A roundup of selected quotes from the media for the premiere of Dinosaurs on a Spacesship last night – links to the full review can be found via the author’s name. You can also read our own reviews here and here.
Please note that as these are reviews, spoilers may be present within the text!
As the story drew to a close, the Doctor effectively acted as Solomon’s executioner, ensuring he was on his spaceship when it was sent to its fate as a diversion for incoming missiles. This showed a harsher side to the Time Lord’s character; yes it is not the first time he has knowingly been responsible for someone’s death and Solomon was probably getting his just desserts, but given the Doctor’s ethical stance, such instances can sit uneasily within the viewers. While it had its moments, Dinosaurs on a Spaceship veered firmly towards the sillier end of the programme’s spectrum; and while it showed that the programme can go to places that no other TV show can, it was ultimately a bit of a mess.
Well, that was fun, wasn’t it? The only way this could have been more of a riot is if Samuel L Jackson had turned up. Fandom will probably hate Dinosaurs on a Spaceship. Yes, it was flimsy and, yes, it was pretty much a story built around a title. The producers have admitted as much. But second episodes are supposed to be fun – and you only have to think back to The Curse of the Black Spot to realise that this is the finest episode two from Doctor Who in some time.
This week was a more childish and fun episode before things start getting dark and heavy again, there’s only so dark and depressing that Doctor Who can get before it becomes off-putting. For those who may be disappointed by this week, there will be far more darkness to come and Dinosaurs on a Spaceship was gentle respite from the impending tragedy that is to befall the Ponds.
This was fun. Big fun. Slight and fluffy and silly, with the occasional creaky bit of plotting (how handy the Doctor accidentally brings Rory’s dad along for the ride when the spaceship needs two pilots from the same gene pool) but enormously entertaining. Tonally, it’s spot on, with director Saul Metzstein showing an assured control over the material. Sensibly, with ideas so broad and outrageous he reins in the performances. Only the robots (voiced by comedy duo Mitchell and Webb) are deliberately played for laughs, and even then it’s a kind of Douglas Adams humour rather than Galloping Galaxies (and speaking of Adams, anyone else think the wave generator engines and the “Argos for the universe” system could have come straight out of Hitchhiker’s Guide?).
If you scoop up a pick-and-mix of characters and ideas that have worked before, fling them all at the page and keep everybody quipping back-and-forth then you might make a “fun” 45 minutes of television, but at the end of it – what’s the point? If it’s bracingly original, remarkably structured or features a truly astonishing turn from a major guest-star then it may not need to be high drama. But familiar components don’t get any less familiar when you mix-and-match them and clumsy plotting is still clumsy plotting even if you’re lucky enough to have Matt Smith reciting your exposition. This sounds as if I didn’t like it, but it was perfectly entertaining while it was on, it’s just that – with the whole universe to explore, I’m frustrated at being given hand-me-downs. But, you know what, if this is as bad as this series gets, then this could be regarded as a classic year.