Monday, 10 September 2012

A review of "Dinosaurs on a Spaceship" by @zeiton_7

When the title for Episode 2 was announced I didn't like it. At all. I was worried that it was going to a shocking episode that would just amount to an excuse to put CGI dinosaurs into a Doctor Who story. However, like all Doctor Who fans, I was willing to admit if I was wrong and say so very clearly when I came to write this review. As the time to sit down and watch "Dinosaurs" crept nearer and nearer my feelings of unease mounted. Not helped by the clips and dubious first scene "spoiler" either I might add. Why must every female (with the exception of Donna) want to get into The Doctors pants. Its getting boring!

"Asylum" last week may have set the bar impossibly high, was my thought. Historically, almost every Doctor Who season has at least one real shocking episode in it (I really didn't enjoy "The God Complex" last year and the less said about "Fear Her" the better) So it was with much trepidation that I sat down to watch "Dinosaurs on a Spaceship" praying that I'd be proved wrong, indeed, hoping that I would be writing a different review.

Now is the time for all of you who haven't seen the episode to stop reading as I will now give my honest review of what I have just viewed.

This is what I feel sums up what I have just sat through.

A Huge pile of Dino Poop Courtesy of Jurassic Park
It was awful, absolutely pathetic and the worst Doctor Who story since "Fear Her". Incidentally, when you encounter a space ship full of rampaging dinosaurs you to expect, occasionally, to come across some droppings! There were none! If only this was the only thing wrong with "Dinosaurs on a Spaceship" I wouldn't have been quite so upset.

Before I let rip I will mention what was good about the episode! Firstly, Matt's performance was, as always, excellent. The perfect mix of giddy school boy and deep dark brooding Time Lord that we saw last week. The moment where he effectively kills Solomon (played by the excellent David Bradley) was chilling and shows that the darker more dangerous Doctor we saw last week is still very much there. In fact, its fair to say that the entire cast (from the ever dependable Karen and Arthur to Rupert Graves) were brilliant. The script is, on the whole, well written and delivered with the right amount of humour versus seriousness we expect from Doctor Who. The dinosaurs themselves are ok, rendered very well through a mixture of CGI and animatronics but we've seen it all before with Jurassic Park.

The script isn't the problem though, the problem is the poor, almost non existent, excuse for a plot. I had long suspected that, as I mentioned, earlier this was a case of "Hey guys, you know what would look great? Lets put some dinosaurs on a crashing spaceship and get The Doctor to save everyone". This is what you get! Moffat has done this before to us. "Lets Kill Hitler"? More like "Lets Get Hitler Into The Title To Grab Everyone And Then Shove Him In A Cupboard". For all we know he's still in the blessed thing!

The plot, if you're still interested, is that The Silurians, aware that the Earth faces certain destruction, around the time of the dinosaurs, decide to build an ark (so there was a Noah Silurian then?) and save the dinosaurs from destruction. Hence them being on the spaceship! It's terrible, lazy writing at its very worst because it raises more questions than it answers. Why hasn't this been mentioned in ANY of The Doctors previous encounters with The Silurians? Why only certain types of dinosaurs? What about other animals? Why save them anyway? You see what I mean?

Unfortunately The Silurians plan is ruined by a naughty rogue bounty hunter who steals the ship and chucks the Silurians out of the airlock (how many cliched Sci Fi made for tv movies did THAT borrow from?) The trouble is he cant pilot the ship as Silurian ships are a kind of spaceship built for two and only two people with identical dna can change its course. So The Doctor has to find away, in 50 minutes mind you, to avoid the dinos, two really camp robots AND aforementioned bounty hunter to try and save the ship from the missiles that being launched at the ship  before it crashes back to Earth.


I have a massive problem with Doctor Who episodes that are written as a vehicle for any villain or monster. You cannot simply plonk a load of dinosaurs into an episode without a very, very good reason why they should be there. I suspect that this horrendous episode was an excuse just to have a story called "Dinosaurs on a Spaceship"

The other problem of course, is that The Doctor has encountered dinosaurs before. Back in the 1970's Jon Pertwee's Third Doctor encountered a variety of them in the story "Invasion of the Dinosaurs" Why is that a problem for "Dinosaurs on a Spaceship"? Because it was done 10 times better! Yes the dinosaurs didn't look real. Yes, clearly the T-Rex was pushed into shot on wheels and then wheeled off again and yes, the pterodactyl was clearly on a wire. But it had a decent, engaging plot. There was a reason why they were there and it was believable. I would far rather have slightly iffy looking dinosaurs and a strong, involving plot than what I have just endured!

Now I'm sure some of you reading this will accuse me of "Moffat bashing" or not having a sense of fun. "Come on" you may be saying "This is Doctor Who, just go with it". For the record, I think Moffat has written some of the  best stories over the last few years and no once can deny his passion for Doctor Who. He is the right person to be helming the show moving into its pivotal and celebratory 50th year. So, no, I'm not Moffat bashing. To be fair, most of the blame has to be given to Chris Chibnall for writing such drivel. It is a huge surprise to me that someone who has written so successfully for Torchwood could drop the ball so badly and so obviously with this story. But some blame has to levelled at Moffat. As show runner he has ultimate say and responsibility for sanctioning scripts. This should have never made it to screen!

Secondly, I love fun Doctor Who episodes. It doesn't all have to be doom and gloom. I give City of Death as a great example. Its one of the funniest Doctor Who episodes I have ever seen. Its even got John Cleese in it! But it still has a plot, a good one. Just because Doctor Who is Sci Fi and a certain amount of "suspension of disbelief" has to be given does not mean that it shouldn't make sense. Tonight as a Doctor Who fan I feel short changed. To be honest I haven't felt like this in a long time.

Fortunately, the remainder of the series looks strong so one can only hope this is the sole "stinker" of the run. Fingers crossed anyway!

I did still like the title sequence though!

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