Doctor WTF?

petercapaldiI’m really enjoying Peter Capaldi as Doctor Who. I am enjoying watching the photogenic Jenna Coleman as Clara. I also like the mysterious but cute Mr Pink and the stroppy Courtney Woods.

But what was writer Peter Harness thinking when he wrote the latest episode – Kill the Moon? Sorry Peter, but here are some questions for you:

  1. How can the mass of the moon increase? Hint: it can’t (conservation of mass.)
  2. How can a dragon fly through space? Hint: it can’t (conservation of momentum.)
  3. Why did the Doctor say the moon is 100 million years old, when it’s actually several billion?
  4. What was all that nonsense about the aliens being single-celled organisms when they are clearly not?
  5. Why was Courtney carrying anti-bacterial kitchen spray in her school bag?
  6. When you had complete carte blanche to create a new alien species, why did you make them look exactly like giant spiders?
  7. How could predators live on the moon where there is nothing for them to catch and eat?
  8. How could Courtney possibly become President of the United States when she is British?
  9. Why did the Doctor say Courtney was the first woman on the moon when she arrived at the same time as two other women?
  10. How did the Doctor get back out of the big hole he jumped into?
  11. How did the Tardis get back out of the big hole it fell into?
  12. Why did the people of Earth send three geriatric astronauts  to save the planet (one of whom didn’t even know how the nuclear bombs were supposed to work)?
  13. Why did the astronauts say that humans no longer had rocket technology, when the Mexicans had visited the Moon ten years earlier?
  14. Why did the astronauts say that humans no longer had rocket technology, when previous episodes of Doctor Who have shown humans to be developing space technology?
  15. Why did the Mexicans fail to find any minerals on the moon, when it is already known that the moon is packed with minerals?

I’m used to Doctor Who violating all kinds of science, and I hate that, because it’s such a good opportunity to get kids interested in science and to teach them a little about how the world works.  But when an episode violates common sense and simple facts in such a grand fashion, it makes my blood boil (although not literally, because that would be unscientific.) It’s just a metaphor, children.

Oh, Peter, you are turning me into a grumpy old sod, and I hate that most of all!

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22 responses to “Doctor WTF?

  1. Pingback: I have to say it. I hated the Doctor Who episode: ‘Kill the Moon’ | SelfAwarePatterns

  2. All good points … and a couple of which I caught myself. But, alas, as always, you’re way ahead of me. It’s wonder you don’t work at Oxford;

    • Mark, I’m sure you spotted lots of other things that I didn’t mention. As some others have pointed out, the fact that the Doctor acted like a complete asshole didn’t help us to empathize much.

  3. I love Doctor Who, but this episode had me rolling my eyes quite a few times. I’m glad I’m not the only one.

  4. To be anally pedantic about Point 9, Courtney did actually put her feet on the surface first (oh dear, is turning into an Anorak worse than a grumpy old sod)? It was a bit of a daft episode, and the part that really got me was when Clara said, “Come on Courtney, double Geography!” Would she really remember the minutiae of a pupil’s timetable, especially as it wasn’t her own subject, and just after the stress of saving the Earth (again)? It was such a clichéd “teacher line”. Peter Capaldi is mesmeric to watch as the Doctor though. I love the way, this time, he is slightly less human and more Time Lord.

  5. Finally got around to watching this episode last night. I’m really not a fanatic, and don’t wish to give the impression that I am defending the joyful absurdity that is Dr Who, but I can’t resist:

    How can the mass of the moon increase? Hint: it can’t (conservation of mass.)
    When time and space are as flexible as they are in the Who universe, conservation of mass is equally negotiable. Mass, after all, is merely part of a higher dimensional energy, and perhaps the dragon was sucking the sun’s energy through a micro-wormhole. (Yada, yada,…)

    How can a dragon fly through space? Hint: it can’t (conservation of momentum.)
    Conservation of momentum just says that for the dragon to accelerate there must presumably be a balancing momentum elsewhere. For a creature that is playing happily with gravity, why not hypothesize that the flapping of its wings creates powerful graviton waves propagating opposite to the dragon’s acceleration.

    Why did the Doctor say the moon is 100 million years old, when it’s actually several billion?
    Maybe this moon is only 100 million years old, and in another 100 million years the next dragon will be born.

    What was all that nonsense about the aliens being single-celled organisms when they are clearly not?
    Aren’t you just assuming they’re multi-cellular?

    Why was Courtney carrying anti-bacterial kitchen spray in her school bag?
    Maybe the Doctor told her to clean up her vomit?

    When you had complete carte blanche to create a new alien species, why did you make them look exactly like giant spiders?
    Go figure.

    How could predators live on the moon where there is nothing for them to catch and eat?
    What predators? I thought they were the dragon’s white blood cells.

    How could Courtney possibly become President of the United States when she is British?
    Laws change? She born in the States? Assumptions… but yeah.

    Why did the Doctor say Courtney was the first woman on the moon when she arrived at the same time as two other women?
    Not to mention Martha Jones and a whole hospital being there forty years earlier…

    How did the Doctor get back out of the big hole he jumped into?
    It was only two metres deep? Better question: What was the point of jumping in in the first place?

    How did the Tardis get back out of the big hole it fell into?
    DVD programming magic from the dawn of time (David Tennant and Angels at some point, I think). Not that that makes any sense.

    Why did the people of Earth send three geriatric astronauts to save the planet (one of whom didn’t even know how the nuclear bombs were supposed to work)?
    Reminds me of all those telephone sanitizers and hairdressers in Restaurant at the End of the Universe.

    Why did the astronauts say that humans no longer had rocket technology, when the Mexicans had visited the Moon ten years earlier?
    Not to mention that Earth is still quite happy putting satellites in orbit, so I guess it’s the extra-orbital rocketry that’s lacking. The Mexicans, I guess, used extra-hot chilli powder for solid rocket fuel.

    Why did the astronauts say that humans no longer had rocket technology, when previous episodes of Doctor Who have shown humans to be developing space technology?
    Ah, but we’re talking about the great decline of humanity during the 2040s, presumably fall-out from the failure of the Mexican mission. Read your history books! 🙂

    Why did the Mexicans fail to find any minerals on the moon, when it is already known that the moon is packed with minerals?
    Because the dragon was slowly consuming them from the inside out?

    And if anything is guaranteed to make Dr Who look sensible, it’s Star Trek

  6. Frank, I vote for you to take over as chief writer of Doctor Who!

  7. This is Science

  8. Oh, this looks like a fun game! As a long-time Star Trek viewer I have many years experience in “explaining” crazy-ass stuff. (In fact, I made up the term “Star Trekin’ It” to describe it.) Engage logic and science shields!

    1.The egg absorbs energy from solar radiation (billions of neutrinos per cubic inch per second) and cosmic rays. Energy, of course, is mass.
    2. It uses solar wind and magnetic lines. The flapping wings are just for show. Or gravity manipulation.
    3. I agree with Frank’s explanation. The egg was 100 million years old.
    4. Again, I agree with Frank. Cells have many components; so did those “white cells.”
    5. Antibacterial is all the rage. I know people who carry bottle of Purell® around.
    6. Why not? What’s wrong with spiders? They’re fierce preditors and have existed for hundreds of millions of years on Earth. It’s a pretty good design. Eight legs is very effective, and so are multiple eyes.
    7. Frank nailed that one, too.
    8. Frank etc.
    9. Who says the Doctor always tells the truth? He had a mission in mind with Courtney, so perhaps it was part of that.
    10. Found a tunnel leading out?
    11. It’s the TARDIS!
    12. Why did the people of Earth send oil-drillers briefly trained as astronauts rather than astronauts briefly trained as oil-drillers? Stupidity? Politics? That was all they had?
    13. We no longer have shuttle technology (boo, hiss) a short time after we did.
    14. A brief and unfortunate period in Earth history.
    15. As Frank suggests, the dragon ate them. Or they didn’t find the minerals they wanted.

    Your list reminds me of lists I’ve made once I’ve decided I hate something and am just looking for faults. How do I hate you? Let me count the ways… 😀

    • D’oh! WP removed all my numbers. (Why?) Maybe, if you’d be so kind, you could turn it into a numbered list?

    • Wyrd, you are easily satisfied 🙂 Maybe the truth is I just found the episode boring, and devoted my attention to thinking up reasons why.

      I’ve actually stopped watching Doctor Who entirely now. Bored. First rule of fiction – it must be enjoyable. If it is, readers or viewers will forgive everything else.

      • “Wyrd, you are easily satisfied”

        Heh, yeah, you’re right about that! XD In some contexts, that is totally true, and Doctor Who is absolutely one of them. For all that Who has given me, I am forgiving, perhaps overly so. (We’re often that way with loved ones in our lives… and Who is that for me. The flip side is that no one can piss you off as thoroughly or quickly as a loved one, so that sword does have two edges. 😮 )

        “First rule of fiction – it must be enjoyable.”

        Oh, yeah, totally with you there! I express that rule a little differently: Don’t piss me off! But it’s the same thing. I find that, even after various negative analysis, I’m still engaged and still finding enjoyment and haven’t wanted to throw anything at the TV so far.

        Perhaps the only difference here is the threshold. I have been less thrilled with this season than previous seasons, but I haven’t quite figured out whether it’s me reacting to Peter Capaldi after being so very engaged by Tennant and Smith, or maybe it’s the directions they’re trying to explore, or — yeah — maybe they’ve drained the well.

        Your jury came back with a verdict… mine is still deliberating. 🙂

  9. Give it another go! This series is much better, more confident, doesn’t feel the need to ‘acclimatize’ you to Peter’s age, his face, his accent, his possible effect on the kiddies, all the second-guessing and insurance policies are gone, and at last there are mostly 2-parters!

    The stories can now breathe like they used to, and so there’s no need to rush to ridiculous conclusions, relying solely on Tennantish flourishes, like : ‘The moon is pregnant!’
    The one about the dimensional aliens was the only one that stood out for me last series, but this one has really come of age, and finally fulfilled the promise to stop ‘talking like children’!

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