Doctor Who Review – “Dinosaurs on a Spaceship”

Dinosaurs on a spaceship. What else do you need to know?

Cast and Crew Information

Matt Smith as the Doctor
Karen Gillan as Amy
Arthur Darvill as Rory
David Bradley as Solomon
Riann Steele as Queen Nefertiti
Rupert Graves as Riddell
Mark Williams as Brian Williams

Written by Chris Chibnall
Directed by Saul Metzstein


The Doctor, Queen Nefertiti, John Riddell, Amy, Rory and Rory’s father Brian explore a spaceship headed towards Earth. The ship is populated by dinosaurs.

High Point

“I’m easily worth two men. You can help if you’d like.”

Low Point

The residue on a golf ball? Really?

The Review

This is somewhat original. Dinosaurs on a spaceship is certainly an uncommon notion, and the Who crew manage their typical cleverness in taking an absurd eye-catching premise and turning it into something meaningful. I give it 5 out of 6.

The effects are decent. The CGI and animatronic dinosaurs are easily distinguished from each other, however, and some of the digital insertions are pretty unnatural. I give it 4 out of 6.

The story relies on a few too many coincidences for my tastes. (Who carries a trowel and golf balls? This was the one time he materialized around them?) I give it 4 out of 6.

The acting was well done, including the guest cast. Of course, when the guest cast has this many recognizable faces, that’s to be expected. I give it 6 out of 6.

The production wasn’t as smooth as usual. Too many angles appear to have been chosen to facilitate the effects budget instead of the other way around. I give it 4 out of 6.

The emotional response was good. There was genuine danger, a very real deadline, and a villain you love to hate. It almost overcomes the contrivances to get this group together. I give it 4 out of 6.

Overall, it delivers what I’ve come to expect from the early episodes in a season: an entertaining story that is likely to be overshadowed by those that come later. Part of me strongly suspects this episode was designed primarily to introduce three particular characters to the audience and to each other. I give it 4 out of 6.

In total, Dinosaurs on a Spaceship receives 31 out of 42.

14 replies on “Doctor Who Review – “Dinosaurs on a Spaceship””

  1. Better than Snakes on a Plane, certainly, and great to see fearsome tyrannosaurs with feathers. It’s a strange episode though. Its premise, as a friend said, sounds like a Mad Lib– “Doctor Who and (historical figure) encounter some (plural noun) on a (noun)”– and it’s a fairly goofy romp overall. At the same time, it features some very dark undertones (genocide, threats of sexual violence, and the limits of the Doctor’s mercy).

  2. I found it surprising that the Doctor left someone to die like that, but I wouldn’t say it was out of character. I just didn’t think Filch had been evil enough to justify that treatment.

        • True– but there, he was faced with the prospect of committing genocide himself (of a sort). Also, in this ep, he had few options, though I suppose he could have pulled Solomon off the ship.

          How do you know you’re a true nerd? You not only watch Doctor Who, you argue its internal reality based on thirty-year-old references.

          • Exactly! I rationalized it internally by realizing that Solomon could have just taken the ball that was being tracked and shot it out an air lock, then taken off in the other direction. The Doctor did say that was what it was being homed in on.

    • Is the Doctor using this time to reinvent himself since he “doesn’t exist” any more?
      I like the darker Doctor and I loved Chris Eccleston.
      Maybe he finally got tired of his companions doing the dirty work, as was pointed out in an earlier episode.

      • Well, he doesn’t exist for the Daleks, and (some time ago), he erased himself from the present-day internet. Is there another sense in which he doesn’t exist?

        • Is there another sense in which he doesn’t exist?

          Well, there’s the fact that he’s a fictional character.

        • You mean other than being dead?
          I think that pretty much covers it.
          The Daleks suspected he was still alive but now all memory of him has been erased from their databanks.
          What other old enemies will figure out he is still alive and will they become erased too?

          • You know, I actually forgot that everyone doesn’t know the Doctor is alive, given that we know he is alive and never really expected it to end any other way. Of course, he’s hardly in hiding, so I don’t know how much his death will figure in future episodes.

            • I think it’s gonna be a big part of the future episodes..
              and culminate with the question:
              Doctor WHO?

      • Hey Kiersten’s back! How have you been? (:

        Yeah, it’s only the Daleks who have lost all memories of The Doctor. And I don’t think he’s really been that inconsistent.

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