The Caretaker was a much-needed break from high-octane genre based action, for a simple (relatively) quiet episode developing the relationships between characters. Though the episode was mostly character based these dialogue heavy scenes were peppered with action to keep certain audiences interested. Although personally, I could spend a whole episode watching dialogue between the Doctor, Clara, Danny and basically anyone else. The writing is on point this season, every episode in series 8 has been written beautifully, with little jokes and clever techniques even in the dialogue. It is impossible to get bored during the episode as the conversations don’t just go from point A to point B they meander there, saying something at the start of the discussion that will then make sense later on to comic effect. A perfect example is a conversation between the Doctor and Clara in the restaurant scene during Deep Breath. The Doctor and Clara discuss the kind of person that would place the ad in the paper that brought them both to the same restaurant, the Doctor calls the writer a pompous egomaniac, it is revealed later on that the Doctor believed the author of the ad was Clara. We then realise, at the same time as Clara that the Doctor just called her an egomaniac.
There were some nice little moments in this one, I particularly like the idea of the Doctor as a school caretaker in this one. It seems to be just a one episode thing but as soon as the Doctor was tinkering with the electrics in his big long coat, being just a bit too strange for the normals it felt right. I would quite like for this Doctor to be Coal Hill’s caretaker all the time something just about it just makes sense.
Obviously I’m not saying every episode should be like The Caretaker, adventures taking place in and around the school. I just think it would be nice for there to be a scene every now and then, showing that this is what the Doctor is doing when he isn’t on adventures. Danny Pink is looking to be an interesting addition to the regular cast, there was a little surprise for us at the end of the episode, we know that he is capable in times of danger as it has been established that he was a soldier. However, I don’t think anyone expected what happened in the final scenes when he performed a flip, soaring over the alien’s head like a gymnast or a pro wrestler distracting the robot long enough for the Doctor to shut it down. Samuel Anderson has also proved his acting skills in the few episodes he has featured in, as Orson Pink he had the quiet and sadness of someone who had been isolated, alone in the darkest place in space and time for a lifetime. He perpetually had the expression of someone who is really fed up. As Danny Pink he managed to recreate the look of someone who has is plagued by what he has seen, done and by his own lack of self belief. While retaining the aura of someone who is quite capable if threatened.
I did have one main problem with this episode however which was that the monster wasn’t as developed as those in previous weeks. The creatures in the previous episodes of series 8 have been well-developed, with either a back story or a story arc of some description. The cyborgs in the premier had a back story that unravelled throughout the episode and was a key plot point. Though the Teller had very little back story in Timeheist there was a future for him, a story arc leading to some pathos showing the creature isn’t just some big grotesque monster. Whereas the antagonist in this episode was your basic robot adversary. The model of the android itself felt like something we have seen a million times before, the machine modelled off a person and a spider/crab.
To conclude, overall The Caretaker was a fun bit of filler used to develop the relationships between established characters and the new additions. The idea of the Doctor as Caretaker was nice and the character of Danny Pink is promising. It is also always nice to return to Coal Hill given that it has such a presence in Doctor Who’s history.