‘Dinosaurs On A Spaceship’
You could tell purely from the title of this episode that it was going to be more of a fun, comical romp. After last week’s dark re-introduction to the Daleks, a light-hearted adventure was needed. They’ve both been brilliant and abysmal in the past – compare Tooth and Claw to Fear Her, or The Curse of the Black Spot to The Lodger. Looking at Doctor Who fandom right now, this episode has divided opinion and I can see exactly why.
With four new characters as well as a couple of robots, it’s a major contrast to the claustrophobic feel to Asylum Of The Daleks. Rory’s dad Brian is introduced as a lovable, comical character who reminds me of Donna Noble’s grandfather Wilf. Revealed not to be a travelling man, his character development within the episode is fitting and very endearing. I remember people asking where Rory’s family was during his wedding in The Big Bang. Amy was much more central to the storyline at that time and the wedding guests were random. So it was lovely to see someone from Rory’s family not only be acknowledged but become a companion himself! It was uplifting to see him sitting by the doors of the TARDIS with a cup of Tea and then later seeing the postcards from his travels. Some of his lines were a bit awkward, but I can see what the writer Chris Chibnail was trying to do with his character. Him and Rory have a believable father-son dynamic and I particularly enjoyed the scene where Rory uses his medical supply.
We are also introduced to Queen Nefertiti of Egypt – whose end whereabouts is a topical issue, since she really did vanish from the historical records in 1336BC. In the opening scene, she and The Doctor have just experienced an adventure together and she’s very grateful, eager to thank him with a kiss. Matt Smith continues to amuse me more each time he has one of these scenes. His facial expression can be read as both horrified and aroused at the same time. The way his voice changed to a high pitch had me in stiches and established the humorous nature of the episode straight away. The Doctor also picks up a previous (apparently) companion, game-hunter Riddell. He’s a charming explorer who has some great lines, most of which include innuendos (“…and a very large weapon”). His flirting with Nefertiti is amusing and just about kept family-friendly as he mentions spanking her.
Still, both of them were great ‘companions’ to Amy as she went on her independent mission away from The Doctor. This episode showcased how much she’s learnt from his company, as she was able to find out about the Silurian spacecraft being destroyed upon the ship full of Dinosaurs. It didn’t really mater that it had been the Silurian’s in particular, but it was understandable since Chris Chibnail also wrote The Hungry Earth/Cold Blood. The plot itself is very flimsy. A spaceship is putting planet Earth in danger and as a result, the Indian Space Agency are threatening it with missiles. Of course then The Doctor summons his ‘gang’ to find out what’s on-board. “Dinosaurs, on a Spaceship!” The Doctor cries out and no wonder it was used in the trailer, the execution is perfect.
The idea of a beach being an engine room and the spaceship being controlled by waves was brilliant. The banter between Brian, Rory and The Doctor in that scene is very well written. The cinematography is beautiful and you wouldn’t think it was in Wales at all (although maybe they should get a new beach). The CGI of the Dinosaurs and prosthetics also look really good. The robots the gang encounter in a cave on the beach led me to think we were watching The Sarah Jane Adventures – which is aimed at very young children. Torchwood is the spin-off for adults and Doctor Who is in the middle. It should still have some serious elements in it for adults and that’s not what the voices of Mitchell and Webb represented.
The closeness of The Doctor’s relationship with Rory was very sweet. Every fan girl in the world gasped as Matt Smith and Arthur Darvill locked lips. Indeed, after all the pictures and gifs that have appeared only a day after the episode, it should be retitled ‘Hot Guys Kissing On A Spaceship’. Seriously though, I did enjoy their dynamic in this episode and the fact that they got some time away from Amy.
Now let’s talk about the bad-guy. Solomon is decently acted and is a well-rounded enough character. Apparently The Doctor does have medical skills, as here he’s able to fix Solomon’s leg. (Why didn’t he help Amy resurrect Rory in The Curse of the Black Spot?). He’s forced to help here, after the robots are ordered to injure Brian. I imagine a lot of people were cheering The Doctor on when he left Solomon to die – something he doesn’t do very often. I do love the dark side of The Doctor and am looking forward to it being explored further next week.
One of my favourite scenes was the death of the Dinosaur and then the Queen making her decision to go with Solomon. I think just about everyone watching would have thought that he was talking about the TARDIS, when he said that he’d found something valuable with his scanner. It was a nice change for it to be something else. The Doctor’s silent moment with Tricey gives him the motivation to be more defensive of Nefertiti. What I love about her is her independence and sense of duty. Despite The Doctor’s pleas, she insists that she’s in his debt.
The climax of the episode builds pretty quickly after that. We discover the need to have Brian in the episode – genetics! A similar scene to the one between Amy and The Doctor in the previous episode follows. “You’ll be there to the end of me” The Doctor assures. This is possibly hinting at Amy coming back for his regeneration story. That or it’s just more fore-showing for Amy’s departure. To be honest, I’ve been waiting for the Ponds to leave since The God Complex (why come back after that?). Anyhow, it’s still a good enough confrontation and it leaves a chill in the air. Indeed, The Doctor sees human age before him and moves on. I’m reminded of Darvos’ creepy words in Journey’s End, “likes the company of the young”. Of course, everyone is young compared to a Timelord.
Over all, I think this is an episode that will grow on me. I wasn’t impressed at all on first viewing, but after watching it a second time I enjoyed it much more for what it was. The episode looked great and was acted fantastically by the guest stars. It felt like something new and original, compared to the normal Rory/Amy/Doctor threesome. Oh and of course, I must mention that The Doctor riding on a Dinosaur was one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen (he karate chopped it!). Let’s hope for a more serious episode next week though, the Ponds have darker days to come.