)
The Caretaker was another solid entry into Series 8 – there were plenty of flaws, but the strengths far outweighed them. Like Gareth Roberts’ previous scripts, The Caretaker is laugh-out-loud funny, once again taking advantage of the comedic strengths of Peter Capaldi – but there’s some great character development in there too. The Doctor/Danny dynamic may be a little overly harsh at times, but it’s intriguing seeing a more flawed side of our new Doctor – and some more exploration of what it means to be a companion. The Skovox Blitzer was sadly a bit of a missed opportunity – but with an intriguing early bird cameo from Chris Addison at episode’s end, The Caretaker remained another entertaining entry in one of the most solid series yet. 8/10
Owen (News and Previews)
The Caretaker is The Doctor roaming around a school criticizing pretty much everyone he meets (whilst trying to save the universe, of course) and this works amazingly. Fun, hilarious and lovable, the episode sparks off of subjects that have been delved into before but the three-way character terror that happens makes it unique and interesting. In comparison to our favourite Caretaker, The Skovox Blitzer roams (literally) about doing not much, and is seen as a plot device rather than anything near scary. Danny shows us he’s not a pushover (compared to our previous male companions) and creates a perfect rival for The Doctor (apart from obviously, The Doctor wins). Overall, The Caretaker is personally, the funniest of Series 8 so far but won’t stand out compared to some of the original thrillers yet to come. 8.5/10
Ben (Video & Digital Media)
Episodes where The Doctor pretends to be ‘normal’ are always fun, and The Caretaker was no exception. The Doctor’s attempts to blend in provided the humour, while Clara’s relationships added the drama. Although I’ve not really warmed to Danny Pink – nor Courtney Woods for that matter – the idea of his military background putting off The Doctor is a brilliant idea that’s well played out. To me, we didn’t see enough of Skovox Blitzer for him to be that much of a threat, but it was a pretty impressive villain all the same. The introduction of [spoiler] as [spoiler] is also very tantalising, as we’re being drip fed new information about the series arc, which is posing more questions than answers at the moment. 8.5/10
This episode really shook me, I thought it had everything and is on a par with Deep Breath and Listen. The Caretaker is fast paced, very funny and I think essentially concentrates on a lovely emotional undercurrent between the Doctor and Clara. I felt a dawning realisation that the Doctor truly had been in love with Clara, both in his former incarnation and possibly even up to the point at which he meets Danny (whom I think finally came alive as a strong character, Samuel Anderson being given the chance to show his quality). Capaldi excels in portraying anger, humour and, most touchingly, sadness. Once the Doctor defeats his foe (Skovox Blitzer) his melancholy and loneliness are strongly re-established, whilst Clara is left suffering the agony of mixed emotions. 9.5/10
Clara’s two lives were bound to collide eventually, and The Caretaker wisely devotes the bulk of its time to both her predicament and the fallout. The dynamics between the Doctor, Clara and Danny, thanks to stellar performances and a strong script, make for compelling viewing with a healthy mix of dramatic tension and comedy. The obligatory sci-fi threat consequently acts almost as a subplot, meaning that the Scovox Blitzer, although well-executed, does nevertheless feel underdeveloped. Chris Addison’s surprise cameo is a real treat after the recent absence of the Missy arc, and with this plus Danny’s ultimatum to Clara surely destined to come back to haunt them, the second half of this series is shaping up to be something potentially very special indeed. 8/10
The Caretaker’s greatest achievement has to be its incredibly wide spectrum of emotions on show. Everything from the joy of seeing The Doctor gallivanting around Cole Hill School, to the heartbreak of losing Clara to Danny. This episode tackled and raised emotions I did not anticipate from the previews, which in turn is the excellence of The Caretaker. The niche ‘Doctor on Earth’ plot element had the potential to overshadow and dilute other areas of the episode, but much to Gareth Roberts and Steven Moffat’s credit, the pull of the episode is evenly balanced with Clara and Danny’s own lives throughout the storyline. At its core, this episode belongs to them. Jenna Coleman and Samuel Anderson continue to form a wonderful partnership, and with Danny’s arrival in the TARDIS, the opportunity for him to stand alongside the likes of Mickey, Rory and Captain Jack has arrived. The villain, whilst one dimensional, carries one of the greatest designs in Doctor Who history. Mass Effect fans will see the resemblance to one of its best loved characters. Topped off with another hint to Series 8’s story arc (and a pleasantly sinister Chris Addison), Peter Capaldi’s debut series just gets better and better. 10/10
And the average score is 8.75/10, up on last week’s episode. Our spoiler-free review of Kill the Moon will be up mid-week, with our team’s spoiler-filled review coming Sunday!