In Review: Doctor Who – The Caretaker

The Time Lord goes undercover as a caretaker at Coal Hill School.

Synopsis: The Time Lord goes undercover as a caretaker at Coal Hill School.

Review: I have to open up this by saying that this thematically has to be the weakest episode of the series thus far. Basically because the threat, which was supposed to be the most dangerous soldier robot in the galaxy was neutralized by what seemed to be a simple hack.

If anything this was nothing more than a way and a means to bring Danny Pink more into the fold. Something, which should really have been tackled immediately after the episode ‘Listen,’ which teased us with so much.

As far as acting performances go its a three hander between Capaldi, Coleman and Samuel Anderson as Clara’s love interest and future companion for the Doctor. At least I hope so because the little I seen of the relationship between The Doctor and Danny I really liked. It was very prickly.

In fact the conversation where Danny tells Clara that The Doctor reminds him of some of the officers that he served under in the army added a really cool element to the series. It put me in mind of a scene from the series ‘Sharpe’ where Patrick Harper and Sharpe are starting to bond. In this scene Harper warns Sharpe about the officer he is serving under and says, “There are two kinds of officers, sir: killin’ officers and murderin’ officers. Killin’ officers are poor old buggers that get you killed by mistake. Murderin’ officers are mad, bad, old buggers that get you killed on purpose – for a country, for a religion, maybe even for a flag. You see that Major Hogan, sir? That’s what I call a murderin’ officer.”

Danny Pink when he confides in Clara about the Doctor is warning her that The Doctor could well be a Killin’ officer. We also see Danny voicing the concerns of many fans of the series when he pulls Clara up on the fact that she does not seem to fear for her own well being when she is with The Doctor.

The episode does a lot of fantastic character stuff and its a really solid introduction for Danny Pink that we should have had about 4 weeks ago.

As far as the threat goes though. It seemed like a bit of none entity and just a convenient excuse to have the Doctor meet Clara’s new boyfriend.

There are some fantastic moments in this for classic ‘Doctor Who’ fans in that we get to see the Junk Yard where the first Doctor left his Tardis. It turns out to be the hiding place of the not so friendly, but easily subdued robot.

We also get to see a little more of the mysterious Mary Poppins character known only as Missy.

Overall though this one fell a little flat for me.

Doctor Who - The Caretaker
  • Great character moments
  • Lame robot of the week easily subdued threat
  • Story
  • Acting
  • CGI
  • Incidental Music

Ian Cullen is the founder of and has been a fan of science fiction and fantasy from birth. In the past few years he has written for 'Star Trek' Magazine as well as interviewed numerous comics writers, television producers and actors for the SFP-NOW podcast at: When he is not writing for Ian enjoys playing his guitar, studying music, watching movies and reading his comics. Ian is both the founder and owner of You can contact ian at:
3 Comments on this post.
  • Raissa Devereux (@RaissaDevereux)
    27 September 2014 at 10:32 pm -

    It fell flat for me too and won’t get a repeat viewing. It was a DW Rom-Com down to Clara having that boy reading from Pride & Prejudice at the beginning and the confusion with the Matt Smith look-a-like. Like you, I thought the story was elevated by the performances and themes.

    Frankly, it being Coal Hill, I was expecting a more direct shout out to Barbara and Ian. Twelve doesn’t do maudlin, but some emotion would have been nice. Maybe some other time.

    Btw, that Nethersphere functionary at the end is called Seb. He’s played by Capaldi’s Thick of It co-star Chris Addison, and we’ll apparently be seeing him in the finale. So Yay!

    All three of these slice of life episodes (The Lodger, Closing Time, The Caretaker) were written by Gareth Roberts. They all share an underlying assumption that the Doctor is a complete rube. They’re aimed at new fans, completely ignoring Three’s exile on Earth for the sake of some sight gags and mortification. It wouldn’t bother me so much if the Doctor used his exile as context. “If I pretend to be too human, it reminds me of when I was forced to be here with no other recourse.” UNIT and his companions aside, he would have mixed feelings about the whole thing,

  • Raissa Devereux (@RaissaDevereux)
    27 September 2014 at 11:57 pm -

    I’ve had some additional thoughts re: Clara as the Impossible Girl. When Danny asked her why she travelled with the Doctor, I wish she would have said, “because after being split into a million versions of myself, I only know how to lead multiple lives filled with wonder.”

    When he asked her why she wasn’t sharing the wonder with him, she could’ve said “because after being a million versions of herself, she needed the wonder to be hers alone.”

    Then, after she told a confused Danny what the hell she was talking about, it could’ve been the perfect segue into the conversation about the Doctor pushing her too far.

    Genuinely missed opportunities unless they deal with all that later.

  • Raissa Devereux (@RaissaDevereux)
    28 September 2014 at 12:25 am -

    One more thing: Of course, Clara’s fear response is gone. She had to split it among millions of versions of herself. I swear its like her story arc is by implication and inference only, and it’s weirding me out.

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