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The Twelfth Doctor at Coal Hill School
I saw this ‘Doctor Who’ episode by Gareth Roberts and Steven Moffat at the ‘Pandorica 2014’ convention in Bristol, September 2014. It was nice to see this tale on the Saturday at the convention.
In this episode, Peter Capaldi’s Doctor goes undercover as the caretaker of Coal Hill School. This is an unusual role to see the Doctor in and his connection to the school goes back to ‘An Unearthly Child’.
Whilst the Doctor is at the school, he discovers Clara’s romantic relationship with Danny Pink and disapproves. He also needs to stop the menacing robot killer at the school called the Skovox Blitzer.
The Skovox Blitzer is operated by Jimmy Vee in the episode. It’s a pretty impressive monster in terms of design. It is also so frightening when it kills off people one by one as it patrols the school at night.
I like how Samuel Anderson as Danny discovers Clara’s secret life in travelling with the Doctor via TARDIS. The Doctor is mean to Danny, as he comes to terms with accepting him as Clara’s boyfriend.
Most of the time, the Doctor calls Danny a P.E. teacher whereas he’s in actual fact a maths teacher. This is something Danny keeps correcting the Doctor on, but the Doctor doesn’t seem to take this in.
I’m not sure why the Doctor is mean to Danny, as he wouldn’t be this judgemental. I know Danny was a former soldier and had a past, but the Doctor didn’t need to be dismissive of Clara’s boyfriend.
I like the idea that the Doctor becomes the caretaker at Coal Hill School, even though it’s a poor disguise when he goes undercover. It fulfils him taking the post from ‘Remembrance of the Daleks’!
A moment I liked from this episode is when the Doctor corrects Clara on a detail about ‘Pride and Prejudice’ and Jane Austen. It’s confirmed that the Doctor has met Jane Austen before in the series.
I enjoyed Jenna Coleman’s performance as Clara during the episode. Sometimes she can get angry and annoyed with the Doctor’s undercover mission, but she truly cares for him during the TV story.
I also like how Clara interacts with Danny in this episode. Clara gradually explains to Danny about who he is and how she travels with the Doctor. It makes for some dramatic character development.
The episode also features Nigel Betts (who I’ve met) as Mr. Armitage, the headmaster at Coal Hill School. There’s also Edward Harrison as Adrian, who the Doctor mistakes for being Clara’s boyfriend.
I don’t know why Courtney was given an extended appearance in ‘Doctor Who’, since he doesn’t really contribute to the plot. She meets Peter Capladi’s Doctor; goes in the TARDIS and gets sick in it.
By the episode’s end, there’s a cameo of Michelle Gomez as Missy in a scene on the Nethersphere. At this point in the series, I wasn’t sure what to make of Missy; who she was and what ‘heaven’ was.
‘The Caretaker’ is an enjoyable ‘Doctor Who’ episode from Series 8 for me. It’s not a great episode, but I enjoyed the development for Peter Capaldi, Jenna Coleman and Samuel Anderson’s characters.
The DVD special features on this episode are as follows. On Disc 2 of ‘The Complete Series 8’, there is a commentary with director Paul Murphy and Kate Walshe & Peter Hawkins of Millennium FX. On Disc 5, there’s ‘The Caretaker – Doctor Who Extra’ featurette.
‘The Caretaker’ rating – 7/10
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