September 8th, 2012

Musician Who

When on Safari, Bring an Egyptian Queen

Amy Pond looks so much better with subtler eye makeup. And she's written better, too, in the second episode of this season of Doctor Who, "Dinosaurs on a Spaceship" which may have been more accurately called "King Solomon's Ark in Space". It's a delight in any case.

It's amazing to see dinosaurs that look about as good as the ones in Jurassic Park on a show with infamously low production values. It's certainly a step up from the sad hand puppet dinosaurs in the third Doctor serial Invasion of the Dinosaurs. But as I indicated, this episode also reminded me of episodes in the old series about attempts at preserving a race from the destruction of their planet by putting them in stasis on a spaceship--the twist here is the bounty hunter Solomon who's attempting to mine, if you will, this ark for its valuable biological cargo in the form of dinosaurs.

So the Doctor naturally employs Allan Quatermain, or an Allan Quatermain surrogate in the person of an Edwardian game hunter named John Riddell. With Queen Nefertiti tagging along unexpectedly as well as Rory's father, the motley expedition aboard the space ship does feel rather satisfyingly like the one King Solomon's Mines.

I might have liked a slightly more brutal Nerfertiti, but that's the only misstep I can think of in an otherwise entertainingly written character who plays off the game hunter very nicely. And when she's threatened by Solomon, she contributes to the impression of him as being one of the most effective villains I've seen on the show.

I mean, I really hated this guy. I wanted to see him defeated by the Doctor and Nefertiti. Yes, he's a mass murderer who promises to torture his captives for sadistic pleasure, but it's more than that. The Master does these things and I've never found him terribly effective. Perhaps it's that David Bradley gives such an unvarnished portrayal of the man, he doesn't seem evil so much as totally amoral and that makes him more credible. When he does bad things, you hate him more because you get the sinking feeling that it makes so much sense that there'd be a guy doing what he's doing if he had the means.

So this season's two for two for me so far. Looking forward to next week's episode with Ben Browder, too, since I am a big Farscape fan.