Doctor Who – “Dinosaurs on a Spaceship”: An Egyptian, an archeologist and a dinosaur walk onto a spacecraft

Doctor Who: Series 7

“Dinosaurs on a Spaceship”

Aired: September 8, 2012

Writer: Chris Chibnall

Director: Saul Metzstein

“Thank you, Arthur C. Clarke. Teleport, obviously. I mean, we’re on a spaceship with dinosaurs – why wouldn’t there be a teleport?”

– Brian “Pond”

The standalone episodes not penned by Steven Moffat are always a bit of a mixed bag. Sometimes you get something really fun and mind bendy like Neil Gaiman’s “The Doctor’s Wife.” Other times you get last season’s flat, pointless pirate story “The Curse of the Black Spot.”

For what it’s worth, I thought “Dinosaurs on a Spaceship” was somewhere in between. A lot of it felt oddly like Doctor Who fan fiction, with too many random elements thrown together just to see what sticks (Egyptian princess, early 20th century archaeologist, Rory’s day, dinosaurs, spaceships, Silurians, etc.). Making matters worse, Solomon the bad guy was so cartoonishly evil that I’m surprised he didn’t want to kill all the dinosaurs to make a fancy coat for himself. And his robot henchmen were much more annoying and unfunny than writer Chris Chibnall meant them to be.

Still, overall it was a fairly entertaining episode that did include a few things I really enjoyed.

Perhaps the best part was getting to see Amy Pond channel The Doctor as she was left alone with her two companions. Last week’s premiere did a nice job in the opening scene having Amy explain to Rory what The Doctor was doing while he was pacing around the Daleks’ ship and this week expanded on that idea. Amy spends a lot of time studying and learning from The Doctor. She knows how he operates and has begun to think like him. There’s also an interest mirror between the two characters in the way that she charges full speed ahead without thinking of the consequences and also in how this season we are seeing the trouble she has adjusting to the “real” world without any adventures or timey-wimey shenanigans. Plus, it’s just fun to see The Doctor’s words coming out of a quirky redhead’s mouth, which hasn’t happened since The Doctor-Donna era. Hopefully things end better for Amy Pond than they did for Donna Noble.

I also loved the dynamic between Rory and his dad. I really wish they had introduced Brian earlier since it seems like there is a lot of untapped potential there. Amy and Rory have gotten so used to this life that the strangeness of it doesn’t really phase them anymore. It was nice to see their adventures through Rory’s dad’s eyes. Unfortunately, he’s the one who almost dies this week, which I guess means that Rory’s red shirt curse is hereditary. Regardless, I could watch the two of them pull random objects out of their pockets and fly spaceships together for hours. It was a really great dynamic.

The inclusion of the Silurians was a bit odd, especially with the reveal that they were all murdered by Solomon. The species was last prominently featured in the two-parter in season five – “The Hungry Earth”/”Cold Blood.” I’m not sure if this was supposed to be the same group of Silurians featured in that episode, though it’s worth noting that Richard Hope played a Silurian in all three episodes. (However, IMDB says his character was named “Bleytal” in this episode, while he played “Dr. Malokeh” in those two episodes and “The Wedding of River Song.”) I would have liked some more information about the group and how they tie into the previously seen Silurians, if they do at all.

The dinosaurs were rather fun and looked surprisingly good for a TV show. They weren’t Jurassic Park quality, but they weren’t SyFy Original Movie bad either. Considering the hit the season’s budget must have taken to make them look as good as they did, I applaud the effort. I also really enjoyed watching The Doctor and the boys attempt to start a triceratops. Fun stuff all around.

And another thing …

  • No matter how many times I hear it, I never tire of composer Murray Gold’s “I Am The Doctor” being played in these episodes. It’s such a catchy, epic little tune.
  • That seemed like some heavy foreshadowing when The Doctor promised Amy she’d be there until his end and she said, “Or vice versa.” In my interview with him, Matt Smith referred to these episodes as “The Fall of the Ponds.” Could Steven Moffat be cruel enough to kill them or is this all a red herring?
  • The annoying robot henchmen physically reminded me quite a bit of the turtle-like alien species in The Fifth Element.

Wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey stuff

Not a whole lot of time travel stuff to worry about, outside of thinking about just how many time streams were crossed in assembling The Doctor’s team. You had an ancient Egyptian, an early 20th century archeologist and three 21st century Ponds. Not to mention the dinosaurs, who came from lord knows when. Definitely a lot of potential to create paradoxes or to radically alter the previously established timeline, especially with Nefertiti shacking up with John Riddell there at the end.

Gratuitous Amy Pond photo of the week

Only three more of these gratuitous photos left before Amy leaves our lives forever …

Written by Joel Murphy. If you enjoy his recaps, he also writes a weekly pop culture column called Murphy’s Law, which you can find here. You can contact Joel at murphyslaw@hobotrashcan.com.

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