Sunday, September 9, 2012

Review: Doctor Who 7x02, "Dinosaurs on a Spaceship"

As a fairly new viewer of Doctor Who, this seventh season is the first that I've watched the show live (Well, relatively live. I watched it on BBC America, several hours after it aired in the UK.). I know some viewers had issues with last week's episode, "Asylum of the Daleks," but other than a few problems, I enjoyed it quite a bit. I enjoyed this week's episode "Dinosaurs on a Spaceship" even more.

I imagine that some will criticize "Dinosaurs on a Spaceship" as crowded, flashy, silly, filler, and frantic. I totally agree with all of these assessments; they are why I loved the episode so much. I like Doctor Who a lot, but I don't watch it because I think it's a super well-written show. Please don't start throwing things at me, but sometimes it's kind of awful. I watch it because I like to sit back for an hour and get lost in the fun. That's exactly what "Dinosaurs on a Spaceship" brought to the table: a bucket of fun.

R.I.P sweet Tricey, the dinosaur of my heart

The dinosaurs were obviously part of the fun (I can't be the only who fell in love with Tricey), but the Doctor's "gang" was probably the best part of the episode. Queen Nefertiti was awesome. She was sassy, brave, and really likeable. As a clever viewer on Reddit pointed out, in fitting with her storyline in the episode, the actual Nefertiti did disappear from historical records after a certain point. I would loved to have seen a whole episode devoted to her set in Egypt, but the randomness of her being in an episode about dinosaurs added to the chaotic fun.

Rory's dad Brian was a fantastic addition to the gang as well. He was utterly adorable, particularly in his interactions with Rory, and he reminded me a lot of Donna's grandfather Wilf. It's always fun getting to see a character become introduced to the craziness of the Doctor's world, and I particularly loved the effect that the Doctor had on Brian. Brian's transformation from homebody to travel nut was a sweet note on which to end the episode. Plus, the scene where he's sitting on the edge of the TARDIS and looking at the world was gorgeously filmed.

Gorgeous. It's fun to imagine what this scene would have looked like on the earlier seasons' budget.
I know this was supposed to represent Brian's learning to love traveling, but it looks more like he learned how to use Photoshop.

I like the Ponds, but they sometimes rub me the wrong way (Amy moreso than Rory). The appearance of Jenna-Louise Coleman, the actress who's going to play the Doctor's new companion, in the first episode of the season actually got me excited for the Ponds' departure. However, if they're written in the next couple of episodes the same way they were in "Dinosaurs on a Spaceship," I really might miss them. Both had plenty of great, funny lines in the episode. One of my favorites was Rory telling his dad that he no longer has a Christmas list at 31 (and the Doctor's response that has one). More than anything, they both looked like they were having a lot of fun.

Since I usually do really like Rory, I was more impressed with the improvement in the writing of Amy in this episode. Amy was written as a competent companion rather than the sassy damsel in distress she often is portrayed as. While the group of Rory, Brian, and the Doctor was a bit more fun, I liked seeing Amy getting a chance to lead the group of her, Nefertiti, and hunter John Riddell. She showed her smarts in figuring out the computer system, her general awesomeness in helping to take down the dinosaurs, and her humor in letting Nefertiti believe she was also a queen. My only complaint with Amy in this episode is that Karen Gillan's acting seemed a bit off to me. It wasn't terrible, but I feel like she had a little bit of trouble with the differences in Amy's writing.

As much as I loved "Dinosaurs on a Spaceship," it did have a few drawbacks. The pacing in the first ten or fifteen minutes had me feeling like I was on a roller coaster, and the ending was thrilling, but the episode lost a bit of its momentum in the middle. Most of this was due to the episode's villain Solomon. I liked Solomon's goofy minion robots, but Solomon was a bit of a bore. I feel like such a fun episode could have used a more fun villain. I was a bit shocked that the Doctor sent the missiles towards Solomon and let him die, but reading some Internet comments from more avid fans than I has convinced me that it was indeed in character for him. My other minor issue was that I didn't care for Nefertiti's crush on the Doctor. It was thankfully a very minor part of the episode and not a terrible idea, but it seemed a bit repetitive after seeing so many historical women act similarly towards the Doctor.

While "Dinosaurs on a Spaceship" was mostly a filler episode, there were a few moments that hinted to the show's larger picture. The most obvious foreshadowing was a moment between Amy and the Doctor. He tells her "You'll be there till the end of me," and she ominously jokes "or vice versa." While I thought this was probably a bit too obvious, it's nice to see a bit of a lead up to the Ponds' last episode. 

A subtler and more visual bit of foreshadowing was the scene in which Amy and Rory appear in the foreground both wearing blue and bathed in cold, blue light; the doctor, on the other hand, appears in the background in the lively, warm light of the TARDIS. This could simply be representing their distance from the Doctor as they live their own lives, but I think it could also foreshadow death for at least one of them. 

Even her nails are blue.

After the Daleks forgot the Doctor in the last episode, I also have to wonder if Solomon's machine not recognizing the Doctor (I wasn't sure why it didn't recognize him, though) ties into a season-long theme of the Doctor's enemies forgetting him. I'm not sure how this would be used as a story arc or if it means anything at all, but it's something that stuck out to me.

"Dinosaurs on a Spaceship" wasn't the cleverest or most well-written episode of Doctor Who, but it was ridiculously enjoyable. Dinosaurs are cool, and the episode embraces that. It also brings together an interesting group of people that looked like they were having fun. I know there are some out there that will disagree with me, but between "Asylum of the Daleks" and "Dinosaurs on a Spaceship," I think season seven is off to a great start. I'm excited to see what will happen next.

No comments:

Post a Comment