Stand up comedian - improviser - writer
  • In Defence of Steven Moffat's Writing

    Tue 31 Dec 2013  ·  12:46AM

    A facebook friend shared this article with the caption “Well this is awesome”, and because I’ve seen the argument more than once now, it angered me more than it should’ve done. What follows the link, is the response I sent in reply to my friend.

    The Captain Kirk Problem; How Doctor Who Betrayed Matt Smith

    I agree with so very little of this.
    To begin with, Captain Kirk never had a Time Machine. It's an inherent part of Doctor Who that the nature of consequence changes for someone who can live through events more than once/hear about events before they happen. If you were told you were going to die on a specific date, then wouldn't you take steps to avoid it?
    Just because two shows are both science fiction doesn't mean you can actually compare them on the same level.

    This is also the second time in a week I've read someone describe series 6 as the weakest of the Smith era, but I think it's the best. I like that the Doctor has become so famous throughout the galaxy that monsters run away at the mention of his name. It means he doesn't actually have to pull out a gun and shoot, but it also provides his consequences; as River tells him in "A Good Man Goes to War", "...they've taken the child of your best friends, and they'll turn her into a weapon. And all of this, my love, in fear of you..."
    The Doctor's successes are his biggest curse, as they create new problems and new enemies for him down the road.
    I also like that there's unsolved mysteries, and things we don't know all at once; it shows there's a plan for what the show is going to do beyond each individual series. During the RTD years, we'd get a villain of the week, and the villain of the series, but after those events were dealt with, they'd very rarely affect something that happened the following year. Take the Master's death in series 3. The only other Time Lord in existence (or so we then believed) and The Doctor never makes reference to his death again (or at least, not until his resurrection in the End of Time).

    I think a lot of the moaning about Moffat's writing comes from the fact that we live in a world of instant gratification now, and Moffat fights that in as many ways as he can.
    He doesn't do spoilers; he doesn't answer all the questions at once; he doesn't let you know what's happening until he's ready for you to know it, and people can't handle that, because it's one of the few aspects of modern life that we can't solve just by googling it. Instead, Moffat writes for the "look it up in an encyclopedia" generation, which runs against the grain of what we're used to.

    Take the Marvel movies. I have to be so careful to avoid spoilers in advance now, because it would ruin the entire film for me, yet the internet is full of them. 2014 will see the release of the Captain America sequel, and yet most comic fans already know the identity of the Winter Soldier, and could take an informed guess at the film's true villain.
    That's already way more than I want to know, and the movie doesn't come out until April!

    As for the concept that the Doctor cheats his way out of death, I say nonsense, because, at the end of the day, what are they supposed to do? Kill off the title character for good?! That's not going to happen.
    Ok, then we could kill off the companions. If that's the path we're taking, why shouldn't Amy & Rory's "deaths" count? They lost the lives they knew, their family, their friends, their travels with the Doctor, and they actually did die; why should the fact that they were old when it happened have any less impact on the Doctor? Either way, he can't see them again.

    And as for the suggestion of Moffat being the one responsible for the show's trend of cheating death, can I point out that Russell T Davies (RTD) did that on several occasions!

    • Captain Jack was killed; came back to life - now CAN'T die.
    • Rose "This is the story of how I died" Tyler; alive in a parallel earth, and came back once to get a Doctor of her own to live with.
    • The Master gets shot, refuses to regenerate; comes back from the dead.
    • Donna "One of them will still die" Noble; actually alive, and has just lost her memories. Plus, the Doctor fixes it so she wins the lottery - pretty perk-filled "death" by any actual standard.

    Plus, if the Doctor couldn't cheat death, then the show would've ended in 1966 when William Hartnell left, because if the concept of Regeneration is anything, it's a spectacular device by which to cheat death; not just for the character, but for the show as a whole.

    I also don't agree with the sentiment that the show's becoming misogynistic. The way I see it, the vast majority of the strong, powerful characters are women. The Doctor likes people who could challenge him, who are his match, and who he could trust to lead others during a crisis, and it seems reasonable to me that they would find him attractive too, as he works/talks/thinks on their level.

    • Amy Pond was the dominant partner of her marriage, resulting in Rory taking her name.
    • Clara saves the Doctor on multiple occasions, including/especially from himself, and also leads the Imperial Army against the Cyberman, despite not having any military training.
    • River is the real action hero on the show (as Captain Jack was before her), always ready to face down a Dalek, the Silence, etc...
    • Tasha Lem is Pope; so what if she's also The Doctor's ex - have we ever had a real female Pope? No.
    • Madame Vastra & Jenny are the best investigative team the Doctor knows, and two of the greatest warriors.

    Even Madame Kovarian is one of his best enemies, and her downfall comes at Amy's hands - not the Doctor's.

    I will concede the fact that "The Time of the Doctor" felt rushed, but, as I've said in my most recent blog post, that was probably due to the fact that Moffat had to wrap up all his open plot lines in just one hour, when he was hoping he'd have another year (Smith was asked to do one more series, but turned it down).

    Anyway, that's pretty much where I stand on this debate at the moment. I think that actually, the show, much like the Doctor himself, has gotten so big now that people want to tear it down, without taking the time to consider the effects of what would actually happen if they succeeded.
    For my money, it's still the best contemporary sci-fi on TV, and its positives far outweigh its negatives.