Review: ‘Doctor Who’ – ‘Dinosaurs on a Spaceship’

Senior Television Writer
09.08.12 62 Comments

A review of tonight’s “Doctor Who” coming up just as soon as I have balls in my trousers…

When I heard the title “Dinosaurs on a Spaceship,” I worried that it would be one of those episodes that mainly existed to remind me that “Doctor Who” is first and foremost a show designed for kids, and that the hour would be a whole lot of the Doctor and other characters marveling at how cool it is to see the title come to life.

And, certainly, I will not speak ill of the concept. Dinosaurs on a spaceship are cool (cooler than bowties, certainly), as is the idea of a spaceship powered by waves generated by an artificial ocean, the Doctor being pals with Nefertiti, etc. But “Dinosaurs on a Spaceship” blessedly didn’t rest on its cool laurels, and instead told a good character story about Rory and his dad and gave us a particularly nasty bad guy in Solomon, whose death was well-deserved, if a bit startling to me.(*)

(*) I know the Doctor has wiped out the entire Dalek race a few times, killed Cybermen, etc., but he’s always struck me as the hero type who will always offer his enemy mercy for as long as he possibly can. On a moral calculus, I don’t have a problem with the Doctor deciding to sacrifice Solomon in order to save the dinosaurs and his gang of companions; it’s just a darker place than the series usually goes to, particularly with a relatively human villain.

A couple of thoughts about that gang, by the way. First, once the Doctor assembled this large group to be with him on the ship, I figured we were in for a Ten Little Indians set-up where at least a few of them (certainly Riddell) got killed before the Doctor could conjure an escape, but this time, everyone the Doctor cared about protecting survived. Second, while the group inevitably gets separated in episodes like this (or like last week’s), this was a rare instance where one of the groups (Amy/Nefertiti/Riddell) barely needed to be there at all. Amy found out details about the ship, and Nefertiti briefly sacrificed herself for the good of the group, but they spent an awful lot of the episode standing around and making me wish I was back with the Doctor, Rory and his dad.

All in all, though, a good job by Chris Chibnall and company. I’ll miss the Ponds when they go, and Rory as much as Amy by this point.

What did everybody else think?

Around The Web