Written by Chris Chibnall
Directed by Saul Metzstein
Airs: Sept 8 (UK & North America), Sept 15 (Aus), Sep 20 (NZ)
There’s a balls gag in this episode. But, thankfully, the kids will be so busy and happy with all the dinosaur action that they won’t notice the rather naughty one~liner. And, it should be noted, that this episode from the writer of Cold Blood/The Hungry Earth and 42, contains a lot of laughs. A lot. And it also contains some comedians, but more of this later.
After the very familiar style of the Moffat~esque opening (The Doctor whizzing through different time zones, places and people), the new Team TARDIS, or “gang” as he calls them, find themselves on a spaceship hurtling towards Earth (who are about to fire some missiles at it) with some dinosaurs. Firstly, the dinosaurs are beautifully realised – the CG and practical effects are handled expertly. Given the interaction between the cast and the creatures is so extensive, it’s a real credit to The Mill for producing such high quality goods (again!). The dinosaurs will not disappoint. #rawr
But gang? Who’s in this gang now? In the aforementioned opening, The Doctor takes his new “friend”, Queen Nefertiti (an actual Egyptian Queen history fans – go on look her up! I’ll still be here when you get back.), to her future (and ours) to discover the unfolding events. Popping back, the Time Lord picks up Riddell, a big game hunter with some rather interesting views on gender issues, and then hops forward to surprise Amy and Rory. But the surprise is on The Doctor as he also encounters Brian Williams (pictured right), father of Mr Pond.
And that’s the gang! However, they don’t spend much time as a unit before they split up; father and son accidentally end up with everyone’s favourite Gallifreyan separated from Amy, who’s acting as The Doctor to flirting couple Effy and Riddell, much to her disgust. The guest cast do a terrific job with Mark Williams (as namesake Brian) shining as a sympathetic and everyman kinda bloke; he instantly nails it. Rupert Graves performs his posh bloke routine stoutly whilst Riann Steele makes for a delightfully strong and sexy Queen Nefertiti.
On the “other” side of the cast, as it were, is David Bradley, who plays a pirate, of sorts. He has hijacked the ship, which formally belonged to another well~known species (spoilers) for its cargo of titular dinosaurs. The Harry Potter actor portrays him subtly, with a creeping malevolence and delivers one of the most unsavoury lines in the history of Doctor Who (a line that I have to say, is really quite shocking and distasteful in the extreme).
And then there’s the robots. Step up, David “Doctor Who is a children’s programme” Mitchell and Robert “The Other One” Webb who provide the voices of the large automatons present on board. It’s very much in the vein of their onscreen personas, just a bit more camp and R2~D2/Threepioy. The laughs are plentiful though their banter does get a tad puerile.
Speaking of humour, there’s plenty abound throughout Dinosaurs but due to the rather weightier last third, the comedy is at odds with the drama. And things do get much more serious in tone in the closing moments leading The Doctor to do something that, personally, I have a bit of an issue with. It may turn out to be part of an ongoing theme, but I have strong reservations about what is being done with the Time Lord’s character on this occasion.
Writer Chris Chibnall has delivered a highly entertaining script, packed full proper belly~laughs, the odd surprise whilst also beautifully introducing Brian Pond. I mean, Williams. I do feel, however, that the wonderfully rompy nature of the story should have been maintained throughout rather than shifting gears so dramatically for the denouement where the more two~dimensional characters such as Riddell, Nefertiti and the robots look out of place. Regardless of my own thoughts, I’m sure Dinosaurs On A Spaceship will delight young and old in true Bank Holiday blockbuster style.
Dinosaurs On A Spaceship synopsis & promo pics
Karen Gillan on The One Show
Asylum of the Daleks even more promo pics
Dinosaurs On A Spaceship – Next Time trailer
Asylum of the Daleks audio commentary