Doctor Who (7.2): “Spelling it out is hereditary. Wonderful.”

I’ll be honest with you, I was a little worried that Dinosaurs on a  Spaceship would be a letdown. There was so much that could go wrong – the dinosaurs being giving only enough screen time or plot weight to justify the child-baiting episode title for a start. I should have known better of course. The second episode of the new series has made me very happy indeed.

It had its dud moments, (Queen Nefertiti like a cat on heat with the Doctor for one) but they were fleeting. Instead we got an explanation for the extinction of the dinosaurs, the chance to meet Rory’s Dad (the brilliant Mark ‘we wanna be together’ Williams (or, yes Arthur Weasley if you’re too young to remember that building society ad)), the first stirrings of sadness as our time with the Ponds shortens (a quarter of that time elapsed while you were watching this episode – assuming Steven Moffat hasn’t lied about the timing of their leaving), a chance to slam those who know the price of everything and the value of nothing and remind them not to judge everyone by their own greedy, shallow standards (here ends the Save-the-NHS-from-privatisation speech) and Rupert Graves looking damnably hot.

Here be spoilers…

The daft opening moment in Ancient Egypt aside, I loved the set-up for this: the Indian Space Agency, the chemistry between the Doctor and Riddell by the campfire, the father-son bickering over DIY and stepladder-holding abilities and the Doctor being completely oblivious to the fact he’s picked up an extra companion.

I liked Amy’s moment of jealousy when introduced to Neffi and Riddell (“Are they the new us?”) and the Doctor’s response: “No, they’re just people, they’re not Ponds.”

But not as much as I liked the rug-pull that left even the Doctor non-plussed on a wind-swept beach, with things that he hopes are kestrels approaching… not to mention the moment when Brian produces a trowel to start digging with and we learn that the Doctor still has a Christmas list (but Rory, at 31 doesn’t).

I also enjoyed the writers messing with our heads. They know that we keep forgetting the universe thinks the Doctor is dead, and play with our old assumptions to trick us into thinking Solomon is a villain of much greater substance than he actually is. He still deserves what he gets mind you. He is Not a Nice Man. He is, in fact, a Very Not Nice Man At All.

I imagine the camp Mitchell and Webb robots will have divided viewers, but they entertained me more than they annoyed. The triceratops, on the other hand, was gorgeous and certainly didn’t deserve to die at Solomon’s whim.

That the ship is a Silurian ark designed to save the dinosaurs from the meteorite impact that we like to believe killed them off is great. It reminds us of the humanity of the Silurians as well as creating a happier ending for the dinosaurs.

Talking of happy endings, this was a good ending. The Doctor using all the elements available to him to save the dinosaurs, his ‘gang’ and give Solomon a taste of his own medicine (without any massive plot holes that I can see), plus Amy and Riddell zapping (but not killing) dinosaurs in a manner that River Song would approve of highly, and Brian and Rory flying the spaceship while managing to be both heroic and funny.

I have to say that I hope we see Brian Williams again. A man who can sit on the Tardis edge drinking a flask of tea and eating a sandwich while gazing at the Earth below (not to mention one who has seen the error of his ways with regard to golf) is one who deserves many more galactic adventures.

In the meantime, we can look forward to the Doctor donning his Stetson again (Matt Smith does give good hat, and let’s face it *I* should know about these things) and heading to the Wild West (or something very like it). See you in the saloon bar next Saturday night…

Posted by Jo the Hat

6 Comments

Filed under Dr Who

6 responses to “Doctor Who (7.2): “Spelling it out is hereditary. Wonderful.”

  1. Tim

    Good news. Brian Williams returns in episode 4, also penned by Chris Chibnall, which I understand will be a Pond-centric episode (and therefore teeing up their impending departure).

    Like you, I was bracing myself for the worst. But this was rather good, if a little lightweight – at least until the last 5 minutes when we were slapped around the face with some serious foreshadowing.

    The main story aside, this episode was all about Rory’s relationship with his dad for me, with some lovely moments. It’s all about the pockets, indeed. (But how come Brian didn’t recognise the TARDIS exterior? He was at the wedding, wasn’t he? Or was he elsewhere examining a light fitting?) I loved the moment at the end when he’s sitting on the TARDIS doorstep drinking tea and nibbling his sandwich, in the style of ‘Lunch Atop A Skyscraper’. It’s a beautiful shot, even if you don’t get the reference. Having finally seen the world, teh formerly travel-phobic Brian decides to go and see the world …

    Bring on the Terminator! Stetsons are cool, but cyborgs are cooler …

    http://slouchingtowardsthatcham.com/2012/09/08/doctor-who-season-7-episode-2-review-dinosaurs-on-a-spaceship/

  2. dogdrovenorth

    Absolutely convinced David Walliams voiced the robot.

  3. holbylover819

    You know what’s also hereditary? “This won’t hurt a bit.” “I lied.” River does it in Time of Angels and we now know she gets it from Rory!

  4. SarahLady

    As always, I love your review Jo, but on this occasion I have to disagree with you… I was SO disappointed with this episode.
    I genuinely felt that Steven Moffat and his writing crew went “DINOSAURS IN SPACE! BRILLIANT!”… then went to the pub.
    After the initial series with Matt Smith and it’s fantastic interwoven storyline everything since has felt really disjointed and wrong. It’s common knowledge that the Neil Gaiman episode (my favourite of last series) was shoe horned in and was supposed to be in the series before, moreover the James Corden episode was UTTERLY pointless, except as a vehicle for Corden (Bleurgh).
    Last week’s episode was much more like it, interesting plot, developing the idea that the Dr is ‘dead’ to the rest of the Universe (and now unknown to the Daleks, now there’s a reboot!), a scene between Rory and Amy that actually made me sob, hints of things to come (SPOILERS) with first sighting of Oswin…

    HOWEVER, this week… what was the point?

    I’ve watched this episode THREE times now and with every viewing it feels more like a radio episode/audio description service. There was no actual plot nor any sense that it was moving a greater narrative along, nor was it any good (like Blink) on its own. Just… meh.
    I usually adore both Mitchell AND Webb but what they had to work with was rubbish, really, really rubbish – not a decent funny line between them. Can’t understand how that’s even possible, they managed to be good in a smug advert for Apple, how can they not be good in DOCTOR WHO?

    There was also no explanation about the fact that the Ponds were all fine and dandy again, just like the episode after THEIR BABY WAS STOLEN – they don’t seem to get upset about stuff if it doesn’t suit the plot line and that’s really weird. These guys can act, so let them.

    Queen Nefertiti was awful: bad characterisation, bad acting, terrible lines and I don’t need to see yet another woman swooning over the Dr either – it’s BORING and it just doesn’t work. Even the usually gorgeous and brilliant Rupert Graves was wooden and awful.

    You know what it felt (and sounded) like? It felt like it had been filmed entirely with green screen. It had exactly the same amount of atmosphere (i.e. NONE) as the Phantom Menace and when you get actors to act with nothing, they give you nothing.

    Things I liked:
    Mark Williams – that man is brilliant in everything. Perfect as Rory’s dad (the trowel bit almost saved it for me) and sitting to eat his sandwich and have a cup of tea while watching Earthrise was pretty decent. More of him please.

    Doctor: Come on Ponds
    Brian: I’m not a Pond
    Doctor: Of course you are!

    And that’s it, wasn’t much else I could like.

    Instead of being super excited about the next episode (as used to happen), I’m rather dreading it – what if it’s rubbish as well?! It does look a bit like Cowboys and Aliens and that was an AWFUL movie so let’s hope it’s at least better than that!

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