Oh, it would be remiss of me if I didn’t pose a counter-point. 🙂

During that same podcast, I mentioned how I have always disliked Christmas specials, but I didn’t really go into the details of why I don’t like them as a rule.

There are several reasons, but one of the reasons is that many of them suspend the reality of the show that frames them. From everything to sitcoms to crime dramas, TV Show Christmas specials “step outside” the real world that they’ve created and present us with a world where suddenly, Santa Claus is real, ghosts are real or miracles are real. The rest of the time the worlds exist more or less consistent with the world we live in (or, even not) but when Christmas rolls around reality gets tossed (sometimes just further) out the window. When the show returns to normal programming, reality returns to baseline normal, and it’s all forgotten. Can you imagine the world returning to normal if you’d actually witnessed a miracle on December 25th?

Stories must at least try to present an internally consistent framework of reality – even if that framework is unreal.

It’s one thing for a movie, which is self-contained must stand solely on its own merits to shape a reality that is appropriate and internally consistent. I am perfectly willing to accept flying fish in Bed Knobs and Broomsticks or Harry Potter and the Deathly Fishies because they are worlds where magic is real, and flying fish (as presented in DW-ACC) are magic.

But it’s another thing for a TV series to present inconsistent reality from episode to episode. It is appropriate for the show as a whole to present a reasonably consistent framework of reality.

Let’s carry it to the extreme and use a self-contained movie as an example. Can you imagine, if you’d gotten to the climactic end of Jaws, where the boat was sinking underneath them and suddenly Roy Scheider pulled a magic wand out of his pocket and flew the boat to safety?

No, of course not. The audience would have been cheated. This is not a question of obsessive nerd fans versus general audiences. Everyone has a need for a stable, consistent framework for their own sake of reference.

Doctor Who is not a hard science fiction program, but we could call it a “scientifical fiction” program. Even when they deal with things like ghosts and other paranormal phenomena, they are presented with completely bogus trappings of science.

The fish were nice, fun and important to the story and I wouldn’t want them removed, but the line about the fishes using “electrical currents” wasn’t even a half-assed attempt to justify their existence.

If they’d just made the fish a little different than their Earth-based, underwater relatives (and, how could they possibly be considered “relatives” having evolved on a whole ‘nother world?). Maybe make some concessions in the shape of their fins (eg, making them larger) to make it seem like they were in some way adapted for living in an environment that is considerably less dense than water.

They could easily have still been made to be recognizably fish or sharks and yet be different enough to ease our fractured sense of reality.

A long-running TV show like Doctor Who has a difficult time presenting a consistent reality, especially when so much of it is made up nonsense anyway, but it shouldn’t be argued that the needs of the story outweigh the needs of framework – if the framework is already established.

Consistent reality is difficult, but it matters, and people do notice.

Can we all say, “Blinovitch Limitation Effect?”