Mr Big made a Trump-alike villain
“You’re that bloke.” “Yeah.” A bombastic American businessman and prospective Presidential candidate, partial to pointing at people and saying “You’re fired!” Remind you of anyone?
Chris Noth (from Law & Order, The Good Wife and, of course, Sex and the City) chewed scenery with eyebrow-waggling relish as dastardly tycoon Jack Robertson, who planned to run for the White House in 2020. “I’m not a politician, I’m a businessman and I know how to run things,” he boasted, in between his scheduled bathroom breaks and OCD-ish hand-washing routines.Robertson was convinced that the spider infestation at his swank hotel (did you spot the Trumpian golf course too?) was the work of eco-protestors or Russian spooks. He was equally convinced that it could be solved with guns (“How’s this for fire and fury?”).
Cue another of the Doctor’s seemingly weekly anti-gun speeches, while Robinson chuntered: “What’s wrong with this country? Why don’t you shoot things like civilised people?”
Just when the Trump parallels were becoming clumsy, the script deftly dodged around them. “You’re only running because you’ve hated Trump for decades,” said Jade, to which Robertson pleaded: “Please don’t mention that name.”
Cheeky Chibnall even squeezed in an oh-so-topical mention of NDAs (non-disclosure agreements). We’re surprised nobody tweeted about “fake news” or “covfefe”.
Graham’s grief was poignantly portrayed
Amid all the arachnid action, Walsh came into his own this week, providing the emotional heart of the episode. As cancer survivor and retired bus driver Graham O’Brien, he found himself haunted by the benevolent ghost of late wife Grace (a touching reappearance for Sharon D Clarke) upon his return home.
Seeing her memory all around their empty house, he talked to Grace, sniffed her coat, was gently admonished about domestic chores and touchingly said: “I’ve got so much to tell you.”
Happily, however, Graham now has a new family: the Doctor, Yaz but step-grandson Ryan, who bristled at a letter from his estranged father: “It says he’s my proper family. I don’t like that he put that. Proper family? He’s not proper.” The implication being, of course, that Graham is. Aww.
Stormzy and Sheeran made pop cultural cameos
New showrunner Chibnall’s scripts continued to zing with zeitgeisty reference points. When the Doctor guilelessly asked Robinson, “Are you Ed Sheeran?”, it was right up there with last week’s terrific Banksy gag.
She also made mention of pioneering aviator Amelia Earhart (“A right laugh”) and quipped: “The Spider Mother in the Ballroom sounds like the best novel Edith Wharton never wrote.”
When her plan needed vibrations to attract the arachnids, Ryan knew just where to find the best vibes: “Raise! Sheffield’s sickest grime station!” Cue spiders scuttling in the direction of Stormzy’s 2015 underground hit Know Me From.
Was there also a sly South Park nod from Robinson when his bodyguard bit the dust? “Oh my God, it killed Kevin!”
Romp had a retro feel
There was a distinctly Seventies atmosphere to this episode, with the Doctor and a ragtag gang of humans battling a monster-of-the-week in an Earthbound setting.
Cue chases down corridors (“Word of advice, mate,” Graham told Robinson. “Run now, ask questions later”), doors slammed shut in the nick of time and characters spouting semi-plausible scientific gobbledygook.
Arachnophobes might even have found themselves hiding behind the sofa. Hope there were no creepy-crawlies back there.
We finally met Yaz’s family