Doctor Who Review: The Caretaker

doctor who the caretaker review gareth roberts steven moffat paul murphy skovox blitzer peter capaldi jenna coleman samuel anderson

You’ve explained me to him. You haven’t explained him to me.

One of the things I always love about Doctor Who is the juxtaposition of the mundane and the ordinary. I know, so original! I imagine that just about every person commenting on Doctor Who ever has brought that up. In fact, I am fairly certain that I learnt the word “juxtaposition” from a Doctor Who documentary.

But, of course, the reason why people always mention this is because it’s true. It’s one of the things Doctor Who does best! And it’s never more apparent than in episodes set in schools. Personally, I always find it stranger to see the characters in a school rather than just in contemporary Earth, but I suppose that’s because I spend quite a lot of time in school still. Perhaps one day the Doctor in an office block will be the most disconcerting thing ever.

I digress, however. Review time. So, as per the usual, starting with the good. And there’s a lot of it!

doctor who the caretaker review jenna coleman clara oswald adrian eleventh doctor matt smith peter capaldi twelfth doctor gareth roberts

It’s a wonderful concept, an absolutely fantastic idea. There’s been similar episodes before, on the fringes of the topic, like School Reunion or The Lodger, but there’s still a remarkable amount of mileage in the idea. Coupled with the fact that the school is also Clara’s workplace adds another dimension to it again. The focus on Clara here was nice, especially because it did, once again, develop her character some more. They’ve really stepped things up with regards to Clara this time around, and it’s nice to see the possibilities for the character.

As is probably to be expected with Gareth Roberts writing, it’s a really funny episode. Just, throughout, there’s lots of brilliant jokes. The Jane Austen exchange and the Doctor whistling We Don’t Need No Education were both quite memorable, but the obvious best was the one surrounding the similarities between Adrian the teacher and the Eleventh Doctor. It was almost quite sad really, but also very, very funny.

Speaking of the Doctor, Peter Capaldi did really well again here. That must be so boring to read over and over in a review, mustn’t it? It’s never boring to watch, certainly. (I know it’s a strange thing to pick out, actually, but I really liked his intonation at the start, when talking about sinister puddles. It just… I’m not quite sure I could put my finger on it really, but it felt very distinctively Twelfth Doctor-y, as opposed to a line any Doctor could say.)

The strange thing to note, however, is that one of the best exchanges of the episode also highlights the biggest problem.

The exchange I refer to is the one which takes place in the TARDIS between the Doctor and Danny, with regards to the aristocracy and soldiers vs officers. It’s really well written, and it’s remarkably well acted, particularly by Samuel Anderson. It’s also a relatively different take on the Doctor vs Boyfriend conflict we’ve had over the years, because here the cause of the conflict isn’t (wholly, anyway) to do with Clara, but the Doctor’s own prejudice against soldiers.

doctor who the caretaker review danny pink samuel anderson twelfth doctor peter capaldi solider office tardis confrontation jenna coleman

Except… I mean, lets just come right out and say it. This is a plot device. It’s totally and completely contrived, and simply a reason to engender conflict. Arguably an unnecessary conflict really – if you want to do something new, which this is meant to be, why not have the Doctor and the Boyfriend take an instant shine to one another, and be friends from the start?

(This basically out of thin air hatred of soldiers was almost, actually, handled quite well in Into the Dalek, where the implication was that the Doctor disliked soldiers because the way the power their weapons gave them could be a corruptive influence. That could be tied into the aristocracy idea – only certain people can handle power, in his opinion? – or a reflection on the Doctor’s past – he believed he had that power because of his Time Lord heritage, which corrupted him, which is why he made those mistakes he referred to in Deep Breath. It’s also somewhat topical, actually, given the nature of events around the world currently.)

Largely, you can ignore this. Certainly, it bothered me more on first viewing; by the time of the rewatch, I was more accepting of it, and I could see the merits of the rest of the episode. And, hey, maybe the disdain for soldiers will receive some more development soon.

Another good episode, yes, but one affected by a relatively large flaw. Thankfully though, unlike Listen, this flaw doesn’t overpower the rest of the episode. 7/10.

Related:

Doctor Who series 8 reviews

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On Skulduggery Pleasant ending

skulduggery pleasant sceptre of the ancients derek landy book 1 harper collins tom perceval valkyrie cain hd

At present, I’m re-reading the Skulduggery Pleasant series of books, by Derek Landy. It’s partly in preparation for the final book, but also procrastination as well; the book is downstairs, on my shelf, ready to be read. I’m putting it off, basically.

I read the first novel back in… uh, 2006 or 2007. It was shortly after the first book came out. (There was an advert in a Doctor Who Adventures magazine actually, and that prompted me to read it, which is quite funny to me.)

I loved the book, and still do to this day. I was vaguely worried about re-reading it now, almost ten years later, I’d be looking over it with a far more critical eye, and take issue with all sorts of little things that would ruin my enjoyment of it.

But. thankfully, that proved not to be the case. They were still just as witty, and smart, and downright brilliant as I remembered. Compelling characters, genius plots, and a wonderful style of prose.

Right now, I’m about 200 pages into Death Bringer, which is the sixth book. One of my favourites, in fact, if ever I had to pick out particular ones. There’s another two books to go after this, and then…. The Dying of the Light.

I’ve been delaying it as much as I can. I’m reading all of the short stories between books (The Lost Art of World Domination is a gift, frankly) and I’m going to read Tanith Low in The Maleficent Seven when I get around to it. But there’s only so long I can put it off for.

Skulduggery Pleasant is coming to an end. Drawing to a close. There’s a finite amount of time left. Soon it won’t be an ongoing story, but something that’s been… historized, as it were.

And I’m not sure how I feel about that.

These books have been a pretty massive part of my life for years. About eight, in fact. I’ve written letters to Derek Landy, got responses, met him (wonderful fellow), entered competitions to create a character, spent hours of my life playing games on the official website, reading blog posts about it… In fact, some of my closest friends to this day I developed connections with through those books. Skulduggery Pleasant is something thatto say the leastoccupies a rather special place in my heart.

And now, very soon, it’s going to end.

That is frankly bizarre. The only interest I’ve sustained for that long is, I’d say, Doctor Who, but I don’t have to worry about Doctor Who coming to an end in the same way.

Something that has been a big part of my life is going to be over. No more. Not ongoing. Done. Finished. It’ll be an ex-story.

Ironically, I can’t really figure out how to vocalise what that would feel like, how to articulate or express the way this would affect me. That sounds melodramatic, and it sort of is really. But screw it, I don’t care. This is a chapter of my life closing, and it is really weird. It’s strange to think that I have the end to that chapter sat downstairs, on a shelf, ready to be opened…

… ready to end.

But not yet. Not just yet.

After all, as the poem goes, rage, rage, against the dying of the light.

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