After the high drama of Asylum of the Daleks, we get some light relief with this fun episode, which ticks all the boxes. It’s a good old-fashioned type of episode – and for those worried that there might be the odd homage to the Jon Pertwee story Invasion of the Dinosaurs, fret not. The creatures have their feet firmly on the floor, and there is considerable interaction between human and CG creations.
The undercurrents of the Ponds’ departure are featured, although not to the extent they are in the season opener, and bringing Mark Williams in as Rory’s dad Brian gives Arthur Darvill a chance to play things rather differently. The other guest stars give good value too, with heightened, rather than over the top performances: some of the character developments aren’t too surprising (particularly if you know anything about Egyptian history), and for once we’ve got a baddy without too many shades of grey, which does make a pleasant change.
Matt Smith once again proves that he’s absolutely nailed the art of changing tone in a heartbeat: the Doctor is funny, serious, and certifiably insane in short order, and you can feel his sadness at certain times, even if the Time Lord masks his emotions from the others. There’s also some hints of other sides to him, which hearken back to The Runaway Bride.
It’s one of those episodes that you’ll probably see the flaws of more after you’ve seen it than while it’s going on, particularly the “convenient” nature of some of what appears accidental, and other elements may annoy portions of the audience. However much as I loved the scope and sweep of Asylum, maybe this might even have been a stronger season opener for the general public?
Verdict: Even without the Dinosaurs on the Spaceship, this would be a good episode; with them, it’s a fun romp. 8/10