The Caretaker starts with the Doctor and Clara being held prisoner on an alien planet, and they can’t break themselves free because Clara doesn’t have the vibro-cutters.
Where are they? “In my other jacket”, Clara confesses. The Doctor replies, “Two jackets? Why, is your other jacket faulty?”
Yes, Peter Capaldi‘s Doctor is given a few good one-liners in the show, but as we soon learn, this is just one of many pre-proper-story trips they go on before we get stuck into the meat of what’s going on.
The proper story is that he’s turned up as the new caretaker of Coal Hill School, John Smith (yes, that old chestnut), since “The walls need sponging and there’s a sinister puddle.”
And when Danny gets wind that there’s something going on between Clara and The Doctor, he assumes she’s from outer space: “You’re a space-woman. I thought you were from Blackpool!”
However, in the eighth series midpoint, we’re still waiting for a defining episode and this one takes 15 minutes before The Doctor puts up a number of tracking devices all over the school and tells Clara about the Skovox Blitzer, which is waiting to wage war on Earth.
The Skovox Blitzer (below) looks like Short Circuit‘s Johnny Five turned evil. It shoots a few lasers, blows shit up but not much else, and despite making a racket in the daytime, second time round, mysteriously, no-one else is alerted. Meanwhile, the only way to solve it is The Doctor in a Ghostbusters-style get-up while it appears in what looks like one of their streams.
And throw in the Doctor not seeming to know that he’s met Danny before in the role of Colonel Orson Pink from Listen, saying they don’t look alike at all.
Trouble is, while we’re getting some good dialogue, we’re missing out on any actual story other than Clara’s love life, and this week’s nonsense literally takes up no more than 5 minutes of screen time.
We also get a brief trip to the Promised Land at the end – including the return of Missy (an uncredited – again – Michelle Gomez), plus the introduction of Seb (Capaldi’s The Thick Of It co-star Chris Addison) – but if this is going to have a major effect on the story arc, then it had better get a move on!
Next time: The Doctor and Clara are in space with Hermoine Norris and some killer spiders! Will it also be a shit episode? Tune in next week and find out!
Score: 2/10 (for the dialogue alone)
Director: Paul Murphy
Producer: Nikki Wilson
Screenplay: Gareth Roberts and Steven Moffat
Music: Murray Gold
The Doctor: Peter Capaldi
Clara Oswald: Jenna Coleman
Danny Pink: Samuel Anderson
Courtney Woods: Ellis George
Adrian: Edward Harrison
Mr Armitage: Nigel Betts
PCSO Matthew: Andy Gillies
Noah: Nanya Campbell
Yashe: Joshue Warner-Campbell
Kelvin: Oliver Barry-Brook
Tobias: Ramone Morgan
Mr Woods: Winston Ellis
Mrs Woods: Gracy Goldman
Mrs Christopholou: Diana Katis
Skovox Blitzer: Jimmy Vee
Seb: Chris Addison
Missy: Michelle Gomez (uncredited)
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.