Doctor Who: Dinosaurs on a Spaceship Review (Mania.com)
Review Date: Tuesday, September 11, 2012
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This week, Doctor Who fans continued their adventures with the Time Lord in the second tale of the 7th season entitled “Dinosaurs on a Spaceship”.
Now, with “Asylum of the Daleks” still fresh on everyone’s mind from last week, Steven Moffat offers a colorful, more family friendly installment which offers a break from what is sure to be a very dark journey into the inevitable desolation of the current “scooby gang”, as it were.
In the first few minutes of this episode, we are already following the Doctor as he very quickly cruises time to recruit two new characters to accompany him. One is the ancient Egyptian Queen, Nefertiti (Riann Steele), who is way too feminist for her time. The other is early 20th century big game hunter, Riddell (Rupert Graves), who offers a comical chauvinistic contrast to the queen. Why did the Doctor select these characters? Well, no real reason is given. They merely help to quirk up the story and, I suppose, do their part aboard a spaceship filled with prehistoric mayhem. Another accidental passenger is Rory’s father, Brian (Mark Williams), who steels the show as an everyday handyman who finally gets a front row seat to his son’s and Amy’s intergalactic “vacations”.
The gang promptly finds themselves investigating a mysterious spaceship on a sure collision course with Earth and what follows is the usual Doctor Who roller coster ride of robots, aliens, villains, magic, and a touch of human heart. As to the dinosaurs? Well, they are no more than innocent (but valuable) passengers on a kind of space ark squandered by a pirate (David Bradley). The giant beasts have plenty of onscreen time as they are shown sleeping, attacking, and even showing their lovable side as a Triceratops gives Rory’s dad a tongue bath. What was a relief was that they didn’t look half bad. Doctor Who has been known to use a pretty equal mix of CGI and practical effects and (for these creatures that none of us have ever seen, personally) it worked just fine. Even the silly comic relief robot duo was forgivable in this illogical, but fun bedtime story. In true Doctor Who fashion, it is best to just go with it.
For a series that can become very dark at times, “Dinosaurs on a Spaceship” seems almost a whimsical departure from the progressing storyline, which will inevitably come to a climax later this year. Granted, there was some dialogue dealing with unsettling issues in the lives of Amy and Rory, as well as the Doctor’s slightly amoral decision as to the fate of the villain. However, as the heaviness of last week’s premier looms over viewers, it is nice to curl up and be reminded of all the reasons to love Doctor Who. I mean, with a sprinkle of Harry Potter actors playing the types of characters they play best, what’s not to enjoy? Oh, and the dinosaurs in space thing.
Next time on Doctor Who...
Mania Grade: B+
Episode: Dinosaurs on a Spaceship
Starring: Matt Smith, Karen Gillan, Arthur Darvill, David Bradley, Rupert Graves, Riann Steele, Mark Williams
Written By: Chris Chibnall
Directed By: Saul Metzstein
Network: BBC One, BBC America