Doctor Who: KILL THE MOON - An Undecided Opinion

Nicholas Brent makes toast...

There’s no denying that Kill the Moon has divided the Whovian fandom straight down the middle and has become a somewhat ‘marmite episode’ of Series 8; some love it, whereas others hate it. I find myself trapped in the middle of the metaphorical jar of marmite, unsure of where I stand in the debate.

The hype for this story was immense, with Steven Moffat calling the script “intense and emotional” and with writer Peter Harness claiming it would bring about a large change for the show, I found myself drawn in by all this, expecting something amazing… only to be let down.

I can sit here all day and praise the phenomenal acting of the episode’s lead and guest cast, as well as Paul Wilmshurst’s superb direction which really created a tense and scary atmosphere and a sense of claustrophobia in the moon base scenes. And I can’t go without mentioning the glorious moonscape lovingly captured in Lanzarote and not on a green screen.

My main issues with the episode comes down to the story itself. The trailers, early reviews and interviews all seemed to suggest that we were in for a horror story (especially after Moffat allegedly told Harness to write it as if it were in the Phillip Hinchcliffe era, albeit with a few more choice words), however, the closest to ‘horror’ we got was a ‘spider’ attack, though these ‘spiders’ actually turned out to be microbes. This was particularly disappointing as I would love the return of The Great One and the Eight Legs who have only had one TV appearance in 1974’s Planet of the Spiders.

The scientific inaccuracies in the episode also greatly spoil the story for me. Many, including myself to begin with simply explained this away by reminding everyone that Doctor Who is Science-fiction. That excuse can easily be applied to something like the golden arrow in Robot of Sherwood, but the blatantly incorrect scientific facts and jargon suggests, to me at least, that the writer didn’t care enough about his story to take a moment to actually think about what he was writing or carry out some research. I understand that the show is a work of fiction, but it does have a slight sense of believability… a sense which this story destroyed.

Let’s move on to the elephant (or is that giant dragon-like creature) in the room (or moon perhaps…), and look at the controversial theme of the story. The episode ultimately amounted to a metaphor for the pro-choice debate. As much as I applaud the writers and producers for tackling more adult themes in the series, I personally do not feel that the theme of abortion and pro-choice is one that should be explored in a show like Doctor Who. With the Doctor gone, it was up to Clara and Courtney to make the final choice: destroy the moon and creature within, or let it hatch, both of which might have resulted in catastrophic consequences for the Earth, but didn’t. I would have loved to have seen a second part where there were grave consequences for the Earth after the creature hatches, or perhaps there could have been a sequence within the episode that showed the possible outcomes of both of the options. Maybe Harness should write a sequel…

Of course, once the moon is allowed to hatch, nothing bad happens. In fact, the new born creature conveniently lays a new moon, sorry, egg which is bigger than the creature itself! How is that possible? It’s just lazy writing in my eyes.

The one consequence we do get to see is Clara’s reaction to the Doctor’s actions, where she tells him to get lost as it was unfair of him to put her in the position where she had to make such a decision (although she asked humanity to make it, and then almost went against their choice). I particularly like the way this scene is shot; the pair are not seen together in the same frame, suggesting their once close friendship is now over. However, on re watch, I can no longer take this scene seriously as it is quickly undone by the end of the next episode!

I watch in awe at the production value and direction of all recent Doctor Who episodes; they look staggeringly good - especially this one. Peter and Jenna never fail to amaze me and their performances throughout this episode are sublime, but I always struggle to sit through this one as I am constantly put off by the lazy science and poor themes. I can’t say I like it, and I can’t say I hate it (there are very few times I have ever hated a Doctor Who story, but that’s a story for another day), but I am certainly in no hurry to watch it again.

And I’ve watched Bruce Almighty enough times to realise that this moon is going to cause some serious damage.

Nick is a 2000 year old alien who travels through time and space, saving the good and conquering the evil... or so he likes to think.
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