The Caretaker is on the face of it a rerun of The Lodger, the Matt Smith episode that put the Eleventh Doctor in a domestic flat-sharing situation in order to solve an alien-related matter, much comedy ensues, etc. This time around its Peter Capaldi’s Twelfth Doctor who is pretending to be the school caretaker at Coal Hill School where Clara teaches.
Yes, there is indeed comedy to be derived from this situation. However I think this episode turned into something a bit different. Actually it was in the same way that I expected Listen to be a rerun of Blink and was surprised at that episode.
The episode beings with a montage showing Clara juggling her adventures with the Doctor and spending time with boyfriend Danny Pink. She is endeavouring to spend more time with Danny when she is introduced to the new school caretaker, which of course is the Doctor. He has detected a dangerous alien war machine in the area and has picked the school as a convenient place to dispose of it after hours.
However the alien war machine is frankly just a bit of a McGuffin for the real story. As it turns out this episode is a character piece and at the heart of it is the Doctor’s prejudice of and dislike towards soldiers, no doubt at least partly motivated by his incarnation of the “War Doctor”. Upon being introduced to former soldier turned teacher Danny the Doctor pigeonholes Danny as a PE teacher and he refueses to process the information that Danny actually teaches maths.
Meanwhile the doctor is trying to work out who Clara’s teacher boyfriend is. He obviously discounts Danny automatically and he focuses on a young dashing bow-tie wearing fellow with floppy hair. He approves.
Eventually after fighting the McGuffin alien Clara and the doctor are forced to reveal that they travel in time and space. A shocked Danny thinks Clara is an alien and he asked if the doctor is her “space dad”. But Danny clearly hits a nerve when he recognises something of an “officer” in the doctor. Ultimately Danny tells Cara that the Doctor wants to know if Danny is “good enough” for her.
There’s lots of other fun stuff in this episode. For example the caretaker has a building with red doors that look not unlike the Tardis doors. The Doctor also befriends “disruptive influence” Courtney but she’s not cut out to travel in time in space apparently.
An entertaining episode that takes is half-way through the season and a big improvement over last week’s Time Heist.