…yes he does; that was a double negative! [Awkward pause.] Moving swiftly onwards.
Gareth Roberts is one of those names you, as a Doctor Who fan, groan very loudly when it is mentioned. He doesn’t take the show seriously, all too often declines to tell a good story and instead does something silly. Mercifully he shares writing duties with Steven Moffat this time so he’s a bit toned down.
Not that this stops him from forcing his incredibly poor comic stylings on us whenever he gets the chance, despite the stronger elements to the episode that come from having Moffat attached to it,. So That Caretaker is dragged down in quality because of Roberts’s horrific failure as a comedy writer. The fact that writers like Gareth “The Unicorn and the Wasp” Roberts continue to contribute to the series while the likes of Nick Briggs or Jonathan Morris have yet to offer us anything is incredibly frustrating.
I think he must know someone at the BBC because when you turn in a script of the quality of Closing Time and get asked back, you know you’re not there because of writing ability. (See also: Mark Gatiss.) One of few good things about Chibnall’s appointment as showrunner that I thought of was “at least it’s not Gareth Roberts.”
It’s telling that The Caretaker is the best thing he’s written for the TV series because in reality Steven Moffat writes a large amount it. And I think it’s worrying that I said basically the same thing about Steve Thompson last week.
The “monster of the week” is probably the most unnecessary excuse for a villain in Doctor Who history. You need look no further than this episode’s next time trailer (above) to see just how irrelevant and out of place the Skovox Blitzer is. The less said the better about Danny’s big somersault over it – soldier though he is, this crosses the line about what I can accept as believable. At least the Skovox looks good and offers us a glimpse into a society where something like that can be a thing. If a writer (NOT ROBERTS!!!) wants to have the Doctor and new companion Bill pay that world a visit you won’t here me complaining. You will here me complain about its inclusion here though because it doesn’t need to be there. It even gets written out about halfway through because it’s simply THAT unnecessary to the story.
The reason for this is that The Caretaker is a character-driven affair that serves only one purpose: to introduce the Doctor to Danny Pink as Clara’s double-life finally gets the better of her and allows the three leads to get some character development.
It’s good to finally have the Doctor and Danny face each other and deal with Clara’s lies. And it allows for a really touching storyline too. The Doctor puts it best after Clara exlains the Doctor, the TARDIS and her time-travelling hobby to Danny…
You’ve explained me to him. But you haven’t explained him to me.
This is moving. And you don’t expect moving from Gareth Roberts. That’s probably because Steven Moffat did it.
That’s the thing with The Caretaker. I hoped we’d get a story without monsters that just dealt with the character-driven arc that the series had been exploring up to this point. Instead we got that with a ham-fisted attempt at comedy and the unnecessary monster that’s clearly been shoehorned in as an afterthought.
There are a few comedy moments that DO work mind you. The Doctor writing his sign outside his office (do caretakers have offices now?) is one highlight, and the bit when he whistles Another Brick In The Wall also comes to mind. Can you imagine any of the other Doctor's pulling off that? Me neither. A particular favourite 12th Doctor scene of mine occurs in this episode as well when he picks apart Clara’s teaching skills through the window.
But there’s one jarring set-piece that falls short and that’s when he thinks Clara’s boyfriend is someone other than Danny because he resembles Matt Smith with his hairstyle and bowtie. NO!!! I THOUGHT WE’D MOVED ON FROM THIS LOVEY-DOVEY CRAP BY NOW!!!
So that’s my opinion about The Caretaker. Did I like it? Not a whole lot but it had its moments. Overall it’s a very questionable episode with some flashes of greatness but ultimately it tries too hard to be funny and thus fails to explore the important subject matter. If Class is anything like this I will be cross. Please Gareth Roberts, if you’re reading this, don’t write any more Doctor Who episodes again. Please.
When he's not obsessing about Doctor Who whilst having I Am The Doctor play in his head, Dr. Moo can usually be found reading up on the latest in Quantum Physics. As you do when you're a physicist.