Doctor Who – Series 11, Episode 4: “Arachnids in the UK”

  • According to Wikipedia, there’s only four episodes this season that aren’t written or co-written by Chris Chibnall. Fortunately, he’s been producing good work so far.
  • So there’s more focus on Yasmin this episode – we’re introduced to her family and she gets a significant share of the dialogue. The amount of exposure that each member of Team TARDIS has gotten is now pretty well balanced.
  • The facial acting by Bradley Walsh when Graham’s back in his house is heartbreaking. I like how you don’t get a clear look at Grace the first two times that he imagines her – just at the end.
  • The CGI spiders look good, but I didn’t find them especially scary somehow, certainly no scarier than the average Doctor Who monster.
  • Jack Robertson’s overall character – the ruthless, selfish businessman who refuses to accept responsibility when things go wrong – may not be a new one, but Chris Noth certainly handles it convincingly. Also I like Ryan and Graham’s reactions when they first meet and recognise him.
  • Even with a new showrunner, Doctor Who can’t resist making an anti-Trump comment or two. If anything, it’s even more blatant in sending a political message here, with Robertson’s attitudes and Graham saying “God help us all” when he gets away at the end. I was actually quite surprised that Robertson survives and gets away with his actions instead of suffering a karmic death of some description. Maybe he’s another one who’s going to come back later on.
  • And there’s an anti-pollution message too – but as with last week, it’s still a message that needs to go out.
  • Jade is a pretty terrible zoologist. She says that she’s studying “arachnids and arthropods” when arachnids are arthropods – it’s like saying that you’re studying mice and rodents. She anthropomorphises by wondering if the spiders are “confused or angry or scared” – they’re spiders, their brains aren’t quite at that level! And she commits the ultimate sin of referring to spiders as “poisonous” when they are in fact venomous. Try referring to “poisonous snakes” in a room full of herpetologists and see where it gets you.
  • When Jade was giving her spider exposition in the laboratory, I was half-expecting to see Peter Parker taking pictures to one side.
  • When the Doctor brought up the idea of using vibrations to attract the spiders, my immediate thought was, “Turn on some Barry White, like in that Whacking Day episode of The Simpsons!” And then it was, “Hang on – they are actually doing something along those lines!”
  • Only at the end does the episode decide to address the physical limitations that would actually prevent a terrestrial spider from growing to the size of a bear – if that mother spider was going to suffocate, surely she should have done it well before she reached that size.
  • Just because the Doctor doesn’t like guns, she would rather let the mother spider suffocate slowly than die quickly from a gunshot? Despite his primary motivations being far from benevolent, Robertson was right – it’s a mercy killing; but because he’s the antagonist of the episode, it’s treated as a bad thing.
  • So Graham, Ryan and Yasmin all want to continue travelling with the Doctor to escape from something – not sure how emotionally healthy that is, but they’ve done a good job of delving into these characters’ minds so far.

With the characters returning to Earth, this episode felt like The Woman Who Fell To Earth in that it was about as grounded as a show of this nature can be, in spite of the flimsy science involved. The story was interesting, and the relatively large group of characters was used well, with a reasonable amount of mystery about what was going on and how much each character knew. Rating: 4/5.

About R.J. Southworth

Hi there. I've been blogging since January 2014, and I like to talk about all sorts of things: book reviews, film reviews, writing, science, history, or sometimes just sharing miscellaneous thoughts. Thanks for visiting my blog, and I hope you find something that interests you!
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1 Response to Doctor Who – Series 11, Episode 4: “Arachnids in the UK”

  1. Burrunjor says:

    I didn’t watch this episode. I’m done after Rosa. This show is a mere shadow of its former self and Jodie is abysmal in the role. I’ll also never not view this as anti men bigotry, taking a role model away from boys just to spite them. I don’t care about role models to be clear, but these people do, and so the fact that they would want to take them away from boys just shows their true colours.

    Still my friend saw this and he said it was the most cringey, virtue signalling episode with there being a bit where the Trump expy actually said fire and fury. If true that’s going to date this series terribly. Remember all those jokes about Thatcher in the Peter Davison years? Me neither. Also about the gun bit, the Doctor REALLY didn’t want Trump to use a gun on a giant spider?

    Guess I must have forgot about that time when HE shot a giant rat! Why do they keep pushing this “Doctor doesn’t like guns” nonsense? I know I’ve posted it before but I’ll do it again.

    No surprise that the new who crowd know nothing about the character.


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