Moon Knight Episode 2 steals a frustrating trick from Doctor Who
Anything to save a buck.
TV shows are expensive. No matter how big a production’s budget is, there’s always room to scrimp and save on certain aspects of the shoot. At first sight, Marvel’s Moon Knight is sparing no expense. But a close look at Episode 2 reveals a similarity with another sci-fi show, one with a long history of budgeting smart — British institution Doctor Who.
Here’s how each show approached penny-pinching.
Moon Knight Episode 2 reached a climax with a pursuit of Marc Spector/Steven Grant by a jackal that’s only visible to him. As we see him wrestle with the jackal, it toggles in and out of visibility. From Marc’s point of view we see him, but from a third person view the jackal is invisible.
Something similar happens in the 2010 Doctor Who episode “Vincent and the Doctor.” The episode is one of the time travel show’s patented historical cameo episodes, following The Doctor as he fights an alien threat alongside someone notable from the past like Winston Churchill or Mary Shelley.
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In this episode, it’s Vincent Van Gogh who comes to the Doctor’s aid. After seeing a strange face in one of his paintings, the Doctor and his companion Amy Pond travel back to 1890 France and discover Vincent’s village is infested with a Krafayis, a giant chicken-like monster that’s only visible with a mirror gadget the Doctor has. But, because Vincent sees the world a different way, he can see the Krafayis unaided.
The result is a fight scene much like the one in Moon Knight. As the point of view shifts between Vincent and others, the Krafayis switches between visible and invisible. It’s a neat trick, but many fans saw through it and claimed it was a gimmick to save on VFX.
But is that the reason the jackal is only sporadically seen in Moon Knight? It’s hard to imagine Marvel scrimping on effects, especially in action scenes. Doctor Who and Moon Knight both had thematic elements to their “invisible monster” choices — both singled out the character who could see the monster as exceptional.
The biggest difference between Moon Knight and Doctor Who is in the moments where the monsters are visible. Moon Knight’s jackal is lithe and terrifying, while Doctor Who’s looked like a giant chicken. So if either show cut corners, it’s clear the excess was much better spent in Marvel’s hands.
Still, if Marvel is taking Doctor Who’s playbook and improving on it, that’s good for Marvel fans. As shows to learn from go, that’s an excellent choice.
Moon Knight is now streaming on Disney+.