This Week in the Mercury


Monday, September 10, 2012

Doctor Who Recap: Dinosaurs! On a Spaceship!

Posted by Erik Henriksen on Mon, Sep 10, 2012 at 11:29 AM

DINOSAURS ON A SPACESHIP From left to right: triceratops, Rory, the Doctor, annoying robot, Ron Weasleys dad
  • DINOSAURS ON A SPACESHIP Triceratops. Rory. The Doctor. Obnoxious robot. Ron Weasley's dad!

Welcome to our first-ever, supposedly-weekly Doctor Who recap post/bullshit session, which is a thing I made up in order to trick the Mercury into paying for my Doctor Who season pass on iTunes. I'm Erik Henriksen, senior editor at the Mercury, and I'm joined by Bobby Roberts, the Mercury's calendar editor. Every Monday we'll talk about the previous weekend's episode of Doctor Who, and all of our opinions will be 100 percent correct, even if they conflict with one other. Or conflict with yours. Speaking of which, if you've got thoughts of your own regarding the Doctor, Amy, Rory, or friendly ceratopsids, put 'em in the comments. Geronimo, etc.

ERIK: This weekend's Doctor Who felt like it was written with the help of a Mad Libs book: Dinosaurs! Spaceship! Queen Nefertiti! Robots! Ron Weasley's dad! Argus Filch! That one guy from Sherlock! Amy Pond with a gun! Crashing spaceship! Indian space command! A triceratops who acts like a golden retriever! The daring Doctor making jokes but then poignantly revealing his unexpectedly melancholy interior! Wait. That last one happens every episode. Still: I kind of thought this one was great?

BOBBY: It was pretty great. Something called Dinosaurs on a Spaceship probably should feel like an old-school, Tom Baker-era episode of Doctor Who, except on a massive sugar high. I'll admit, as one of those fans who pays close attention to the writing credits so as to make a pre-emptive judgment about the quality of the episode, seeing Chris Chibnall's (Torchwood) name on the credits had me wary: He's written a lot of not-good stuff. He also apparently has a "pterodactyl" key on his laptop. But damned if he didn't churn out one of the most fun/funny episodes of recent years.

ERIK: First, I would like to have a "pterodactyl" key on my keyboard as well. SECOND. I'll admit it wasn't the best-written or most profound Doctor Who, and I'll admit that it wasn't as good as last week's season opener, "Asylum of the Daleks," which I thought pretty much nailed everything I like about Doctor Who. But it did continue the trend started by "Daleks," which is that this season seems a lot more focused on self-contained episodes that do a lot in their runtime versus last season's arc-based episodes that frequently felt like they hadn't done enough. If last year's arc had been more satisfying, I think I'd feel differently, but mostly it just seemed to take away from the anything-goes, witty, wildly imaginative, sometimes creepy pulp stuff that I think Doctor Who does so well. I might not have been terribly invested in the emotional stakes of "Dinosaurs on a Spaceship," but then, it's called "Dinosaurs on a Spaceship," and there were certainly dinosaurs on a spaceship, and that was about as fun as one could imagine it being, and the second I complain about anything that has dinosaurs on a spaceship (and Amy Pond shooting velociraptors) you can rest assured I've probably given up on finding any sort of happiness in life.

BOBBY: I think I liked it better than "Asylum," myself. "Asylum" didn't do Amy Pond's character any favors. For example: "I divorced you because I know you wanted a kid but I cant have a kid so instead of sitting down and talking about it I just kicked you out after years of essentially treating you like a second tier co-star in my life and then threw my 'sacrifice' in your face after you dared to mention you'd waited 2,000 years outside of a box for me."

But in this episode, she's back to Series 5 levels of cleverness, adorableness, resourcefulness, and ass-kickery; levels mirrored by Rory, and surpassed by Rory's dad, who in a throwaway moment that made me burst out into incredulous laughter, slaps a pterodactyl in the face with a garden trowel, before himself bursting into incredulous laughter at finding himself flying a spaceship full of dinosaurs. The entire episode is structured like the preceding, pretzeled-up sentence: It's deliriously ridiculous.

ERIK: I have complete faith the comment thread will soon be full of people telling us how wrong we are and how much better David Tennant is and how velociraptors don't even look like that and why didn't the Doctor use his sonic screwdriver on the robots and etc. So that should be fun. LET'S DO THIS, NERDS.

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