Doctor Who First Impressions Review & Spoilers: Season 8 – Episode 6 – “The Caretaker”

Doctor Who, Season 8, Episode 6

The Caretaker

Written by Gareth Roberts & Steven Moffat
Directed by Paul Murphy

Cast
Peter Capaldi – The Doctor
Jenna Coleman – Clara Oswald
Samuel Anderson – Danny Pink
Ellis George – Courtney Woods
Edward Harrison – Adrian
Jimmy Vee – Skovox Blitzer
Chris Addison – Seb
Michelle Gomez – Missy


Warning! This review contains quite a few spoilers!

Quick Summary: The Doctor goes undercover as a janitor at Clara and Danny’s school to try and stop a robot killing machine. The Doctor and Danny meet for the first time, and they do not get along at all! Can they possibly put aside their differences to save the school?  Oh of course they can…it wouldn’t be much of a show if they didn’t.


First Impressions:

  • I will admit I was a bit distracted throughout this episode. I just got home from a conference and have been dealing with a real annoying cold. Yeah, I know…you come here for Doctor who reviews, not my autobiography, but I thought it was important to put this review in some context.
  • That said, I did enjoy this episode quite a bit. I thought the character dynamics worked really well. The tension between the Doctor and Danny felt real, and I loved seeing Clara being spread thin because of her double-life.  The opening scenes that kept flipping between TARDIS life and real life were a lot of fun.
  • I also thought the Skovox Blitzer was a pretty cool looking villain, and I liked the various clever ways the Doctor came up with trying to deal with him. Send him a billion years in the future…trick him by pretending to be a commanding officer (which played off really well after Danny accused him of being an officer). I love when the Doctor is genuinely clever and not just throwing about some technobabble. I will admit, I am not a huge fan of the mindless killing machine as a Doctor Who villain, as the stakes come off as pretty low, but the Skovox Blitzer worked well enough for this story.
  • I was expecting this episode would be a lot like School Reunion, but there wasn’t much of a connection beyond “takes place at a school.” I do regret that they didn’t manage to get William Russell to do a cameo as Ian Chesterton. Ever since his name showed up in the 50th anniversary, I’ve been hoping he would swing by.Fun fact of the day: Did you know Alfred Enoch (who plays Dean Thomas in the Harry Potter movies) is William Russell’s son? There, you learned something from this review!
  • My biggest gripe with this episode was there wasn’t really a lot of surprises in it. If you’ve even seen a TV show before, you can easily predict the story beats in this one. The Doctor and Danny would not get along at first. The Doctor’s first plan would fail…sending the Skovox into a future confrontation….as soon as they said Parent’s Night was the next night, it was pretty obvious WHEN that confrontation would happen. It was also obvious that the Doctor and Danny would be able to put aside their differences because of Clara and to defeat the Skovox in the end.These things don’t make it a BAD episode really, just predictable. I prefer my Doctor Who a little more surprising. Come to think about it, I had a similar complaint about the last episode…maybe I just have watched way too much Doctor Who…
  • I did like that they advanced the Missy subplot a little more. It seemed to have vanished after the second episode of the season. I also like that they seemed to have given her some kind of receptionist in “The Promised Land.” Chris Addison only had a brief role, but I found his amusing efficiency and hint of attitude to be a highlight of the episode. I really hope he comes back into play as this story plays out. I also liked that we got to see behind Missy’s bright and cheery facade. Pissed off Missy seemed genuinely scary.
  • Ever since she showed up in the first episode of the season, something about Courtney Woods has annoyed me. As her role has grown through the season, that really hasn’t gone away. It seems like she might actually join the Doctor on his next adventure…definitely NOT looking forward to that. I can’t help but think “oh no, another Adric!”Well, on the bright side, Adric died in the end, so maybe we can get the same fate for Courtney. Sorry…I really hate her that much.
  • I do want to apologize to Ellis George…I am sure she’s a lovely woman and a fine actress. It’s just her character I hate, not her personally!

  • I loved that we got a character that was a clear homage to Matt Smith’s Eleventh Doctor. When I saw the trailer for this episode, I actually thought it was another cameo by Matt at first, but admittingly, this version of Matt Smith is much cuter, I especially liked how the Doctor immediately felt affectionate towards Adrian, even assuming that he was Clara’s boyfriend. I would definitely rather see more of him than Courtney.  Not too much of an ego, right Doctor?
  • One last comment before I go…the Doctor whistling “Another Brick In the Wall” was a brilliant moment. I think that had to be an ad lib, but it worked perfectly.
  • Next week’s episode Kill The Moon: Next week is supposed to mark a huge change in the tone of the season. The trailer didn’t give much away except that it’s about the Doctor, Clara, and Courtney dealing with some kind of bug creature on the moon.  If the change in tone is Courtney gets eaten by a space praying mantis, I will declare this the best season of Doctor Who ever.

    Final Score: 7.5/10: Kind of predictable at times, but all in all, it was a fine episode. There haven’t really been any bad episodes this season.  Definitely one of the most consistent seasons of Doctor Who.

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