Monday, 29 October 2018

Doctor Who - Arachnids In The UK

I Never Metebelis
I Didn’t Like

Doctor Who - Arachnids In The UK
Airdate: 28th October 2018

Here we are again. Time for what is, again, a very short review for this week’s new Doctor Who adventure... Arachnids In The UK. But, wow, what an episode? This one is classic Doctor Who and it really felt good to have the series starting to feel really familiar again.

This one deals with what happens when The Doctor finally gets her new companions home, safe where they want to be in Sheffield. Except... nope, it’s not safe anymore when a whole load of mutated, giant spiders are parcelling up the population in order to, maybe, eat them or some such thing later on. As it is, though, not even the spiders really have a plan or clue as what they are trying to do here... they’re just trying to deal with suddenly growing to huge sizes with no rule book to help them figure things out.

It’s a nice story and it shows the difference between Doctor Who as it is now and what you could have got away with 30 or more years ago. Ambitious stories like this which calls for huge special effects in terms of hordes of, quite convincing actually (for a change), mutated giant spiders would have maybe had the writers shying away from their original concept due to the scope of the thing and how it could have been achieved on a budget. The curse of CGI actually means that when you want to do something like this, you can at least have a fair stab at it and I was impressed with how these spiders were rendered here. They sure beat the days in the early 1970s when Jon Pertwee was running around and trying to face down a giant spider, which actually saw him regenerating as the result of his experiences in that story.

Talking of which... how can you have an episode like this without The Doctor mentioning the spiders of Metebelis Three? Unless I missed it when somebody I was watching with was asking silly questions but, I’m pretty sure they might have made more of it if they’d wanted. After all, they mentioned Jon Pertwee’s Venusian Aikido the other week, didn’t they? It’s not like they’re shying away from references to the old days here.

The best thing about this episode for me, though, was Jodie Whitaker finally being completely like The Doctor. Or at least The Doctor as he has been for the last ten years or so. There was a lovely scene near the start where she’s dropped off her new friends and is trying to say goodbye but... nobody, including her, really wants to and the dialogue here and the way she quickly accepted Yas’ offer for a cup of tea was completely nailing the character as far as I was concerned. It was good Doctor Who writing (from Chris Chibnall himself, which I totally didn’t expect) and it was made so much more of by the way Jodie performed this stuff. Astonishing moments here by an incarnation of The Doctor I have already accepted into my heart. I know my dad will be taking a few more seasons to get the hang of her but then again, he always does with each new regeneration. He only starts to appreciate them when they’re almost done with the show.

So... a sci-fi yarn involving scary monsters, a mild eco friendly message to educate the youngsters and young at heart among us and some truly great performances. Whittaker, as I’ve said, was astonishing. Mandip Gill and Tosin Cole were doing great too... these characters are starting to feel familiar. And Bradley Walsh as Graham... well he was superb and has the ghost of his dead wife haunting him in that good way. I hope they keep the character on board the TARDIS for a very long time but, something is telling me that I wouldn’t surprised if the writers have some very dramatic plans for Graham before the season is over. So I’m just keeping my fingers crossed that things work out for him by the end of the season... or at least continue on with him as a regular on the show.

Okay... one bad thing about this week's episode was... I totally didn’t understand the off-screen resolution of the story. The big mother spider is dead but nobody has said what’s happened to the slightly smaller versions... or did I miss that too. Everything just seemed to stop on the dramatic resolution of the emotional drama rather than actually tying the story threads up, it seemed to me. Not that I care that much, however... I’m just grateful we got a good story here. Or rather... a doctorish story. It feels like Jodie has brought the programme home again now so I’m really looking forward to the coming weeks.

Also, apart from the opening music arrangement, I’m really getting used to Segun Akinola scoring these things now. It’s almost Herrmannesque at times, in that the composer is using short, repeat motifs in places to build up the tension which can be, presumably, quickly edited if a scene is suddenly cut by a few seconds or, you know, added to if it runs longer than an earlier cut. So looking forward to a CD release of this at some point, hopefully, once Silva Screen finally get around to releasing Murray Gold’s last season, that is.

And that’s me done on Arachnids In The UK. Classic Doctor Who stuff by a cast and crew who seem to be really getting into it. No real complaints from me (for once). Looking forward to more time traveling shenanigans soon.

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