Ars Technica has an article on bad science in entertainment, with a list of items that were particularly annoying:
Any time Star Trek tried to do biology. They may have been awful with all the other areas of science, but I’m a biologist, and I know they were awful with this. Note to film and TV producers: science grad students work for peanuts. Buy one.
Take an example from an episode of Star Trek- The Next Generation. There’s a big disaster as everyone evolves backward into insects (small problem right there…) and Beverly Crusher is saying, “The DNA! It’s degrading into amino acids!”
Yikes, I missed that one … but that’s no surprise, I found Star Trek pretty much unwatchable and usually turned it off or turned away in disgust. The science was atrocious in truly stupid ways, and was usually just trotted out as a deus ex machina rendered in technical gobbledygook to end an episode.
But I can also say why they wouldn’t hire a grad student or even ask for free technical advice on the science in their shows: because we’d tell them it’s bunk from word one and they ought to scrap it and rewrite. Can you imagine how I’d respond to their devolving into insects script? I wouldn’t just tell them the word they want is “nucleic”, not “amino,” or that we don’t have a descendant:ancestor relationship to any insects — I’d tell them that they aren’t examining evolution at all, but ontogeny, and you don’t get to reverse a developmental process in that way, since you’re actually talking about unfolding a novel ontogenetic process in the individuals on the show. And I certainly wouldn’t allow them to magically undo the new insectoid features in their stars at the end of the episode. And then they’d tell me they’re shooting the episode next week, and they’ll call me in the future if they need any more science consulting.
If you want good science in a program, it can’t be just a dictionary check on a few technical terms — it has to be rooted in the premise. Most writers aren’t going to let you trash the whole basis of their story.