After a lackluster start to this new series, I had hopes that the second episode, Dinosaurs on a Spaceship would be better, and it was to some extend. It had some good scenes, but it didn’t have the feel of a good Doctor Who episode.
Rory and Amy have at least stopped being stupid and are back to being happily married. We get to meet a member of Rory’s family this time, as his father Brian gets sucked up into the TARDIS with them. He never gets to utter the line all new companions get say. You know which one I mean. He does take the whole thing in stride, and like Rory objects to be referred to as Mr. Pond. Other new companions for this story include Queen Nefertiti of Ancient Egypt and British big game hunter John Riddell, both of whom are familiar with the Doctor. All six explore a space ship that is headed on a collision course with Earth in 2367 AD. They find dinosaurs and an exotic black market trader Solomon and his two robots.
Seeing the dinosaurs roaming the spaceship was cool, but then, when aren’t dinosaurs cool? Even the Doctor can’t resist the huge reptiles. While the triceratops being tame was kind of obvious, it was cute to see him playing fetch with Brian, and funny when the Doctor, Rory and Brian try to ride it like a horse, and the triceratops not moving as fast as they wanted at first. I also enjoyed seeing Amy finally pick up some things from the Doctor and started pressing buttons that identified the ship as being Silurian, but none being on board. This is also one of the few times that I’m glad the Doctor showed Solomon no mercy. That person didn’t deserve any after what he and his robots did to the Silurian crew, and got exactly what he deserved. The post card at the end of Siluria was also cute.
This episode again featured the “Doctor Who?” theme, as Solomon’s universal database didn’t recognize him, but did Nefertiti. The Doctor’s smile at the lack of recognition makes me think he knows something. It was a kind of surprise though, after watching for so long the Doctor being recognized, or just Time Lords in general. This time neither happened, which does make one wonder about the fate of Time Lords in history in general.
While I didn’t dislike Dinosaurs on a Spaceship, I wasn’t wowed by it either. It was entertaining, but in a ‘meh’ kind of way. The darker elements did keep this from being a fun romp with dinosaurs in space. The whole “needing two people from the same family” made Brian’s inclusion rather convenient, though not surprising. There had to be a reason to have him there. The flirting/bickering between Nefertiti and John Riddell was also obvious in where it was going, but again wasn’t unpleasant to see. The story just felt a little too pat, a little too formulaic for me.
While I liked this episode more than Asylum of the Daleks, it still isn’t an “Eleventh Hour” or “The Beast Below” that wowed me out of the gate back in Series 5. I’m still waiting for that episode where the Doctor is excited to be traveling again. So far, these first two episodes have made it feel like he’s forcing himself, and that isn’t the Doctor I know and love.