Doctor Who, Series 7, Episode 2: “Dinosaurs on a Spaceship”
Written by Chris Chibnall
Directed by Saul Metzstein
Airs Saturdays at 9pm (ET) on BBC America
This week, on Doctor Who: The Doctor recruits a gang, including a Big Game hunter, Amy, Rory, Rory’s dad Brian, and Queen Nefertiti, to investigate a mysterious spaceship set to collide with the Earth
This is writer Chris Chibnall’s third script for Doctor Who (outside of the Pond Life webisodes that lead up to this series) and it’s definitely his best. The flirtatious banter between Nefertiti and Riddell is a bit much, but it does feel in character for both and bringing along Rory’s travel-phobic father Brian (Mark Williams) gives the episode an enjoyable arc. More importantly, Amy, Rory, and the Doctor each get significant moments to shine.
Rory also gets a chance to show off his skills. It feels like forever since the show mentioned his role as a nurse; it’s great to have that brought back. By giving Rory that moment, really taking time for it, Chibnall shows the audience that there’s just as much badassery in healing, in keeping your cool and helping others, as there is in wielding guns, stun or otherwise. That, along with his piloting in the climax, which feels like a much better version of Wilt’s handiwork in “The End of Time”, makes this one of the better Rory episodes in a while as well.
Outside of the character beats and action, the rest of the episode maintains a breezy tone and manages to make several things work that shouldn’t necessarily, at least on paper. The dinosaurs look great! It’s fantastic to see such great effects work on weekly TV, particularly when compared to some of the show’s earlier (post-2005) effects. The mention of the Silurians instantly puts the dinosaurs into a believable context, and the bumbling robots have enough bite to counteract their amusingly silly voices and dialogue. David Bradley is appropriately craggy and shifty as Solomon and while Nefertiti ditching Egypt and her throne to chill in the desert doesn’t ring true, the denouement with Brian (glad to have him as an honorary Pond!) is lovely enough that most probably won’t mind.
Next up, the Old West with, “A Town Called Mercy”. The last time the Doctor went to the American West, he got mixed up in the gunfight at the OK Corral and his Companions wound up singing and playing piano for their lives. Better luck this time?
What did you think of this episode? Anyone else surprised the most Girl Power episode of Doctor Who in ages doesn’t feature River Song at all? I like to think the Doctor and Brian dropped off the Ponds and went adventuring for a while- just me? Post your thoughts below!