Doctor Who : Arachnids in the UK

I am really enjoying this season of Doctor Who so far and we are back in the UK in present time for another no doubt wonderful romp with the Doctor and her Team.

I’m in two minds about this episode.

On one hand I really liked it but on the other I feel it was pretty weak. Weak might be a bad word for it but I feel out of all the episodes this season this might be the one I forget about even though it was packed with some great character moments, again mainly for Graham and Ryan as we once again build up to them coming to some sort of understanding, and wonderful guest casting with Chris Noth and Shobna Gulati stealing the show as the businessman that doesn’t care a jot about anyone or anything and a mother trying to get it into his thick head that he should have some humanity.

I’m not sure what I really want to say about it. It isn’t that I disliked the spiders, it isn’t even that I was scared I just felt the spider thing was weak. It was more a set up for the confrontation of ideals between Robertson and Najia, a way to make the episode sound smart and a way to crowbar in yet another weak “the Doctor hates weapons” story.

I’ll start with the second point I guess. Dr Jade McIntyre was a interesting character, I really liked her, I also loved that the spiders weren’t aliens or anything else but actual spiders that had been mutated, they were actually harmless in a way because they were just spiders doing what I guess spiders have to do to survive.

Where the “sound smart” thing comes in was that putting McIntyre and the Doctor together meant that we got a whole bunch of spider facts, we got to hear about McIntyre’s research and they just threw a whole bunch of science and spider stuff at us. Instead of being a horror romp it became a sci-fi romp with actual facts behind what was going on. That isn’t bad but it also did nothing for me.

Could it have worked as a horror romp with no real explanation?

I guess other people would say no but for me I guess it would have worked. Spiders are pretty much one of the largest phobias in the world and without McIntyre and the science-y bit I think it would have worked. You didn’t need a scientist experimenting on spiders when Robertson was dumping waste which explained enough. The scene where the spider exploded out of the bath is nightmare fuel for a giant part of the Doctor Who audience no doubt and it didn’t need another character and another sub plot to explain that away.

So what I’m saying is that it become rather crowded?

Robertson and Najia were bound to be highlights, they were so good in their positions. Robertson the loud American businessman who raises his voice and bosses people around in a attempt to get his own way, goes in all guns blazing, quite literally closer to the end, and doesn’t think. Najia is a normal human being with normal morals who is a hard working mum who doesn’t take shit even from someone like Robertson, when things get real she has a cool head and is a decent ally to the Doctor.

Again though maybe it was crowding that caused the only problem they had? Maybe poor writing. Robertson was perfect in every way but Najia suffered from not being worried enough. 99% of the time Najia was perfect but then there were times where she was bugging Yas to tell her how she knows the Doctor and this included her telling the Doctor she had time for a long story when they were in the middle of trying to escape a spiders web where she’d been told she was a fly. That is a writing problem and not anything to do with the wonderful Shobna Gulati, it was like they had the perfect idea to end the episode and didn’t want to get too tied down with the “who is the Doctor” speech from Najia ruining it. This is something though that could have worked if they hadn’t gone with introducing the McIntyre side to the story.

As for the Doctor hates weapons thing obviously American = guns, big scary spider = threat…

When the Doctor figures out a humane way of disposing of the threat, and just after the Doctor realises the pain and terror of the giant spider, in comes a American with a gun to shoot it to death.

Why it was weak is that they haven’t really given Jodie the time to allow her to really push her Doctors anti-gun stuff, Smith did it really well and I think people forgot how he could go from a fun loving idiot to deadly serious in seconds and when he was angry you saw it. Both times guns have been a thing she’s kind of weakly pointed out her dislike but that has been it.

Writing. I didn’t like the writing. 99% of this episode was wonderful and the 1% left over was over crowded and not badly written but just a little weak. Moments in the middle of scenes that ruined the scene, things that broke up the drama and tension to try and push a “moment” from certain characters.

I actually teared up with the “I’m so sorry what’s happened to you” from the Doctor, it was another really good episode even if it was the weakest so far that is saying something because it was still 100% better then any of the stories I saw from the Capaldi era and actually better then most of the stories from Smith’s even if I still slightly prefer his Doctor to Jodie’s.

Really pretty decent.

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