An older Doctor, a teenage girl, two Coal Hill School teachers and some adventures in space and time. Andrew Jero welcomes a return to the Hartnell style of Doctor Who.
The latest Doctor Who episode, The Caretaker, was a very strong character piece with a lot of humor combined with an equal amount of very serious moments which showcased the compassionate and caring
side of the Doctor, a style that I very much enjoyed during the William Hartnell years. This episode altogether felt like it could’ve been a Hartnell episode. Peter Capaldi had that grandfatherly feel about him, in the way that he’s making sure that Danny is good enough for Clara, he cares for her in the same way he cared for Susan back in Season's one and two. She says that she loves him, but we know how she loves him - in the same way that Susan loved him.
The Blitzer was really well designed and added an interesting element to the episode. We get to see that the Doctor is still protecting Coal Hill School fifty years on, perhaps in the memory of Barbara (I believe in a recent Big Finish audio the Doctor learned that Ian and Barbara married but that Barbara had since died). This gives Capaldi a very sweet and sensitive side that we’re slowly getting a look at. It's this 'grandfather' side of his persona which is my favorite thing about the Doctor. It's the element that we learn to love from An Unearthly Child to The Tenth Planet. Grandparents have that cool quality about them, they’re the coolest people in your family (especially when you're young), and they’re also the most fun to cuddle up with. Capaldi's Doctor is now certainly showing a very protective side of himself, which makes this series feel even more authentic by presenting us with glimpses of Doctor Who’s origins and what made the first Doctor so popular with, mainly, the younger audiences.
Is it ironic that the first of the unleaked episodes is the episode that makes you fall in love with Capaldi the most (so far)? We had a really good episode last week but The Caretaker just feels so authentic and was way more interesting to watch. In interviews prior to the start of Series 8 Peter Capaldi had mentioned that you wouldn’t really get to know his Doctor until the sixth or seventh episode, and I think that he was right. In The Caretaker the somewhat hard exterior we were used to began to melt away and we see that he really cares for the people he protects everyday.
The pace of the story even seemed to mimic some from the Hartnell era. We got a slow and really entertaining piece, a character piece which the Hartnell years were full of - An Unearthly Child, Marco Polo, The Sensorites, The Dalek Invasion of Earth, The Chase, The Massacre and The Savages to name just a few. The production team is showing us Doctor Who as it was fifty years
ago, just with today's modern technology and editing. Maybe with this new regeneration cycle we’ll see more and more
episodes that echo the first three seasons of the show, most of which
were fantastic! We already know that next week our older Doctor is heading off to the moon with two Coal Hill School teachers and a school girl, echoing the Doctor/Ian/Barbara/Susan dynamic from 50 years ago.
Series 8 is making us relearn what we thought we knew about the two main characters. With Clara we’re beginning to see more and more of her personality and her interaction with this new Doctor who, unlike the previous one, isn’t trying to be her boyfriend.
To sum up my feelings about The Caretaker - I’m falling in love with Doctor Who again, in a way I haven’t since I first sat down and watched the show as a young child. Keep 'em coming Steven Moffat, keep ‘em coming!
Andrew Jero lives in Iowa and has a very strong love of both Red Dwarf and Doctor Who. He enjoys acting and writing plays, television scripts, and short stories. Follow Andrew on Twitter.