Series 7, Episode 2
DINOSAURS! ON A SPACESHIP!
Also Queen Nefertiti, an Edwardian explorer, Rory’s dad, Mitchell & Webb as robots… as you might have guessed, this is an ‘everything but the kitchen’ sink episode.
The episode ends with lots of postcards, and that’s not a bad analogy for episode as a whole. It’s made up of little snapshots. It has a lot of good ideas, but because everything is packed like a stuffed suitcase, there isn’t enough room or time to do them all justice, so it comes off as a bit of a random mess.
I really liked the idea of a Silurian Ark, kind of an equivalent of Noah’s Ark but with reptilian humanoids hoping to repopulate dinosaurs to save them from extinction in contrast to Noah putting two of every animal on an Ark so they’ll still exist after the great flood. But this strand is nothing more than an explanation for why we have DINOSAURS! ON A SPACESHIP! in the first place. It’s a shame, as I think that would have been an interesting idea to explore.
Queen Nefertiti as a companion of the Doctor sounds like a good idea, but she gets little to do other than flirt with the Edwardian explorer (who gets even less to do) and be taken hostage by the bad guy. She gets herself out of the situation, but it still comes off as a bit of a waste. She could have been replaced with an original character and it wouldn’t have made any difference other than having to spend time to establish that she is a well known figure.
Speaking of the bad guy, here it is a bounty hunter named Solomon. He is a vile, horrible villain. He only cares about recovering items for profit, and these items seem to be living things, such as the dinosaurs and even famous humans such as Queen Nefertiti. Not only that but he enjoys ‘breaking’ them and will murder anything that gets in his way, including the Silurians who had responded to his distress signal and an innocent triceratops. He’s also very much fits into the TV Trope ‘Evil Cannot Comprehend Good’, in that he believes the Doctor’s disgust for Solomon is because he wants the profit for himself. Solomon gets a satisfying comeuppance in the end, via a lot of missiles blowing him up in his spaceship.
Maybe this episode isn’t one that should be analysed too closely. Apparently it was conceived just to write an episode that had DINOSAURS! ON A SPACESHIP!, and, well, we get DINOSAURS! ON A SPACESHIP! and I have to admit, my inner child is thoroughly geeky, as DINOSAURS! ON A SPACESHIP is something that excites me, in the same way that DALEKS VS CYBERMAN did in Army Of Ghosts/Doomsday. We get to see the Doctor riding a triceratops and it ‘fetching’ a golf ball like a dog because of the grass residue. All very silly, but silly was clearly what they were aiming for.
For the second week in a row, an episode has reminded me of Red Dwarf, this one being similar to Pete which also had DINOSAURS! ON A SPACESHIP! I wonder if future episodes will see the Doctor in a backwards universe or fighting a vindaloo monster?
We get to meet Rory’s dad Brian, played by Mark Williams. He’s a great addition to this episode and I wish we’d have met him earlier, as he’s good as one of those normal people who sometimes end up on the Doctor’s adventures. It’s all an eye opener for him, as Rory says Brian normally only ever goes to the paper shop or plays golf in his spare time, and one of the best bits of the episode is when Brian is sat on the TARDIS with some sandwiches and a flask of tea looking from above at planet Earth. Brian is also the one who sends the postcards at the end, having gone to various tourist attractions because the TARDIS is able to get them there immediately. I can relate to Brian on this one, I always hate the ‘travelling’ side of travelling too. Mark Williams and Arthur Darvill work very well together playing a father and son. In fact, Rory gets a lot of good moments in this episode, the Doctor kissing him on his lips for one, and more importantly a rare occasion where we get to see his nursing skills put to good use.
My favourite part of the episode was a nice scene between the Doctor and Amy, where Amy says she is worried that the Doctor may one day stop visiting them. It’s very well played, although there is some obvious foreshadowing about the Ponds’ exit, and a very big implication that it won’t be a happy ending. If there’s one thing I got more than anything from this episode, it’s that I’m really, really going to miss Amy and Rory.