The giant spiders of Metebelis 3 have made their presence known as the power behind the Eightfold Truth, and the Queen of the spiders has taken possession of Lucie’s body. Lucie’s mind is still there, though, and she battles the Queen for control. The Doctor gathers an unlikely group of helpers, including Karen and the deposed leader of the Eightfold Truth, to strike back at the spiders and help the hypnotized masses regain their minds. In the process of fighting for control of her mind, Lucie learns key parts of the Queen’s plan to dominate Earth and then the entire universe, and soon she becomes the only weapon the Doctor has in the fight to free humanity.
Cast: Paul McGann (The Doctor), Sheridan Smith (Lucie Miller), Stephen Moore (Clark Goodman), Sophie Winkleman (Kelly Westwood), Sanjeev Bhaskar (Dr. Avishka Sangakkara), Katarina Olsson (The Headhunter), Kerry Godliman (Karen), Richard Earl (Rob), Anthony Spargo (David), Beth Chalmers (Queen), Barnaby Edwards (Newsreader)
Notes: The Doctor last encountered the giant spiders of Metebelis 3 in the last adventure for his third incarnation, Planet Of The Spiders, although mentions of Metebelis 3 had been seeded into prior adventures, as far back as the last story of the previous season, The Green Death, in which the third Doctor acquired a blue crystal like the ones which help the spiders control humans’ minds in Worldwide Web.
Timeline: after The Eight Truths and before Death In Blackpool
LogBook entry and TheatEar review by Earl Green
Review: For all of the promise set up by The Eight Truths, Worldwide Web somehow isn’t quite as impressive, devolving into a series of chases and plot contrivances. Where The Eight Truths was a startlingly good emulation of the tone of the first part of any of the new TV series’ season finales, Worldwide Web is a letdown… and that, unfortunately, makes it a pretty good approximation of the second part of most of the TV series finales: heavy on action setpieces, a little bit light on the plotting that made the first part so interesting in the first place.
To give credit where it’s due: it’s nice to see Lucie get a central role in defusing the situation, even if it is from the slightly hackneyed vantage point of “let me see what I can do to screw things up from inside the enemy’s hive mind” (i.e. a plot point of virtually every Star Trek: Voyager episode to feature the Borg). But between that and the gunplay holding the Doctor at bay (which simply doesn’t thrill me as part of an audio play), Worldwide Web just isn’t as interesting as it could’ve been. There was an opportunity here to make some sort of statement about cults, letting other people abuse one’s faith or frailties, but it was passed up in favor of non-stop action and an oddly heroic gesture by the Headhunter before that character makes her apparent exit from the storyline. The giant spiders, who were last seen in Jon Pertwee’s final adventure (and were responsible for the third Doctor’s regeneration into the fourth), lack the menace of their original appearance; the Eightfold Truth might have been more formidable if it had been a human-run scam with leftover alien tech.
For all the thought that was put into the pacing and topicality of The Eight Truths, Worldwide Web is a little bit of a letdown.