Saturday, 8 September 2012

TV Review: Doctor Who – “Dinosaurs on a Spaceship”

The BBC iPlayer site is so funny, it describes Doctor Who as a sci-fi drama.  Well, I guess “most awesome and longest running science-fiction television series on Earth” isn’t exactly a genre but still, “sci-fi drama” seems woefully inadequate. Of course, the only reason I was on iPlayer in the first place was for a chance to watch some of tonight’s scenes again and revel in the one-liners.  I really enjoyed “Dinosaurs on a Spaceship”.

Doctor Who series 7: Dinosaurs on a Spaceship

As a spaceship hurtles towards Earth in the year 2367, the Indian Space Agency threatens to blow it out of orbit and The Doctor rushes to investigate.  I loved that the Indian Space Agency has become the most powerful space agency on Earth in the future!

Doctor Who series 7: Dinosaurs on a Spaceship

We meet Queen Nefertiti (Riann Steele, Holby City).  She is fantastic, regal and impressive as well as being honourable, brave and absolutely stunning.  While Nefertiti’s appearance is explained by The Doctor being in Egypt at the beginning of the episode, it's not entirely clear why he calls upon explorer and game hunter Riddell but how fortuitous that he does, because not only is Rupert Graves divine in this part, but his game hunting skills come in mighty handy when they run into dinosaurs.  On a spaceship.

Doctor Who series 7: Dinosaurs on a Spaceship

They get to teach a Triceratops to play fetch and Mark Williams makes a guest appearance as Rory’s dad, Brian Pond Williams.

Doctor Who series 7: Dinosaurs on a Spaceship

Dinosaurs, the Doctor, an in-law, an ancient Egyptian queen and a trigger happy game hunter, what could possibly go wrong?

*** SPOILER ALERT ***

Spoilers for “Dinosaurs on a Spaceship”

Doctor Who series 7: Dinosaurs on a Spaceship

What I Loved

Once again, I loved most of this episode, including nearly every moment that the Doctor was on screen (see below for things I didn’t like).  For the good parts, he was witty and as mad as ever with some fabulous lines.

“They’re just people, they’re not Ponds”

“Don’t ever judge me by your standards”

I loved his anger, his dawning realisation of the fate of the Silurians and his absolute commitment to save the dinosaurs.

By the way, did we know that the Doctor is a Sagittarius?

I adored Mark Williams as father-in-law Pond.  He fitted so well that I truly hope we get to see more of him in future.  They were big shoes to fill but could he take the place of Wilfred?  Brian Williams had some of the best lines in the episode.

“What kind of man doesn’t carry a trowel?”

Brian: “I’m not a Pond”
The Doctor: "Of course you are"

I loved the gigantic robotic robots with their oh-so-posh accents.  And I loved that The Doctor called them Metal Tantrum Machines.  Their entrance has to be one of the best in the history of Doctor Who:

“We’re very cross with you”

Doctor Who series 7: Dinosaurs on a Spaceship

I liked that father-in-law Pond preferred Amy over Rory (my in-laws love me more too), I loved that Queen Nefertiti and Amy totally owned the men:

“I’m easily worth two men.  You can help to if you want”

Perhaps it is just me but I thought there were a couple of subtle nods to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy in this episode.  Brian’s comment about the trowel was the first thing that made me think so, although I thought it was a bit of a stretch, but then the Metal Tantrum Machines really reminded me of the Paranoid Android Marvin.

What surprised me most about this episode was the complete mash-up between dinosaurs, ancient Egypt, colonial hunting and space travel and the fact that I liked it.  Cross-genre mash-ups can get quite messy but I quite enjoyed this one.  Then again, a little blue police box turning up across time and space is a bit random anyway and I’ve never had a problem with that.

What I Was Conflicted About

The problem with an actor like David Bradley is that sometimes he’s going to get a truly despicable role and sometimes he’s going to play it really well.  Add in another Doctor Who genocide plot and the matter of a little casual mass murder, and I’m conflicted.  Great acting but I really didn’t like Solomon.

*** DOUBLE SPOILER WARNING ***

Doctor Who series 7: Dinosaurs on a Spaceship

What I Disliked

I really didn’t like it when Solomon killed the Triceratops.  This is a children's’ show! What are they doing randomly killing animals on it, never mind precious, extinct, fetch-playing dinosaurs??

Doctor Who series 7: Dinosaurs on a Spaceship

And on the subject of killing, since when did the Doctor get so damn casual about sending his enemies to their death?  Maybe I misunderstood the whole series to date but I thought the Doctor carried the whole guilt of the universe on his shoulders over what he did to the Daleks?  He killed when necessary but more often left his enemies to a suitable fate (such as the Family at the end of “The Family of Blood”). 

I don’t want Doctor Who to become one of those shows where people are gratuitously killed, I thought the Doctor was meant to be far more clever than that? 

Thoughts of the Future

Doctor Who series 7: Dinosaurs on a Spaceship

I don’t have any predictions this week but I do have an observation.  What is it that the Doctor knows when he looks at Rory and Amy with such sadness?  Does he know what is coming, that they are going to die?  The Doctor has made some pretty selfish choices in the past, putting the end-game ahead of his companion’s needs.  Would he continue to call the Ponds back knowing that he is putting them in danger? I hope not.

I’m still not happy these two are leaving.  I get it.  Two young actors realised they didn’t want to be type-cast and are leaving the show before it is too late.  I just wish it hadn’t been leaked so early, by the BBC no less, and I wish it wasn’t hanging over the whole season.  Spoilers suck.

"So, next week is “A Town Called Mercy” and it looks like it is going to be a fabulous Wild West romp.  I can’t wait!

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15 comments

  1. I'm so glad typing in 'trowel' 'hitchhiker's guide' and 'doctor who' helped me find your review. I was wondering if I was imagining it myself. Brian, who is clearly Arthur in many ways (a nod to Arthur Weasley maybe), kidnapped from home in the middle of doing something Perfectly Ordinary, who never goes anywhere without his t(r)owel. Actually the first time it grabs you is a few minutes earlier, when the Doctor describes the spaceship as being 'Impossible'. The Heart of Gold, after all, is powered by an improbability drive. Add in the fetch, the robots (aliens) who seem very polite and resemble and bicker like Vogon's while at the same time blending in some Marvin (oh, and they can't hit anything no matter how often they shoot), and the cucumber sandwiches and tea while hovering over the freshly saved earth, and you've got enough references to make any fan smile. It was actually making me miserable that most people seemed not to be making the connections at all. So much relief! All is not lost for British Sci-Fi after all!

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    1. And thank you for finding me!! The more I think about it, the more obvious the Douglas Adams reference are, especially as this director did the episode "42" as well.

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  2. A children's show? You're daft.

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    1. And whatever gave you the impression I was anything but daft.

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  3. About the Hitchhiker's nods - OH AND THERE WAS THE DOCTOR CALLING EARTHLINGS MONKEYS.

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  4. Hi Emm,

    We enjoyed this one too. :) A couple of the lines were a bit dodgy but it was otherwise a fun episode.

    Due to the "mashup" nature of the characters, the plot (well ok, the dinosaurs) and the humour, it felt more like a Xmas Special than a regular episode. But I always find the Xmas Specials to be a bit too silly, and I think this would have been a brilliant Xmas Special.

    Did you notice that the robots were voiced by Mitchell and Webb from Peep Show? That made it extra fun for us.

    I've read a lot of criticism of this episode, and in the end while I can see people may love it or hate it, I think if viewers don't take it too seriously they'll enjoy it more :) I much prefer this kind of episode once in a while, instead of the ultra-heavy storyline from the previous series.

    Next week looks brilliant, and the subsequent episodes look good too. As for Amy and Rory, I think they're leaving at the right time. Look at it this way: at least Matt Smith is staying. I think he should end up in the role for longer than David Tennant. I don't know when he's moving on, but if you look at the episode count for the 10th and 11th Doctor on Wikipedia, you'll see that Matt Smith is fast approaching Tennant's episode count. Time will tell :)

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    1. Quite a few people have said that Ben, that it felt like a Christmas special. I guess you're right but I liked this episode and don't always feel... satisfied with the Christmas specials.

      I didn't know that about Mitchell and Webb until after the episode! How intriguing!! No wonder they were s perfect.

      Still not happy they're leaving though. And strange that the role still feels like David Tennant's in so many ways.

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  5. The Doctor's birthday is 23 November so I guess that make's him a Sagittarius :-) I'm not a big fan of this episode, but you can't please everyone!

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    1. Of course... how could I not have remembered that! Except that the Doctor wasn't born in that first episode and said nothing about it being his birthday.

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  6. Couldn't agree more - I loved the episode as well, but disliked him killing Solomon, not cool.

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  7. @Niina: killing Solomon was definitely not cool. The Doctors seems to have changed... at one time he would have tried to save everyone regardless of what what they'd done...

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    1. Someone pointed out to me that he will begin losing his... humanity because he took off his Dalek bracelet in the first episode.

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    2. Aha, now I'm interested... I'm going to be keeping a close eye on him from now on!

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