This post contains spoilers for the latest episode of Doctor Who.
Dinosaurs on a Spaceship was a fun (if incredibly self-indulgent) episode of Doctor Who. It was funny, introduced a great new character, and actually managed to have real tension as it reached its conclusion.
Unfortunately, in my opinion, while the episode paid constant lip service to the idea of "girl power" and capable female characters, and was a huge improvement on last week, it still screwed up in the execution.
First, the good! Because there were many good things.
+ Rory's dad was a fun character. He also went through more character development in one episode than his son and daughter-in-law have ever gone through, but we'll call that a plus here.
+ Amy was shown to be intelligent, capable, and key in uncovering what had happened on the ship. She's resourceful and rightly delighted with herself for taking the initiative.
+ Bechdel pass! Amy and Nefertiti had a conversation that wasn't about the Doctor. They actually talked about themselves!
+ The episode addressed the problem with the whole "The Girl Who Waited" paradigm. As Amy spends every moment listening out for the TARDIS, she's unable to actually have a settled life. She isn't satisfied in any job, because she expects to leave it at the drop of a hat. PLEASE DEVELOP THIS, SHOW. I don't quite understand why the show is dropping them off at the end of every episode, when they're immediately picked up at the start of the next one, so I hopehopehope it is going somewhere interesting.
However, parts of the episode stunk of self-satisfaction. There were many cries of "look! Dinosaurs! On a spaceship! Isn't this wacky? Isn't this fun?" The episode had too many characters, and it felt like our historical figures could have been lifted right out without any negative repercussions to the plot. They were basically there so they could be fangirled, and so the show could point out how AWESOME and WACKY it was to have them along. The "girl power" message, with the sexist jerk character who was told he needs lessons in gender politics, felt very Grrrl Power!!, in a shallow, "we're sexy asskickers" kind of way. It was often superficial strength and power, rather than the showing of a strong, interesting character.
The big problem? Nefertiti. For most of the episode, she's presented as a dignified, confident ruler who won't take nonsense from anybody, and who is willing to sacrifice herself for the safety of others. But she's introduced as a woman who, like many historical figures before her, is all over the Doctor. She's begging him to stay, and begging him for a kiss. She only comes along on the adventure accidentally, because she simply can't resist him. And despite the fact that all of her "flirting" with John Riddell was based around him dismissing her with sexist comments, she abandons her entire life and her position as queen to join him in a tent at the end of the episode. Because she likes being belittled and dismissed? Who knows.
Still, I'd rather watch a show that emphasizes the idea of Strong, Capable Female Characters (TM) than a show in which the Doctor makes little sexist jokes. Lots of young girls watch this show every week, and I'd much rather they saw the former. They get enough of the latter from the rest of the media.