Video Throughput: Kill the Moon? or Kill the Science with Doctor Who

Michael Siegel

Michael Siegel is an astronomer living in Pennsylvania. He is on Twitter, blogs at his own site, and has written a novel.

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10 Responses

  1. Oscar Gordon

    I know Dr. Who typically plays fast and loose with known science/physics, but yeah, that one was especially bad (I remember watching it back in the day).Report

  2. Kristin Devine

    I’m so glad I watched this, enjoyed it greatly!

    This is where our old friend, The Rule of Cool, comes into play. I could have accepted the moon being an egg, the shell disintegrating on reentry, and even the creature giving birth to another moon (they’re born pregnant, Jim) even though scientifically it was all implausible in the extreme. But there was so much more going wrong here, and it was all due to whoever wrote this just wanting to string together some stuff they thought was cool instead of taking a few seconds to Google basic scientific principles and come up with some way to make what they wanted to happen, happen, without resorting to nonsense.

    An obvious fix at least to me is that eggs actually LOSE quite a bit of weight along the way. It never gains weight (as you say, how COULD it?) Eggs needs to have this amount of evaporation occur to enable the little dude inside to grow and then to be able to turn around to hatch. So imagine instead the seismic activity happening and gravitational disturbances because there’s less mass rather than more as the egg nears hatching. And the drama is coming from the fear of a lack of a moon all together, which would still be devastating to the climate even if it didn’t involve raining debris. Sure, it’s BS, but at least it’s semi-plausible BS!Report

  3. Doctor Jay

    I haven’t watch much Dr. Who past Sylvester McCoy. Wow, was that bad. Thanks for the breakdown, Michael.

    I’m not a huge fan of the Rule of Cool, though I employed it against my friends complaint about Gravity: “It takes TWO burns to change orbits”. My reply was, “And would showing that have made the movie better?” I don’t think so, and they couldn’t confirm.

    But too many sloppy writers try to invoke the Rule of Cool, and it just comes off to me as laziness. I like stuff where the fluff and the crunch work together. To me, that’s what science fiction is about. (Ahem, Star Wars isn’t really science fiction). Or at the very least, if you aren’t going to use our own universe’s rules, lay some alternate rules out and follow them.

    The ending also violates some basic dramatic rules. The surprise ending should be a surprise but not because you bent rules to make it a surprise. Afterwards, the audience should be thinking, “Well of course. I should have seen that coming”. But in this case, who thinks that an egg, when hatched, will produce a creature that will immediately lay another egg that is as big or bigger than itself. Who would say “Oh, well of course”.

    No, this isn’t just a case of bad science. It’s a case of bad storytelling. Nothing has been set up to prepare the audience for this. That ending seems arbitrary and forced to pretty much everyone. The sense that it is also a bit of a morality play makes it seem even worse.Report

  4. Burt Likko

    “The idea here is that the moon is actually a giant egg for an enormous space creature, and now it’s hatching. … Let’s go with that.” That face was priceless.

    I realize you need to keep the video throughput short, but I bet you regret editing out the opportunity to talk about one of the most cray-cray of all the weird Cold War ideas, Project A119.Report

  5. Jaybird

    They can be spiders! That’s fine!Report

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