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24 October 2014 @ 10:15 pm
Kill the Moon  
NB. Spoilers more or less from the start here.

There is a tendency in a lot of adventure fiction, which I have complained about before, to assume that the correct course of action is always to save the one life in front of you, even if it condemns millions you can not see to death. I don't deny that there are interesting debates to be had and stories to be told around this dilemma especially since it is often framed as the certainty of one death weighed against the possibility of many. However the answer "save the person in front of you" has become so trite and well-worn that I am mostly irritated by such stories. Unless a show is deliberately being "dark" or "realistic" then it will always balk at having the hero deliberately take an innocent life*.

It doesn't help that, as a bonus prize for saving the life in front of you, the millions always get saved as well. In fact the whole dilemma ends up in stories as a somewhat tired device to present some kind of moral choice to our protagonist. We the audience (once you've seen a few of these stories) know it's a trick question - everyone is going to be fine. The hero, particularly if its the Doctor will find another way. It should be noted that [personal profile] ed_rex interprets the message as specifically anti-abortion. That's not my reading of the story, in part (as a commenter on his blog pointed out) because abortion isn't such a hot-button issue in the UK, but mostly because it was presented much more as a conflict between the many and the one than between the mother and the child. However, it is an interesting reading of the story.

As you can tell I was rather irritated by Kill the Moon's central premise. Not only did we have the fake moral dilemma but it seemed like it was placed there entirely so the Doctor could duck responsibility and Clara could then argue with him. The whole story basically existed so that a fake moral dilemma could lead to a fake argument which didn't seem to stem from any long running issues between the Doctor and Clara at all.

And the science was rubbish, 'nuff said.

It looked nice though. I liked the washed out black and white landscapes of the moon, contrasted with the colour of the TARDIS crew's costumes. While Courtney's character suffered from middle-class middle-aged writer tries to write a troubled teenager (believable troubled teenagers have, alas, never been Doctor Who's strength) at least the story managed to steer clear of being a tale about the qualities of a good companion versus the qualities of a bad companion something I had been concerned about since Courtney's appearance in The Caretaker.

In spite of my rant above I didn't dislike the story, but the central moment that needed to be good to make it worth watching just irritated me and so I'm ultimately rather `meh' about the whole thing.

*It occurs to me that this is one of the reasons Torchwood:Children of Earth produced such intense reactions (I mean, apart from Ianto, obv.). Jack's sacrifice of an innocent was entirely out of place and deeply shocking in what was, despite all its "adult" trappings, an escapist show.

This entry was originally posted at http://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/130645.html.
 
 
 
a_cubeda_cubed on October 25th, 2014 12:29 am (UTC)
I hated this episode. I thought it was the worst episode of NuWho to date. The science was so far beyond bad it wasn'teven in the sameuniverse as usual Who pseudo-science. The Courteney character was appalling, particularly in the interactions between Clara, the Doctor and Courteney at the start. I could goon, but everything was terrible about this, particularly the setup for Cara losing her temper with the Doctor. There are far better ways this could have been done if they needed it for the plot arc.
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on October 25th, 2014 02:54 pm (UTC)
I was incredibly clumsy, even for New Doctor Who which has had a tendency for characters to do odd things just to get them to the appropriate place in their character arc.
wellinghallwellinghall on October 25th, 2014 06:36 am (UTC)
You may have said already in another place, but what did NLSS child make of it?
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on October 25th, 2014 09:02 am (UTC)
I should have recalled, following the FB conversation, that people would be interested in that. She was fine with it and not scared at all. She has spent a lot of time since trying to analyse why and has concluded that it is because she is unlikely to ever find herself on the moon. I'm a bit dubious about this conclusion, myself, but she's very certain of it.
wellinghallwellinghall on October 25th, 2014 09:05 am (UTC)
Thanks!
bunnbunn on October 25th, 2014 09:30 am (UTC)
It did look nice. But your point about the 'mostly irritating' is pretty much where I am too.

I did think at the time that it would probably come over as an anti-abortion story to many people, and someone on my flist (american) interpreted it so strongly that way that she's quit watching.
parrot_knightparrot_knight on October 25th, 2014 11:04 am (UTC)
Steven Moffat is on the FB flist of a friend of a friend, and his denial of the abortion parallel there was circulated. Not that it helps, because reception is not dependent upon intention...
bunnbunn on October 25th, 2014 01:44 pm (UTC)
Exactly - it's not so much what he intended to say, as what people heard him saying...
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on October 25th, 2014 03:00 pm (UTC)
I think it also shows that you need to be careful about setting up these kinds of moral dilemmas - raising questions which involve weighing the good of one person (or group) against another are going to map onto lots of people's experiences and if you give a trite answer it may well alienate.
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on October 25th, 2014 02:58 pm (UTC)
That's interesting. I still think its a "save the innocent but condemn the many" dilemma if only because its the genre it is in, and I imagine most UK people will have read it as such. At least that way it is merely tired and a bit rubbish rather than ham-fisted and somewhat offensive.

I hope fervently any controversy doesn't prompt the production team to attempt a pro-choice story at some point in the future because that would be toe-curlingly awful, I'm sure.
wellinghallwellinghall on October 26th, 2014 04:46 pm (UTC)
I completely agree with your last sentence. In fact, I'm sure I can feel my toes curling at the very thought of it.
daniel_saunders: Leekleydaniel_saunders on October 25th, 2014 08:30 pm (UTC)
I shared your feelings on this one regarding the dilemma and the science. It's noteworthy that even fan-favourite Genesis of the Daleks manages to fudge its dilemma solution, though fans tend to forget this (the Doctor says he won't kill the embryo Daleks, then decides he should, but a Dalek causes the actual explosion, thus ticking all boxes, but avoiding the Doctor's final responsibility).

The fact that this could be an abortion 'message' occurred to me briefly, but I dismissed it on the grounds that the premise of the story was too bizarre to draw real-life parallels. I was rather surprised other people thought otherwise.

But I got most annoyed with Clara's rant at the end. I know this isn't the effect that the writer intended, but to me her bit about not taking off the stabilisers seemed like a demand to be treated as a child, which seemed totally out of character for her.

I also dislike moody teenagers and the slo-mo running to suggest 'heroism' is now so cliched that it just seemed laughable, like something from a parody of an action film. And although people have been trying to make the Doctor 'dark' since the eighties, I don't think it's ever really worked. Why can't he just be fun?
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on October 27th, 2014 11:59 am (UTC)
I think it was just overall very poor, and neither the Doctor's refusal to take part in the decision, nor Clara's reaction were adequately explained or handled.