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TV Review: Doctor Who – Arachnids of the U.K.

The Doctor (JODIE WHITTAKER), Sonya (BHAVNISHA PARMAR), Ryan (TOSIN COLE), Hakim (RAVIN J GANATRA), Yaz (MANDIP GILL)
Image: BBCAmerica

Finally back in Sheffield and only a half hour from when they left on their adventures through time and space, the Doctor seems very reluctant to leave her new companions and they her. In a little slice of domestic life, Yaz invites them all in for Tea, but Graham decides to head home for a bit first. This is of course, where everything decides to go pear shaped.

Yaz’s family is ecstatic for Yaz to have friends and to bring them home! Obviously, she keeps herself to herself as a rule. We get to see just what she meant by her family driving her nuts, but she obviously loves them, other than the junk her father keeps dragging into the flat! (But more about that later!)

We have a great moment with Graham and his memories in the house, before a thud draws him out of his memories and into a very real–weird. We also get a great little snapshot of flat life with Yaz and the odd things going on at the neighbors and her Dad’s conspiracy theory of trash that keeps appearing near their block of flats. This is where it get all pear shaped with far too many legs!

I will tell you here. Not a fan of spiders. EVER! I’m of the camp of KILL IT WITH FIRE!!! So needless to say, this episode did give me the hebbie jebbies, but in a good way, just as Doctor Who is meant too!

Kevin (WILLIAM MEREDITH), Robertson (CHRIS NOTH)
Image: BBCAmerica

At the center of the problem is an American billionaire industrialist in the shape of Chris Noth. Okay, this did make me giggle. Of all the actors, they picked the man who played Carrie Bradshaw of Sex in the City‘s Mr. Big. For those of you who don’t know who Mr. Big is, you might remember Noth from Law and Order or more recently The Good Wife.

His appearance is as a rather stereotyped “BIG RICH AMERICAN BAD GUY,” but that’s a pretty usual Doctor Who trope. It would have been better if they hadn’t gone so heavy handed and opted for that trope. They made a cartoon figure out of him. A very one dimensional cartoon with absolutely no character development. It could have been a great moment of education and watching a character flesh out into a real person– nope missed that.

Ryan (TOSIN COLE), Graham (BRADLEY WALSH), Jade (TANYA FEAR), The Doctor (JODIE WHITTAKER)
Image: BBCAmerica

I have to admit, this episode was rather disappointing plot-wise. There is so much of  “could of”, but they focused totally on the CGI and kept with the cartoon cut-out characters. Tanya Fear’s Dr. Jade McIntyre was just a stock character and could have been popped in from any of the usual B-Movie spider flicks, like 8 Legged Freaks or Ice Spiders. Noth’s Robertson industrialist also could have been plopped over from either of those films as well. I do have to agree with him, despite being annoying, he did have the best line in relationship to the spiders: “Why don’t you do what normal people do? Get a gun, shoot things, like a civilized person?” But that’s probably just the arachnophobe in me saying that.

Generally, this was a solid episode, if the weakest of the new episodes from Chibnall.

The one thing that he did handle very well, was Graham. We get a glimpse of the very real side of grief with him. It isn’t the big displays of emotion, but the quite moments of realizing that life has completely changed and it will take time to find a new normal. The loss is still too close and real. Everything in the house is just a reminder of what he has lost, not of the joys in the life they have shared. Grief is a process, not just an emotion. It’s trite to say time is a healer, but in reality, it is.

The ending was the best of all Doctors taking new companions. The warning of the danger and “You’re not gonna come back as the same people that left here.” A warning that we realize each one is very ready for and actually hoping that they don’t come back as the same people. Now, the adventure begins!

In the more technical aspects of the episode, we get a new look at the TARDIS travel though the time vortex. It was, interesting and a lot busier than other versions. I’m not so sure how I like it yet. It’s far less organic and more jagged. We’ll see how it plays out. Also, who noticed the Doctor now has a fanny pack? And yay, psychic paper is back!

Next week is back to time and space!

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4 Comments

  1. sarahwagner

    Agreed on all points. Especially the kill it with fire points (I don’t do spiders as a rule). I also liked the tiny moment between Graham and Ryan when Ryan gets offended by his father’s idea of a “proper family.” I thought that was a big step between them.

    • Rebecca Miller

      I agree. The moment with Ryan and Graham was very sweet. They are slowly growing into a little family. I bet before the end of the series he does call him Granddad.

  2. Please delete this comment after you’ve fixed it: There’s a sentence that went all wonky in your piece:

    “It isn’t the be displays of emotion, but the quite moments of realizing that life had completely changed…”

    Read that closely. Then fix it, please.

    Like your analysis, agree that Graham was the best part of this episode. Am a BIG fan of your site!

    • Rebecca Miller

      Thanks for the catch! A few things slipped by me and my editor, but should be all ship shape now!

      Thank you for reading!!! What is your favorite part of the new series?

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