After the first episode of the new season being so serious, it was a given that the next episode of Doctor Who, ‘Dinosaurs on a Spaceship’, would be just as campy as its name suggests. It delivered this camp is abundance and, although it was silly and ridiculous, it still managed to convey quite a bit of serious information about character development and keep a slight dark undertone to the episode.
The basics of the story were that there is an unknown spaceship hurtling toward a future version of Earth. The Doctor is called in and must stop it before Earth launches missiles to destroy it. He grabs up Amy, Rory, Rory’s dad (quite by accident), Queen Nefertiti and a big game hunter whose name I can’t remember right now. The Doctor and his “gang” head off and try to solve the mystery of the ship, only to discover there are dinosaurs on board - hence the name. But with no crew to be found, what the heck is a giant ship filled with dinosaurs doing hurtling toward Earth?
Warning! Mad spoilers ahead!
The folks that put together this episode went head-long straight into the camp, completely self-indulgent and non-apologetic. As one who generally shies away from the campier episodes of Doctor Who, I found myself pleasantly surprise with this one. If I had to describe it, I would say take Douglas Adams, have him write an episode of Scooby Doo, and then transpose it all to the Doctor Who world. To give an example, there’s a point where The Doctor, Rory and Rory’s dad are riding a dinosaur while running from a pair of robots with self-esteem issues and a penchant for violence.
Despite the camp, there are some serious issues within the story. The bad guy is bad, for one. Also, there’s a point where Amy ends up leading half of The Doctor’s “gang” and pretty much takes on the persona of The Doctor while doing it. As far as I can remember, this is the first time a companion has ever graduated to the level of being in control while riding with The Doctor.
In contrast, Rory’s dad displays a sense of wonder that only a first-time traveler with The Doctor can have. This demonstrated amazingly in a few scenes, namely when he and Rory are flying the spaceship and later, when he’s sitting on the edge of the T.A.R.D.I.S. and looking out over the planet Earth. It’s at this point the viewer realizes just how crazy life with The Doctor really is and, at the same time, how utterly amazing it would be to travel with him.
I have to say, if the season continues like this there will be no turning back. Every season from here until the end of time will measure up to this one and probably only a handful will ever pull off anything so wonderful. Kudos to Steven Moffat and the entire Doctor Who crew for kicking so much butt this time around.