“You’ll be there till the end of me.” – Doctor
“Or vice-versa.” – Amy
Utter bliss. It’s going to be difficult writing this review because I am so stuffed to the gills with Whovian goodness that all I want to is contemplate the glory of Dinosaurs on a Spaceship. Chris Chibnall has gleefully plundered Jurassic Park and Star Wars, while bringing Nefertiti to life and pairing her with an Edwardian big game hunter to form the Doctor’s “gang,” along with three Ponds. Rory’s dad is of course a Pond, however much he attempts to deny it. Throw in genocide, piracy, and a hint that India will become a superpower by the 24th century, and you have an irresistible episode.
Dinosaurs on a Spaceship starts on a high note, with Nefertiti putting the moves on the Doctor after he helps her with a trifling “weapon-bearing locust attack.” So that’s her on board, followed by John Riddell, the politically incorrect big game hunter. Then the Doctor lassoos the Ponds while Rory’s dad, Brian, is fixing a light socket, so he comes along for the ride as well. And everyone gets their chance to help save the day – Rory and Brian piloting a spaceship, Amy being a computer whizz and gun-toting mama, Riddell shooting velociraptors (with a stun gun), and Nefertiti sacrificing herself for the gang.
Saving the Earth, that is, what with a spaceship the size of Canada on a collision course, and the Indian Space Agency ready to fire missiles at it. The Doctor has 6 hours. The ship turns out to be a Silurian Ark, filled with last of the dinosaurs, hence the Jurassic Park connection. The revelation is brilliant, as a door opens and stegosaurs stampede out. It’s impossible not to say the title in the Doctor’s own delighted tones: “Dinosaurs…on a space ship!” Riddell echoes Jurassic Park in being stalked by velociraptors. Brian gets slobbered over by a friendly triceratops who wants to chase his golf balls, an echo of the scene where a girl gets sneezed on by a brontosaurus. It’s a lovely triceratops and I wanted to take it home with me. My only regret is that Chibnall saw fit to have the beast killed on Solomon’s orders.
Solomon is the trader/pirate who committed genocide against the Silurian crew when they wouldn’t give up their precious cargo of dinosaurs. His two decrepit robots (they were cheap) are a lethally comic turn in the Star Wars tradition, one of them being being voiced by comedian, David Mitchell. I half expected the other one to be voiced by Robert Webb. They are passive-agressive “tantrum machines,” given to saying things like, “You’re going straight on the naughty step!” They witter on at each other in the spirit of R2D2 and C3PO, but are always ready to obey Solomon’s orders.
Nefertiti is very curious about Amy’s relationship with the Doctor, wanting to know if she’s his queen, which Amy denies, saying, “I’m Rory’s queen,” then correcting herself, “wife!” This only the truth, but she realises it would be undiplomatic to be heard putting the fact into words. Meanwhile, Nefertiti and Riddell are flirting outrageously, and she ends up in his tent on the African plains.
There’s a serious undercurrent going on in the relationship between the Doctor and the Ponds. Amy is upset that the intervals between his visits are getting longer – 10 months this time – since she relishes the excitement and adventure he brings. In a foreshadowing of their eventual parting, the Doctor says, “You’ll be there till the end of me,” to which Amy replies, “Or vice versa.”
Despite this, the Doctor is losing the Ponds. Brian happily eats his lunch while sitting in the TARDIS doorway and looking out over the Earth from orbit, but Rory and Amy have a more longing gaze, and the Doctor picks up on this. Brian now becomes the traveller, in the conventional way, judging by his postcards from tourist destinations. The last one is from Siluria, though, so the Doctor still has a companion. Could be wrong about this, but it’s what I want to happen. Meanwhile, it’s Amy and Rory who stay at home.