by Sherry Lipp
Humor has played a part throughout much of the new era of Doctor Who. Often it is very clever and plays into The Doctor’s ability to see the lighter side of nearly any situation. Occasionally there will be an episode that is more humor focused than most. “Dinosaurs on a Spaceship,” the second episode of the seventh series, is one of those episodes. I can only hope that it is an exception rather the norm for the show. This episode takes the jokes and wisecracks to the extreme and the sad part is – most were not very funny. I found this episode to be quite disappointing. It didn’t further the characters or appear develop any storyline that might continue for the season.
While visiting Queen Nefertiti (Riann Steele) in 1334 B.C. Egypt, The Doctor (Matt Smith) receives a distress call from the India Space Agency of 2367 A.D. It seems a giant spaceship is on a collision course with Earth and will crash into it six hours. The space agency plans to blow up the ship unless The Doctor can prevent the collision. The Doctor takes Queen Nefertiti and heads off to 1902 Africa to pick up the big game hunter Riddell (Rupert Graves). I was unclear as to why The Doctor wanted to take Riddell with him. It becomes apparent later, but The Doctor clearly didn’t know about the dinosaurs when he picked up Riddell. His last stop is to pick up his two companions Rory (Arthur Darvill) and Amy (Karen Gillan), who have not seen The Doctor in ten months. The Doctor inadvertently also picks up Rory’s father Brian (Mark Williams) when he materializes the TARDIS in their living room and whisks the three of them away to the spaceship.
I found Rory’s dad to be kind of nice addition to the episode. Extended family has not played a big part of the show in the last couple of seasons, due in large part to the fact that Amy has no family. It was nice to see Brian’s reactions to the extraordinary circumstances they were in, though he did seem to accept everything rather quickly. So The Doctor and his group board this rogue spaceship only to discover it is crawling with dinosaurs. There are also a couple of bickering robots that I did not find especially funny. The Doctor eventually discovers Solomon (David Bradley) a con man who has been injured by one of the raptors aboard the ship. Solomon doesn’t really care that his ship is about to crash into the Earth, he just wants The Doctor to fix his injured legs so he can jettison in his escape pod with Queen Nefertiti. The Doctor and his companions must come up with a way to keep it all from happening.
Throughout all of this, Amy and The Doctor crack wise at every chance they get. I didn’t feel like the jokes fit the tone of the show. Amy trying to high-five Queen Nefertiti seemed out of character for her. The episode worked best when it was focused on Solomon and the impending disaster. Out of the main three characters (The Doctor, Amy, Rory), I felt that Rory stayed true to his character in his reactions to everything. I also liked how his dad realized there was a lot more to Rory’s life than he had known. The Doctor himself seemed a little inept. I mean, Rory’s dad figured out a simple thing that The Doctor did not realize at all? There was one little hint at seriousness when Amy joked with The Doctor that they would always be together unless one of them died. The serious look on The Doctor’s face indicated that he must have some uncertainty about his future with Amy.
This episode left me wondering what an overall story-arc for this season will be. The last season of the show was pretty intense throughout the entire run. The storyline was solid, though they were able throw in some fun standalone episodes from time to time. I hope that is the case with this season, though I feel like it has kind of a slow start. While I enjoyed the first episode, “Asylum of the Daleks,” I thought that was just the push that would throw the characters into something a little meatier than “Dinosaurs on a Spaceship.”
Next week features The Doctor in what looks like the Wild West, so we will see what happens from there.