TL;DR – If you have a deep-seated fear of spiders, well this might be one of those hide behind the coach kind of episodes for you.
Score – 4 out of 5 stars
Today we continue looking at Doctor Who’s 11th season, a season with a lot of promise but also some recurring issues. This has created a bit of a problem that you see all the good they are trying to do, but also how they are being held back for some odd reasons. Well, today we come crashing back to Earth for a creepy episode just in time for Halloween that is going back to a Doctor Who staples, monsters, running, and the failure of capitalism, oh my.
So to set the scene, after travelling through space in The Ghost Monument (see review) and through time in Rosa (see review) The Doctor (Jodie Whittaker), Graham (Bradley Walsh), Ryan (Tosin Cole), and Yas (Mandip Gill) are back in Sheffield. Well is this the end of our gang? Well not before they all go to Yas’ for some tea. While they are there Yas’ mum Najia (Shobna Gulati) arrived at her new job early to get her bearings only to walk in on Robertson (Chris Noth) trying to cover up something and is promptly fired. So she gets Yas to come pick her up, meanwhile, everyone else is noticing that something is a bit off with the city, from badly dumped commercial waste, to spiders acting all weird, to oh our neighbour is missing, and why is there cobwebs everywhere. All of this leads to one thing … and if you have a fear of spiders, now is the time to look away. From this point onwards we will be looking at the episode as a whole, so there will be [SPOILERS] ahead.
This is the first episode this season that really felt like the show was going back to its roots as a show that is both equal parts scary monster, cautionary tale, and people are the worst. All of these facets play off each other as we see the story unfold, which while it is not anything revolutionary is still entertaining. I liked that there was a little bait and switch in the story. Right from the start you clearly think that Robertson and Frankie (Jaleh Apl) are in on the spider conspiracy when actually they are talking about the dumped rubbish. This means that you have this brewing dissonance between the two sides that both think each other are up to something when they are not. It also helps that the bad situation in this episode is from a number of different factors working off each other, which gives it a feeling of a puzzle being put together. Oh and also was that an Ed Sheeran burn, or not, because I am not sure, also did they get that one spider they trapped with garlic and vinegar?
This is also an episode that let the characters take centre stage as we started to explore more of the family dynamics at play here. I had been feeling that Yas had been a bit underutilised so far, but here we get to see her really explore both who she is and the family dynamics that made her who she is. Also after a bit of weirdness between Ryan and Graham, with Graham constantly asking him to call him grandpa, when realistically he should be really happy with being called Graham. This week they had a couple of small moments that showed that their relationship is improving. As well as this, it is clear that Chris Noth was just having a lot of fun as the not-Trump but very much Trump American businessman at the centre of it all, and I have no doubt that this is not the last time we have seen him this season. It was also fun watching The Doctor try small talk, and I really feel like Jodie Whittaker has started to make the character her own.
Now, of course, we can’t talk about this episode without talking about the creature design and like it or not, they did a really good job on animating that giant spiders. When you supersize something there is a real possibility that they just end up looking fake because we all know what they should be like so you hit the uncanny valley real quick. However, here a lot of attention has been put into the way the spiders move and how they look close up. Which means that you can have the swarming spiders down a hallway and still have it look believable.
In the end, do we recommend Arachnids In The UK? Yes, yes we do. It is by no means a revolutionary episode like last week’s Rosa. However, it is leaning into the history of Doctor Who, and in the process, it made a very entertaining episode that I am sure will have people jumping behind their couches.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
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Trailer – Click Here to View (all trailers have heavy spoilers)
Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of Doctor Who
Directed by – Sallie Aprahamian
Written by – Chris Chibnall
Showrunner – Chris Chibnall
Starring – Jodie Whittaker, Bradley Walsh, Tosin Cole & Mandip Gill with Chris Noth, Sharon D Clarke, Shobna Gulati, Tanya Fear, Ravin J Ganatra, Bhavnisha Parmar, Jaleh Apl & William Meredith