The second episode of the new season has aired, Dinosaurs on a Spaceship, and all I can ask is…what the hell happened to the good writing on Doctor Who? Like last week’s premier, this was an extremely weak episode. Spoilers ahead, so don’t say you weren’t warned.
The main problem with this episode is…who is it about? There are too many characters introduced too quickly to really keep up or care about most of them, including the Ponds. You have Nefertiti, the Egyptian Queen with whom the Doctor has just shared an adventure, and a 1900s safari guy whose name I never did catch, plus the Ponds, and Rory’s father…plus a new bad guy and his two robots who might as well have been labeled “MARVIN 2” and “MARVIN 3”.
The whole episode felt like it was written by a twelve year old with ADHD hopped up on speed. Look! Spaceship! Look! Rory’s Dad! Look! Dinosaurs! Look! Robots! It just never stopped to make much sense. You piece together that you’re dealing with a Silurian ark ship, but why was it there in the first place? It’s only a couple thousand years old, it can’t be from the Jurassic period. The plot just doesn’t make sense. Oh, and the main problem is that Earth is going to blow up the ship, and the Doctor (for a time) can’t figure out how to stop it in time. Well, there’s that blue box of his, the one that towed the entire planet Earth at one point – fairly certain it could have towed the ark ship away from Earth.
The real shame of this episode is that the bits with Rory’s dad were good. You wanted to see more of him and Rory, and him dealing with this revelation that his son and daughter-in-law have been travelling in space and time, but there’s just too many other characters to deal with. We have to cut away to Nefertiti and safari guy flirting, or Amy figuring out Silurian technology by pressing buttons. We have to have a ten second talk between Amy and the Doctor about her quitting her modeling job. Why was that necessary? There’s no feeling that’s leading anywhere this time. And we get shortchanged on Rory and his dad. It’s almost like this should have been a two part episode and they sliced it down for time.
Overall we had a very poor episode with little focus and even less character development. Once again, the Ponds felt tacked on, to the point that the Doctor practically spells it out when he goes after them that he’s just grabbing them because he feels like it. The whole sense of purpose around the show seems to be lost. The Doctor had ALWAYS had a purpose, even if that purpose was simply going out and exploring with his friends. Now he seems to just be going from one crisis to the next. If I’m mis-reading this and there’s a payoff coming where that’s exactly the problem that the Doctor will face (that he’s been too busy running around fixing things) then good for the writers, but there’s been no hints at that, and you’d think there would be.
I can’t even call this a good standalone episode. It’s just too frantic, too ADHD to be good by any respect. I don’t know what has happened to the writing staff for the Doctor…maybe they have gotten a bit too big for their own good, just as the Doctor had. Whatever the case, I really hope the season picks up because so far they haven’t given me any hope at all that this won’t become “the season we pretend didn’t happen.”
Oh, and one more thing…the light bulb, and Rory’s father’s bit about it being the fixture. Just like on Amy’s vanity. That’s your clue people – that’s the hint in the early season for what’s coming. In the mini-episodes, Pond Life, the last one, the Doctor is fixing the TARDIS’s light on top of the box. That means something, people. Heard it here first.