Doctor Who, Fridge Logic
This is a bit late, but on the other hand, that probably means it’s not spoiler-ish anymore. I’ll put in a cut just below, though, anyway.
I have a small niggle from the ending of Series 5 (nuWho, I mean). It goes something like this. The Tardis’s explosion made every star in the universe explode. (I’ll leave aside my problems with this from the point of view of an astronomer – Type II supernovae don’t happen below ~8 solar masses, dammit!) Okay. I’ll let them off the hook here. But there’s a problem. You see, presumably this includes the Sun.
(Also, we see all the stars popping at the same time, which presumably means some of them started popping thousands of years ago…)
Now … we know that the exploding Tardis took its place. Okay. I’ll allow for that. It’s weird, but I’ll allow for that. (How did the Tardis get inside the Sun, for starters? River opened the door onto a wall of rock, not super-high-pressure fusion plasma at millions of degrees…) But … presumably the original Sun went supernova as well. I mean, it’s a star, and apparently stellar mass isn’t an issue when a Tardis pops. And the Earth is less than nine light-minutes from the Sun. Supernovae peak at effective temperatures somewhere north of a billion degrees. As an absolute minimum, the X-ray flux alone should have stripped off the Earth’s crust, if nothing else. And that’s before we consider particle fluxes, or just the sheer mechanical force exerted by the nova shockwave*. That alone ought to be enough to flick the Earth out into interstellar space, like a leaf caught on the front of a hurricane.
The point I’m making is, there simply shouldn’t be an Earth 2000 years later. It just shouldn’t exist anymore. And this wasn’t explained anywhere in the show. It kind of niggled at me, and hasn’t stopped niggling at me since.
Also, there’s another fridge logic problem. nuWho Series 1 -the Time War. Presumably a lot of Tardises got popped then? In which case, umm, why didn’t the Universe pop with them? Or was this what the timelocking was really about – sealing all of it off somewhere ‘outside’ of spacetime as a way of triaging the damage? (Odd side effect of this hypothesis – at least some of the plot from the abysmal Christmas special last year suddenly almost makes sense – almost.)
I’ve been pretty negative above, but there were some things I like. I liked the idea of a starless Earth, and the empty night sky was creepy.** I also liked the idea of the stars lingering on in myth and legend, although I did wonder about the other planets. (Apparently the Moon was still there.) I also liked the way they showed history winding down, with things randomly vanishing from the museum. It was low-key but quite creepy.
On a character note, I liked Roman Rory (more than normal Rory, actually). The bit where he put a gladius right through the Cyberman was a good moment. (Even if that too didn’t actually make any sense – I doubt it would have gone through thick metal plate quite like that. Now, if he’d poked it into one of the gaps between the plates, or a joint… Sorry. I just caught myself over-analysing there, didn’t I? Again.) I also liked the fact that Roman Rory was more vocal and seemed a ‘tougher’ character than Normal Rory. In other words, umm, he actually did act a bit Roman.
I also liked the very ending, where Amy saves the Doctor, not the other way round. I felt it was just a bit of a ‘take that’ against RTD’s dreadful disempowerment of Donna at the end of S4. That was a dismal ending, even after the cheese-fest trainwreck that was Journey’s End.
So, here is the verdict. Although the S5 ending didn’t make enough sense, and left too much hanging, it was at least a lot more fun than S4. Also, it was good to see a companion being assertive and capable, and actually be critical to the denouement. Being human myself, I am kind of keen on the idea that we matter as well. Too many of RTD’s companions just seemed to be convenient accessories who were there solely to topple over and twist their ankle at just the right second. Getting past that is rather nice. I think enough penance has been done; the sin that was the 2009 Christmas special has now been adequately redeemed.
*Yes, we can talk meaningfully about shockwaves in space … over astronomical timescales, there is time for the atoms of the ISM to occasionally find each other, so you can talk meaningfully about a speed of ‘sound’, and thus have a shockwave that travels faster than it.
**Point number two: that sky should have been blanketed with aurorae. A galaxy-worth of supernovae will result in a huge amount of energetic-particle emission. It’s going to completely swamp the Earth’s magnetic field. In fact, one wonders about cumulative radiation exposure at the bottom of that atmosphere…