Review of Doctor Who ‘Dinosaurs on a Spaceship’

Neela Debnath

Doctor final 300x225 Review of Doctor Who ‘Dinosaurs on a Spaceship’SPOILERS: Do not read this if you have not seen episode 2, series 7/33 of ‘Doctor Who’

Episode 2 was always going to have a tough time following up on Asylum of the Daleks and although it is not on par with last week, it was still an enjoyable caper.

Dinosaurs on a Spaceship was written by Torchwood’s Chris Chibnall who has produced a light and witty script with an underlying layer of innuendo for the grown ups in the audience.

Last week the Doctor was reunited with his Ponds and now it feels like order has been restored between the time travelling trio but it is also as if nothing has changed since they were all last on the Tardis together. Therefore, Chibnall’s clever introduction of three extra (if temporary) companions really freshened up and changed the dynamic and it almost felt like a different show, particularly when they split into two groups but more on that later.

In the first ever series of Doctor Who back in 1963, there were three assistants travelling with the Doctor and it really gave the show more scope and allowed the story to spread the focus across the Time Lord and his companions. When the Doctor only travels with one companion it feels quite insular and too self-contained.

This week’s rag-tag team of companions assembled from across time and space was great because of the constant personality clashes, most notably between John Riddell (Rupert Graves) and Queen Nefertiti (Riaan Steele) and between Riddell and Amy. There was also the friction between Rory and his dad Brian (Mark Williams) to add to the mix. The more companions there are the more variety it adds to the show because each one has their own flaws and backstory.

Along with more assistants, by dividing the group the viewers were treated to essentially two mini adventures. The Doctor, Rory and Brian went on one journey while Amy, Nefertiti and Riddell went another.

When the team split into two, Amy naturally took the lead and it shows how she has become space savvy during her time with the Doctor. It was heartening to see her apply her time traveller wisdom and unlock the mysteries of the Silurian spaceship. She really demonstrates that she is self-sufficient when she needs to be and can look after herself.

In terms of performances, David Bradley was excellent as the villain of the week, presenting a cold and callous edge to his space pirate Solomon. Graves’ role was not particularly weighty but he did amuse as the hunter, especially when his misogynistic views were trounced on by both an ancient Egyptian queen and ‘Rory’s queen’. Meanwhile Mark Williams’ Brian Williams was not a million miles away from his turn as Arthur Weasley in the Harry Potter films.

This week was a more childish and fun episode before things start getting dark and heavy again, there’s only so dark and depressing that Doctor Who can get before it becomes off-putting. For those who may be disappointed by this week, there will be far more darkness to come and Dinosaurs on a Spaceship was gentle respite from the impending tragedy that is to befall the Ponds.

Once again, no expense has been spared on the CGI and it is quite impressive to watch, at times it feels like a crossover between Doctor Who and Walking with Dinosaurs which is not a bad thing at all. Although it does not have the razzmatazz of Asylum of the Daleks it’s a lark. The only real problem seems to be the pacing or lack of it. This week the pace was relentless and it was a bit of a struggle to keep up and very easy to fall behind. Aside from this, it was another small screen wonder that would work well on the big screen.

Next time on Doctor Who: A Town Called Mercy – the eagerly anticipated steampunk, science fiction Western has finally landed. The episode features a cyborg cowboy looking for someone to face him but as usual it’s not completely obvious what is going on. Back in March fans were treated to a preview which contained a number of snippets from this episode, so prepare for some gun slinging and seeing the Doctor in a Stetson… again.

Image credit: BBC

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  • Leave Comments

    I really enjoyed this episode. I liked Amy again for the first time in ages.

  • reverend61

    “The Doctor, Rory and Brian went on one journey while Amy, Nefertiti and Riddell went another.”
    No, Amy and the stereotypes sat around and looked at a screen. Then they went and shot dinosaurs. It was tedious!
    “When the Doctor only travels with one companion it feels quite insular and too self-contained.”
    Which shows, I’m afraid, that you really don’t understand the show, Neela. Suggest you watch Pyramids of Mars, The Seeds of Doom or The Curse of Fenric.

  • Brian Jamieson

    To improve the plot I would suggest both Nefertiti & the game hunter should have been edited out. There was no reason for Nefertiti and the game hunter to be part of this adventure. There was no need for anyone to stun all the dinosaurs. The robots were silly. Rory & his dad stole the show whilst the others were such a bore. The pirate villain could have offered more to the episode if time was not waisted on the other inessential characters. Very disappointed.

  • Guest

    Disagree completely. There are a lot of people who think when the Doctor travels with one companion it feels insular and self-contained and not every one of them misunderstands the show. It’s simply a preference. One that many people share. Dismiss the views all you like by the arrogant assumption people don’t understand the show and haven’t seen the series you recommend but that doesn’t make your comments have any more weight than a balloon on the moon.

  • reverend61

    Neela *doesn’t* understand the show – her track record proves that (look at the other stuff she’s written if you don’t know what I’m talking about). If it were this one comment, I’d put it down to a difference of opinion, but it isn’t.

    Your views on companions are an eye-opener, though – I have to say that in over a decade of talking with all manner of people in all sorts of contexts (on and offline) about Doctor Who, I have yet to meet even one who feels that the classic Doctor / single companion pairing is in any way insular. We evidently walk in different social circles!

  • reverend61

    Agree! I rather enjoyed this one, despite it being a mess. The Nefertiti / Riddell story basically satisfied a couple of minor plot points and gave Amy someone to argue with while the Doctor / Rory / Brian could get on with being funny. You’re right about the robots as well. For all that, I found myself thoroughly entertained, which can’t be bad.

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