Sunday, 9 September 2012

Doctor Who - Dinosaurs on a Spaceship review: 'Part comedy romp, part genocide-wreaking villian'

Mostly feeling a bit like a Disney movie, except with salty innuendo that would never have made it past the censor had it actually been a Disney movie, and noticeable for missing any sort of cameo from someone like Danny DeVito, in some ways Dinosaurs on a Spaceship was all over the place - but not necessarily in a bad way.

Part comedy romp with a sparky script, part encounter with a space pirate called Soloman who is partial to a bit of genocide, the swift introductions of one-off companions Nefertiti, Queen of Egypt, and Victorian hunter-man Riddell, along with the reintroductions of Amy, Rory and now Rory's dad Brian, followed by their arrival on the ship of dinosaurs, and all before the opening titles - made for a breathless start.

And, like trying to suck up to your boss but in front of the entire nation, it felt a bit like writer Chris Chibnell was aping the style and pace of showrunner Steven Moffat's scripts, mirroring the way Moffat sets up his 'big', multi-stranded episodes so quickly, like in The Pandorica Opens, say: jumping across time and space and leaving the viewer both excited and amused but slightly fearful of confusion.

Or maybe they both just know how to write Doctor Who episodes that feel a bit filmy.

But the thing is, once you throw some many balls up in the air, you have to keep them there - otherwise, what happens? Yeah - they all fall to the floor.

And some did, some didn't. The dinosaurs looked good, the Mitchell and Webb-voiced robots were funny (if you like Mitchell and Webb), and the episode's revelation - that the ship was a kind of Noah's Ark for the Silurian race - was interesting (but in hindsight perhaps not so surprising given Chibnell wrote their episodes in the 2010 series - sticking to what he knows?).

Amy Pond, Nefertiti, Queen of Egypt, and Victorian hunter-man Riddell.
Dinosaurs on a Spaceship: not shown
Hints at the Ponds' imminent departure, with a chat between Amy and the Doctor about how she can't ever settle in a job because she's always expecting him to show up, point at bigger, and sadder, things to come; and the scenes between Rory and his dad were nice, even though you might wonder why we didn't see him at his son's wedding.

The necessary 'plot explainer' confrontation scene between villain Soloman and the Doctor felt dull and long - give us dinosaurs and Amy and the Egyptian queen again, cheers - and the fact the Doctor later sent Soloman to his doom by blowing up his ship felt a little shocking. When did two wrongs ever make a right?

Then, at the end, and back home with Amy and Rory (why don't they just stay on board the TARDIS - they'll be on again next week), they're inundated with postcards sent from around the world by Brian.

A nice, sweet detail - showing how an adventure with the Doctor can touch lives, and change a man who would previously never go further than the local shop and how despite all the headline-grabbing bluster, it's the little character-based moments that hit the spot.

Related stories:
Doctor Who - A Town Called Mercy: Fancy that - a self-reflective cyborg killer in a cowboy hat
Doctor Who - Asylum of the Daleks review: An 'all-guns-blazing season opener' + surprise
Doctor Who: It's fair to say none of these characters will be in the new series
Idle speculation and uninformed pondering about the title of the first episode of the new Doctor Who series
Doctor Who: So what does that picture Moffatt tweeted of the 1960s Dalek actually tell us?
Two lost 60s Doctor Who episodes found: Fans thrilled, then a bit disappointed ;)
So did the Doctor Who Confidential film crew capture the meeting in which it was decided to cancel Doctor Who Confidential


  1. The Chibnall Silurian episodes were from the 2010 series... not the 2005 series.

  2. Thank you - that's what we meant to write ;) It's changed.