Doctor Who 11.04 - Arachnids in the UK (Review)
Who's afraid of spiders?
The Doctor, Yaz, Graham and Ryan have finally made their way back home, landing straight outside Yaz's family home. Graham returns home to deal with the aftermath of Grace's death and the others go up to Yaz's place for tea. However, all is not well. The eight-legged arachnid population of Sheffield are not acting right and people are being killed.
Our second episode with a pun on a song title - Arachnids in the UK an obvious play on Sex Pistol's Anarchy in the UK. Which tells us that Chris Chinball clearly a fan of music from 1976.
Warning for slight spoilers ahead!
I LOVED this episode. I think Chris Chinball really pulled it out for this one. It felt like classic Doctor Who. Humour, some pseudo-science, scary and a great heaping of running around. Arachnophobics beware!
There were some brilliant Doctor moments in this. I loved the Doctor's tea time chatter. It was wonderfully enduring and really reminded me of the flights of fancy and language we've seen in all our Doctors to varying degrees.
Also, she’s got a bum bag! Also known as a fanny pack, and I’m completely in love with it. Whether it's true or not, it's one of those accepted realities that woman always have a bag. This gives the Doctor a bag which is dead cute and also not overly feminine. I don't know if the creators thought that much into it, but it's where my thoughts led me.
Our antagonist for this episode, other than the spiders, was Roberston (played by Chris Noth) - businessmen, hotelier and 2020 Presidential candidate. Chinball does some clever writing, allowing us to find out who he was at the same time as the Doctor, with everyone else reacting to him first. Roberston was your traditional Doctor Who villain. The violence first, willfully blind, power-hungry person who's prepared to do anything to advance himself. The best villains are the complete contrasts to the Doctor and that's what we see in Roberston. Chris Noth does an amazing job and I hope we see him again.
Now we've passed the 'getting to know you' phase, we're starting to see more from our companions really shaping them out. Ryan had more emphasis in Rosa. We met Yaz's family (who were hilarious) and Ryan got his letter from his family, forcing him to confront who truly sees as family. But it's Graham who got the lion's share of development. We see a very physical manifestation of his grief as Grace 'speaks' to him, convincing him that staying home can't be how he deals with the heartbreak. An incredibly moving scene and one anyone who's lost someone can identify with.
Spiders are roaming this hotel searching for food. We're going to lure them in here with the promise of food, then deal with the spidermother in the ballroom. Oh, that sounds like the best novel Edith Warton never wrote.
Now, I consider myself fairly knowledgeable about literature, but Edith Warton seems to have slipped me by! After a bit of research, I'm still not sure of the joke, but Wharton did have some lovely novel titles like The Valley of Decision, The Fruit of the Three, the Age of Innocence, The Mother's Recompense and the Hudson River Bracketed. I'm not sure if The Spider Mother in the Ballroom quite fits into that cannon, but I have to thank Chinball for introducing me to an author I hadn't heard of.
Was this a perfect episode? Of course not. But any of the small criticisms I could offer fall into the nitpicking category which I'd rather avoid. This was classic Doctor Who, brilliant episode, loved it! If we could please have ten more like this, I'll be a very happy fan.
Oh, and I have to add - I watch with subtitles and was delighted to see that the official Tardis sound is VWORP.
And if you want to read my review of last weeks Rosa, click here!