The Doctor becomes a caretaker. At Clara’s school. Without asking Clara first.

Cast and Crew Information

Peter Capaldi as The Doctor
Jenna Louise Coleman as Clara Oswald
Samuel Anderson as Danny Pink
Ellis George as Courtney Woods
Edward Harrison as Adrian
Nigel Betts as Mr Armitage
Andy Gillies as CSO Matthew
Nanya Campbell as Noah
Joshua Warner-Campbell as Yashe
Oliver Barry-Brook as Kelvin
Ramone Morgan as Tobias
Winston Ellis as Mr Woods
Gracy Goldman as Mrs Woods
Diana Katis as Mrs Christopholou
Jimmy Vee as Skovox Blitzer
Chris Addison as Seb

Written by Gareth Roberts and Steven Moffat

Directed by Paul Murphy

Premise

The Doctor takes the job of caretaker at Coal Hill School, much to Clara’s surprise. She was trying to concentrate on Danny for a few days, but the Doctor’s after one of the most dangerous killing machines in the universe.

High Point

I found it very hard to select a high point. There are so many good moments, but I think it probably boils down to one question: “Are you a space woman?”

Low Point

The PCSO’s scene exists only to demonstrate there’s something dangerous nearby, and its content is drawn almost entirely from The Big Book Of Child-Police Interaction Clichés. Although it is mitigated somewhat later on.

The Review

Originality plays around with us. The Doctor has of course been undercover in school before – twice in the revived series, as I recall, although under very different circumstances, and then there was his last visit to Coal Hill School in the 1980s in Remembrance of the Daleks when the corridors were terrorised by an even more dangerous breed of alien. However, none of those adventures had the companion trying to lead a normal life in the middle of it all or her boyfriend who has no idea about the Doctor. Four out of six.

The effects are rather gorgeous, particularly the chronodyne vortex. The TARDIS exterior/interior transition blending gets better all the time, and it’s all topped off by a couple of rather brilliant explosions. Five out of six.

The story gives us the biggest look yet into Clara’s ‘normal’ life and how she fits all her trips with the Doctor around it, with some character development along the way. I think we could be building something big here, but we’re also seeing the seedlings which may well be what eventually causes Clara to leave the TARDIS for good. Five out of six.

The acting continues to impress. Five out of six.

The production was great, bringing back lots of memories of secondary school for this reviewer (although that’s not how parents’ evening worked at mine), but marred by a couple of little things which I couldn’t help but notice. Also, I do not believe the enemy is really one of the most dangerous things in the universe. It does not compare well to a Dalek, visually. Five out of six.

The emotional response was a bit mixed. It’s clearly an emotional time for the characters, but it didn’t engage me very much. I was interested, but the emotional content was mostly a few giggles. Three out of six.

Overall, I enjoyed this episode but it’s going to be more interesting for its effects later in the series than for itself. Four out of six.

In total, The Caretaker receives 31 out of 42.