Doctor Who 3.2: Dinosaurs on a Spaceship review

Review

Dinosaurs on a Spaceship

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Amy: With you? They’re WITH you? Are they the new us? Is that why we haven’t seen you?

The Doctor: No, they’re just people they’re not Ponds I just thought we might need a gang not really had a gang before. It’s. New.

Production Code: 3.2.
Doctor Who Season: S33 (Ep2).
Story Number: 227.

He’s a fast talker…

A showman. Likes to keep you interested, sometimes a bit of misdirection. Flim flam. Bamboozle.

Look! Dinosaurs.

However, all Moffat’s talk of Dinosaurs, all his talk of each episode being its own thing, a mini-blockbuster…

Well, that wasn’t exactly wrong. What was elided was that, really, there’d be an arc after all. Just as the predicted parade of Daleks of the first story of the season wasn’t what that story Asylum of the Daleks was really about, the dinosaurs of this story form a backdrop for many more character moments.

Amy’s been picked up by the Doctor after another long absence, (as Pond Life shows he’s an intermittent presence in their lives) but although the Ponds no longer live in the TARDIS they haven’t forgotten their time with the Doctor and what he taught them.

“What else have you learned from him?”

As Amy is separated from the Doctor in the Classic style, it’s an illustration that she and Rory are old hands at this Time and Space adventure lark that Amy moves into something like Doctor-mode, berating her two “companions” Neffy and Riddell.

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The dinosaurs aren’t exactly sidelined though and the scenes of the various dinos are absolutely spectacular. This blog, before the broadcast of the story, had been pondering the dinosaur stories[1] of previous Doctor Who years: The Mark of the Rani, Carnival of Monsters, and also the iconic Pertwee dino story. The Myrka was also considered – is it a dinosaur? – but to have the Silurians appear was a complete (if logical) surprise.

There’s some great scenes with Neffy and Riddell, both playing against each other or sparring verbally with other characters, such as when Amy schools Riddell in gender politics. Another delight is the new Pond (“I’m not a Pond”) in the form of Rory’s dad Brian. Rory and his dad manage to bond over the contents of their pockets and the son perhaps manages to say something about his life choices, and the role of a nurse, which can be just as vital as someone who knows where his trowel is.

The two robots voiced by Mitchell and Webb are absolutely wonderful, with some great comedy lines delivered to perfection. Some very clever moments from Chibnall about the expected conventions of the show: “ah Doctor” says the villain but he really is just expecting fate to deliver a doctor. He’s a nasty villain yes – with some lines that are actually nearing the boundaries of what should really be said in this pre-watershed show, I’m not quite sure this was appropriate for the programme – though it’s quite an extraordinary scene the Doctor consigning the villain to his fate, which is maybe even more disturbing.
Dinosaurs reviewDinosaurs review

The biggest shock of the episode, possibly, is that Rory is now 31 – assuming, reasonably that he and Amy are the same age (and are doing most of their aging on Earth), that means it’s 2020![2] (Which means there’s a good reason that the future-Ponds of 2020 were thinking about Silurians in The Hungry Earth).

If the Ponds are 31 now what’s going to happen with the next 3 eps of the half-season? “You’ll be there till the end of me!” “Or vice versa” (oh, awkward) – the heart to heart.

“I think you’re weaning us off you”

“The others they’re not you”

Amy has companion anxiety, she’s chosen Rory (she’s his Queen but don’t tell him that) but she still waits for the Doctor.

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Ultimately after all this fantastical stuff the Ponds are actually pining for Earth – and this makes the Doctor sad – but there is one Pond who (like Amélie‘s gnome), is all over the place, sending the other Ponds postcards now. Even one from Siluria as they return the dinosaurs.

Chibnall’s return to Siluria a great improvement on the previous story he wrote.

Rating: 4/5
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(Dinosaurs on a Spaceship on bbc.co.uk/programmes/)

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Footnotes

1. ^

T-rex; plesiosaur; a whole host of different dinos in Invasion of the Dinosaurs, respectively. Plus Warriors of the Deep for the Myrka.

2. ^

Right, Ponds timeline. Amy is 19 years old in 2008 during The Eleventh Hour, and 21 by the end of that the-Doctor-time-hopping story (2010), so if Amy and Rory are the same age, and they are mainly aging on Earth that’s 10 years later, 2020.

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