Review: “Doctor Who – The Caretaker” (TV Show Episode)

(For my non-British readers, "EastEnders" is an annoying show on the BBC where people spend 30 minutes doing almost nothing but arguing with each other.)

(For my non-British readers, “EastEnders” is an annoying show on the BBC where people spend 30 minutes doing almost nothing but arguing with each other.)

Since I’ve just finished watching the latest episode of “Doctor Who”, I thought that I’d write a review of it. As I seem to say every week, I’m not sure how many episodes of this series I’ll get round to reviewing (or even how promptly I’ll be able to review them) but I’ll try to look at as many as possible.

Before I go any further, I should also point out that this review will contain SPOILERS. You have been warned.

“The Caretaker” begins with a fast-paced montage of scenes from various adventures The Doctor and Clara have had, intercut with scenes from Clara’s everyday life as a schoolteacher and of her relationship with Danny.

Although this montage starts with what looks like a dramatic cliffhanger (where the Doctor and Clara are about to be eaten by sand pirhanas on a desert planet), it is unfortunately completely unrelated to the rest of the episode and is just used as one of many examples of how busy Clara’s life is.

Anyway, when Clara meets up with the Doctor later, he tells her that they aren’t going anywhere tonight because he has to go on an undercover mission somewhere alone. Although Clara is annoyed by this, she doesn’t question him too much about it and gets on with her everyday life.

However, when she arrives at school with Danny the following day, the headteacher interrupts the staff meeting to introduce the school’s new temporary caretaker.

And, as you may have guessed, the caretaker is none other than The Doctor (who is wearing a different coat, to disguise himself). Clara is peeved by this and tries to ask him what he’s doing sneaking around the school but he doesn’t really give away too many details.

So, life carries on as normal – albeit with the occasional annoying interruption to Clara’s life by The Doctor.

Meanwhile, on the streets nearby – a policeman catches two pupils from Clara’s school playing truant and sends them back to school. However, before the policeman can continue his patrol, he hears something from inside the abandoned building that the kids had been standing outside. So, he goes inside to investigate – and is promptly vapourised by an evil robot.

It quickly becomes obvious that the Doctor has gone undercover at the school in order to send the robot back to the distant future by luring it to the school at night and setting off a series of time mines that he’s placed at strategic locations around the school. However, before he can do this, Danny accidentally finds some of the mines and removes them.

This leads to a dramatic confrontation between the robot and The Doctor (as well as Clara and Danny). Although the Doctor manages to re-activate one of the remaining mines, it’s doesn’t work quite well enough and it only sends the robot three days into the future…..

One of the first things I will say about this episode is that it felt like everything was the wrong way around – the dramatic parts with the robot felt almost like a sub-plot and the parts about Clara and Danny’s relationship felt like they were the main plot of the episode.

If this was a “normal” TV drama series, I probably wouldn’t mind this – but it’s “Doctor Who”. It’s one of the few new sci-fi shows on TV these days (and pretty much the only British one) so, it shouldn’t be too much of a stretch to expect it to be primarily a sci-fi show rather than a soap opera or a romantic comedy.

Seriously, if it wasn’t for the tacked-on scenes with the robot and the cool-looking montage at the beginning, then this episode could have easily just been an episode of any other “ordinary” modern drama series.

So, yes, this is another argument-based character-based episode. But, not only do we have to sit through the Doctor and Clara bickering with each other, we now also get to see The Doctor arguing with Danny too. Wonderful!

Not only that, there are also at least a few dramatic conversations between Clara and Danny about their relationship too. Again, this fine for a soap opera or a “serious” sci-fi show like “Battlestar Galactica”, but it’s not really ok for a more light-hearted show like “Doctor Who”.

Yes, all of this annoying stuff is balanced out with some comedy – but, even so, the episode felt a bit too “serious” and “realistic” for an episode of “Doctor Who”.

In addition to this, the special effects in some (but not all) of the scenes featuring the robot weren’t great either. Ok, they weren’t exactly “bad”, but there were at least a couple of parts of the episode where the special effects reminded me more of an episode of “Red Dwarf” from the 1990s than an episode of “Doctor Who” from the 2010s. And not in a good way….

Whilst I’m a huge “Red Dwarf” fan and I don’t really care about special effects in TV shows or movies if the story is good enough, the story of this episode wasn’t really good enough to distract me from a couple of clunky special effects scenes. Seriously, if you actually notice a special effect, then that’s usually a sign of bad writing and/or bad acting.

All in all, this was a fairly mediocre episode of “Doctor Who”. Whilst it wasn’t quite as bad as “Listen“, it’s nothing spectacular either and – as I said earlier – was more of a “soap opera” episode than anything else.

The chemistry between the main characters hasn’t really been as good in this series of “Doctor Who” as it has in previous series of the show and, whilst I don’t mind this if there’s a suitably interesting storyline and lots of cool sci-fi stuff to distract me from it, there wasn’t really enough of this in this week’s episode.

Still, the preview of the next episode at the end of “The Caretaker” showed The Doctor and a group of astronauts fighting alien spider creatures on a moon somewhere, so it looks like the series might get back to normal next week.

But, if I had to give “The Caretaker” a rating out of five, then it would get three at the most.