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Doctor Who Aims for Emotion, But Misses

Elizabeth Harper | 28 Sep 2014 23:35
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Doctor Who: The Caretaker: social

This week, the Doctor goes undercover at Clara's school to predictably comedic results.

Doctor Who returned this week with The Caretaker, in which the Doctor goes undercover as a caretaker at Clara's school to get rid of an alien threat. Why does he have to go undercover to do this? Besides the fact that it creates an opportunity to push Danny, Clara, and the Doctor together in one place it's not really clear -- but the Doctor's attempts to blend in with human civilization are usually hilarious (it's no surprise that the Doctor is terrible at acting normal), so the episode is enjoyable even if the the premise is a bit shakey.

Alongside the wacky hijinks you'd expect with an undercover episode -- see also season 5's The Lodger -- this episode also has some important character beats for both Clara and Danny as Danny confronts the reality of Clara's space-and-time-traveling double life. While it's great to finally see Danny in action, the episode is somewhat soured by its treatment of Clara, who becomes an object for Danny and the Doctor to argue over. It's especially lousy to see Clara treated like a thing rather than a person since she's had such great character development this season, coming across as a fully-envisioned character for the first time.

The result is an episode that feels rather mediocre... despite the fact that there are a lot of good parts here. Still, fans are likely to enjoy it and you should tune in yourself to form your own opinions.

You can can new episodes of Doctor Who on Saturday nights on BBC America -- though cord-cutters will have to pick up the current season on iTunes or Amazon Instant. If you want to catch up on earlier seasons, they can be found on both Netflix and Hulu.

To get you up to speed, in the last episode we saw:

  • Clara and the Doctor rob a bank in order to rescue a pair of alien telepaths who are the last of their kind.
  • We see Capaldi at his friendliest yet, talking and laughing with his assembled bank-robbing crew after their task is done. It's really the first time we've seen this iteration of the Doctor being more than a total grouch... and it's in stark contrast to the Doctor being extra grouchy throughout this week's episode.
  • And, not in the last episode but relevant to this one: in a previous trip Clara met Danny as a child and one of Danny's descendants. The Doctor was convinced that this had some tie to Clara, but she brushed it off an refused to talk about who she's dating... which is going to blow up in her face during this episode.

Now, on to the latest episode: The Caretaker.

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