TV Review: Doctor Who: Arachnids In The UK

I think you all know how this post is going to start.  Cue the gratuitous Sex Pistols.

The Doctor and companions finally arrive back in 2018 Sheffield, but they find the spiders in the city are acting very strangely.  With the help of spider expert Jade and Yasmin’s mum Najia, they track the source of the infestation to a new hotel owned by American Trump-a-like presidential wannabe Jack Robertson (Chris Noth, doing a fantastic turn as a villain – I only knew him as Mr Big in Sex and the City before!) and find out that an incompetent waste company has been dumping spider experimentation waste plus industrial waste in an old mine to create a toxic cocktail of GIANT SPIDERS.  The Doctor has a plan to let the spiders live out a dignified natural existence, but it’s abruptly ended by Robertson shooting the giant mother spider and spouting a lot of stuff about how this (gun-waving and warmongering?) is what’s going to get him into the White House, then storming off.  I expect we’ll see him again.

At the end of the episode, the companions make their own decision to travel with the Doctor full time.  I much prefer this to the imperious RTD-era ‘I only take the best’ smugness on the Doctor’s part.

It’s interesting that the threat in this episode was purely human-created – no alien involvement in the story at all, other than the Doctor showing up!  I think that’s the first time we’ve seen a completely non-alien episode since the series came back in 2005.

It was also a great episode for characterisation.  There was more development of the relationship between Ryan and Graham (I love the moment where Ryan gets upset about his dad implying that Graham’s not his ‘proper’ family).  Bradley Walsh gave a really touching performance to show how Graham is mourning wife Grace.  Also, we finally got some proper characterisation for Yasmin with the introduction of her family and her relationships with them!  Her parents and sister are lovely characters, especially Shobna Gulati as Najia.

Next week’s episode is set in an alien hospital and looks like a proper classic tech-going-wrong adventure!  Can’t wait.

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