I’m going to be honest, I don’t really know what to think of The Caretaker.  On one hand the dialogue and characters were good but the actual villain/threat supposedly being the most ruthlessly designed killing machine misses nearly every shot and may arguably be more inept at going up and down stairs than a Classic-Who Dalek.

Really, at this point, why can’t there just be a Doctor Who episode that is pretty much just drama talking?  With the way the show has gone under Moffat, that may be the best bet.  Let the characters talk about drama things and ignore some evil villain plot that ultimately goes nowhere and takes time away from the well written parts.

SPOILER ALERT – YES, IF YOU READ AHEAD YOU WILL KNOW SIGNIFICANT PLOT DETAILS

Let’s start with the good.  Peter Capaldi is funny without being annoying.  It’s more a sarcastic type of humor, and as we’ve all been finding out, he does it very well.  It also helps that Clara continues to be written well and Jenna Coleman has great chemistry with Capaldi (he really is the Doctor she’s written for, she was just kind of there for Matt Smith).

Nothing says disguise like a new coat

Nothing says disguise like a new coat

We get to see more of her relationship with Danny, and I’m mostly all for Danny (I will get to that later).  The Doctor goes undercover as the caretaker of the school Clara and Danny work at, so naturally the Doctor is bound to meet Danny.  Here’s where an issue arises.

Yes, I get it, the Doctor doesn’t like soldiers.  This has been pounded into our heads for the past few episodes, and without any proper explanation it is wearing thin.  I’d like just a hint of an explanation for his anger towards them.  There was some explanation a few weeks ago when the Doctor found himself in a Dalek, but other than that not much, just a lot of ranting and shouting.  Danny goes on to eventually act out an over-the-top soldier performance to the Doctor, because he’s fed up with it and I don’t blame him.  I don’t understand why the Doctor doesn’t think soldiers can be smart, but perhaps in time something will be explained, or not, it’s impossible to tell or trust Moffat’s sense of direction.

While I’m talking about Danny, I’d like to note he is not a super hero.  I say this because they kind of made him a Matrix-esque type super hero at the end of the episode by having him do this crazy slow motion, forward flip over the evil robot (which was also a soldier carrying out its orders, so maybe the Doctor doesn’t like soldiers because they carry out orders and don’t think about what they’re doing, I don’t know, just a thought).  It was completely out of place and felt like last minute writing to solve the issue of how to eliminate a highly forgettable villain.

Now, I did like how there was a bunch of confusion between Danny, Clara, and the Doctor during the first half of the episode when the Doctor didn’t know who Danny was and when Clara was trying to keep everything under control while the Doctor was at the school.  It was reminiscent of an episode of Coupling, which is always a good thing.  While the Doctor thinking Clara was going out with the teacher who wore a bow tie wasn’t overly original, it made for some funny lines and worked well.

doctor-who-clara-dannySo all seems to be going well.  The characters are well written (except that slow motion flip, still don’t know where that came from, it was way too over-the-top) and are a joy to watch together.  Except the actual evil/bad guy plot really had no point.  Unfortunately, they can’t seem to avoid the monster-of-the-week formula, even if means throwing in some boring plot.  As previously mentioned, we’re left with a soldier robot that misses every shot and is just there to conveniently shuffle characters around to where they need to go for the good parts to occur.  Of course, in the end the robot is defeated and all can move on.

I would have preferred a story along the lines of Listen, which had a villain that was a part of the Doctor and his own curiosity.  This allowed the script an opportunity to focus on the Doctor and have everything flow and connect properly.  In The Caretaker, there was a noticeable disconnect between what the characters were doing and what the villain’s lack of a plot was doing.  This resulted in some annoyance when the villain came back on the screen.

Still, I’d say the episode is definitely worth a watch for the Doctor, Clara, and Danny.  At least they seem to have a better handle on the main characters this series, and I appreciate the consistency with Clara, which was completely absent in series 7.  So, strangely enough, unlike last series where Clara was always being changed to fit whatever the writers needed her for, this episode the villain seems to have been written after all the good dialogue was written and they just kind of threw a robot in there.

Right, so, it’s a decent enough episode and isn’t a drag like Time Heist.  The upcoming episode, Kill the Moon has an admittedly sort-of-awful title, but the trailer seems pretty good and so does this preview clip:

 

 

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