With only four episodes of “Doctor Who” left before the Ponds exit the series, executive producer Steven Moffat has promised every installment will feel like a mini-movie, and “Dinosaurs on a Spaceship” certainly delivered on that level. There were dinosaurs… on a spaceship. And the Doctor was trying something new: a gang.
It wasn’t just Rory and Amy joining him on this adventure, it was also Rory’s dad Brian (a perfectly cast Mark Williams, a.k.a. Mr. Weasley from the “Harry Potter” movies), the early 1900’s hunter Riddell (Rupert Graves) and famed Egyptian Queen Nefertiti (Riann Steele) — who all had important roles to play. And there was a memorable villain in the form of Solomon (David Bradley, also a familiar “Potter” face), a ruthless space pirate who exterminated the Silurians captaining the space ark that housed the dinosaurs.
Even with references to genocide, “Dinosaurs” was one of the more kid-friendly outings the series has produced in awhile, and a reminder that there’s a reason “Doctor Who” remains mainstream family entertainment in the U.K. (beyond its still expanding cult following in the U.S.). From the thrills of a pterodactyl attack to the giddy joy of riding a triceratops, the episode mined its unusual dinosaur concept for more fun than scares and the result was a consistently rousing hour. It may have skewed a little “Star Wars” prequel-y in banter between Solomon’s robots (voiced by British comedians David Mitchell and Robert Webb of “Peep Show”), but otherwise writer Chris Chibnall (who also wrote the recent “Pond Life” minisodes) kept the dialogue sharp and funny, just the way Whovians like it.
There was no surprise on the level of last week’s reveal of future companion Jenna-Louise Coleman, but there were moving hints of the Ponds’ imminent exit. “You’ll be there till the end of me,” the Doctor told Amy. “Or vice versa,” she responded, freaking them both out a bit.
There’s always a cloud of anxiety hanging over the show whenever a cast member is about to depart (think back to Billie Piper‘s Rose or the specials building up to David Tennant‘s grand finale as the 10th Doctor), but it’s mixed with the glee the Doctor and his companion(s) always have in their adventures. Like them, we don’t want it to end, but we know to enjoy it while it lasts.
What did you think of “Dinosaurs on a Spaceship”?