Sunday, September 9, 2012

Doctor Who Season 7, Episode 2: Dinosaurs On A Spaceship

Another totally batsh*t insane Doctor Who episode, which of course is the best kind. 

Spoilers Ahoy!

The Doctor is called to Earth (in 2367) to investigate an alien spaceship heading for the planet. The Doctor assembles a team to help him: The Ponds, of course, Rory's Dad Brian, Queen Nefertiti of Egypt, and Riddell, a big game hunter from 1902. They fly the TARDIS into the spaceship and discover it's full of... dinosaurs (hence the title). The Doctor has only six hours to figure out why a ship full of dinosaurs is on a collision course with Earth and save everyone before the Indian Space Agency (!) blows them out of the sky. 

If you've been wanting to introduce your friends to the world of Doctor Who, this would be a good episode with which to do so. It's fast paced, fun, over the top and is a pretty good sample of what the series is like. Plus there's not a huge amount of baggage that would need explained to a newbie, which is a plus. 

Missed opportunity: The Doctor should have said, "Enough is enough! I have had it with these MF-ing dinosaurs on this MF-ing spaceship!" Well, OK, maybe not. That probably wouldn't have gotten past the censors, even in England.

 Queen Nefertiti is quite a hottie! It'll never happen, but I wouldn't mind seeing her as a regular companion! She seemed to take all the time travel/space flight/sci-fi stuff very well; more so than I'd think someone of her era would. Perhaps it's as she says: "Only an idiot denies the evidence of their own eyes.”

And in case you're wondering how an Egyptian from 1350 B.C. can understand the Queen's English, it's a known fact that the TARDIS telepathically translates all languages for its passengers (even when they're outside its confines). 

• Ten months have passed since last week's episode (from the Pond's point of view). Not sure if that means anything, but I thought I'd note it. Maybe the Doctor's trying to wean himself from them.

So Rory's dad is... Mr. Weasley, of Harry Potter fame! Absolutely perfect casting, in my opinion. Like Nefertiti, Brian also seems to take all the bizarre happenings in stride. I doubt he'll ever be back after the Ponds leave, but it would be nice to see him in the TARDIS again. 

• I was quite impressed with all three of the "guest companions" in this episode. If you'd never seen the show before you'd think they were series regulars.

 • Favorite dialogue of the episode:
Doctor: "You don't have any vegetable matter in your trousers, do you Brian?"
Brian: "Only my balls."
Rory, mortified, covers his face.
OK, it was a cheap joke, but I have to admit I laughed. Especially at Rory's reaction. 

Solomon, the episode's villain, is played by David Bradley, another Harry Potter alumni. He played Mr. Filch in all the Potter movies, making this one of the Potter-iest episodes ever, and confirming my suspicion that there are only about twenty five actors in all of England. 

The two robots (who looked very cool by the way and they'd damn well better make them into action figures) were voiced by David Mitchell and Robert Webb, a popular comedy team in England. They're absolutely unknown on this side of the pond, but are apparently a big deal over there. While I liked the look of the robots, I thought their dialogue was way over the top and they needed to tone it down a notch or twelve. 

• Heh, the Doctor thinks Rory's Dad is a Pond. I think by this point poor Rory has given up that name battle. 

• So apparently by 2367 India will have its own Space Agency, complete with missiles it can launch into space. That's good news for them, since here in the 21st Century they can't even keep the electricity on. 

This episode features a sci-fi trope that's always bugged me: The Future Disaster. The dinosaur-filled spaceship is going to crash into the Earth and likely destroy it... in the year 2367. Big deal. We'll all have been dead for centuries by then. Obviously the writers hope that the audience will be concerned about the potential destruction of Earth in any year, but it's tough to build up any tension or suspense when it's not gonna happen for three centuries.

• We get the return of the Silurians in this episode. Sort of. 

• When Solomon performs a scan of the Doctor, there's no record of him in his database. Last week Oswin (the friendly Dalek) erased him from the Dalek memory banks. Did she also somehow erase him from the records of the entire universe? 

• I thought the dinosaur effects were very well done, especially on a TV budget. The "riding the Triceratops" scene looked perfect. Of course the Triceratops has always been my favorite dinosaur, so maybe I'm prejudiced.

Just in case you felt the dino effects weren't up to snuff, compare and contrast them with this scene from the 1974 Doctor Who episode Invasion Of The Dinosaurs. Nuff said.

 • The Doctor was a bit more ruthless than normal in this episode. Granted, Solomon deserved his comeuppance, but usually the Doctor looks for a more peaceful solution than locking missiles onto the villain's ship. 

• Why all the worried glances from the Doctor as he gazed at the Ponds at the end? Has he taken a peek into their future? 

So at the end the Doctor leaves Nefertiti in 1902 with Riddell. Let's hope he remembers to come back at some point and take her back to her proper time. I'm not an expert on Egyptian history but I'm pretty sure Nefertiti didn't live out her final days in 1902 Africa. 

UPDATE! I've been informed that Nefertiti actually did disappear from the historical record after a certain point, so it's entirely possible she could have lived out her life in 1902! Cool!

• The biggest question of the episode: What the hell happens to all the dinosaurs on the spaceship? At the end the Doctor exclaims, "OK, dinosaur drop off time" before he's interrupted by Amy and Rory. We never get to hear exactly where he was planning to drop them. An uninhabited tropical planet? Back to Earth's past? An amusement park on Earth? I guess we'll never know. 

Next week: More insanity, with cyborg cowboys in the Old West!


  1. Actually Nefertiti disappears from the historical records after the death of Amenhotep. There's some suggestion that she may have assumed the pharaohship under a different name, but her death is not recorded. Eventually her nephew (a minor pharaoh named Tutankhamun) takes over, but as we all know he didn't hold the job very long. (They don't call him the "boy king" because he died of old age.) Anyway, this episode perhaps sheds some light on why Neffie's death isn't recorded anywhere -- she lived out the rest of her life some 3200 years in the future, with an Allan Quatermain wannabe!

  2. Well, there you go then! As I said, I'm not an expert on Egyptian rulers. I should have looked her up before I posted. If only there were some sort of world wide network of information where you could look stuff up...

    I wouldn't mind seeing Nefertiti and Riddell return some day.

  3. Damn! Somebody dr otr said it before me.
    any way, not the better episode from the new series, but a really enjoying one.


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