Sunday, October 28, 2018

Doctor Who Season 11 Episode 4: Arachnids in the U.K.

The latest Season of Doctor Who has had a bit of a bumpy start.  The episodes aren't as bad as a couple of seasons ago, but they aren't as good as the 2007-2012 glory days of the show.  Jodi Whitaker makes a mostly convincing female version of the Doctor, but her character comes across as too politically correct.  The good Doctor is also a warrior, and we don't see that in her.  She is more of a caretaker, like a nurse with an attitude.

With episode 4 things are looking up.  The story evokes some of the terror we saw in episodes like "Blink" and "Silence in the Library", but only by a fraction.  Giant spiders have taken over a hotel with a handful of people trapped inside.  How one reacts to this might depend upon on how one feels about spiders, and since they never bothered me that much, I found them about as scary as the giant spider at the end of the surrealistic movie 'Enemy', which apparently was as afraid of the humans as the humans was of it.  That turns out to be true here too.  The owner of the hotel is a corrupt Donald Trump wannabe, who is planning to run for President, and he has the right idea, which is to shoot the spiders.  The politically correct Doctor will have none of that, and wants to treat the spiders with respect and even talks to them.  This is one of many things that didn't quite make sense, like why didn't they call the police, or the military, or even an army of exterminators?  We know from previous episodes that the Doctor has political friends in very high places, and at one time was temporarily made President of the entire Earth.  Surely she can get help when she needs it?

The well done ending holds promise for good things to come, but I also thought that maybe this was a missed opportunity for some storytelling gimmickry.  We see Grace, Graham and Ryan enter the Tardis to say a proper goodbye and wish the Doctor bon voyage.  After some discussion they decide to go with her.  Imagine the same scene where we see them enter the Tardis just from the outside, and after a long pause the Tardis begins its journey.  Sometimes leaving things to our imagination can be more enticing.  The discussion inside the Tardis could have been held for a flashback in the next episode.

The special effects of the spiders is pretty well done, but I still think that the show feels like it has less budget than before.  It has lost some of its visual appeal, which in part due to the Doctor's goofy outfit and the drab look they chose for the Tardis interior.

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