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.
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