This review might be shorter than normal, probably because by the time you read this, I’ll be on a plane and going to Paris, France. You see, like the Doctor, I also like to travel. So it’s sort of appropriate that I post this while I’m doing just that, right?
(For the record, the 10th Doctor can be blamed for my wanderlust…)
Warning: Spoilers Ahead!
“Dinosaurs on a Spaceship” is the title of the latest outing of the Doctor’s. If that title alone doesn’t intrigue you, there must be something wrong with your sense of adventure. And honestly, the title pretty much sums it all up: this episode is an all-out adventure story, without a lot of that heavy emotional baggage getting in the way. And after last season, that’s refreshing.
The episode begins in Egypt where the Doctor is flirting (I’m telling River Song!) with Nefertiti (Riann Steele). He’s apparently helped her save Egypt from something. He takes her along in the TARDIS and picks up a big game hunter, Riddell (Rupert Graves). And because he’s decided he wants a full posse for his next adventure, Amy and Rory get to come along for the ride. But the Doctor sort of just has the TARDIS appear in their living room, just as Rory’s dad (Mark Williams) is helping the couple fix a light. So we’ve got Nefertiti, Riddell, Amy, Rory and Bryan all going on the adventure of a lifetime. As the Doctor tells us, he’s always wanted a gang!
The TARDIS lands on a spaceship. There, they encounter dinosaurs. On a spaceship! And thus, the thrills begin. But this isn’t just any spaceship. It’s an ark, of sorts, and it was once run by the Silurians. But they’ve all disappeared.
We find out why when we meet evil opportunist Solomon (David Bradley), whose ship is currently trapped inside of the Silurian ship. He’s killed the Silurians and plans on taking the dinosaurs with him. Yeah, he’s a real jerk.
Solomon also has two rusty and dim-witted robots, voice by the wonderful David Mitchell and Robert Webb. And yes, they are the comic duo relief of the episode, although this one is pretty funny throughout.
Obviously, the Doctor saves the day, prevents the Silurian spaceship from getting blown to bits by Earth (it’s come too close to its orbit), and saves Nefertiti and the dinosaurs from Solomon.
This episode served as one of the sorts of Doctor Who stories I’ve grown to really love. It’s a one-off thrill ride that’s just a lot of fun. There is a lot of laughter and the big story arc of the Ponds’ eventual departure from the series is only barely foreshadowed.
I loved the female empowerment mental high-fives going on between Amy and Nefertiti. With Riddell being a mysogynist, the two frequently knocked him up side the head with some major girl power.
And… wait for this and be shocked… I really liked Amy in this episode. I liked seeing her as this strong, independent woman who has learned a great deal from the Doctor during their travels together. In this episode, I feel like Amy has really come into her own. This is a completely different Amy, too, than what we saw last week in Asylum of the Daleks. This new Amy can kick butt and take names and knows it. Yeah!
But also, Rory has really come into his own, too. He’s quite clever throughout this episode and I can actually see, for the first time ever, why he and Amy are such a good match. Rory’s dad also turns out to be a credit to the Pond (err… Williams) family.
But again, it’s Matt Smith that steals the show. This is the Doctor at his finest: comedic and manic and just a little bit completely out of his mind. His delight at seeing dinosaurs on the spaceship is contagious and it’s this wonderful portrayal of the Doctor that really pulls you in and leads you on this ride. And his one-liners will leave you in stitches.
I’ve seen other critics say that this episode doesn’t compare to last week’s “Asylum of the Daleks.” I beg to differ. To me, THIS is what Doctor Who should be about: traveling the galaxy doesn’t always have to be so emotionally heavy. Sometimes, traveling the galaxy is just good fun. And that’s exactly what “Dinosaurs on a Spaceship” is.
Next week, Ben Browder guest stars in Cowboys vs. Aliens… aka “A Town Called Mercy.”