Chris Chibnall’s tenure as showrunner has clearly shifted the focus of Doctor Who to have a closer resemblance to its classic adventures, and “Arachnids in the UK” is his love letter to the Third Doctor.
Jon Pertwee took over the role of the Doctor in 1970 and, along with the addition of color, his entrance left an indelible mark on the show. Swashbuckling adventures were infused into the narrative, as the hobo tramp Doctor was forced to regenerate into a James Bond/Sherlock Holmes-style action star. The motifs of environmentalism and social classes prevalent in the Pertwee era are still relevant today, and revisiting those ideas from “The Green Death” and “Planet of the Spiders” with modern special effects breathes new life into those stories.
It is apparent that Jodie Whittaker is having a lot of fun playing up the Doctor’s alien-ness, and it is a delight to watch. Since the show returned in 2005, the Doctor’s human qualities have been favored over her alien traits. Personally, I prefer her to be a bit of an outsider who tries to replicate social interactions without fully understanding them. Seeing her awkwardly work through small talk with Yaz’s family was a welcome reprieve from the darkness of the episode.
Yaz’s family’s introduction this week was one of the biggest character developments for companions this season. As we got a glimpse into her daily life, we also saw Graham dealing with the grief of losing his wife and a few more details on Ryan’s feelings towards his estranged father. The episode ends with them signing up to officially be members of the TARDIS crew, and the show only becomes better as they grow as characters. The quartet’s enthusiasm and chemistry may lead this to be one of the better ensembles in the show’s history.