Mon
Sep 10 2012 10:45am

Doctor Who: “Dinosaurs on a Spaceship”

A review and recap of Doctor Who season 7 episode: Dinosaurs on a Spaceship

Though this episode’s title is seemingly a parody of Snakes on a Plane, at no point does our favorite Time Lord scream obscenities about dinosaurs being somewhere else than on the spaceship. The plot of this Doctor Who episode is also less straightforward than Snakes on a Plane, and in addition to the dinosaurs, serves up multiple guest characters and zany situations. But was it all worth it? Was this episode this year’s “Curse of the Black Spot?” Read on to find out.

 

Recap: (Spoilers)

The episode begins in a similar fashion as last season’s “A Good Man Goes to War,” only this time the Doctor is gathering a “gang” together for other, less personal reasons. A giant spaceship the size of Canada is on a collision course with Earth sometime in the 24th century and the Doctor has rounded up a big game hunter named Riddell from the 1900’s (played by Sherlock’s Rupert Graves) Queen Nefertiti of ancient Egypt (Riann Steele), plus Amy, Rory, and Rory’s dad Brian (played by Mark Williams, mostly famous for his role as Ron Weasley’s dad in the Harry Potter films).

The future government of India is going to shoot down the ship with missiles if the Doctor doesn’t get to the bottom of it. Why he’s rounded up this particular group of people to help him with this task is never really explained—he simply tells Amy he “ha[s] a gang now.” It’s a funny-ish moment, if not altogether coherent. Before he can really explain/dissemble further, a couple of ankylosaurs barge through a door revealing there are, indeed, dinosaurs on a spaceship!

In an attempt to figure out what’s going on, the “gang” gets separated by an intuitive teleport system, which sends the user wherever they say they want to go. When the Doctor says he wants to see the engines, he, Rory, and Rory’s dad Brian are beamed to what appears to be a beach. But it’s not a beach! The engines of this spaceship are wave-powered! Unfortunately, there are circling pterodactyls Pteranodons, which soon become serious trouble for Rory, the Doctor, and Brian.

Meanwhile, Amy quickly deduces that the spaceship they're aboard is actual a dinosaur ark built by the Silurians (remember those reptile people who live underneath the Earth?) The only trouble is, while she can find log entries from the Silurians, she can’t find any living Silurians aboard. That’s because the ship has already been boarded by a poacher. Enter Solomon, played by actor David Bradley (also famous for a Harry Potter role: he played Filch! Not to mention his work in Game of Thrones...). Solomon is a straight-up evil dude who admits openly to having massacred all the Silurians in order to obtain the precious, super valuable cargo of dinosaurs. At some point though, some raptors screwed up his leg and he wants the Doctor to fix it. If the Doctor doesn’t do what he wants, he’ll have his robots kill/maim Rory and Brian.

The Doctor reluctantly agrees and fixes up Solomon’s leg. Meanwhile the clock is ticking for the missiles to hit the giant space ark and everyone’s freaking out. Suddenly, there’s a game-changer from Solomon: he’ll let everyone go if the Doctor hands him over Queen Nefertiti. The Doctor is adamant that he won’t do it, but Nefertiti beams herself over and offers to sacrifice herself for the Doctor and the greater good. Rory and Brian, meanwhile, have figured out how to steer the spaceship away from Earth while Amy and Riddell keep busy shooting some raptors with stun guns.

Eventually the Doctor manages to outsmart Solomon, rescue Nefertiti and ride a triceratops with Rory and Brian. He places the homing beacon from the dinosaur space ark on Solomon’s ship, causing the missiles to destroy the poacher instead of the dinos. Everyone is happy and the Doctor moves on to dropping everyone at home, including the dinosaurs, though it’s implied by some postcards received by the Ponds that the Doctor may have taken Brian on a little adventure...

 

Review:

The logistics of this episode were oddly complicated, considering that the premise of the episode wasn’t all that complex. Why the Doctor needed to round up a macho big game hunter and Nefertiti to help save a giant space ark from crashing into Earth isn’t clear. Why he’s ditched the Ponds for 10 months also doesn’t seem to make any sense. I liked all of the guest characters well enough, but didn’t feel like enough time was spent on any of them to really amount to anything.

Further, an episode with dinosaurs on a spaceship should probably deliver a little bit more of a storyline involving dinosaurs. Sure, they get to ride a triceratops and zap some raptors Jurassic Park-style, but really these could have been any exotic creatures on the space ark. Bringing the Silurians back into the fold was cool, but it almost would have been cooler if they were actually around, rather just a plot device to explain how dinosaurs got on a spaceship.

The “funny” robots Solomon used as his muscle were really, really irritating. It reminded me of the Tenth Doctor’s sentiments in “The Waters of Mars”: I hate funny robots. More precisely, I hate funny robots when they’re not actually funny, and these things seemed like some kind of poor man’s version of Marvin the Paranoid Android crossed with some kind of bickering sitcom couple.

Furthermore, we’ve got dinosaurs in this episode! We don’t need robots, too! There’s a tendency in the post- Tennant/Davies era for the episodes to be filled to the brim with different and competing elements. Why is Nefertiti even there at all? Conveniently, she becomes central to the conflict because Solomon wants to keep her and enslave her, but that’s hardly a reason for the Doctor to bring her there in the first place. Not to mention, it's really regressive to have such a famous and powerful female figure only be present as a token plot-device.

Also, why waste awesome actor Rupert Grave in this cartoony role? Is he only there because they were trying to do some kind of Jurassic Park shout-out? If you wanted to do that homage, just quoting lines like “clever girl” or “must go faster” would have sufficed.

There’s a cold-blooded murder on the part of the Doctor in this one that feels like it could have been avoided. I know Captain Kirk wouldn’t have done that. The plot made it seem like the Doctor had no other option, but that doesn’t really seem true. I understand and appreciate the idea that Matt Smith’s Doctor might be “darker” than he comes across, but I don’t really buy it in this one and it seems a little out of character, here.

All in all, the episode was entertaining and I found myself chuckling a few times...I like that the Doctor has a Christmas list. Cute. But overall, I couldn’t help but feel like there was just too much stuff jammed into one episode. It was called “Dinosaurs on Spaceship,” not “Rory’s Dad, a Game Hunter, Nefertiti, Funny Robots, the Doctor, Hogwarts’s Janitor, the Ponds and Dinosaurs on a Spaceship.”

I suppose I’m sort of longing for a Doctor Who episode that will take its time with a premise, develop some characters and really suck me in with a plot twist.  The season is entertaining so far, but I’m waiting to really be hooked.


Ryan Britt is the staff writer for Tor.com. He really likes dinosaurs.

70 comments
Natenanimous
1. Natenanimous
As far as in-episode reasons go, I thought that Nefertiti was there because she wouldn't leave the Doctor alone (he was with her when he got the call about the incoming ship in the future, and she probably wouldn't let him leave her behind). Then I think he grabbed Riddel as a means of potentially distracting Nefertiti, doing that thing he does where he's working more angles than are immediately obvious.

That does still leave the show with a lot of characters, but I enjoyed them and had a lot of fun with the episode. You're right that it's more spectacle than plot, but given that the first two episodes of this season were Daleks and dinosaurs on a spaceship, I was expecting a rough start and have been pleasantly surprised by how enjoyable the episodes have been.
Laura Southcott
2. tallgrass
Funny, I think I had the opposite reaction to just about everything in this episode. My sister and I were beaming with delight the whole time (and she actually made the same comparison between the robots and Marvin). I think that, while there were plot holes and some things that felt out of character (especially the Doctor letting Filch I mean Solomon die), it was really easy to ignore those and just laugh at all the silly gimmicks. Amy had some killer one-liners ("I'm worth two men, but you can help.") and was also figuring out that spaceship like a boss. And Rory and Brian were adorable.

That said, it has always perplexed me that it took this long for dinosaurs to show up on Doctor Who - and not even during the Mesozoic! Clearly the first thing you do with a time machine is go find some dinosaurs.

Oh, and 5-year-old me would like to point out that those were Pteranodons, not pterodactyls. Grrrrr.
Natenanimous
3. Zoidberg
I'm afraid I have to agree with you on every point except the funny robot thing. I heard way too little of those two to be irritated.
Ron Hogan
4. RonHogan
"...it’s implied by some postcards received by the Ponds that the Doctor may have taken Brian on a little adventure..."

My takeaway from that sequence was that (a) the only thing Brian had asked to see was Earth from space, and (b) he was so moved/changed by his adventure that he started roaming the planet of his own accord, realizing how much of it he wanted to see, and (c) the Doctor's postcard is just a funny stinger for the end of that.

I agree with you that the Doctor's solution was VERY un-Doctor-like, especially since it's an option 11 hadn't taken before even when he was equally pissed off (e.g., "The Beast Below").
Natenanimous
5. Paul Trembath
The robots were voiced by David Mitchell and Robert Webb, which might add some interest if you were familiar with them. They weren't too annoying, as funny robots go.
Natenanimous
6. Dr. Cox
Interesting post . . . I know what you mean . . . Riddell could've accidentally stepped through some sort of time warp and shot a dinosaur, one or more Silurians could've stowed away with the dinosaurs, etc. And yes, the robots were very irritating!
The Doctor's reaction to the first sight of the dinosaur's reminded me of Ten's reaction to the werewolf in "Tooth and Claw" (can't remember the line, but I think Rose had to pull him away or else he would've lingered in fascination).
Natenanimous
7. spinks
The comedy robots were played by Mitchell and Webb (uncredited) who are well known comedians in the UK. Sometimes you have to remember that here its a very mainstream family show.
Natenanimous
8. Dr. Cox
correction: first sight of the dinosaurs

@2--Amy's one-liners, yes . . . "I'm Rory's Queen . . . don't tell Rory--I'd never hear the end of it" (or something like that--quoting or misquoting from memory).
Ryan Britt
9. ryancbritt
@5 Paul and @7 Spinks
I got the feeling those robots were some kind of famous English shout-out. Yeah, probably an American cutlure gap there on my part. (Would this be like when Penn and Teller were on that episode of Babylon 5 written by Neil Gaiman?)

@6 Dr. Cox: Yes! A Bradbury shout-out in Doctor Who! Or at least a White Album shout-out?Bungalow Bill kills a dinosaur? Maybe he could have been traveling with his mother to really drive it home.
Bridget McGovern
10. BMcGovern
tallgrass @2--Apologies to your 5-year-old self; I actually think Ryan had "Pteranodons" in his draft, but I changed it while I was editing. I put a little too much faith in the Doctor, apparently :)
Ryan Britt
11. ryancbritt
@4 Ron
Oh maybe you're right. I guess I like the idea of Brian being with the Doctor when he drops off the dinosaurs.
Ryan Britt
12. ryancbritt
@2 tallgrass.
You have shamed me with your knowledge of flying prehistoric reptiles!
Noneo Yourbusiness
13. Longtimefan
In my opinion, the Doctor can be very biased when it comes to other species interfering or threatening or harming his "Earthlings" and in their own way the Silurians are also "Earthlings" (don't tell them that).

It could make the doctor a bit vengeful if he found someone had killed for sport, especially if the ones killed were fascinating intellectuals.

Also, on a limb here, it is a way of lashing out at an individual who has killed which the Doctor can now see in himself and may want to excise by removing the individual who reminds him of the darkness he has done himself.

Not that the motivations were similar but that the actions were similar and within himself undesireable.

In destroying Solomon it is possible that the Doctor was trying to destroy the concept of a murderer which he does not like but knows that he has within himself.

blah blah blah, if that makes any sense. I am at work and my fancy word brain is at home.
Ryan Britt
14. ryancbritt
@10
Nope. I was wrong. I admit it. Bridget tried to take the fall for me on that one.
Ryan Britt
15. ryancbritt
@13
I like your take on this. However, I feel like that's a lot of work the audience has to do on their own. In "Waters of Mars" we really see why he goes nuts. Here, it seems sort of random.

Also, even though it's a crumby story, "The Doctor's Daughter" has a great scene where he points a gun at someone's head and DOESN'T kill the guy who just shot his daughter. Even though he wants to! Now, I know this is a different version of the Doctor, but still, that's more in keeping with the character I like and respect.
Natenanimous
16. Al-Pal
There are 2 reasons I can think of that the Doctor offed Filch

1: Filch killed the Silurians because they wouldn't make a bargain. He killed Tricie because he couldn't have her. He was going to kill Nefertiti for the same reason. He wasn't in the slightest redeemed, so the Doctor felt obligated to prevent further destruction.

2: Filch scanned the "known universe" for the Doctor's value. It came up unknown. Eventually, he would have asked the first question (Doctor "Who"?), and the events / actions taken at the end of the last series would be invalidated.
Ryan Britt
17. ryancbritt
@16
Your #2 is an interesting idea. Everyone who might say "Doctor who?" will now die!
Natenanimous
18. Alexonthemove
Did anyone else think it was strange that the scan didn't recognize the Doctor? Apparently wiping him fron the Dalek databases wiped him out everywhere else?
Craig Jarvis
19. hawkido
One of the points I took away from the show is that the doctor cannot bear the thought of watching Amy and Rory whither away. When the doctor staes to Amy that she will be there till the end of him (the Doctor), then Amy quips back "or you till the end of me" which kills the mood, and the Doctor gives Amy some unnoticed concerned looks after that... this is all foreshadowing the Doctor parting ways with the ponds. This is the message for the overarching story.
Lee Giorno
20. LGiorno
The two robots reminded me of the twin robots from Transformers 2, incredibly annoying and all I wanted to see was bad things happen to them right from the get go.

I'll chalk this one up to a cultural gap since it sounds from the forum here like they are famous comedians in the UK.

Either way, I hope this season gets more interesting, really quickly. "Asylum" was awesome but this episode seemed fragmented, and while I loved the guest star actors, as a whole I didn't really enjoy the episode.
Ryan Britt
21. ryancbritt
@19 I thought that was actually one of the nicer moments in this one. Good call.
Natenanimous
22. KatnCanada
Hhmm, I thought he did leave Solomon an out. He specifically told him that the beacon was what the missiles were locked on to. Had Solomon just jettisoned the beacon ...
As for the number of people in the episode, I thought that was explained when Amy asks him if he is trying to wean himself off of Ponds.
Sky Thibedeau
23. SkylarkThibedeau
I think my favorite line of the night was Amy's "I will not have Flirting companions!"
Sara H
24. LadyBelaine
My biggest gripe on this was historical - Queen Nefertiti, aside rom being historically beautiful, wasn't really this ballsy, mighty Queen of Egypt. She was the Queen Consort of Akhneten, the theological reformer who (tried to) converted all of Egypt to monotheism.

Thehistorical figure they wanted was Hatshepsut. That woman had stones.
Ashley Fox
25. A Fox
"Why the Doctor needed to round up a macho big game hunter and Nefertiti
to help save a giant space ark from crashing into Earth isn’t clear."

It was clear to me. He is lonely. Ths is reinforced by his sad face when Amy asks to be dropped off home rather than take the dinos back and by his sadder face peering over their shoulders at the earth view. Everyone thinks he's dead...even his oldest enemy has forgotten him.

I think he is struggleing to find a new place. This adventure being a bit over the top chaotic in an attemp to be his old self. But he is not. He has changed. He is pushing the ponds away most of the time, then suddenly drawing them in close. His morality is shifting, he is becoming harder.

This is why Im willing to let some of the negative aspecs you've mentioned go-if the series arc develops these themes/changes in the Doctor.

And where has River been, his wife? Amy mentions that River has told them some tidbits about the Doctor in the xmas special so it seems theyve spent some time with each other. How dose this affect his changes?

Becuase she represents his failure-the crux of his change. He could not save a baby from evil, he could not save the ponds from that pain. He didnt even truely win that battle-as he found out it was merely a skirmish and much darker times are on the horizon. The fields of melilor (or somesuch!).

I also think the watcher is supposed to note the Doctor doing murdery things that we dont expect by the contrast of Amy turning down a gun, becuase the Doctor doesnt roll that way, until she finds out its a stun gun.

We saw how shifty he got last series arranging his death-I think we are seeing him prep for this future-and deal with the emotional tumult of what has happened and what will happen. The other new Docors seem a bit innocent compared to all this knowing. Again River presenting the begining of this shift in the Library with Tennant-Who.

@5 you beat me too it! They're well known for Peep Show-definately worth checking out. Literal first person perspective and great humour. I disliked the robots-as intended. I liked to dislike them. Snigger.
Laura Southcott
26. tallgrass
@10 and 14 - Don't worry, most of my ire is reserved for the Doctor, who should indeed know better!
Natenanimous
27. Tiger Ninja
I'm kind of surprised that some people weren't familiar with Mitchell and Webb, as regular viewers of BBC America would have seen their recent series there and if not, certainly the numerous commercials for the show that BBC America used to play! ;P
Ryan Britt
28. ryancbritt
@27
I ussually watch a DVR-ed version of Doctor Who! I don't watch much live TV as it airs.
:-)
Natenanimous
29. sofrina
@15 - "The Doctor's Daughter" has a great scene where he points a gun at someone's head and DOESN'T kill the guy who just shot his daughter. Even though he wants to!

the doctor never uses guns. he always refuses them. the refusal to use a particular weapon is different from arranging a villains death. i agree the ending felt off for him, but what was the alternative? the missiles were locked and he wanted to save the ark. he could have taken solomon into custody, but then who would he turn the man over too? that giant eyeball from amy's first season?

the 10-month time lapse isn't really problem. the doctor doesn't experience time in a lineal sense. he moves around. it probably hasn't been 10 months to him. he just intercepted the ponds at a point in time when they are still young and know him well. i often wonder what history he disturbs popping in and out of people's lives like that - assuming he doesn't return them to the same day/time to carry on.

i liked the robots and filch took his walter frey routine to a new level. he is soooo creepy!
Ryan Britt
30. ryancbritt
@29
I agree in this situation, he didn't really havea choice. I just felt like it was written that way needlessly.
I like how everyone is calling him Filch!
Ryan Britt
31. ryancbritt
Is anyone opposed to calling Filch "Dazzler?" (If someone gets that reference, it will make my day.)
Natenanimous
32. srcasteel
Solomon's fate was sealed as soon as he had the triceratops killed. Could you not see the look in the Doctor's eyes? There is no way that death was going unpunished. The end is totally consistent with the way the story unfolded.
Ryan Britt
33. ryancbritt
@32
Did you not see the look in my eyes when the tricertops was killed? I'm writing Chris Chibnall a letter! :-)
All kidding aside, you make a fair point.
Natenanimous
34. Pendard
@Ryan -- The only question you raised that bothered me at all when I watched the episode was the Doctor letting Solomon die. But I figured this is something that will be brought up later. The Doctor has been traveling alone for awhile and, as we saw in "The Runaway Bride" and "The Waters of Mars," he has the tendancy to start playing God when that happens. Since there's a line in the trailer where Amy calls him on exactly that (which must be from one of the next three episodes before Amy's departure), I figured this incident might be part of a pattern of behavior leading up to that.

As for the Doctor having other companions, we know that about 200 years have passed for him between "A Good Man Goes to War" and now, during which he has only traveled with the Ponds on occasion. It would be pretty strange if he DIDN'T have some other companions. He seems to have decided to keep them in his lives, unlike his usual pattern of going away and never returning, and the episodes seem to follow his adventures with them. But a whole lot of time is passing between the adventures we're seeing, both for the Doctor and for Amy and Rory.
Craig Jarvis
35. hawkido
@ all
Did the Dr actually call them Pterodactyl's? I thought he only referred to them as "Not-Kestrels" It was Rory and his Dad that called them Pterodactyl's... Is it just me or is the P really unnecessary?
Natenanimous
36. Slybrarian
I honestly don't understand why people find it so out-of-character for the Doctor to kill Lord Frey - sorry, Solomon - that way. Indirectly killing people or tricking them into killing themselves is something the Doctor has done since day one. Solomon was dead from the moment he killed Tricie and was completely unrepetant about committing genocide just to make a few bucks.

I feel the same disconnect when people complain about him 'letting' River use a gun - it's an objection specific to Ten, not the Doctor overall, as he's quite freely gunned down people dozens of times over the series. There's an lengthy YouTube video of clips of him doing that.
Natenanimous
37. NormanM
I thought this episode was fantastic! After the interesting but over-played mythology building of last season, I've really liked the simple "lets have a bunch of fun cool stuff happen" episodes so far this season. I'm totally OK with taking a break from serious character and plot building. We need more episodes like this one, which was miles away better than the Black Spot episode.

And you are objectively wrong about the robots. It's Mitchell and Webb! Of course they were necessary! Don't you watch British comedy?

I've also enjoyed the sense that we're really only seeing *some* of the Doctor's exploits, not his entire life. He goes on adventures with people other than the current companions. He playfully explores random bits of time and space. He's the Doctor, he does that.
Bridget McGovern
38. BMcGovern
@hawkido #35 I had to go back and look :) The Doctor whispers, "What do we do about the things that aren't kestrels?", they all turn around, and Brian asks, " Are those pterodactyls?"--to which the Doctor immediately responds, "Yeeeesss. On any other occasion, I'd be thrilled!--exposed on a beach, less than thrilled." And then there is the running away, cue Mitchell and Webb-bots, etc.
Natenanimous
39. yenny
I thought this episode was mainly a fun romp, but there was some interesting dramatic irony in there, too.

Solomon was threatening to kill the Doctor in order to keep the dinosaurs and then Nefertiti, completely oblivious to the fact that the Doctor was without a doubt far more valuable than both.

(And doesn't it say something interesting about the Doctor's self-image that he called himself "worthless" instead of "priceless"?)

Solomon also insisted on having the Doctor heal his wounds when the one with the actual medical experience was Rory, the nurse ("doctor" does not equal "physician," although people often treat the word as if it does). I thought it was brilliant that Rory goes around buying medical supplies at all of the advanced and exotic places the Doctor takes him.

I looked up Nefertiti on wikipedia after the episode to learn more about her, and I'm guessing that part of why Chris Chibnal chose her is because she sort of vanished from the historical record--no one is quite sure what happened to her, apparently. That would tie into the end of the episode, where she stays with Lidell instead of returning to Egypt.
Ryan Britt
40. ryancbritt
@34
True! When he's alone, he starts getting a little werid/jerky. My issue here is that with the Tennant era, we saw and felt that change. Personally, right now, if that's what they're going for, I don't feel that. Matt Smith was at his zaniest in this one. Hardly dark, until the end. I suppose if backed against a wall, I would call this kind of dark move from the Doctor forced. In contrast, I found Tennant's ravings in "The Waters of Mars" totally earned by the writing and the performances.

On paper, I think I can't disagree with what you're saying. It just felt off to me.
Ryan Britt
41. ryancbritt
@37
I'm sorry I don't watch British comedy! I love Spaced! And the original (and only) The Office! Apparently there is more out there. Does Downton Abbey count as a comedy? :-)
Natenanimous
42. Puff the Magic Commenter
"Does Downton Abbey count as a comedy?"

Only Mary's love life.
Ashley Fox
43. A Fox
Im definately feeling the morose undertones o the Doctor that are building. To me his zainness felt forced. The gang and Amy's puzzlement. The way he rides the Tri...who then later dies as a response to the Doctors actions. His sad faces, moue. Amy joking that she may have the abrupt end. The issue of genocide raised again paralling the genocide of his species. And @yenny's "worthless" catch.

@ryancbritt. Try some of these :D :
Nathan Barley
Green Wing
Black Books
League of Gentlemen
Mighty Bosh
The IT Crowd
Campus
Peep Show
Father Ted
Brass Eye

oh have also heard good things about Big Train, and apparently laughed my arse off but that was a long time ago, and hazy...
Natenanimous
44. rashkae
This is definately a very stark shift in character for the Doctor. Certainly the Doctor is no stranger to killing, even genocide, himself. However, in all examples I can think off, this was always the result of the Doctor turning an attack back against the attacker in some contrived 'clever' way. Here, Solomon was begging for his life, and the Doctor needed only to let him leave his ship whith the others.. Perhaps there will be more made of this event in later episodes, but it feels to me as though such a monumental change in the characters persona deserves more attention than the quick ending here allowed.
marian moore
45. mariesdaughter
Awww, I liked this episode. I watched it twice and didn't even notice the robots' humor until the second viewing. They were amusing.

Because I came to the Doctor as an adult, I think that I am fine with the fact that he occasionally acts as a judge. I think that the genocide of the Silurians, who he also likes, was the final straw for him. Solomon had to go. And I enjoyed the quip that Solomon should know better than to mess with Egyptian queens. Humorous biblical allusions! Lovely.

After Akhneten died, Nefertiti possibly got rid of a rival and sought out another male equal-in-rank to serve as king so that she could remain in power. Some people think that the "king" who appears in the list after her disappearance is actually Nefertiti. The lady was no shrinking violet.

I also found it interesting that the Doctor had vanished from Solomon's database. Do they Daleks manage wikipedia in that universe?
Stephanie Padilla
46. DN10
@ryancbritt I feel like a lot of character development during the Moffat years has been unearned. Amy and Rory's divorce last episode, for one. Moffat could easily have begun setting it up last season, included some sort of tension between the Ponds, Amy mentioning being upset over no longer being able to have children, which she must have already been aware of, anything like that, but he didn't. The Ponds were perfectly happy and functional the last time we saw them, even agreeing to marry in an alternate timeline and being pretty domestic with River at the end of WORS.

And speaking of WORS, what about River Song claiming to love the Doctor more than anything in the universe and marrying him after exactly three fairly brief encounters? (I count as an infant in Good Man, as a child in Impossible Astronaut, and exactly once as an adult in Let's Kill Hitler. That's it. From "first date" during one meeting to wedding in the next.) And now the Doctor's sudden mercilessness because of too much time left alone...

It also bothered me that no one even called him on it, as Rose and Donna had both done in Dalek and Runaway Bride, which are the most similar moments I can think of.

That being said, I actually thought the episode was generally pretty fun...
Thomas Simeroth
47. a smart guy
Did no one notice the Doctor kissing Rory and then slapping him. The look on Rory's face was brilliant!
Emmet O'Brien
48. EmmetAOBrien
tallgrass@2: Three met dinosaurs in 1973.

This ep did feel a bit full and rushed; what really tickled me about it was all the 2001 references, and the little character bits fitting in around all the fuss and bother - that moment of Rory treating his father's wound did very well as feeling like a step forward in a long and realistically complex relationship.
Teresa Jusino
49. TeresaJusino
Thanks for picking up the slack for me this week, Ryan! :)

My biggest problem with the episode was that it wasted SO many things that, in any other context, could've been very cool. If you're going to use a character like Queen Nefertiti, you'd damn well better set the story in Ancient Egypt and make her integral to the plot. If you're going to have dinosaurs on a spaceship, you'd better make the dinosaurs the key to the whole resolution to the plot. If you're going to involve a species as well-known as the Silurians, you'd better do more than just have them die off-screen. I feel like all these things were brought in for the sole purpose of having dinosaurs on a spacehip - but Chibnall didn't think an actual story through. Dinosaurs on a spaceship isn't a story, it's a cool image. An actual plot still has to be written.

I DID love the inclusion of Rory's dad, however, and I hope that we get to see him again before the Ponds go.
Natenanimous
50. Sleeping Hedgehog
I think that Moffat's trying to stress that we know very little about The Doctor as we only see him in the brief periods of his existence that he interacts with humanity. Killing Solomon made perfect sense to me as there was no other way to stop him from wiping out another species if he thought it needed.

And he's certainly had far more travelers in the Tardis than we've seen.
Alan Brown
51. AlanBrown
This had the feel of A Good Man Goes To War, with a cool ad hoc team being assembled, but without the central purpose of saving Amy and the baby to build an emotionally strong plot around. But who needs plots when you have dinosaurs? I liked it very much, there were so many good moments as it raced from beginning the end. I thought Solomon's end was a bit callous, but he asked for it when he had his robots murder triceratops.
Natenanimous
52. Teddard Snark
@Slybrarian #36.
... for the Doctor to kill Lord Frey ...

Heh.
Antoni Ivanov
53. tonka
The Doctor does not kill if he can avoid it. Once the previous doctor (David Tennant) was even ready to defend the Daleks of all things. He may imprison you in a dwarf star for all eternity but he won't kill you.

But this is the second episode in a row he is directly responsible for the death of another sentient being (or beings - in the last episode the Daleks were understandable, he is never much reasonable around them, though I think he was ready to leave Oswin behind even before he knew she was a Dalek, but that might be only me, and it's just a feeling I got).

He didn't have to kill Solomon, he could have imprison him himself or sent him to the prison River Song is (Solomon would not be as resourceful as her) or turn him over to the Indians, or something else very doctory smart. Yet he kills.

I don't know the Doctor before the Time War. Maybe that Doctor was trigger happy and now that much time has passed he is reverting to old habits. But it might be something else, Moffat and team might be doing it on purpose and something is wrong.
Dale Norman
54. dokipen
I was going to comment on why Nefertiti & Riddel were there but Natenanimous @ 1 summed up my feelings exactly.
Natenanimous
55. beerofthedark
Enjoyed the episode a lot and I second the list of comedies @43.
I do think the Doctor's ruthlessness is being set up here for something in the future. I don't think it's unearned, I think the writing is showing it to us here for a denouement later on. Nobody called him on it (unlike in Dalek for instance) because nobody else saw him do it, and in all the confusion nobody asked what became of Solomon. I am certain this is leading somewhere, and I am looking forward to finding out where.
Steven Halter
56. stevenhalter
So, it seems like the timeline of these two episodes Pondwise is before last season's timeline. Does this seem true to anyone else?
If that is true, then Amy and Rory don't know about River's origin. In the preview for next week, I noticed that the Doctor is wearing a stetson hat. Could that be the hat he wears at the start of the "The Impossible Adtronaut"?
alastair chadwin
57. a-j
The Doctor has frequently killed/caused the death of his enemies. I recently watched the Patrick Troughton story The Invasion in which he happily colludes in a missile attack on a cyber fleet and personally kills a cyberman. And does no-one remember Cassandra from The End of The World (second episode of nu-Who)? Despite Rose begging him, he refused to save her life. The fact that she actually survived is irrelevant as he was unaware of that until later.

I loved this episode. Nu-Who has a tendency to be overly solemn (confusing it with seriousness) and I enjoyed the sheer brio of this episode with its cheerful 'let's throw this in and see what happens' mood.

I assumed the Riddell/Nefertiti characters were a nod to H Rider Haggard (King Solomon's Mines et al) with his mix of big game hunters and Egyptian mysticism.

Comments on the UK newspaper The Guardian have noted the several shots seen through the computer consols and have wondered whether Oswin has planted her consciousness into the universe's computers and is continuing to wipe all references to the Doctor. That would certainly fit with Moffat's apparant intention to return the series to its original thesis of the anonymous traveller through time and space.
Ashley Fox
58. A Fox
@Shalter...Ive been trying to puzzle out the timeline...it just doesnt quite sit right...Does anyone know if one is hidden on the internet somewhere?

During Amy and Rory's reconcilliation she brings up not being able to have children...becuase of what eyepatchlady did to her. So Im not convinced that this is pre last season.

That doesnt necessarily mean that its not pre last seaso finale though. After she has had River taken as baby, while the search is going on. Is this accounting for that odd 2 1/2 years i entioned earlier?

Ponds post baby, Doctor from the current point in timeline....is next weeks adventure pre or post Day of the Moon (stetson catch)?

It would lend a greater gravitas to his look when Amy quips she may go first..he is, at this point, anticipating his death.

Did the Doctor spend 2 years looking for baby River and spending time with grown River? I suppose that means that he may not yet know about the Feilds of Melilor (or whatever it bloody is, keep think im conflating it with WoT!!)...may not actually be married to River yet?

Timey-freakin-whimey!

EDIT. Oh Oh! In Day of The Moon, or around there, doesnt Amy ask what hes been up to, or someone, and he replies having adeventures, before he 'dies'? Adventures like this ep? Oh gosh i feel as if i need to rewatch last series....
Steven Halter
59. stevenhalter
A Fox@58:You are right that they mentioned eyepatchlady, so it can't be at "The Impossible Astronaut" (self head slap to me) , but it could be in that interim period.
It seems like it almost has to be before they find out that River is theirs or else there would not be as large a reason for Amy to be upset about not being able to "provide" children as she already did (River).
I dnon't recall if the Ponds were in the previews for next week in which we see a stetson. If they aren't, it could be a different part of the timeline yet. That would be sneaky to have a multiply interwoven timeline going back and forth to different parts of last year.
Ursula L
60. Ursula
I thought the large cast of companions worked well because they quickly split the group into two, the Doctor with Rory and Brian as his companions, and Amy in a quasi-Doctor role with Nefertiti and Riddell. This let the gang explore a complex problem coming at it from two directions.

***

As for the Doctor leaving Solomon to die, part of his decisionmaking may have been that Solomon was very clear in his intent to continue to do harm. And Solomon also seems to have been operating in a way that kept his actions outside the legal jurisdiction of any governments that might object.

The Doctor also can't approach the governments of the sorts of galactic and time-traveling cultures which would be able to handle Solomon, since the Doctor is busy playing dead, and those are the sorts of governments he most needs to hide from. River is in the Stormcage for murdering the Doctor, and agrees to stay there in order to maintain his cover. He can't very well show up and ask them to keep Solomon without blowing that cover and wasting River's sacrifice.

Solomon was a slave trader and slave owner. He knew he had a market where he could sell Nefertiti for a significant amount. Which means he's in a culture where slavery is legal and accepted. He also made it clear that he intended to rape Nefertiti. Which, in a culture that has slavery, would not be seen as a crime or even a wrong act, since she was his slave. Likewise with killing the Silurians - they were his captives, which made them his slaves, and he has the legal right to dispose of his property as he sees fit.

If Solomon had merely killed in the past, the Doctor might see some hope of redemption. But Solomon wasn't merely a killer, he was a slave owner and trader. Which makes him also someone who kidnaps, wrongly imprisons, assaults, tortures, rapes and maims other people for his personal profit. And it's all legal in the place he calls home.
Ashley Fox
61. A Fox
Ok. Last season was roughl linear, excepting 200year old Doctor in "The Impossible Astraunaut".

Up to "Closing Time" Where Old Dr appears again from there on.

S6. Eps 1-11 Dr linear timeline.

200 years pass

Ep.12 Closing Time
Ep.13 The Wedding of River Song
Partial Ep. 1 The Impossible Astraunaut.*

In ep. 1 of this series the Darleks ask "Doctor Who?" and he just seems impressed that Oswin hacked them successessfully. He doesnt seem that worried. Yet at the end of The Wedding of River Song he is told the asking of that question is why the silence wanted him dead. So I would argue that places Asyum of the Darleks before this. I would also argue that the feel of this Ep, Dinosaurs on a Spaceship as the feel of one last grand adventure. And Amy and Rory are in nexts weeks ep...perhaps the Dr intended to take them to Utah but buggered up the timing? Or perhaps Sexy knew he wasnt quite ready yet.

So heres my proposed Doctor timeline.

S6, Eps 1-11
s7 1, Asylum of the Darleks
s7 2 Dinosaurs on a Spaceship
s7 3 A Town called mercy
s6 12 Closing Time
s6 13 The Wedding of River Song
s6 1 The Impossible Astraunaut

* Obv this little bit takes place during the wedding of River Song but Ive just put it after for convienence...and it is the latter half of the ep)

We also have The Power of Three and Angels take Manhatten to contend with yet, which many have guessed will fill in some of River's missing years....perhaps they will fill in some of the Doctors.

Why didnt the Silence target Oswin? If she hadnt have become a Darlek etc etc the question would not have been asked. I believe that Christmas special onwards will deal with the Doctor figuring out why the Q is important, the consequences etc. Perhaps making her a companion is his way of preventing it? Could be some interesting parralels with Melodys abduction by the Silence to prevent it, and the Doctor taking her as a companion to work his angle on the problem...OK descending far into spec now.

Anyone have any ammendments/ideas on above timeline? Im not sure where The Doctor, The Widow, and The Wardrobe fits into the Doctors timeline.
Ursula L
62. Ursula
As far as the timing of this episode, from Amy and Rory's perspective, I'm pretty sure it is after everything in season 6. Rory says he's 31. And he and Amy seem to be the same age. They're simply too old to be the couple we saw at the end of "The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe" for whom it had been two years since the Doctor dropped them off at their new home, and River had already told them that the Doctor survived.
Ashley Fox
63. A Fox
I think New Who pretty much opens from the perspective of the Companion, and that the viewer, through the companion, views events linear to them. Earth perspective. The link to the Doctor and his travels through time and space.

Old Who may have done this too, I dont know! Was too young and have not rewatched :)
Ashley Fox
64. A Fox
Oh mad thought...Since we knew how big a part River would (has) played there has been discussion about whether she will truely die. Tennant Doctor saved her into a computer.

Owin is a hacking genius who may also now be in a 'computer'.....
Joseph Kingsmill
65. JFKingsmill16
It seems that with each passing episode there is more and more action and less and less plot. There seems to be more running than dialog.
Alan Brown
66. AlanBrown
What would Who be without running? Allons y!
Christopher Hatton
67. Xopher
I had absolutely no problem with the killing of Solomon. He slaughtered all those Silurians! I knew from that moment he wouldn't survive the episode. Didn't really seem out of character for the Doctor either, frankly. He transfered the certain death Solomon had brought on the ship back to Solomon.

Btw, there's no reason the Doctor couldn't go back to the appropriate time and place and scoop up the Silurians with an "air corridor." (Solomon said he "must have" left a trail of bones and dust, so he didn't really watch.) They'd certainly all fit in the TARDIS, and he could put them back on the ship after its on its way.

The robots were eye-rollingly boring. I don't think they'd be any funnier as humans, either. I said funnier things when I was in 8th grade.

LadyBelaine 24: Yep, it was Akhenaten (aka the Worst Pharaoh Ever, whose people called him "that criminal"), not Amenhotep as she says in the episode. Akhenaten insisted on realistic portrayals of himself and his family, rather than the stylized ones that had been the rule; the fact that Nefertiti was his wife is the only reason we know she was actually beautiful (unlike her husband, a very unprepossessing figure indeed).

Calling Akhenaten a "theological reformer" is like calling Hitler an "innovative genetic theoretician." Akhenaten simply ordered all the temples except those to the Aten closed, and forbade any worship of the other gods. If you're a true believer in the gods and what they govern, that's the same as saying "let the rivers dry up, the crops die, and all our children perish." They hated him, and he richly deserved their hatred.

Hatshepsut was the only woman Pharaoh. She wore the ceremonial beard though, so maybe she wouldn't have been such a good choice. Cleopatra has been mentioned too many times on the series, though no one working on the series seems to know that there were seven of them (the famous one was Cleopatra VII).

hawkido 35: It's just you. It's the same 'pter' as in 'helicopter' ("spiral wing").

yenny 39: Interesting point about Nefertiti. Of course, as soon as the Egyptians got shut of the monstrous Akhenaten (even his nephew and heir Tutankhaten changed his name to Tutankhamun) they tried to forget he ever existed. I wouldn't be surprised if the real Nefertiti ended her days in hiding, in a dungeon somewhere, or just being summarily executed.
Christopher Hatton
68. Xopher
Wow, discussions here sure peter out quickly. :-(
Natenanimous
70. Just Daniel
I liked the episode. It had kind of a " road trip " vibe to it, several companions & acquaintances of The Doctor gathered together for a Grand Adventure, even if some of them ( like Nefertiti ) were there just for novelty value.

Except for the ( implied, but I'm sure there was no way he could've escaped his ship getting blasted by a missile ) death of Solomon, an unrepentant, irredeemable excuse for a human being who had no qualms about killing or claiming / enslaving anyone or anything who opposed him, this episode was mostly a bit of relatively light - hearted fun after the " Asylum " episode which was very dark & rather sad - Considering that poor Oswin was a Dalek who had managed to keep a grip on a few remnants of humanity, & then gets very likely vaporized when the Asylum gets destroyed / cleansed - perhaps it was time for some light, satirical adventure.

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