Doctor Who 7.02 – Dinosaurs on a Spaceship

Things Rory’s Dad Is Good At: Fixing Lights. Digging. BALLS.

1334 BC: The Doctor gets a Psychic Paper signal while trying to fend off amorous Queen Nefertiti.  Naturally saving her people gets her hot, so she tags along with him to ISA in 2367 (Indian Space Agency: I’m fascinated by a “protect the Earth at all costs!” agency that’s not U.N.I.T.!).  ISA’s spotted a space ship “the size of Canada”. When it gets close to Earth, ISA is going to missile the hell out of it.  “I liked you before you said missiles,” the Doctor says wistfully.

With me so far?  If the Doctor’s going to save the ship’s unknown life-forms, he needs help.  So it’s off to the African Plains of 1902 to grab big game hunter John Riddell!  Though briefly miffed the Doctor’s been AWOL for seven months since he left on a licorice-obtaining mission, he agrees to come along.

Keep up, kids, because we’re in for some convoluted, wacky adventures!  Time to nab The Ponds!  Amy and Rory get TARDIS’ed while Rory’s dad Brian helps them with a light fixture and favors Amy over Rory.  Wait a mo. RORY’S DAD IS MR. WEASLEY?  No time for that: take a torch, everyone!  TIME FOR SPACE ADVENTURES!

Shocked, Brian drops the light bulb.  “Who sent you?” the Doctor demands.  Hearing it’s Rory’s dad, he sniffs, “I’m not a taxi service, you know!” Doctor, you’ve had Jackie Tyler aboard the TARDIS.  Brian can only be easier.  Finally placated, the Doctor’s suddenly as sweet as pie, welcoming Brian to “the gang, I’ve got a gang, yes!”

Rory explains to his dad when he and Amy traveled, it was through the whole of time and space. Amy demands details on the situation, and why they haven’t seen the Doctor in ten months.  He rattles off info before hugging her close and introducing her to Nefy and Rydell.  “Are they the new us?” Amy asks, shocked.  “They’re just people, not Ponds,” the Doctor dismisses.  Eee, he’s so attached to Amy and Rory!

Suddenly they spot the life forms they’re here to protect.  “Run,” the Doctor says in a delighted voice, because we’ve got “Dinosaurs on a spaceship!” Chris Chibnall, how long have you been waiting to twist that Snakes on a Plane bit?  Neffy leads the pack as the gang runs and hides.  Riddell thinks he can take one of them with his knife.  No, they’re here to preserve the dinos!  “Who’s going to preserve us?” Riddell asks pragmatically.

Dinosaurs thunder by: CGI budget, justified! “Okay, how, and who’s ship?” Rory asks.  The Doctor rhapsodizes how wise they’ll be when they know those answers.  Elsewhere on board, a screen shows the Doctor & Co. with the info “Intruders Detected!”  Are the dinosaurs flying the ship, Brian asks fearfully.  Nah, probably just passengers. “Did I mention missiles?” the Doctor asks brightly.  “I didn’t want to worry you!”

The Doctor Sonics himself up some ship’s plans; Brian’s entranced as they view the engines.  “Computer, we need to get down to these engines,” the Doctor says aloud, and he, Rory, and Brian promptly disappear.  “Oh, great,” Amy grouses when Neffy notices they’ve gone.  Oh, we’ve just teleported down, Brian yells at the Doctor on the beach where they’ve landed, making one of the better sarcastic Arthur C. Clark references yet.  Seems poor Brian has travel anxiety, Rory confides as Brian rails about teleports.

“Are those kestrels?” Brian asks. “I do hope so!” the Doctor replies.  Ah, a humming beach: “Don’t just stand there, you two.  Dig!” Brian cheerfully uses the trowel he stashed in his pocket.  Rory’s incredulous; his dad wants him to put “trowel” on his Christmas list. Rory insists he doesn’t have a Christmas list.  “I do!” shouts the Doctor joyfully from across the strand.  Of course he does!  So does the beach!  It’s dearest wish?  To be a floor, and not at all sandy!   Lucky beach; its Christmas came early, for a floor it is!

While Amy tells Riddell to lay off his “medicinal” booze, Nefertiti asks, “Are you also a queen?”  “Yes.  Yes, I am,” Amy says (having learned her lesson from Ghostbusters: when somebody asks if you’re a queen, YOU SAY YES!).  They edge away from a dinosaur nest.  “Don’t wake the baby,” Amy says to Riddell, who hops over it and grins rakishly (prompting Amy and Neffy to compete for Eyerolling Queen of 2367).

It’s a hydro-generated spaceship, the Doctor realizes.  Powered by the waves, Rory translates.  “What do we do about the things that aren’t kestrels?” the Doctor asks as pterodactyls swoop closer.  They run into a cave.  Brian yells they’re trapped! Rory hollers something’s coming closer!  “Spelling it out is hereditary; wonderful!” the Doctor complains. Large sulky robots enter. “We’re very cross with you!” they say peevishly.

Amy’s spent enough time with the Doctor to know, “Whenever you enter somewhere new, press buttons!” After poking at a control board, she, Neffy, and Riddell view data records, watching a video of the crewmember who explains they left their planet when someone forecasted destructive impact, taking multiple species to begin anew elsewhere.  It’s a Space Ark, Amy deduces, and Silurians were its crew.

“You’re going straight on the naughty step,” the robots whine.  Ugh. It’s kinda funny they’re cranky?  With so much whiz-bang-ing by, though, it’s just another extraneous scoop of crazy lobbed on to the teetering wacky sundae. Brian panics they’re prisoners.  Rory thinks it’s good they’re taking them somewhere; “we might learn from them.”  “I missed you, Rory!” the Doctor cries, pinching his cheeks for learning his Companion Lessons so very well (later on, they’ll get ice cream).

A Triceratops gallops up. The Doctor exclaims, “Hello, cutie pie!  Who’s a lovely Tricie then?”  Hee!  Soon Tricie’s sniffing at Brian’s crotch.  Must be his balls!  His golf balls, you understand, ho ho!  They have grassy residue. When Tricie licks Brian, the Doctor coos, “Aww, bless!” Finally Brian throws a golf ball, and Tricie lopes off after it.  “Take us to your leader,” the Doctor tells the robots, pleased to utter a generic cliché.

When Neffy sasses Riddell, he says, “I should put you across my knee and spank you!”  She looks very keen on this prospect even as she promise she’d “snap your neck in a heartbeat!” if he tried it.  “I will not have flirting companions,” Amy snaps, and holy guacamole, I wish we had AN ENTIRE EPISODE of Amy acting the role of Doctor to her wacky companions Neffy and Riddell!

More Doctor!Amy with her loyal companions Nefertiti and Riddell. MORE, I SAY!

But we only get this great bit crammed into a mad hodgepodge of comedy happenings and rapid-fire gestures to other genres.

“Silurian, what are they?” Neffy asks. “Surprisingly good question,” Amy notes.  *draws hearts around Doctor!Amy*  She compares ship scans when the Silurians made their recording to now side-by-side (seriously, whip-smart progressions from Amy here).  The difference lies in the center, Neffy points out (no slouch herself).  It’s another spacecraft.  “This ship’s been boarded before,” Amy says, doing ominous very well indeed.

While Rory and Brian get closed in the corridor, the Doctor’s escorted to Solomon, a man injured by raptors, rescued by the robots he bought cheap.  They tried to heal his legs, “but you can help me so much more,” he says, having misunderstood the “Doctor” title. The Doctor says he’ll repair the wounds if Solomon tells him how he came by those dinosaurs.  “Injure the older one,” Solomon snaps: the soldiers zap and burn Brian.  The next volt will be fatal.

Rory fumes to the robots that he’ll “take you apart cog by cog and melt you down when this is over!”  Luckily it’s “all about the pockets in our family”: Rory pulls out nursing supplies, and efficiently treats his dad (love the “this won’t hurt,” painkiller that hurts like hell; “I lied,” Rory mentions after).  Rory’s phone rings; I guess the Doctor cahjiggered him a Super Duper Cell Phone too?

“I never talk about myself with a gun pointed at me,” the Doctor says.  It’s like because he’s a Sagittarius.  Probably. Aww, imagine the Doctor reading his star charts in the TARDIS!  Solomon takes the bait to talk about himself: he’s a trader with a machine determining everything’s market value.  The Doctor’s scan produces only, “No identification found.” “That’s me. Worthless,” the Doctor agrees flatly.  I love the Doctor toying with Solomon, seemingly at his mercy while he gathers info.

On the mobile, Amy supplies another clue. Every stasis port on the ship is empty.  Solomon admits he jettisoned the Silurians. “Must have left a trail of dust and bone,” he notes (his own bones having just been healed by the Doctor).  He’s a genocidal pirate: the Silurians helped him when he let out a distress signal, and he spaced all of them for the value of their dinosaur cargo.  “I feel like you’re judging me,” he says.  YOU THINK?

Ah, but the Silurians in a way outwitted him even after their deaths, the Doctor calculates.  Solomon couldn’t change the ship’s pre-determined course to Earth.  “Get off while you can,” the Doctor advises, warning him about the missiles.  “You just want them for yourselves,” Solomon replies, spurring the Doctor to growl “Don’t judge me by your standards!”

The episode’s breakneck speed doesn’t really let us register the Doctor’s reaction to the utter destruction of the Silurians.  No time to dwell on un-fun genocide when there’s an escape atop a Triceratops to stage!  “Run like the wind, Tricie!” the Doctor shouts.  Tricie, puzzled, stays still.  “Tricie, fetch!” Brian improvises, hurling the other golf ball forward, and they’re off.

Luckily the disgruntled robots are suuuuper slooowwwww.  Otherwise it would almost seem like riding a trudging-along Tricie isn’t an effective escape.  *coughs* “We’re riding a dinosaur on a spaceship!” Brian yells, exhilarated to fulfill the inevitable promise of encountering dinosaurs on a spaceship in the first place.  Aww, Tricie drops the golf ball on Rory as he dumps them all off, paws the ground and retreats to whine like a doggy!

The Doctor contacts ISA onscreen.  Their only priority is Earth’s survival, so they refuse to give the Doctor any extra time. Riddell returns to Amy and Neffyw ith stun guns.  Is Amy the Doctor’s queen, Neffy inquires?  No, she’s Rory’s queen.  “Wife,” she corrects quickly, haha!  Neffy’s own husband is a “human sleeping potion”; when Riddell vows he’s a man of action, Amy asks if Neffy really would prefer a Walking Innuendo.

The ship’s got to have defense systems, Rory posits.  “Good thinking!” the Doctor shouts, so exhilarated he kisses Rory on the lips.  Whoops, no defenses.  The Doctor rapidly multi-slaps Rory, sassing, “That’s for getting my hopes up!” Ahaha, he’s like LUCILLE BALL or something!  Rory makes an “ew!” face (come on, Rory; enjoy the memory of your Time Lord Smooch!).

Oh dear, Solomon’s ID thingy’s found Nefertiti. He wants her in exchange for letting the rest live.  The Doctor’s quick refusal prompts Solomon to direct his robots to kill Tricie.  TRICIE, NO!  YOU MADE ME CARE ABOUT YOU!  *cries* Though I will acknowledge it’s awkward that the Silurian genocide passes by quickly while Tricie’s last breath gets a loving camera shot as the Doctor strokes his cheek.  Still.  TRICIIIEEE!!!!!

Nefertiti materializes with Amy and Riddell: she demands to pay her debt to the Doctor for saving her people by turning herself over. “My bounty increases,” Solomon says, because of course we can’t have someone be a supervillain without gratuitously adding rape to his to-do list!  “Hostile Targeting in Progress!” the ship’s system announces.  “Bingo,” the Doctor whispers: it’s a plan to save Neffy and the Dinos in one fell swoop!

The Doctor transports all to the control room.  Riddell in charge of watching for dinosaurs.  They puzzle over the bio-configured flight system: two beings with the same gene-chain must occupy the pilot chairs.  Uh, father and son duo over here, Brian points out.  “Brian Pond, you are delicious!” the Doctor says delightedly.  “I’m not a Pond,” Brian says.  “Of course you are!”  Everyone gets folded into Amy’s power-Ponds, okay?

Amy hovers around so the Doctor can ask how work’s going.  She can’t settle on a career, always listening for the TARDIS.  Plus, the gaps between his visits keep getting longer.  Is he weaning them off him?  “Come on, Pond, you’ll be there until the end of me!” he objects affectionately.  “Or vice versa,” she laughs.  Whoops, friendly mood spoiled with mega-ominous foreshadowing!  Please don’t let either of the Ponds die, okay?

Riddell re-enters: it’s a two-man job to keep the dinosaurs at bay.  “I’m easily worth two men,” Amy says.  “You can help two if you like.”  Amy, I’ll give you that up-top Neffy didn’t hit you with earlier!  Rory and Brian prepare for flight as the Doctor transports off.  Riddell just needs one thing.  “Lessons in gender politics?” Ahaha! No, a dinosaur tooth.  Holding off dinosaurs, a lady at his side, about to be blown up: “I’m not sure when I’ve been happier.”  “Shut up and shoot,” Amy says, out-sassing them all!

ISA watches the ship’s trajectory change, but the missiles are locked on.  It’s “better than golf!” Brian cries out as he and Rory man the controls.  Meanwhile, Solomon can’t escape: the Doctor’s magnetized his ship.  Put it right, he snarls when the Doctor pops in, “Or I kill this precious little object!”  Neffy takes him down for his insolence while the Doctor shouts out, “Don’t mess with Egyptian Queens!”  Just English ones, then, Doctor?

The Doctor plants the ship’s beacon he dug out of the control room in Solomon’s ship, telling Solomon “enjoy your bounty!” of valuable missiles, now all headed straight his way!  Solomon’s blown to bits; Riddell and Amy stand triumphant with dinosaurs stunned around them, and Rory and Brian fly the ship like a gene-chain BOSS DUO!

Dinosaur drop-off time, the Doctor announces happily.  “We think home, for us,” Amy says.  Aww, his face. Just. Falls.  Oh, that’s totally cool with him, he says upon turning; he’s all kinds of busy.  Before he can zip off in a jangle of hurt feelings, Brian asks a favor.

Shift to Brian with his legs dangling from the TARDIS, for some reason noshing on lunch.  Amy and Rory watch his dad fondly as all of them gaze at the Earth below.  The Doctor stands behind them, grinning at the scene.  But his face quickly becomes somber, and he looks lost and lonely; he’s left out of this family configuration, and whether he’s weaning himself off Amy and Rory, they seem to need time and space away from him.

So lonely! The Doctor gets ready to be a one-man show again.

Cue Riddell and Neffy hanging out in 1902 safari land: I guess she abandoned that whole queen thing to tote a stun-gun and hunt big game?  I get why Riddell wants to be with Nefertiti, but the reverse, uh.  *scratches head* “More postcards from your dad!” Amy announces as Rory tries to fix the light fixture by himself.  The camera pans their fridge with piling-up picture postcards, all with Brian and “I am here!” pasted atop the scenes.  Goodbye, travel fear; hello, time-and-space-travel encouraged wanderlust!

Awhoo  aheeewahooo awhoo!  Lots of cool moments in this ep!  Unfortunately a number of terrific suggestions and revelations were shortchanged by being crammed together.  I did love Brian coming to respect Rory’s capabilities.  We’ve not gotten much about Amy and Rory’s families before, in strong contrast to companions like Rose and Martha who had incredibly supportive, though often meddlesome, family units.  Too bad Rory’s dad only turned up as we’re getting ready to bid the Ponds farewell.  Now let’s hope we don’t see the terrible scenario Amy’s joke conjured come to fruition.  See you next week when I recap more New Doctor Who; join me this week twice-weekly recaps of prior-season DW eps!

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  • Fabrisse

    The Doctor has always been very clear on the whole “no killing” thing. He always, in the past, allowed a villain a chance to escape or would even rescue said villain himself if remorse were shown (which, too be fair, Solomon doesn’t). The way he handled Solomon really bothered me.

    On the fun facts to know and tell side, Nefertiti ruled for only 14 years and there’s no record of what happened to her, so why not end up in 1902 Africa?

    And I think the robots are more fun if you recognize them as Mitchell and Webb (or cousins to Marvin the Paranoid Android).

    • The robots definitely did make me think of Marvin. They just seemed a bit stuffed in to the already overstuffed ep.

      Glad you brought that up about Solomon. I actually rewatched to see if there was a moment where he gave Solomon a chance to show remorse, and couldn’t find it. I’m not sure what to think about that, particularly as it was wrapped in an otherwise wacky hijinks sort of narrative.

      And haha, yes, why not big game hunting in Africa for Nefertiti? Why not indeed? :D

  • Ellie

    Literally have very little idea what happened there xD I kinda felt like it was Night At the Museum 4 (or whatever number we’re on), down to the rather random historical figures, squabbling slapstick side characters and dinosaurs which fetch. Now, I’m a bit of a Night of the Museum fan (well, the first one of the films, anyway), but I expect them to be silly and childish and with not too much depth. Dr Who I expect a little bit more from, almost, I think. Still, it was fun and there is plenty of buildup for the next few episodes.

    Having said that, Amy was amazing in this episode! As was Rory’s Dad. But he can never be as awesome as Donna’s grandpa.

    Lestrade (I’ll always think of him as Lestrade, as Sherlock is awesome) was also good but made me miss Cap’n Jack. And Solomon is apparently the same guy who plays Filch, so it was a random-HP-men reunion episode :P He was a creepy bad guy, but even so, strange that the Doctor just…let him die. Reminds me a bit of Ten with the ‘no second chances’ moment in his debut.

    I did love the dinosaurs :D :P

    • I kinda felt like it was Night At the Museum 4 (or whatever number we’re on), down to the rather random historical figures, squabbling slapstick side characters and dinosaurs which fetch.

      Oh man, I’m so glad you said this! That’s exactly right; I’ve actually not seen any of the Night at the Museum movies, but my impression from the trailers was that, yeah, this was way too similar (and I mean, there was a reason I didn’t particular want to go to see those films, though I have friends who liked them lots). But I hadn’t put it into that framework precisely, so thanks for that. And now I’ll have to think of this as Night on a Dinosaur at the Spaceship!

      Yes, agreed. Though at least Ten gave people and aliens first chances — at times it seems like Eleven of late forges ahead without that initial offering. And I do miss Nine, even with all his swagger and menace being one of the more merciful. Ah, Nine. *sighs*