For a while now, Dr Who’s storylines have been a tad over-complicated and a little too cerebral and complex for the show’s younger viewers. With “Dinosaurs on a Spaceship” the series veered sharply in the opposite direction with a plot that would have been more at home in Scooby Doo on CBBC, not in Primetime television on a Saturday night.
The over-riding premise was basically this: “Oh no, there are some big dinosaurs, run away!” No high concepts. No surreal inversions of the time-space continuum. Just, “Oh no, there are some big dinosaurs, run away!”
Queen Nefertiti (ca. 1370 BC) was also there for some reason. As was Mark Williams off the Fast Show and a couple of retro robots with the voices of Mitchell and Webb. Mark did fat and puzzled. Mitchell and Webb sat in a voice booth in Soho and cracked robot jokes. The dinosaurs, of course, were very convincing. The BBC gives good dinosaur. But it was all light years away from the heady days when Russell T Davies was writing the show with a kind of flair and brilliance that the BBC usually reserve for their top drawer costume dramas.
The Americans, of course, will love Dinosaurs on a Spaceship. Just like they loved Snakes on a Plane. It won’t put too much strain on their tiny little brains. Which is clearly why the BBC have so obviously dumbed-down Dr Who in this current incarnation. Luckily, like the space-time continuum itself, these things are invariably cyclical. So let’s all hope that Dr. Who will yet recapture the intelligent sci-fi edge to which we have all now become accustomed.
Now, if you will excuse me, I’ve just spotted some big dinosaurs, so I’m going to run away.