Doctor Who Recap: “Dinosaurs on a Spaceship”

Reading Time: 11 minutes

Dinosaurs on a Spaceship © BBCDinosaurs on a Spaceship © BBC

Dinosaurs on a Spaceship © BBC

I have to worry about any episode whose title is such an obvious parody — just to make sure we’re on the same page, I’m talking about Snakes on a Plane — since this usually means the story was conceived under the guidance of intoxicating substances. I can just see the writer down at the pub with his mates after a few pints thinking that this is a brilliant idea. But at least the Doctor never said “I’m tired of these mutha-f*ing dinosaurs on this mutha-f*ing spaceship!” I’m sure it seemed like a good idea at the time.

SPOILER ALERT***

While this episode is not the best Doctor Who — not even the best so far this season — the sophomore season seven episode is a lot of fun with lots of great characters — The Doctor’s new “Gang” — starting with Queen Neferiti (of Egypt 1334 B.C., in case you were wondering).

The Doctor: Bye then. Lovely meeting you. Sorry about the mess.
Queen Nefertiti: You think I’ll just let you leave without me, huh? After what we have just been through.
The Doctor: You’ve got the Egyptian people to rule, Queen Nefertiti. They’ll need reassuring after that weapon-bearing giant alien locust attack we just stopped rather brilliantly. [honking sound from the Doctor’s pocket] Oh dear! Sorry. [pulls out the psychic-paper] I’ve got it set to temporal news feed… oh, that’s interesting.
Nefertiti: What is?
The Doctor: Nothing. Nothing interesting. Not at — Oo hoo! Never been there, excited!

Jump ahead to 2367 A.D., and a rather strange Canada-sized object is hurtling towards the Earth, closely monitored by the ISA (Indian Space Agency).

Indira: No. No response on any channel in any recognized language. If it comes within ten thousand kilometers of Earth, we send up missiles.
The Doctor: Oh, Indira. I liked you before you said missiles.

On to Africa, 1902 A.D. to gather Riddell (Sherlock fans will recognize him as Detective Inspector Lestrade), an African big game hunter.

Riddell: Where have you been, man? Seven months! You said you were popping out for some licorice. I had two very disappointed dancers on my hands. Not that I couldn’t manage.
The Doctor: Riddell, listen. I found, well… something.
Riddell: No, no, no, no, no, no. I shan’t fall for that again… What is it?
The Doctor: I have no idea. Do you want to find out?

And the final ingredient in the Doctor’s Gang are the Ponds…

Brian: I don’t know what he said to you to make you marry him, but he’s a lucky man.
[TARDIS whines]
Rory: Oh no. Not here, not now.
Brian: You leave the back door open?
Rory: What is he doing?
Amy: I’m going to kill him.

…The Ponds plus a very special guest, Brian (Harry Potter fans will recognize him as Arthur Weasley) — Rory’s dad who was over to the Ponds’ house helping change a light bulb, begging the question how many Doctor Who companions does it take to change a light bulb? — are whisked off to the mysterious Canada-sized object for an adventure.

The Doctor: Spiders? We don’t normally get spiders in space.
Brian: What the…
The Doctor: Don’t move! Do you really think I’m that stupid, I wouldn’t notice. How did you get aboard, hey? Transmat? Who sent you?
Rory: Doctor, That’s my dad.
The Doctor: Well, frankly, that’s outrageous.
Rory: What?
The Doctor: You think you can just bring your dad along without asking? I’m not a taxi service, you know.
Rory: You materialized around us!
The Doctor: Oh! Well, that’s fine then. My mistake. Hello, Brian! How are you? Nice to meet you? Welcome. Welcome. This is the gang. I’ve got a gang. Yes! Come on then, everyone!

But after the Doctor has had time to catch up with the Ponds:

Amy: All right. Where are we, what is that noise and — hello! — ten months?
The Doctor: Orbiting Earth. Well… I say orbiting. More like pre-crashing. On a spaceship. Don’t know. And hello, Pond! Ten months. Time flies. Never really understood that phrase. This is Nefi, this is Riddell. They’re with me.
Amy: With you? They’re with you? Are they the new us? Is that why we haven’t seen you?
The Doctor: No, they’re just people. They’re not Ponds. I thought we might need a gang. Never really had a gang before. It’s new.

Elevator doors open and two rather surprised looking dinosaurs pop-out of the door.

Brian: Not possible.
The Doctor: Run.
Amy: Doctor!
The Doctor: I know. Dinosaurs. On a spaceship!

Again with the self-referential lines. I warned them last episode to cut it out after that “Doctor Who” dance. After a bit of exploring around, The Doctor inadvertently triggers a teleport that whisks him, Rory, and Brian to what appears to be Bad Wolf Bay, but that’s just a staggering coincidence (or an overworked location manager) since this is in fact one of the ship’s engines, which runs off wave power.

Brian: We’re outside we’re on a beach.
The Doctor: Teleports! Oh, I hate teleports! Must have activated on my voice.
Brian: Ah. Yes. Well. Thank you, Arthur C. Clarke. Teleport. Obviously. I mean, we’re on a spaceship with dinosaurs. Why wouldn’t there be a teleport. In fact, why don’t we just teleport now! [Storms off]
The Doctor: Is he all right?
Rory: No, he hates traveling. Makes him really anxious. He only goes to the paper shop and golf.
The Doctor: What did you bring him for?
Rory: I didn’t! Why can’t you just phone ahead like any normal person?

I know, right! I mean the guy lives in a bloody telephone box, yet he never seems to call!

Brian: Somebody tell me where we are. Now.
The Doctor: [sticks out tongue] Well, it’s on Earth. Doesn’t taste right. Too metallic.

And that’s not all that’s wrong with this “beach.”

Rory: The beach is humming.
The Doctor: Is it! Oh, yes. Well don’t just stand there, you two. Dig! I’m going to look at rocks. Love a rock.
Rory: Dig?! With what?
Brian: Ah. Well. [pulls a trowel from his pocket]
Rory: Did you just have that on you?
Brian: Of course. What sort of a man doesn’t carry a trowel? Put it on your Christmas list.
Rory: Dad, I’m thirty-one. I don’t have a Christmas list anymore.
The Doctor: [from across the beach] I do!

I bet you he has that new Sonic Screwdriver TV remote control from ThinkGeek on his list? Meanwhile, Amy and her “Companions” are getting to know each other.

Amy: [to Riddell, who is drinking from a flask] Hey, put that away! I need you sober.
Riddell: It’s medicinal. And I don’t take orders from females.
Nefertiti: Then learn. Any man that speaks to me that way I execute.

Sisters are doing it for themselves! But danger is never more than a footstep away.

Amy: Okay. A guess. T. Rex? Not yet full size. We’re in the middle of a dinosaur nest.
Riddell: I propose a retreat. [Roar from behind] Perhaps forwards.

Forward is a great idea. The Doctor is trying to move Brian and Rory forward as well.

The Doctor: See! Metal floors! Screens in rocks. It was just a short range teleport. We’re still in the ship.
Brian: No. We’re outside on a beach.
Rory: No, it’s part of the ship, Dad.
Brian: Don’t be ridiculous.
The Doctor: Well it is quite ridiculous. Also brilliant. That’s why the system teleported us here. I wanted the engines. This is the engine room! Hydro-generators!
Brian: I have literally no idea what he’s saying.

Like we do. He might has well have said that he “reversed the polarity of the neutron flow,” for all the sense that made. But the more important fact is that a flock of pterodactyls are attacking them on the beach. Love a pterodactyl. But, of course the Doctor has a knack of going from the frying pan into the fire.

Robot 1: We’re very cross with you.

And here we have the comedy relief for the episode. Robot 1 & 2 have obviously been manufactured by the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation, as they rather crossly take the Doctor, Brian, and Rory into custody.

But Amy knows a thing or two about dealing with trouble herself as she shows Nefi and Riddell.

Nefertiti: How’d you know how to do that?
Amy: Well I’ve spent enough time with the Doctor to know whenever you enter somewhere new, press buttons.

And of course this has the intended results as an ancient message appears on the screen in front of them.

Bleytal: [Silurian on video screen] Over fifty species loaded. Only one has had any difficulty surviving. All the others are thriving and we expect them to be able to repopulate.
Amy: We’re on an ark. A Silurian ark.

And the mystery becomes more clear. Except for the fact that there are no Silurians on the ship. Funny that. But the Doctor will soon have that sussed out.

The Doctor: [to the robots] Right. Take us to your leader.
Rory: Really?
The Doctor: Too good to resist.

The spider at the center of the Web is revealed as a crippled merchant name Solomon (Harry Potter fans will recognize him as Argus Filch).

Solomon: How did you get on board, Doctor?
The Doctor: Oh, I never talk about myself with a gun pointed at me.

Solomon had been injured, though, and wants a “Doctor” to take a look at his busted leg, and threatens and wounds Brian to get the good Doctor’s attention. The Doctor helps Solomon’s leg, and many truths are revealed.

The Doctor: What did you do to the Silurians?
Solomon: We ejected them. The robots woke them from cryo-sleep a handful at a time and jettisoned them from the airlocks. We must have left a trail of dust and bone.
The Doctor: Because you wanted the dinosaurs.
Solomon: Their ship crossed my path. I sent out a distress signal, they let me board. But when I saw the cargo, things became more complex.
The Doctor: Piracy, then genocide.
Solomon: Very emotive words, Doctor.
The Doctor: Oh, I’m a very emotive man.

The Doctor and crew make a daring escape on the back of a Triceratops. Oh, and don’t forget about the missiles pointed at the ark.

Indira: Doctor, the ship’s coming through the atmosphere. I have to start the missile program.
The Doctor: No. No no no. Don’t do that! Everything’s completely under control here. Turning around any moment. Need a bit of wiggle room on the timings.

Now, I’m not an astrophysicist, but seeing as the next shot clearly shows the entire disk of Earth with the space ship hurtling towards it, I don’t see how it could be anywhere near Earth’s atmosphere. But we’ll let that little detail pass.

Nefertiti: You and the Doctor, are you his queen?
Amy: No no. I’m Rory’s queen. Wife. Wife. I’m his wife. Please don’t him I said I was his queen. I’ll never hear the end of it.
Nefertiti: And the Doctor, does he have a queen?
Amy: I thought you had a husband.
Nefertiti: A male equivalent of a sleeping potion.
Riddell: You clearly need a man of action and excitement. One with a very large weapon.
Amy: So human sleeping potion or walking innuendo. Take your pick.

Oh, cut it out. Anyway, Solomon plans a speedy escape, but, knowing he can’t take the Dinosaurs he plans to take something smaller instead.

Solomon: You’re right, Doctor. I can’t keep the dinosaurs and live myself. But I had the IV system scan the entire ship, and it found something more valuable. Utterly unique. I don’t know where you found it or how you got it here, but I want it.
The Doctor: I don’t know what you’re talking about.
Solomon: Earth Queen Nefertiti of Egypt. The face stamped across history. Give her to me, and I’ll let the rest of you live.

Nefertiti gives herself up to save the rest, and she, Solomon, and the bickering robots set off for pastures new. And yet, there are still those missiles coming.

The Doctor: Seventeen minutes before the missiles hit. We need to turn this ship around.
Rory: But you said it was too late, there wasn’t any time.
The Doctor: Ah, yes. But I didn’t have this plan then, did I? Riddell! Keep an eye out for dinosaurs.
Rory: I was rather hoping you’d say that.
The Doctor: And no killing any. Rory, Brian, get rid of the cobwebs.

For some reason not thoroughly explained, Rory and Brian can pilot the ship out of danger.

The Doctor: The ship does all the engineering. The controls are straightforward. Even a monkey could use them. Oh look, they’re going to. [blank stares from Rory and Brian] Guys, come on. Comedy gold. Where’s a Silurian audience when you need one?

BWHAHAHAHAHA… you see what he did there.

The Doctor: Steer away from the Earth. Try not to bump into the moon otherwise the races that live there will be livid.

I love it when a plan comes together in reverse order.

The Doctor: Right. Phase Two is sorted. Now for Phase One.
Amy: No no no, Phase Two comes after Phase One.
The Doctor: Humans — you’re so linear.

So at the height of danger, with certain death seconds away, this is the natural moment for the Doctor to check in on how Amy’s life is going.

The Doctor: How’s the job?
Amy: We’re about to be hit by missiles and you’re asking me that?
The Doctor: I work best when I’m multi-tasking. Keep talking. How’s the job?
Amy: I gave it up.
The Doctor: You gave the last one up.
Amy: Yeah, well, I can’t settle. Every minute I’m listening out for that stupid TARDIS sound.
The Doctor: Right, so it’s my fault now, is it?
Amy: I can’t not wait for you, even now. And they’re getting longer, you know. The gaps between your visits.
The Doctor: Are they?
Amy: I think you’re weaning us off you.
The Doctor: I’m not, I promise. Really promise. The others, they’re not you. But you and Rory, you have lives — each other. It was what we agreed.
Amy: I know. I just worry there’ll come a time when you never turn up. That something will have happened to you and I’ll still be waiting, never knowing.
The Doctor: No. Come on, Pond. You’ll be there ’til the end of me.
Amy: Or vice versa.

Ominous much? With Dinosaurs at the door, Amy and Riddell go into bad-ass mode.

Riddell: You know what I want more than anything?
Amy: Lessons in gender politics?
Riddell: A dinosaur tooth to take home. Dinosaurs ahead. A lady at my side. About to be blown up. I’m not sure I’ve ever been happier.
Amy: Shut up and shoot.

The ark is saved, Nefertiti is rescued, and Solomon’s ship gets the missiles instead.

The Doctor: So. Dinosaur drop-off time.
Rory: Actually, we think home for us.
The Doctor: Oh. Fine. Of course!
Amy: Not forever, just a couple months.
The Doctor: Right, yes. I’m pretty busy anyway. I mean I’ve got to drop everyone back.
Brian: About that. Can I ask a favor? There’s something I want to see.

What does Brian want to see? Why, Earth from space, of course.

More Great Quotes

The Doctor: Crikey, Charlie. Look at that! Oh, I know somebody who’d love a look at that. And the Ponds! Mustn’t forget the Ponds, Nefi. Haven’t seen them in ages. I’m riffing. People usually stop me when I’m riffing. Or carry on without me, that’s also an option.

The Doctor: Well there’s so much to discover. Think how much wiser we’ll be by the end of all this.

Robot 1: You’re going straight on the naughty step!
Brian: What’s the escape plan?
The Doctor: Why do we want to escape?
Brian: They have us hostage.
Rory: They’re taking us somewhere. We might learn from it.
The Doctor: Ah… you see, so clever! I’ve missed you, Rory. [He tugs his ear.]
Rory: Don’t do that.
Brian: What if they kill us?
The Doctor: They wouldn’t do that! [He turns to the robots] You’re not gonna kill us, are you, Rusty?
Robot 2: Who are you calling Rusty?
The Doctor: Have you seen yourselves lately?
Robot 2: You try being on this ship for two millennia, see how your paintwork does!
Robot 1: Don’t listen to him. He’s just being mean ’cause we captured him.

The Doctor: “Roar” yourself! Hello, cutie pie. Who’s a lovely tricey then, eh? [petting the triceratops]Yes you are. Yes you are!
Brian: What do I do? What do I do? What’s it doing?
The Doctor: You don’t have any vegetable matter in your trousers, do you, Brian?
Brian: Only my balls.
The Doctor: I’m sorry?
Brian: Golf balls… Grassy residue.
Rory: What are you carrying those around for?
[triceratops licks Brian’s face]
The Doctor: Oh, bless.

Riddell: Lizard people herding dinosaurs onto a space ark? Absolute tommyrot.
Nefertiti: Only an idiot denies the evidence of their own eyes.
Riddell: Egyptian queen or not, I shall put you across my knee and spank you!
Amy: Oh, lord.
Nefertiti: Try! And I’ll snap your neck in a heartbeat.
Riddell: Hm. Well they certainly bred firecrackers in your time.
Amy: Oh, no no no. Please, please don’t start flirting. I will not have flirting companions.

The Doctor: Fantasia in F minor for four hands.
Solomon: You know it.
The Doctor: Know it? Say hello to hands three and four. Schubert kept tickling me to try and put me off. “Franz the Hands.” Oh, that takes me back.

Brian: What’s that?
Rory: Well you carry a trowel, I carry a med-pack. It’s all about the pockets in our family. This is an ice patch. It cools the skin.
Brian: Never seen one of those.
Rory: Yeah, I look out for cool stuff wherever we go. Some people it’s cars and hardware. For me, it is nursing supplies. Painkiller. Now this won’t hurt. [jabs his dad in the shoulder with hypo]
Brian: Ow!
Rory: I lied. It won’t hurt from now on though.

Next Time: Steam Punk Cowboy Cyborgs!

Tonight at 9 PM EST on BBC America.

Get the Official GeekDad Books!