Sunday, September 9, 2012

Dinosaurs...On a Space Ship!!!

Your enjoyment of the most recent Doctor episode pretty much rests on your amusement at the title of the show and reading of said line by Matt Smith. If you, like me, have always secretly been waiting for just such a line to be uttered by anyone then you will like the second episode of season seven.

In any series as long and convoluted as Doctor Who themes and motifs are bound to appear. A few I could name off the top of my head would include the Doctor as Savior, the Doctor as Destroyer, the banality of evil, 'timey wimey' plot twists, and the nature of reality. This episode falls into a special category I might term 'Sky Sharks,' after the flying fish and sharks that appear in "A Christmas Carol." Basically the idea behind a 'Sky Shark' episode is to take two or more ideas that have no business being included in the same sentence: for example, 'sharks,' 'sky,' and 'carriages' and then slapping them together into some bizarre juxtaposition. At its worst this impulse leads to episodes like "Aliens of London," which basically seems like an excuse to have a guy in a pig costume run around squealing. At it's best, you get episodes like "A Christmas Carol," and "The Next Doctor," which find something new by fusing genre tropes like robots, clockwork robots, sharks, and Charles Dickens. Probably the apotheosis of this aesthetic is "The Wedding of River Song," which has a scene of a train on an elevated track steaming into a Great Pyramid of Giza emblazoned with 'Area 51' sign.

So, for Dinosaurs on Spaceship we get the following elements: dinosaurs, cranky trigger-happy robots, a space ship that looks like a tinker toy model, a big game hunter and Queen Nefertiti. Oh yes, and there's Amy and Rory and Rory's Dad. And a story that ties this all together. And missiles. I think that about covers it. No wait, I forgot the villain Solomon, played by David Bradley with crutch waving glee. It's a mess.

It was one of those episodes that I find really difficult to dislike because I feel like the whole thing was written by the kid from Ax-Cop. On the other hand, as much fun as the episode was, I noticed a few places where hints about the future were dropped. Last week we met the next companion. This week we got dark hints about the Pond's departure. Amy is still the girl who waits but she appears more and more eager to imagine a life apart from the Mad Man in the Blue Box.
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