strange_complex: (Leela Ooh)
[personal profile] strange_complex
With these two stories I feel the new series, new show-runner and new Doctor have all settled into a regular rhythm with discernable patterns. And the good news is everything seems to be running smoothly. The big hurdles of introducing the new Doctor, taking her companions on their first adventure and tackling a historical story which could very easily have been done spectacularly badly have been cleared, and we can now settle down to two fairly ordinary but reassuringly competent stories. I could see room for improvement in the Arachnids one especially, but both were enjoyable to watch and didn't leave me face-palming and wishing they'd never been written - which certainly isn't the case for all such ordinary-business stories in recent years.


11.4 Arachnids in the UK

Unusually by recent standards, this was a present-day Earth story featuring no extra-terrestrial threat - only giant spiders caused by a combination of toxic waste and careless lab practices. As such, it sits particularly closely alongside The Green Death1, complete with the same environmental and corporate greed themes. On the whole I thought it was done pretty well, and I certainly enjoyed Chris Noth giving us his best villainy, although I didn't find the way the problem of the spiders was resolved very satisfactory. The idea of luring them all into a panic room with food where they would be shut in to die what the Doctor called a 'natural' death reminded me way too much of the ancient practice of walling up people you don't actually want to execute (Antigone, Vestal Virgins) with a token bit of food, so you could tell yourself their subsequent death was nothing to do with you. Also, purely on a editing level, I felt that we jumped way too quickly from that solution being talked about and Noth killing the giant spider to everything being fine and all over - reflecting the same feeling as the panic room 'solution' of the script washing its hands of the spiders without facing up to their real fate.

This story allowed Yaz's character to develop a bit, reflected through the lens of her family, but for precisely that reason her decision to continue travelling with the Doctor at the end of the story felt a bit strange. It made complete sense for Graham and Ryan to choose life with the Doctor after their loss of Grace, which has clearly left Graham in particular feeling empty and purposeless - at least when he has to face up to living a normal life on Earth without her. But while Yaz's family might have been mildly annoying, they were there and loving and functional - in fact, they seemed pretty decent and likeable to me. So her situation just didn't feel equivalent to Graham and Ryan's in the way that the script was trying to tell me it was.


11.5 The Tsuranga Conundrum

The monster in this story was basically Nibbler, except that it wanted to eat anti-matter rather than excreting dark matter (as far as we know). Indeed, the name of the hospital-ship which the characters find themselves on may well be a slight tweak on Turanga, Nibbler's owner's family name - and given that Leela from Futurama is reputed to have been named in the first place after Leela from Doctor Who, there's a pleasing back-and-forth resonance around all that.

There are a lot of characters and situations to get to grips with in this story, and as a result I felt a bit confused and disoriented for the first few minutes - perhaps partly because I had missed the prelude scene with the junkyard and the mine due to just finishing up cooking dinner, but probably also because the script-writers meant me to feel that way, just like the Doctor and her companions. By the time the Pting showed up, though, things were beginning to crystallise, and once I realised it was basically going to be a cabin-fever story I relaxed entirely and let it do what cabin fever stories do best - develop its characters and bounce them off one other in the face of an inescapable threat. Probably the best of the guest characters for me was Mabli, the woman with the blue bunches who had to learn to trust her own abilities after her senior colleague is killed, and I appreciated the fact that the problem of the Pting was solved both logically and humanely this time (unlike the spiders in the previous episode).


Next week, we get to learn more about Yaz's family history, which I'm looking forward to based on the trailer and the competence with which the Rosa Parks episode was handled. I assume part of her character arc will be for her to discover things which allow her to return to her own family in the present with a deeper sympathy and understanding - although again I do wish that whatever her reasons for finding them annoying were supposed to be had been better developed in the Arachnids episode if this is indeed the case.


1. I think, anyway. I find I can't accurately remember now whether the supercomputer in The Green Death turns out to be of alien origin or not.

Date: Thursday, 8 November 2018 20:46 (UTC)
sir_guinglain: (Pertwee_TVAction)
From: [personal profile] sir_guinglain
Brilliant reviews - I'd no idea about the Futurama borrowing. BOSS is not of alien origin, as far as we are told.

Date: Thursday, 8 November 2018 20:53 (UTC)
sir_guinglain: (Styre)
From: [personal profile] sir_guinglain
I have my uses! ;)

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