Pro-Life Sci-Fi

Every so often, television can surprise you. Last Saturday’s episode of the long-running British science-fiction series, Doctor Who, broadcast on BBC America, went far beyond just the usual time travel and outer spaces themes that the 51-year old series normally covered. This episode, entitled “Kill the Moon,” was one of the most pro-life hours ever broadcast on television.

The website, CatholicVote.org (http://www.catholicvote.org/the-most-pro-life-doctor-who-ever-10-points-you-missed-this-weekend/), in its review of the episode broadcast on Oct. 4, writes: “‘Kill the Moon’ was a thoroughly pro-life story yet it was effective. It did not preach or caricature. The dialogue sizzled. It was riveting, morally serious, and often fun.”

It goes on to say “the BBC ran the most boldly pro-life, explicitly anti-abortion TV show in the history of Doctor Who, and maybe in all of modern television.”

For those who are unfamiliar with the television show, Doctor Who is about the adventures of a time-traveling alien named the Doctor and his companions. Currently played by Scottish actor Peter Capaldi, Doctor Who has been a cult TV favorite in the U.S. for many years and is currently enjoying a tremendous popularity, especially among young people of high school and college age.

In the episode, the Doctor and his companions, Clara, a school teacher, and Courtney, her high school age student, land on the Moon in 2049. Soon, they discover astronauts who were sent to the Moon to find out why physical changes to the Moon are causing such destruction on Earth, with tidal waves flooding huge sections on the Earth.

As it turns out in the story, the Moon all along was an egg, taking billions of years to hatch a beautiful one-of-a-kind creature. The Doctor confirms this with the use of an ultrasound of the Moon, exactly like what a mother could see at her own doctor’s office. When asked what would be born from the egg, the Doctor utters a wonderful line – “I think it is unique. I think that’s the only one of its kind in the universe. I think that that is utterly beautiful.”

However, the destruction of the Earth is still going on, caused by the Moon. So one of the characters, a female astronaut, wants to discover how this unborn creature can be killed, for the benefit of the rest of the Earth. Young teenager Courtney is horrified by the thought and declares: “It’s a little baby!”

Clara, the schoolteacher, shouts “Stop. Right, listen. This is a, this is a life. I mean this, this must be the biggest life in the universe” and further goes on to say, “You cannot blame a baby for kicking.” The astronaut responds: “It’s an exoparasite. Like a flea, or a head louse.” To which Clara says, “I’m gonna have to be a lot more certain than that if I’m going to kill a baby.”

Without any more spoilers for those fans of Doctor Who that had not seen this episode, it is sufficient to say that it is amazing that such an incredible, thoughtful and fair story like this had been even allowed to be broadcast on basic cable in the U.S. and on the BBC in the U.K. Please God, many of the young women and young men (and those not so young) watching the series will be able to grasp the basic message of the story: All life is precious at all stages and needs to be protected.

C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkein used the genre of science fiction and fantasy to get messages of faith out to readers. The Lord Himself used parables to teach His Gospel. This little known television series, with this gem of an episode, helped evangelize with the Gospel of life. Well done, Doctor!

One thought on “Pro-Life Sci-Fi

  1. As a Doctor Who fan since the 1970s I was very pleased that the Tablet recognized the moral seriousness of the recent episode “Kill the Moon“. Doctor Who has many times emphasized the value of human life. As this series is made in England it is understandable that the primary pro-life message has been on the futility of a “War to End all Wars” but a constant theme of the show for its five decades has been that this alien often sees the value of humanity more than humans do. As important as this has been the longest story arc reflecting traditional Christian values highlighted the sanctity of Marriage. Indeed, over the course of a several seasons viewers were able to see a marriage reveal mutual sacrifice and forgiveness. As the article mentioned, the Doctor, a 900 year old Time Lord, is accompanied by human companions. From 2010 to 2012 these were Amy Pond and Rory Williams. When we first met them they were young and not particularly promising. They eventually marry and display, not the cartoon affection and superficialities typical of television, but self-denial and mutual surrender. An agnostic friend referred to it as “Catholic Propaganda.”
    As can be expected from the BBC, organized religion, especially anything that resembles an established church, will, at the very least, be subject to satire. Nonetheless, Doctor Who consistently reveals a concern for serious reflection that is both rare and refreshing on television
    The story of the marriage of Amy and Rory, as well as death dealing statues, vampires and many varieties of robots is available on the major streaming services.(series 5-7) Those watching the present series (BBC America 8PM and PM on Saturday) will be rewarded with a sub plot on the meaning of friendship. This season, we regulars have also enjoyed not only the Moon as an egg but also the Orient express as a luxury spaceship among other feasts of the imagination.
    There is much in this Time Lord that points to our one, true and timeless Lord.
    Rev. William G Smith, St Albans, New York