The ‘Who’ Review – ‘Arachnids in the U.K.’

Review by J.T. Johnson

Showrunner Chris Chibnall seems bound and determined to remind us about why we loved “Doctor Who” in the first place and he keeps on succeeding. Granted, part of Chibnall’s smaller path has been determined by a shorter budget from the BBC and a cutdown to only ten episodes this year. Yet, by cutting the budget, BBC might have done the one thing that the show needed.

Now, I’m speaking as a huge fan of the Steven Moffat era that preceded Chibnall. I loved the epic storylines and how Moffat kept raising the stakes, but you can only go so high and this new version of the show has done an excellent job of reigning things in. In the first episode, we got our awesome introduction to Jodie Whittaker’s Thirteenth Doctor and an action thriller.

The second episode was an off-planet, straight up science fiction affair and last week’s episode was a stellar historical drama centered around Rosa Parks. This week, just in time for Halloween, we got a nice little B-Movie horror show. In it, the Doctor finally manages to get Graham (Bradley Walsh), Ryan (Tosin Cole) and Yaz (Mandip Gill) back home, only twenty minutes after they originally left so it’s like nothing ever happened to the rest of the world.

However, they soon discover that there are massive spiders in town and they seemed centered around a luxury hotel ran by a very Trump-like Robertson, played extraordinarily by Chris Noth. In fact, as an American, Robertson is so much like Trump that he scared me more than the spiders! It also didn’t escape me that this is a foreign show telling us how they perceive America at the moment and, sadly, it is not an entirely inaccurate observation.

My only real complaint is that the special-effects made to bring the spiders to life aren’t the best. Yet, the episode wisely keeps them out of site for the most part, thus making this a very minor complaint in the grand scheme of things.

That aside, the story is pretty much a bottle episode for the most part as we spend most of our time in the hotel with the creepy crawlies. I was a little worried that the TARDIS was going to get a little too crowded this season with the introduction of three new companions, but thankfully, I love every single one of them. Graham is still dealing with the death of his wife as is his stepson Ryan while Yaz is still dreaming of finding more in the Universe than what is in her everyday existence with her family and her job as a cop.

They all add something wonderful to the Doctor’s new “Team TARDIS”, a term that the Doctor uses to officially brand her new companions. Then there is the Doctor herself. Whittaker’s exciting personality and love to help others echoes the Tenth and Eleventh Doctor while her smaller stories echo the Third Doctor’s, another era of the show that also had to deal with a smaller budget despite ironically also being the first era of the show filmed in color.

This new version of the show continues to impress me and the Thirteenth Doctor is already one of my favorite Doctors. If the Chibnall keeps it up with what he’s done so far with her adventures, then she may very well become my absolute favorite!

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