The Doctor butts heads with a somersaulting maths teacher at Coal Hill School while an alien threatens the future of humankind.
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Clara has been burning the candle at both ends trying to please the two men in her life. She and Danny Pink are properly an item now; spending lots of evenings, and maybe some nights, together outside of school. Meanwhile, snatched moments between teaching and dating are being reserved for adventuring with the Doctor. The pressure is mounting for a colliding of worlds as Danny starts to notice strange changes in Clara. Can she really get a tan in an afternoon? Or seaweed in her hair from a bit of rain?
Intentionally or not, Doc is about to make Clara’s life by taking up a temporary role at Coal Hill School as the caretaker. There’s an alien on the loose in East London and a school full of children is the best place to lure it into a trap – on parents’ evening, no less! Understandably, Clara isn’t best pleased about Doc’s plan, rendered no easier by Mr Pink being utterly distrusting of newcomer John Smith the second he enters, broom in hand.
What follows is a cat and mouse game of Doc laying his trap for the alien and Danny trying to work out what’s going on, with poor Clara caught in the middle of the whole torrid affair. Will she come clean to Danny about her space and time adventuring? Will Doc finally accept that Clara’s new beau is an ex squaddie? And will any of this jeopardise the safety of the planet?
And, as discussed on the show, you’ll find the Video Copilot tutorial used for the energy effect in this Doctor Who episode here.
Here are some example screenshots, including one of Who Back When‘s very own Roarmeister walking into a very poor attempt at replicating the effect in super-low-definition…
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I liked the beginning, the whirlwind feel of so many adventures. I also like that the Doctor confused the Keep Out sign with Go Away Humans.
A big fight with River? That left the Doctor sulking with otters for a month? I have this very strong suspicion that River took the TARDIS when she stormed out, and the Doctor was left stranded with otters for a month.
The first sequence of the Doctor thinking he was undercover, surprised that Clara would recognize him when he was wearing a different coat was amusing and endearing.
His behavior toward Danny Pink is… awful.
2.5 out of 5 otters.
Trivia: Is the first explosive alien battle in Coal Hill High since it was overrun with Daleks in the Seventh Doctor’s pierce de resistance, Remembrance of the Daleks? I think it might be.
Summary: Off the (Another Brick in the) Wall.
Rating: 4/5 charcoaled officers of the Thin Blue Line.
This is my favourite episode so far in the Capaldi run and by quite a considerable margin. It was light-hearted fun without trying too hard to be obviously funny – comedy has no place in Doctor Who. The dialogue worked well and is snappy. Maybe one too many visits to the ‘PE teacher’ joke well though.
It has some great lines:
⁃ “Why do you have two jackets, is one of them faulty?” A self-referential nod to the Doctor wearing the same outfit.
⁃ “So you recognised me?” Clara- “you’re wearing a different coat!”. “Deep cover
⁃ “Who asks for homework? Amateur!”
⁃ “How stupid do you think I am?”. “I’m willing to put a number on it.
⁃ “You haven’t explained him to me”. How amazing is Capaldi’s delivery of this line?
Like many others, I didn’t think much of Danny Pink the first-time time around, but viewing it now he’s better. Slightly. The Skovox Blitzer is terrible, better suited to Robot Wars. But It’s a MacGuffin; The story is really about to the characters and their relationships.
The doctor is gloriously petulant taking Courtney on the Tardis in reaction to Clara’s interest in someone else. Then she’s sick.
I’m deducting points for the Doctors apparent lack of understanding of human interaction which is just not consistent with the last fifty years of the show. See: ‘Go away humans’.
Wasn’t it really obvious he thought bow tie was the boyfriend rather than Pink?
Loved that the Coal Hill school motto is ‘spirit of adventure’. With Hartnell being my favourite Doctor, this is a sublime reference to a line from the 1960s story The Sensorites. Geek out! (PS I miss Ian and Babs).
Clara is excellent in this episode.
Whilst necessary for exposition, the Skovox Blitzer announcing everything it’s thinking and doing is stupid. For a deadly killing machine it has a terrible aim.
Still can’t see what Clara see’s in Danny and then there’s the gymnastic flip. SIGH. His character in all over the. In his interactions with Clara he’s soft spoken, nervous , timid man yet in his Tardis scenes he’s all ballsy and wise, challenging the Doctor.
I really enjoyed this. I’m giving it 3.9.