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A Word on Plotholes

Given some of the discussion elsewhere about "Asylum of the Daleks," I thought it might be worth sharing these two tidbits again:

Firstly, this post from a couple of months ago, particularly Steven Moffat's tweet saying "All stories have plotholes but they're only visible to the bored." 

Secondly, here's Steven Moffat talking about the need to "address the mainstream audience" and shut out his inner fan voice in this article.

There's been a lot of talk since Saturday about various perceived plotholes in the episode. I'm sure some of them are genuine plotholes and some aren't. People have been discussing whether Skaro was supposed to be "timelocked" after the Time War, whether the Doctor had the option of trying to save Oswen, why the dalek asylum would have a forcefield you can disable from the inside, etc.

For me, some of these plotholes have fairly obvious solutions, but that isn't really the point. So I'm throwing this open to discussion. Some questions you might wanna think about....

1) Are you bothered by plotholes? Do they impair your enjoyment of the show? Can you think of a good episode that was ruined for you by plotholes, or a bad episode that was improved for you because it lacked plotholes?

2) Is this current era of Doctor Who particularly plagued with plotholes, compared to previous eras?

3) Do you have friends who watch the show but aren't really "fans"? What do they think about plotholes?



( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 6th, 2012 04:40 pm (UTC)
Regarding the force field being turned off from the inside, that really bugged me when I watch the episode (and again on the rewatch). But thinking about it after, where else could they have it being activated? If it was from some sort of satellite then the planet would be a lot more open to threats. So although it's not ideal, it probably is the best place to put the 'switch'.

1) Plotholes don't bother me too much. I was surprised to see Skaro, but it didn't ruin my enjoyment at all, in fact I loved it! And honestly? I don't notice many plotholes until I see people complaining about them! Even then, I can rewatch the episode and not be bothered by those things, I usually forget about them.

2) Comparing Moffat era, to Russel T. Davies' era I don't think there are more plot holes. I do notice them a little bit now, when I didn't before, but I think that's because I'm much more into the whole fandom now. I take part in discussions and things like that now, where as I didn't so much before 11, so I think that makes me think about the episode a bit more. But mostly while watching I try not to think about it too much and just enjoy the episode!

3) Unfortunately none of my friends watch Who at all!
Sep. 6th, 2012 06:40 pm (UTC)
1. Plot holes do occasionally bother me—but not all of them do. I'm not sure why. I do know that I'm often quite willing to come up with my own explanations to work around plot holes, especially if I like the episode that they came out of. (For example: Skaro wasn't timelocked because it was never a major location in the Time War. The place has been virtually uninhabitable, even to Daleks, for a long time. It has symbolic value to the Daleks, yes, but little strategic worth.)

2. Compared to classic Who? Are you kidding? I mean, classic Who has things like Kamelion disappearing into plot limbo for, what, a whole series? As for how Moffat-era compares to RTD-era . . . I don't see any more plot holes in the episodes themselves. I see more hanging plot threads from series to series—why did the Silence want the TARDIS blown to bits, anyway?—but I'm not quite willing to call those plot holes because they look a bit like future plot hooks to me. (It's always possible, of course, that the entire thing could eventually come down in a tangled mess a la X-Files or, from what I hear, Lost, but that's the sort of thing that you can't really judge except in retrospect. I have a reasonable amount of faith that it isn't going to happen, but we'll see.)

3. I don't actually have a lot of RL friends who watch the show. My husband is a bigger fan than I am.
Sep. 6th, 2012 08:02 pm (UTC)
Now that it's pointed out, the forcefield thing does strike me as a real problem--why would you put the key to the prison inside the cell wtf that's dumb--but seeing as how I didn't notice it in two viewings, it obviously wasn't that big a deal. >.> Ofc I've never been much of one to notice plot holes.

The time when plot holes get to me is a different kind...maybe best called "character holes"? Where the plot depends on 1)people not talking to each other and/or 2)behaving in stupid and/or uncharacteristic ways. I thought the Rory/Amy divorce! now we're back together! because! was a bit forced/rushed/unsupported, and it lessened my enjoyment of the moment and the episode. (It felt like a "we need them to have been divorced for the plot to work, so they're divorced!" not a "this is the right direction for these characters in their circumstances"--which is plot-hole-esque.)
Sep. 6th, 2012 08:17 pm (UTC)
Wasn't keen on that aspect of it, but I saw it as more of a rush-job than a plothole per se.
Sep. 6th, 2012 10:58 pm (UTC)
Now that it's pointed out, the forcefield thing does strike me as a real problem--why would you put the key to the prison inside the cell wtf that's dumb--but seeing as how I didn't notice it in two viewings, it obviously wasn't that big a deal. >.>

Because any other way, you run into the Endor Problem. Namely, your force field generator is somewhere else, vulnerable to attack. Really, the ideal would be to have it sitting inside a heavily armed bunker somewhere on the Asylum, with actual sane Daleks (I mean, as sane as they get) to lower it when needed. But, no, "automated systems" all the way, apparently.
Sep. 7th, 2012 01:50 am (UTC)
Except the forcefield wasn't to keep others out, it was to keep the Daleks in--it's a prison not a fortress. Who in their right mind would want to free extra-crazy Daleks? It has no strategic value as a target to outsiders, so having faulty security vs invasion isn't a problem.
Sep. 7th, 2012 03:13 am (UTC)
I can see trying to free extra-crazy Daleks as some sort of last-ditch desperation plan, hoping that they'll cause the Daleks enough carnage to make it worth it, but, yeah, good point. I suppose the whole thing is just another little bit of Dalek arrogance. They never thought they'd want to lift the forcefield, so they never made it convenient to do so. (Or else they originally had command codes that could control the whole shebang from orbit, figured that the codes were absolutely uncrackable, and didn't realize that their own security systems could effectively create the perfect mole. Which is, when you think about it, a fairly typical Dalek screwup. They always believe that their slaves and puppets are perfectly cowed or perfectly controlled; it always blindsides them when they aren't.)

In other words, yeah, plot hole—but not so big that it can't be papered over or rushed past, IMO. I can understand that it will probably throw some people out of the story, but I've swallowed enough dodgy science not to even blink at a little dodgy strategy.
Sep. 7th, 2012 03:44 am (UTC)
it's a prison not a fortress.

Small and largely irrelevant addendum to my above comment—I don't think it's actually either. I think it's closest to a nature preserve. The Daleks are afraid of these creatures, but keep them alive and even give them their own space, because they're "beautiful." Sort of like evil tigers. They could be guarding, not just against the insane Daleks, but against the possibility that someone would come along and blow up their precious paragons of hate.

Although obviously they aren't precious enough that the Daleks won't happily exterminate the lot just to get at Carmen.
Sep. 6th, 2012 08:28 pm (UTC)
As a scientist, the entire program seems like one big plot hole, but I've long ago started ignoring the inconsistencies and faulty science in favor of sitting back and just enjoying. However, I've watched the episode a couple of times now and every time Rory and Amy talk about the fact that he wanted a child and she could no longer give him one, I yell at the screen WHAT ABOUT RIVER/MELS?

I don't think the plot holes are any bigger than in an other new Who, and certainly fewer than in old Who.

Sep. 6th, 2012 09:10 pm (UTC)
Rory wants to raise a child. Yes, River/Mels is their child, but he never really got the chance to be a father to her. So saying what about River doesn't really cut it. In fact, I think her existence makes it worse. They had a child, but the actual parenting part was taken away from them. They never got to be her parents, not really.
Sep. 6th, 2012 11:08 pm (UTC)
Moffat's plot holes are large enough to fit a solution in. I don't mind them because if I think long enough I can come up with a satisfactory reason. Others'... not so much.
Sep. 7th, 2012 05:22 am (UTC)
If the story is good enough I think it can get away with plotholes. It's only when it's a bit rubbish that you start thinking of the ways in which it makes no sense.
Sep. 7th, 2012 01:22 pm (UTC)
Hmmm.... well I thought perhaps it was just me who wasn't too bothered by "plotholes" but judging from the responses above, maybe not. Perhaps this is one of those things that separates Moff-fans from non-Moff-fans. I guess we look for different things in the episodes, and if you have less of an affinity for previous continuity (or for the concept of continuity altogether), then it's probably easier to overlook things that would bother other viewers.

I mean personally I would argue that the idea of the daleks sending the Doctor into a dalek asylum because they're too scared to go themselves is cool enough to justify any plotting that doesn't 100% make sense. As in Moffat's twitter quote, I didn't notice it on either viewing because I was too interested in what would happen next. Now I actually think about it, I'm not sure why the daleks wouldn't want to retain the ability to blow up the asylum themselves, but it honestly just doesn't bother me that much.
Jon Karani
Sep. 14th, 2012 12:48 pm (UTC)
1) Plot-holes that "ruin shows" are the realm of fans who really need a life outside of the television. The only truly ruinous moment I can think of in a doctor who episode was "Tinkerbell Doctor" at the end of Series 3, but that's not a plot hole, it's an ass-pull.

All of RTD's finales involved ass-pull moments (except maybe Doomsday) but that one was just unforgiveable. It ruined an otherwise promising episode by giving the Doctor superpowers based on mass thought.

2) Not that I've noticed but then I'm not good at noticing plot holes unless they're huge gaping things. I didn't even question the sense of having the controls on the planet until about an hour later when I was having a drink, and as for Oswin's voice, I let it go because it was disguising an awesome moment.

I do think, however, that the plots have been better and there's been less ass-pull moments since Moffat took over. The solutions in his episodes are carefully planted in the episode and then come to fruition, unlike RTD who's endings always seemed to give people superpowers 10 minutes before the end of the show.

3) Nope, can't think of any. The ones I can think of that watched it and decided it wasn't for them didn't do it on the basis of "plot holes" though, it just wasn't their thing.

That said I know people who watch Star Wars (a series of films absolutely littered from here to kingdom come with plot holes), and it doesn't seem to bother them even though they know about it.
( 14 comments — Leave a comment )


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