"Lizard people herding dinosaurs onto a Space Ark? Absolute tommyrot."
IN THIS ONE... Exactly what it says on the tin. First appearance of Rory's dad, Brian Williams.
REVIEW: People like the premise, but Dinosaurs on a Spaceship is quite possibly the ultimate kitchen sink episode. There's just too much thrown slapdash into the mix. Why was Chris Chibnall given an unlimited effects budget? Obviously, there were some savings from using dinosaur models developed by the Walking with/Primeval teams, but still. We get dinosaurs, a giant Silurian spaceship (plus Solomon's), a couple of killer robots, and three new companions on top of the old ones. Mark Williams is undoubtedly the better guest-star, playing Rory's handy dad Brian. He's endearing as all get-out (just as he was as the stuttering Prologue in Shakespeare in Love), but though he has an "arc" (pun not intended) and will have his worldview irrevocably changed by this experience, he doesn't get nearly enough screen time. Instead, we're forced to spend time with two-dimensional caricatures of Queen Nefertiti and big game hunter John Riddell, who snap and flirt at each other and are never ever believable. Amy's "I will not have flirting companions" is funny, but that's hardly justification for their inclusion. The Doctor's "historical gang" is a failure because the characters are too shallow. Never mind that recruiting historical figures could have a nasty impact on history. Why is the Doctor risking it?
Well, the short answer there is that Chibnall needed certain things for his plot to work, and just plugged them in with little regard to how stuffed his script already was. Brian is essentially there because the ship requires two pilots who are a genetic match. Nefertiti is there because Solomon needs to acquire someone who'll fetch a high price on whatever absurd black market actually puts prices on people long dead. Apparently the same culture that builds robots with blue collar personalities who argue a lot and can't hit the broad side of a triceratops. Bringing famous Egyptian queens on adventures (and apparently leaving them with Riddell in the wrong century - what?!) is the least of the Doctor's breaches of character anyway. This is the episode where he has absolutely no problem committing murder. He puts the missile tracker on Solomon's ship, tells him too bad so sad as he begs for mercy, and smiles as the man and his ship explode. To make this acceptable to the audience, Chibnall over-eggs the pudding, making Solomon the vilest possible character. A pirate, a slaver, a sadist, and a bit of genocide thrown in as well. He kills a nice dinosaurs, which is another ill-judged moment tonally. And you know what? The Doctor's solution is still not acceptable. It's not earned.
I know it's supposed to be an amusing romp, but the ending is too dark to work as a comedy, and besides, the jokes aren't particularly funny. A "balls" joke, Mr. Chibnall? Really? By the end, I can't even muster a smile at the lippy robots singing "Daisy" because it's just a random forced reference. Yes, dinosaurs. Yes, big huge effects. Yes, Brian is hugely charming and someone we want to see again. Yes, I like the idea that Rory picks up alien stuff for his first aid kit. And ok, Amy playing the role of Doctor on her side of the story is done a lot better than Rose's similar osmosis. But the tone is all wrong, there are too many guest-stars playing cardboard characters, and the Doctor is egregiously out of character.
REWATCHABILITY: Medium-Low - Distressing eye candy. It's one redeeming value is the introduction of Brian Williams.