At its core, Doctor Who is an adventure show. While it may at times be dark, silly, mysterious, serious, heartbreaking, timey wimey, and absolutely mad, it is in essence about the Doctor traveling through space and time for the fun of it.
One of the show’s most unique and endearing qualities is how it sometimes brings together elements that have no business coming together. Its brilliance and beauty is that it manages to successfully give us storylines and plots that would never work in any other venue. Which brings us to Dinosaurs on a Spaceship.
The show opens in ancient Egypt. Right there, in an episode with dinosaurs and spaceship in its title, we find out that Queen Nefertiti is going to be involved… brilliant! After the Doctor gathers his “gang” for this episode’s adventure, including a big game hunter from the nineteen-twenties, as well as the Ponds and Rory’s father, they’re off and running away from two ankylosaurs
We’ve crossed several genres already, and we’re eight minutes in!
Another aspect of Doctor Who that makes the show what it is, is its sense of continuity. That the spaceship is of Silurian origin, an attempt by them to save various species from their time on Earth which they thought was going to be destroyed, was a wonderful nugget of that quality only found in this show.
What at first appeared as a lighthearted romp, quickly turns into a serious situation as the Doctor finds himself in a hostage situation where his friends lives are put in danger unless he complies with Solomon, the episode’s villain. Solomon demands the Doctor, being a doctor, fix him after being attacked by three raptors he encountered sometime previous to our meeting him.
The Doctor finds out that Solomon is essentially a pirate, or ransom artist actually, who killed the Silurian crew in order to deliver the Dinosaurs on board to the highest bidder. In typical Doctor fashion, he gives Solomon a chance to get away after telling him that Earth is targeting the spaceship with missiles. In typical villain fashion, Solomon doesn’t heed the Doctor’s warning.
The Doctor summarily escapes on the back of a triceratops.
When Solomon has his robot lackeys shoot and kill the triceratops later in the episode, my heart fell out of my chest, along with the Doctor’s, and I wanted nothing more than for this completely evil villain to get what was coming to him.
Solomon eventually discovers that The Doctor has Queen Nefertiti in tow, and offers to let The Doctor, his other companions, and the dinosaurs all live in trade for her, an even more valuable commodity. In another brilliant bit of Doctor Whoness, Queen Nefertiti appears to fulfill actual history—as she really did disappear from historical records—by sacrificing herself to save the rest of the Doctor’s group. Although she does escape Solomon’s clutches in the end, she still effectively disappears.
In an uncharacteristic move by the Doctor, he saves the day by having the missiles headed for the ship target Solomon’s ship instead, which rewards us with Solomon’s death. The Doctor even seemed to enjoy this. So far in this season we’re beginning to see the effects of his past decisions; he’s becoming less “unequivocally” moral.
The episode does suffer, however, from a bit of lazy writing; the Doctor having happened to take Rory’s father along with them by accident just to fulfill the required “same gene-chain” lock on the ship’s controls; the contradiction where Solomon’s robots mention being on board the ship for two millennia, but then are said to have been purchased by Solomon elsewhere; Amy somehow recognizing the ammunition for a gun she’s never seen before is actually anesthetic; Rory and his father somehow masterfully piloting a spaceship. Although these elements make this episode a bit contrived, the whole is indeed far greater than the sum of its parts. It was good plain fun. All in all, another great episode that makes this season two for two!
Image Source: [doctorwhotv]