e’re back in 21st Century Sheffield, Yaz, Ryan and Graham have witnessed a little nugget of the weird and wonderful lifestyle of the Doctor and have played a crucial role in a historical event that got the ball rolling for civil rights not only in the United States but across the cosmos. However, what lurks in the shadows of Sheffield and why have the arachnids of Southern Yorkshire increased in size?
Before I go any further, this article contains SPOILERS! So if you’re behind, do yourself a favour, catch up!
So the Doctor has brought the new TARDIS crew home, we get a nice little look at the new space/time vortex and its sort of how I imagined it to be with it having other tunnels leading off to the past/present/future. Also the more episodes I see of Whittaker’s Doctor, the more I get reminded of the Pertwee era as the opening titles fill my television screen and prepares me for another adventure through time and space.
I have to say however that I am in no hurry to rewatch this episode. The people over at the Beeb have done a fantastic job at CGI-ing eight legs of nope! I found my overall viewing experience to be unnerving and uncomfortable. Instead of hiding behind furniture, I hid behind my partner. Me and spiders, is a big NO!
However, upon reflecting back on this episode I couldn’t help but think of The Green Death (1973). Where the Doctor (Jon Pertwee) and Jo Grant (Katy Manning) are summoned to a Welsh coal mine that is being plagued by giant maggots that have been mutated by toxic waste, which is also killing the miners by infecting them with a deadly virus which changes them bright green.
In this case it’s the toxic waste that is having a devastating affect on the arachnids of Sheffield, previously when I heard that there was going to be giant spiders in episode four, I was expecting or hoping to hear the Doctor mention the spiders of Metebelis III from Planet of the Spiders (1973) and that these creatures were to be a sister species to that of the ones who appeared in Pertwee’s swansong story.
The episode itself was very much close to home to me when it came to Graham (Bradley Walsh) having recently losing a loved one (Grace) and having Doctor Who as a mean to escape from reality for 50 minutes, seeing him leave Sheffield with the Doctor is very fitting, it made the overall viewing experience more personal.
Whilst on the subject of Graham I’m still waiting for the Doctor to correct him for calling her “Doc.” The previous incarnations hated being referred to as “Doc” and would instantly jumped to the opportunity to correct those who would use the phrase. It could be that Chibnall wants to modernize the show, but I do like the fact the Doctor has a nickname with her new travelling companions and that they’re already being referred to as the TARDIS Team.
And lastly the scene between Ryan and Graham where Ryan is disgusted with the letter from his father, you can clearly see that their relationship is growing as they spend more time together and that in time Ryan will eventually address Graham as Granddad. I just think we need to give Ryan a big shock as a kick up the backside.
There were a few comedic moments between Yaz’s relatives as they were questioning the Doctor and then Ryan on the possiblity of them dating Yaz, I especially found it funny when the Doctor actually questioned Yaz on the subject. The Doctor has finally adopted the alien attitude to other species, she is once again an alien traveller who lives for friendship and adventure. Having her being socially awkward contributes to the fact she's a space travelling alien from the planet Gallifrey.
I did somewhat feel that the story's antagonist, Robertson (Chris Noth) "needed to go" if you get what I mean. However, having him survive the events of the episode is true Doctor Who style where it sends out the message of no matter how greedy, twisted or how horrible you are, you do not, under any circumstances deserve to die! And I think the Doctor may play a crucial role in averting his opportunity in running for Presidency of the United States in the foreseeable future. Just one question; does the whole "six words" trick work across the pond?
Overall great episode even if the premise had been somewhat used before. Not to mention I am in no hurry to re-watch the episode or stay at the Celtic Manor anytime soon. A good little creppy story to chill the blood before Halloween and a nice bit of character development between Ryan and Graham.
Doctor Who continues Sunday 4th November, in The Tsuranga Conundrum on BBC One.