Doctor Who: Dinosaurs on a Spaceship – Recap, Review, Rant, Preview, Whew!

Share on facebook
Share on twitter

Image courtesy BBC


Image courtesy BBCEpisode two opens with a rapid-fire sequence of scenes to set up most of the characters for the story.  It begins in ancient Egypt where the Doctor is with Queen Nefertiti, then flashes forward to the 24th century at the Indian Space Agency.  There, the Doctor and “Neffie” learn a ship the size of Canada is on a collision course with Earth and the ISA plans to destroy it with missiles when it gets within 10,000 kilometers of Earth in a little over 6 hours.

Suddenly the two are off to pick up John Riddell (Rupert Graves of Sherlock) an early 20th century big game hunter in Africa then before you can blink the TARDIS materializes around Rory, Amy and Rory’s bewildered father Brian, played by the always entertaining Mark Williams.  Even more quickly the new gang find themselves materializing inside the giant spaceship where they quickly encounter dinosaurs.

Image courtesy BBCAfter a few run-ins with various dinosaurs and the gang getting split up by transporters, they begin to surmise that the spaceship is in fact a gigantic ark created by the Silurians.  They created it as a means of rescuing various forms of plant and animal life from the impending meteor that caused the extinction of the dinosaurs.

Supposedly the plan was for the ship to take all that prehistoric life to another planet to settle in safety, but curiously there are no Silurians on board and very few dinosaurs compared to the ship’s original records.  Something is not right here.

Image courtesy BBCThe Doctor, Rory, and Brian are approached by a pair of imposing-looking robots who are doing the bidding of an evil trader named Solomon.  Solomon was injured by a raptor attack and when he heard someone refer to a doctor he immediately had the Doctor brought to his smaller spaceship nestled at the center of the larger one to heal his injuries.

When the Doctor starts asking questions Solomon shows just how ruthless he is by having one of his robots wound Brian simply to prove a point then threatens to kill him if the Doctor doesn’t help.

After being healed Solomon tells how he was allowed aboard by the Silurians after sending out a distress signal.  Upon seeing the value of the cargo on-board, he tried to negotiate a deal to purchase the prehistoric life, but the Silurians had no intention of selling the last hope of their world.  Not one to take no for an answer, Solomon had his robots jettison every Silurian out the airlocks a handful at a time until they were all dead.

After Solomon had killed all the Silurians he had no way of controlling the ship so it’s now headed toward Earth where the ISA missiles will destroy it.  Solomon wants the Doctor to help him control the ship, but he refuses then escapes along with Rory and Brian.  Meanwhile, Amy, Nefertiti, and Riddell are fending off a group of raptors with high-tech tranquilizer guns.

Solomon’s computer systems on his ship identify Nefertiti as a valuable item and he tries to make a deal – trade the queen for the lives of all the others.  The Doctor refuses, but Nefertiti insists and Solomon teleports she, himself and the robots back to his ship to escape the missile impact.  The Doctor magnetizes Solomon’s ship so it can’t escape, then finds the device the missiles are locking on to.  In typical crazy Time-Lord fashion he gets Rory and Brian to steer the ark away from Earth while he delivers the targeted device to Solomon’s ship.

Image courtesy BBCWith raptors quickly approaching Amy and Riddell hold off the horde with the tranquilizer guns while Rory and Brian fly the Canada-sized spaceship away from Earth.  Not only are they good at it, but they seem to be having a very good time as well.

The Doctor delivers the tracking device to Solomon’s ship.  Once there he disables the robots, saves Nefertiti, and overrides the smaller ship’s unique signal in favor of the tracker.  Finally, he releases Solomon’s ship which the missiles follow and destroy, thus saving the ark from destruction.

Image courtesy BBCBefore dropping everyone back where they belong, Brian has one request.  He simply wants to see the Earth from space so we see him sitting in the TARDIS doorway with his feet dangling out into space as he enjoys the view and a sandwich.

Next, we see that Riddell and Nefertiti have stayed together in Riddell’s time while the Ponds have gone back home only to receive post cards from around the world sent by Brian who, after his unexpected adventure, was bitten with the travel bug.

Life is back to normal.  Well, as normal as it gets in the world of Doctor Who.


After season seven’s fun, but intense opening episode, “Dinosaurs on a Spaceship” was a much lighter and comedic outing.  Almost silly in places, but forgivable because we’ve come to expect some of that in Doctor Who, there never really seemed to be a true sense of danger.  Mark Williams was absolutely brilliant as Rory’s bewildered, but always prepared father and we got to see father and son learn to appreciate each other’s peculiarities during their adventure.

Solomon may have been a truly despicable person with robot minions willing to do his every bidding, but the hulking pair of mechanoids had voices and personalities reminiscent of Hack and Slash from the mid-90s CGI cartoon Reboot.  Just like Hack and Slash, this pair of metal men were more bumbling than efficient.  This was just more fodder for a fun episode.

The conflicting personalities of the strong Nefertiti and the antiquated sexism of Riddell proved fun to watch as each character was unaccustomed to taking orders from the opposite sex.  Not surprisingly the initial head-butting slowly morphed into flirting, much to Amy’s chagrin, and the two eventually ended up as a couple back in Riddell’s time at his hunting camp (complete with one of the tranquilizer guns from the Silurian ark.).

Image courtesy BBCWith the announced departure of the Ponds later in the season, the show seems to be doing everything it can to endear them to us even more than they already are.  As if the couple themselves weren’t enough, they tossed in Rory’s dad to give us more of a sense of family.

Toward the end of the episode Amy tells the Doctor that she can’t help but wait for him and the time between his visits is growing longer and longer as if he’s trying to wean them off him.  The Doctor denies that and says Amy will “be there ’till the end of me!” to which Amy responds “Or vice-versa.”  That’s when he gives Amy a long, sad, almost knowing look as if he’s seen her future.  Of course he may simply be contemplating the inevitable end of their relationship which is something he’s had to deal with for every companion he’s ever had.

Either way, the idea that the Ponds’ tenure is approaching its end is firmly planted in this episode.

As always the episode was filled with witty quotes & exchanges (please add ones I missed in the comments below):

  • “I’m riffing.  People usually stop me when I’m riffing, or carry on without me that’s always an option.”
  • “You think you can just bring your dad along without asking?  I’m not a taxi service.”  “You materialized around us!”
  • “I thought we might need a gang.  Not really had a gang before.  It’s new.”
  • “Are you saying dinosaurs are flying a spaceship?”  “Bryan, please, that would be ridiculous, they’re probably just passengers.  Did I mention missiles?”
  • “Ah, yes, well thank you Arthur C. Clarke!  Teleport, obviously.  I mean, we’re on a spaceship with dinosaurs, why wouldn’t there be a teleport?”
  • “Whoa chuckle brothers.  Lighten up, would ya?”
  • “You don’t have any vegetable matter in your trousers, do you Brian?”  “Only my balls.”  “I’m sorry?”  “Golf balls. Grassy residue.”
  • “I will not have flirting companions.”
  • “So human sleeping potion or walking innuendo.  Take your pick.”
  • “Brian Pond you are delicious.”  “I’m not a Pond.”  “Of course you are.”
  • “I’m easily worth two men.  You can help too if you’d like.”
  • “You know what I want more than anything?”  “Lessons in gender politics?”
  • “Dinosaurs ahead, a lady at my side.  I’m not sure I’ve ever been happier.”  “Shut up and shoot.”


Image courtesy BBCThe new opening sequence has been brightened with colors making it look a bit more cartoonish than before.  The original opening sequence and theme composition were great, but as the series has progressed the music has been tweaked almost to melodramatic levels.  The opening visuals then added lightning for no apparent reason and now the whole thing has a neon-glow feel.  The graphics also look to have a soft filter applied so everything seems a little “blurry” or low-res.  I’m not liking it.

While I appreciate the desire to tweak the opening sequence every year or so, unlike the series itself the opening seems to be moving backward in quality.  It’s overdone and overly flashy to the detriment of the sequence.

On a positive note each episode of the season 7 logo will be customized to mimic the theme of the episode.  This week it had green scales like the Silurians.

This is a very minor quibble since the important thing is that the show itself seems to be getting better.  Well, with the exception of the upcoming permanent departure of the Ponds.  The whole “permanent” thing bothers me because I don’t want to see Amy or Rory leave yet, or at least not in a permanent sense since that could have so many meanings.  I certainly hope that’s intentionally misleading.


Here’s the trailer for episode 3 entitled “A Town Called Mercy” starring Ben Browder.

Tom Gardiner