The dinosaurs came in two by two…
So… dinosaurs on a spaceship… frankly, I expected more. The basic premise was that a huge spaceship is careering towards Earth and missiles are about to be launched against it. The Doctor and his new gang pop up to see if they can turn it round and find that it’s full of dinosaurs. An evil trader has hijacked the ship and is now unable to control it. So far so good, but I felt that the whole episode fell a bit flat after the Asylum of the Daleks.
I won’t rehash the actual storyline, because a) it was fairly basic, and b) I’m assuming you’ve already watched it. Instead I’m going to go through the quibbles I had with the episode and various things I thought worth noting. Obviously, this will include spoilers.
Firstly, I’d like to talk about the writing in the episode. It was a weird mix of light and dark, funny and naff. The really camp robots, for one thing, were by turns entertaining, childish and disturbing. Why were they supposedly cross with the gang? Just because it gave them the excuse to tell the Doctor they were going to put him on the naughty step? Admittedly, that line was amusing, although the best one had to be when they were trudging along after the Triceratops: ‘We definitely used to be faster’. As per usual, in the chase scene the baddies are appalling shots and no one gets so much as singed despite the zinging lines of light flying past them. But then, when Solomon (the evil trader) appears with them to confront the Doctor and demand Queen Nefertiti, the comedy robots shoot poor Tricey without any compunction. Who wants to guess just how many kids burst into tears at that moment? Even I was a bit shocked at the gratuitous nature of it. In fact, moments of the episode were very dark indeed: the explanation of how Solomon had simply ejected all the Silurians, whose ship it was, into space to gain control of the dinosaurs, and the way the Doctor then left him in his ship to get blown up by the missiles at the end. I can see how the latter fits into the Doctor’s character as an ancient being who is implacable when angry, yet he was supposed to have been softened over the last few series.
Secondly, there were loads of little things that really intrigue me. I daresay I’m a bit picky, but I just felt I should share them with you since the television doesn’t answer when I yell at it. Why, for instance, was Rory’s dad changing their lightbulb? I mean, they’ve travelled through time and space and can hack into the computers on alien spaceships, yet they can’t cope with their own light fittings! Why does everyone always have shoes on, ready to go haring off in the TARDIS, even when they’re in their own living room? Can’t anyone get caught in their slippers? Why does Brian, a golfer, carry a trowel? How had the robots been on the ship for two millennia when Solomon brought them with him? Surely he isn’t that old? Why did Solomon’s value scanner not pick up the TARDIS? That must be more valuable than Nefertiti. Perhaps, like the Doctor, it couldn’t be identified, and yet why could the Doctor not be identified? Nearly every race in the universe seems to have heard of him, so you would think that ‘Argos for the universe’ might have picked something up about him. Unless it’s run by the Daleks, I suppose. How would Amy, Nefertiti and Riddell not have noticed a great big dinosaur on the floor when they went into the room? After all, it wasn’t exactly hidden from view! Why does Solomon suddenly decide to answer the Doctor’s questions about how he came to have the ship when he had refused before and he still had more people he could shoot? There seems to be no logical reason why he would willingly volunteer the information that he had killed everyone on the ship. Does the fact that the scar above Solomon’s eye look like a ‘K’ mean anything? And last, but by no means least, what is on the Doctor’s Christmas list and whom is he expecting to buy him gifts?
Thirdly, I’d like to point out something that I thought was quite ingenious. When I initially watched the episode, I thought Nefertiti going off with Riddell at the end was a bit twee and didn’t seem to fit with her being ‘a face stamped across History’. Then, however, I googled her and found out that around 1334 B.C. she disappeared from all records and is generally presumed to have died. Furthermore, her mummy has never been found, so no one knows what really happened to her. I liked the way they managed to dovetail that historical mystery into the story, and yet I only ended up fully appreciating it because I’m a picky geek who went and looked it up.
Lastly, I think the Doctor’s attitude around Amy and Rory was really interesting. The way he looked at them at the end suggested that he was worried about losing them, and his conversation with Amy ended with a rather significant look when she joked that he would be around to the end of her. Could this be an indication that the Doctor knows something about Amy’s future? Is it a prelude to the end of the Ponds?