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Top 5 Betrayals of Steven Moffat’s Doctor Who



Some of you will read the title to this article and immediately come to understand exactly what it is I’m talking about. Most of you, on the other hand, will only be able to recall that Steven Moffat is a Whovian God who can do no wrong over the course of the next few paragraphs. Well, everyone has their opinion, I suppose. Now, I wouldn’t outright call these the top 5 betrayals of Steven Moffat’s Doctor Who. I think they’re something more like the Top 5 Deep, Disturbing, and Dastardly Disappointments of what is probably the most beloved science fiction television show next to the original Star Trek.
If you’re someone who watches Doctor Who solely for entertainment and think Steven Moffat’s the next best thing since Terry Nation, Robert Holmes, or sliced bread, you won’t like what I have to say. And if you’re someone who thinks Classic Who sucks, and that this Davies/Moffat era of NuWho is the definitive be-all-end-all incarnation of our whimsical Gallifreyan hero, then you probably won’t like what I have to say either.
Now, let me make things clear before we progress any further. Some people have criticized my dislike for many of the things happening in Doctor Who lately because I dislike Matt Smith’s portrayal, or much of the actors in general, or other aspects of the production. Uh, no . . . That’s definitely not the case. I actually like Matt Smith’s portrayal of the Doctor. To say the least, Matt Smith’s Eleventh Doctor is fantastic, full of energy, witty, and a bit cartoony at times, but that’s okay, because it’s very different from anything else that’s been done. (Well, one could argue Matt Smith’s Doctor is a more exaggerated combination of the Fourth and Sixth, but whatever). Just about everything in the show has been perfect, really. In fact, production quality has markedly improved, as well. Except the writing. Yes, I think the writing has been crap.
Steven Moffat’s first episode for Doctor Who’s new series was a little two parter consisting of The Empty Child and The Doctor Dances. Later on, he would go on to write Blink (which I still consider to be his greatest piece and probably the best forty five minutes of television next to Star Trek’s The City On The Edge of Forever). But those were the simpler times of Steven Moffat. Now, he has a tendency to over complicate things by making clever time jumps and paradoxes and whatnot and . . . Well, just because an idea seems clever, doesn’t mean it makes sense or is one hundred percent sound. These “clever” antics that Moffat loves to pull off crop up in most of his episodes, and while they might seem like really good ideas at first glance, some thinking (yes, it’s what you do with your brain) will reveal to you that the shit’s been hitting the fan since April 3, 2010.
When Who fans first heard Steven Moffat was going to be the head writer for series 5 and beyond, they literally went wild. With such a good track record what could possibly go wrong? This is the man who brought us the Weeping Angels and River Song! Anyway, most of the fans would be pleased with the results, while a minority  would express their disappointment. Sadly and unfortunately, I’m a part of that minority of fans. Trust me when I say, though, that I don’t entirely hate what’s been happening in the Whoniverse lately. I am just very displeased with the a certain part of it. Specifically, Steven Moffat’s part in it.

Here they are ladies and gentlemen:

5 – THE DALEKS

Mary, mother of Jesus, how the hell can you possibly screw this up? Now, I know what you’re thinking. You’re probably thinking how I’m another one of those fans who are going to complain about the Dalek’s new rainbow color scheme. Well, yeah, the Power Rangers’ motif Moffat’s got going on does kind of bother me, but not as much as this colossal screw up:
I’m sure many of you recognize this screenshot from The Pandorica Opens. How is this a colossal screw up, you ask? Oh, well, maybe it’s because any true Doctor Who fan knows the Daleks would NEVER join forces with anyone but their own damn selves. I mean a Dalek is even quoted as saying, in 1973′s Death to the Daleks, “Daleks do not require the co-operation of inferior creatures!”. Also, let’s not forget we recently saw the Cybermen attempt to join forces with the Daleks in 2006′s Doomsday, and that didn’t go so well . . . So why, would they join forces with anybody now? Folks, it doesn’t matter who has the Doctor pinned or cornered, or what the circumstances are, the Daleks would NEVER join forces with anyone. Never! It’s against their philosophy and it’s most definitely out of their character. In actuality, the Daleks would prefer to crush the Doctor themselves. Would they not? It’s stated over and over again, not just in the classic series, but in the Russell T Davies’ run, that these things cannot be trusted or bargained with. Ever.

Think Daleks like Jelly Babies?

Now, in The Pandorica Opens, we’re supposed to believe that the reason why the Daleks joined forces with everyone else was because the Doctor was somehow discovered to be the end of the entire universe. *Sighs* And yet, at the end of series 4, the “end of the universe” is exactly what the Daleks were trying to CAUSE with the creation of their Reality Bomb. I could take this discussion in a number of directions, but I’d probably end up writing a book on how wrong this entire plot point of The Pandorica Opens is on so many levels. I’ll just leave you with the thought of the Reality Bomb, and how the Daleks could have just used the Doctor to their own advantage to cause the end of the universe (like they really would do), while figuring out a way to survive the onslaught (just as they did in series 4), instead of teaming up with everyone .

4 – THE SILENTS

“Oh, how could you hate on the Silents? They’re such an awesome bunch, man!” Oh, please. Some simple thinking will reveal to you that Steven Moffat ripped off his very own creation, The Weeping Angels. What happens when you don’t observe a Weeping Angel? They’re able to move and sneak up on you, am I right? And what happens when you don’t observe a Silent? You forget they ever even existed, right? Am I the only one seeing a pattern here? When you’re not observing these two creatures, there is some sort of effect. Though the effects are different, in essence, it’s the very same gimmick all over again! GIMMICK!
I understand that the idea of matter being fundamentally different or changed when we’re not directly observing it in its many forms is an idea derived from quantum mechanics (If you want to know what I’m talking about refer to this video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DfPeprQ7oGc), but it was unwise of Moffat to use the same gimmick twice; it only proves how incompetent of a writer he can be at times. Now, if someone could just do a comedy skit in which a group of Weeping Angels and Silents attempt to become room mates only to discover that their very own eyes have doomed them to failure.

Kiss me, baby.

Also, are we to really believe that The Silents have been around for hundreds of thousands of years, influencing the history of Earth all the while? Are we suppose to assume then, they existed all throughout the Classic Who and Russell T Davies Era? That they were influencing and scheming even then?  I understand the Silents want the Doctor dead because of some B.S prophecy, but man, if that’s the case, they had a TON of opportunities to end him. Why didn’t they? Well, because they didn’t really exist until Steven Moffat came along. Doctor Who (not entirely mind you, but partly) has become something like the Star Wars Prequels. Moffat’s just making up all this stuff as he goes along, without realizing how it affects just about everything else in the Whoniverse. None of it fits, and none of it really makes any sense. Which leads me into my next topic: If the Silents have been around for longer than the Doctor, and have had every opportunity to kill him , then why would they complicate things and create a weapon people would later refer to as “River Song”?  Why send a woman to do a Silent’s job, know what I’m sayin’?

3 – RIVER SONG

When it comes down to it, the revelation surrounding River Song’s entire origin is probably one of the greatest disappointments I‘ve had to face with Moffat’s run. It’s also slightly disturbing, when you really think about it. I’m sure most of the fans thought that River Song was in some way a Time Lord. From the get-go that detail was pretty much a given; there were just so many clues, especially in series 5. I do like the idea of River Song having been made as a sort of weapon to kill the Doctor, but I strongly dislike the idea of River being the daughter of Amy Pond and Rory Williams.
Think about it for a second, the Doctor is married to the daughter of his companions. Not only that, it has become very clear to us that the Doctor has known River in some way since birth. I mean just look at this picture, the Doctor’s holding baby River’s hand:
What else needs to be said? Steven Moffat’s turned the Doctor into something akin to the Twilight Saga’s own Jacob, who falls in love with a newborn baby. It’s not exactly the same premise, but I’m sure you can understand where I’m coming from. The Doctor’s technically known River since she was baby. A BABY! A baby who, mind you,  eventually grows up to become the woman known as River Song, who in turn . . . uh, engages in coitus with the Doctor, which she implies in The Impossible Astronaut, by stating “I’m a good screamer”. Dear God. Yes, sex is a normal thing between two people. But for the love of God, this is the daughter of the Doctor’s two companions. Then there’s the joke River makes about having threesomes with two Doctors in a Good Man Goes to War. Sure, the joke would fly over the head of most children, but Who is still essentially a children’s show.

The Doctor realizes he’s in love with a fully grown baby. I mean, woman.

Am I the only one who sees what’s wrong with this entire plot thread? It’s for stuff like this that I cannot even begin to fathom why people are hailing Moffat as Who’s next best writer. He was able to turn the Doctor/River relationship from mysterious and intriguing, to uninteresting and downright creepy. Yes, creepy. Creepy and perverted. In the end, this marriage ruins one of the central points of Doctor Who: The Doctor is a lonely space traveler, a renegade both blessed and cursed by his ancestors. He’s not supposed to get married! Not to mention, River is no longer as interesting a character as she used to be.
Also, River’s creation makes no sense. So The Silence (or the Silents, depending on which section of the group you’re referring to), wanted to make their own time lord weapon to kill the Doctor. It’s a neat idea, but with all the technology and trickery available in the Universe, did they really need to go as far as to use the Doctor’s TARDIS to expose Amy’s fetus to the time vortex, thus granting the newborn baby the necessary time lord DNA? I don’t know. The existence of Vortex Manipulators in the Whoniverse implies that there may be other methods of time travel, and definitely other ways of accessing the time vortex. In essence, the Silence could have probably created an army of time lords if they wanted to. I mean, they’ve been around long enough; I’m sure they could have had the time to figure it all out.

2 – MOFFAT’S EGO

Yes, Moffat’s ego. After brilliant Doctor Who stories like Blink and Silence in the Library, Moffat has never quite recaptured the essence of what made those episodes so great. And that’s because, lately, he’s been focusing so much on how to be clever and design overly complex and elaborate story arcs, that all the meaty details get lost in a bale of time trickery and plot twists. Moffat just keeps trying to show the audience how slick he is, but what he ends up doing is creating a mess that literally caves in on itself. Ultimately, Moffat’s clever writing has gotten in the way of  making a sensible overarching plot, and the development of his characters. Series five’s finale, The Big Bang, was entertaining in how it connected much of the series in a neat bow, but overall, it became confusing if you thought about it too much, and that shouldn’t happen in a show like this. In fact, thinking about something should clarify things, not make them worse. But anyway, we’ll get back to The Big Bang in the next section.  Characters seem to be a problem for Moffat. They all seem to conveniently react to the events occurring around them so that the plot can proceed moving forward. Alright, so Amy Pond and Rory Williams find out their daughter is River Song. Cool. In the process of trying to find her baby, Amy grieves and grows a bit frustrated about getting her back. That’s great. But Amy never really has a hard time accepting the fact that her own daughter has grown up alongside her throughout her childhood, becomes River Song, marries the Doctor, and will probably outlive her. Not to mention, her body was literally used by Madame Kovarian and The Silence to create this “time lord weapon”, and Amy, conveniently, sort of just accepts the whole thing. Yes, she struggles a bit with what’s happened to her, and even has her revenge on Kovarian. But there aren’t any repercussions, she sort of just accepts everything that’s happened, as awkward or out-of-this-world as it may be. We don’t ever see her really having a hard time accepting the fact that her daughters grown up in a matter of seconds before her eyes, or that she’s married to a 900 year old alien. Don’t you think all the events surrounding Amy in series six would have provoked a mental breakdown, or something? Come on! But no, it’s “brilliant writing”, because it’s all so “timey-wimey” and messes with your head in unimaginable ways, right? No, it’s not.
I’m not saying Amy and Rory as characters are terrible or pointless. I think they’re actually wonderful characters. But on some level, Moffat has made them pointless among other characters, because he treats them all like chess pieces and not actual people. He places so much effort ( as I’ve said) into making an elaborate, clever, twisty plot, that he forgets to work on the things that are more important. It’s as if he’s really just trying to show off. I think if he just stopped for a second and focused on what made episodes like Blink and The Girl in the Fireplace great, we’d have a really awesome show again. Unfortunately, Moffat continues to insist that time be twisted into its own ass for the sake of shocking or surprising the audience. But, surprise, Doctor Who isn’t necessarily about time travel. Time Travel is one of the shows elements, yes, and a major one at that. However, while there have been a variety episodes over the years (both in the classic and new era) that further explored the concept of time travel, at it’s core Doctor Who is really just Sherlock Holmes in space, and I think many of you Classic Who fans will agree. Classic Who focused a lot on the mystery and horror of things, and science was usually involved somehow (as faulty or implausible as it was), not exclusively on time travel. If you want excessive time twisting, go watch Back to the Future II or F.A.Q About Time Travel, they’re great films.
After two seasons of Steven Moffat’s Doctor Who, though, it has become increasingly clear to me that he should have never become the head writer. When it comes to single episodes Moffat has proven he’s damn good writer. But now, in control of an entire show, it appears he’s turned the whole thing into an ego trip to show off how clever he is. Moffat is still a great writer, but there needs to be some quality control, especially in the episodes he doesn’t write. But that’s a whole ‘nother story.

1 – THE BIG BANG and AMY’S REMEMBRANCE

Overall, I feel series six was very much a letdown. Aside from Moffat’s own disappointing and senseless plot occurrences, many of the stories either didn’t work, or just couldn’t live up to their own good ideas ( I think Neil Gaiman’s The Doctor’s Wife is the only exception). On the other hand, series 5, up until the finale, had a pretty good run of episodes from Vincent and the Doctor to The Vampires of Venice, and Amy’s Choice. I even liked the two-parter that featured the rebooted Silurians. However, I did thinkt The Big Bang was questionable on just about every level, particularly when it came to Amy’s remembrance.

We’re to believe at the conclusion of The Big Bang that Amy was able to bring The Doctor back into existence (in a rebooted universe, no less), because she “remembered” the Doctor. It’s a neat idea that also happens to be based on a bit of quantum mechanics, which is cool. Here’s the problem with this whole plot thread, though. Aside from being a rebooted Universe (we’ll get back to it in a second), we know as an audience that Amy only personally knows the Doctor in his eleventh incarnation, and that she could only possibly remember the times she shared with said incarnation. Amy remembering the Doctor could certainly bring him back, I guess, but it would have to be a new version of the Doctor. Do you understand what I’m saying here? Amy knows nothing about the Doctor’s past ten incarnations, nor has she any idea of their adventures and the effect said adventures have had on the universe.
Also, before the Doctor makes his resurrection, the Universe has already been rebooted, effectively erasing decades upon decades of continuity. Are we supposed to assume that the Doctor’s return means a reestablishment of the whole canon? But how? It’s Amy’s remembrance that brings the Doctor back, but Amy can only remember so much. This is why the whole she-bang makes no sense at all. Steven Moffat has effectively rebooted the Doctor Whoniverse, and brought back the Doctor into a shell of his former self. No matter how you cut it, or try to explain it, The Big Bang screws with continuity in ways we can’t possibly begin to imagine. Amy does not remember Genesis of the Daleks, The Edge of Destruction, or Inferno. So how is it that the Doctor’s history is brought back into the Universe? Again, Amy remembers only parts of the whole, the Doctor’s been around for more than 900 years. And sentient, intelligent beings, don’t exactly come prepackaged with memories. They are things that must be made, day by day.

Amy’s remembrance also raises other questions. In a rebooted Universe where the Doctor did not exist, wouldn’t the Universe, as we the viewers know it, be completely different and screwed up? Wouldn’t that mean the universe would now consist of a reality where the Daleks, Sontarans, and Cybermen have succeeded in their past plans? Wouldn’t the universe, as a result, be embroiled in an all out war? If that’s the case, then why is the Earth so peaceful and Amy’s having a wedding? Am I  supposed to believe that the Doctor’s resurrection returns everything back to normal?

CONCLUSION:

I respect Steven Moffat. I really do, and like I’ve already said, I don’t think he’s really a bad writer. There’s no doubt in my mind that he’s great, but at the moment, he’s being misguided by his own ego. Perhaps there’s a voice in Moffat’s head; his own voice, that tells him: “You can do no wrong”. And then he smiles over a bowl of Lucky Charms cereal, surrounded by rainbow colored Dalek plushies as Madame Kovarian combs his hair. Okay, maybe not.
But what if Steven Moffat really isn’t a great writer? What if Blink and The Girl in the Fireplace were just . . . flukes? It’s something that’s happens all the time in every medium. Also, there have been times where Moffat’s been unable to tell what makes good writing. Just take this quote here, from the man himself:

“If you look at other stuff from the Sixties they weren’t crap – it was just Doctor Who. The first episode of Doctor Who betrays the lie that it’s just the Sixties, because the first episode is really good – the rest of it’s shit.”

The rest of it’s shit? Really? Steven Moffat was supposedly drunk when he said this, but drunkenness usually reveals the true uninhibited self, so I take these words not with a grain of salt, but as the truth. It’s also claimed that he’s taken back these words time and time again over the last ten years, but . . . come on, now. There are a lot of great Classic Who stories, and many of them were actually made in the 1960′s. The Dalek Invasion of Earth, Tomb of the Cybermen, and The Mind Robber are just a few I could think of off the top of my head. And I think any true Whovian can attest that Classic Who, whether it’s from the sixties or not, is, has, and always will be great.
I really don’t know how to conclude this rant of mine. I think the only thing I could do is ask a few more questions. What if Steven Moffat was never made head writer of Doctor Who? What would River Song’s origin story be like, then?  Moffat certainly wouldn’t have had the room or leverage to tell such an expansive story as he recently did. And there’s a good chance that if he did have a head writer over him, the companions, whoever they are, wouldn’t have turned out to become River’s parents. It’s a strange thought, knowing that there was possibly another version of River’s origin in his head. I don’t know. Maybe he just made it all up as he went along. I’m really only guessing.

About Nexus Verbal

Birth date: January 1, 1987 Hometown: Brooklyn, New York Interests: Writing Science Fiction, amongst other things. Films, Animation, Comic Books, Video Games, and toys. I love toys. Favorite films: The Empire Strikes Back, Blade Runner, Ben-Hur, Highlander, Mulholland Drive, On The Waterfront, 8 1/2, The Wages of Fear Favorite Books: Neuromancer, Dune, Ender's Game, Jurassic Park, The Man in the High Castle, Hole In My Life. Music: Burial, Susumu Hirasawa, Jes, L'arc en Ciel, Blondie, Rick James

16 comments

  1. THANK YOU. I was beginning to feel alone in everything I’ve been thinking, which more or less aligns with everything you’ve said here. I feel that Moffat, like every other writer on this show, has produced some good writing in the past. Note, that’s “some”, not “all”. Even when I, back in the Empty Child/Blink days, thought he was a pretty nifty writer, I did not feel he was perfect. That, however, is the attitude I find myself up against in many online fora these days. Moffat can do no wrong! He is the king of Doctor Who and before him it was utter crap! I WANT TO HAVE HIS BABIES! Uh….yeah. And I, as a result, am left feeling like the only one who can see that the Emperor’s actually buck naked.

    What I have chiefly objected to, though, is his attitude. He increasingly comes across as excricuatingly smug and patronising. I’ve read interview after interview where his ego (and thank you, also, for bringing that up) seizes control of his gob and comes out with the most paternalistic, dismissive rubbish. And may I say for a man who claims to have been a fan since the lats ’60s, he has shown almost no interest in paying any respect to either the Classic series or its fans. It’s worth noting that with the exception of Time Crash (which isn’t even a proper episode) Moffat has yet to personally write a script which brought back a companion or villain from a Classic episode. Sarah Jane and K-9, the Silurians, the Daleks, the Cybermen, Davros, the Autons/Nestene Consciousness, the Master…..all initially revived by either Russell T. Davies or other writers, and only one of these returns (namely the Silurians) has happened in the two seasons since Moffat assumed the throne.

    He’s openly referred to the Classic episodes as “crap” in at least two separate interviews, he’s stated that “nobody gives a toss” about the return of the Rani (proving he’s obviously not spoken to MOST people with whom I’ve ever attended a convention or a signing event) and he has said – in flagrant disrespect of the wonderful variety of companions we had in the past – that it only really makes logical sense for the Doctor to travel with a young, pretty woman.

    He is perfectly capable of writing good scripts, this I do not deny – but it’s become painfully clear that he requires supervision and can’t handle the responsibility of the head writership.

  2. (Apologies for the typos in the previous comment, by the way. I was operating on Turbo Rant when I posted.)

    • Hey, no problem man. Thanks for the comment, and it’s great to finally get a positive comment. I’m literally being ripped to shreds over on IMDB, but it’s all good. Though we may be in the minority, there are more of us out there. Just a few, but we’re out there.

      And yes, I’ve heard of his comments concerning the Rani and it’s bit depressing. He just continues to disappoint me.

      Surprisingly, last week’s premiere, Asylum of the Daleks, was VERY GOOD and a huge step in the right direction. But then he rebooted the Daleks’ memories across something called the “Path Web”, completely ruining the episode for me. :(

      • Nexus Verbal, your post exactly illustrated the many problems i’ve had with the Moffat DW era. Don’t let those Moffat butt lickers on the IMDB get you down.

        Although i’m surprised that you liked AOTD because it was a rehash of too many silly story elements that RTD and Moffat’s previous seasons.

        Like Victory of the Daleks the Daleks forced the Doctor to come to them to help them with a problem that they have, whereas like you said they would never work with another lifeform , especially not their most feared “Predator”.

        Like Forest of the Dead/Silence in the Library, they are animated skeletons chasing the Doctor and his companion .

        Like The Time of Angels/Flesh and Stone there is a danger of Amy getting converted by the nanocloud into a Dalek, just like she was in danger being converted into an Angel.

        Like The Empty Child/ The Doctor Dances Moffat reuses the Nanobots bring dead people back to life/taking over others and creates a zombie force

        Like the end of the disappoint series 6, we have the Chanting of “Doc-Tor Who!!!”, but it goes on too long.

        Plus where were the millions of Daleks (Not the RTD and the Series 5 power ranger colored ones but the Classic Who Daleks besides the Special Weapons Dalek which didn’t do anything) in the Asylum that we were supposed to see?

        The thin plot didn’t stand up to critical analysis: the Daleks are too scared to “cleanse” the Asylum. But it turned out to be not so dangerous, just full of malfunctioning Daleks that could NOT EVEN KILL RORY, who has DIED already several times in the past two series. You know things are bad when the most feared Daleks (that the “regular” Daleks even fear) can NOT even kill a character that is so prone to death. That totally undermines these Daleks supposed “threat”.

        Shame it wasn’t a story focused on the Daleks, instead being more about setting up JLC in this season. In that this story had the same problem with the previous series 6 episode Closing Time, wasting the Cybermen and spending more time with the Doctor and James freaking Cordon and the fact that a mere converted human (JC in closing time, JLC in AOTD) can not only overcome cyber control and mental conditioning but then can totally control all of the others as well is a joke and fatally ruined the threat and seriousness of the situation.
        Plus the tone like most of Moffat’s DW era stories was all wrong. Moffat’s usual jokey dialogue whilst funny in places undermines the dramatic tension. Even the stupid “Eggs…Stir…Min…8″ bit with Rory and the deactivated Daleks totally undermined the so called ”scary” Daleks in the Asylum. Why people claim to be scared of Moffat’s who is a mystery to me.

        Other problems are:
        Skaro was destroyed in the 1988 story Remembrance of the Daleks, and even it was brought back during the Time War shouldn’t it be timelocked along with Gallifrey?

        Dalek Parliament and Prime Minister- What the hell? Do the Daleks come across as lifeforms that even care to have anything resembling democracy? Also how many times have we seen the Dalek Emperor appear in DW?

        Daleks all of a sudden don’t kill their own kind? Daleks have eliminated each other without hesitation for reasons from malfunction, disobedience, to being ideologically tainted or just ‘inferior’ as recently as last year. So why won’t they now???

        Why is they so much emphasis on the Ponds divorce in this story even more so than the actually Dalek plot? The Pond’s marriage falls apart and is rescued in one episode-Yeah right.

        JLC was okay in this, but she comes off like every other one of Moffat’s female characters (like Amy, Sally, River, etc.): another smug, flirty over garrulous over sexed know it all constantly engages in completely out of place flirty talk with the Doctor who is also (surprise surprise) genius and manages to, as a Dalek, amongst other things, wipe the Dalek’s memories of the Doctor.

        Also why didn’t the Doctor Amy or Rory feel the cold when they were on the Asylum Planet???

        As some else had stated on another site, i wish they’d play Doctor Who as a straight sci-fi drama again and focus on the logic of the plot points as much as the look of the show.

        • Although I did like AOTD, I can assure you I did have quite a few problems with it. You pretty much tackled all of them, namely, Skaro, Rory and Amy’s relationship mending itself over a single episode (This should have happened at the end of this half series), and the idea of the Daleks’ Parliament.

          I was also little iffy on the Doctor’s willingness to help the Daleks.

          Then there’s the asylum itself. While I do think the Asylum isn’t an entirely sound idea, I thought it was very interesting, and provided for some very good scenes.

          But you’re right, the entire episode goes to crap if you think about it too much. I still think erasing the Dalek’s memory was the episode’s worst offender, though.

  3. The 11th Doctor is falling into much the same category as the 6th Doctor for me in that I haven’t particularly enjoyed his run as the Doctor but it has very little to do with the actors themselves. I also agree with your point that Steven Moffat himself isn’t an inherently bad writer he’s just been really off for the past few seasons. I think it’s possible for some artists (and I think that Moffat definitely falls into this category) to completely isolate themselves from criticism of any kind, even the constructive variety and therefore effectively stop growing as artists and their work almost invariably starts to suffer for it. He’s been in an isolated little “yes-man” bubble for a few years at this point and, honestly, it’s starting to show and Dr. Who has gone markedly downhill since then.

  4. Steven Moffat is an arrogant twit. Doctor Who really should have been restarted as “The Timelord” or some other rubbish name. Everyone seems to want to praise Steven Moffat’s godlike powers as a writer. Seriously? The man wrote “Coupling”. That alone should disqualify him as nothing more than than a crappy comedy writer.

    Have you seen Jeckyl? He should have been barred from writing for the BBC, based on that wretched abomination alone.

    He can’t leave the show soon enough for me.

  5. I think what made Moffat’s stories so good while Davies was in charge was that someone else was in charge.
    By that, i mean that someone looked at his stories and made sure they were in line with the lore of the time AND either made him bring the story into continuity OR brought continuity in line with him by technicalities later explained.

    One of the things I’ve said is a major difference between Moffat and Davies is that Davies understood a through-line of stories (something was ALWAYS in the background of a Davies story that you watched later and said “I MISSED THAT!” that was constantly bringing it all together in the end. Moffat doesn’t do that. Continuity, previous storylines, wrapping everything up so that it makes sense… those all seem like after-thoughts to Moffat. Plus he has NO sense of subtlety. And he likes to beat jokes to DEATH!. (Yeah… we get it… Doctor… WHO. Get it? Doctor… WHO?!)

    Moffat has tried to turn The Doctor into Batman. Seems like everybody knows his secret identity, then wonders why he chose the name “Batman” when “Bruce Wayne” is actually fairly nice.

    One thing I will ask is why you didn’t touch on the abomination that is the Weeping Angels? He took one of the most creative and clever characters since the Daleks, screwed with HIS OWN MYTHOLOGY and somehow didn’t care.

  6. Just read your article now, and let me just say that Season 7 has not improved things.

    What really bothers me is Steven Moffat’s version of time travel. One of the central premises of the show has always been that time travellers cannot travel back into their own timeline. The RTD’s era even expanded on this by showing what would happen if someone tried it, and the results were inevitably disastrous. The Time War itself would be the ultimate example of what could happen when two species try it on a grand scale. The whole point of the premise is that it makes each episode matter for the viewer. After all, if the Doctor can simply go back in time at the end of the episode to save himself and undo whatever damage was done, what’s the point in watching the show?

    Now don’t get me wrong, RTD had characters meddling in their timeline. But at least they only left clues for their past selves to try and figure out (like YANA), rather than literally stepping in to save the day… and he made it clear that trying to do anything more than that would have dire consequences.

    Steven Moffat threw that concept completely out the window. From Series 5 onwards we have constantly seen the Doctor travelling into his own past in order to save the day… and it breaks the suspension of disbelief for me. I already know that the Doctor is going to survive all his adventures because he is the main character of the show (regenerations notwithstanding). But whereas before I still cared about his adventures because of the impact he had on history and the lives of other people, now it’s all a moot point because he keeps going back and fixing things! Series 7 has even gone so far as to imply that the Doctor has erased all references of himself from history… which means that pretty much everything that has ever happened on the show doesn’t matter anymore.

  7. Amy was special. The crack in her wall poured the whole universe into her head – that’s why she could remember the whole thing, as it was, Doctor included. Somewhere locked in there is a backup of the whole of creation (or at least everything the cracks consumed, which was just about everything. Maybe not Pete’s World.)

    I’ll say I’m not a Moffat fan and I agree with so many of your points. Your conclusion though was totally addressed and as sensible as anything else of this era of Who – not the point to go out on.

  8. You express all my thoughts. I thought I was the only whovian that disliked Moffat’s writing. I wish Moffat could write episodes like blink again and stop creating story arcs for every single season.

  9. Nexus Verbal, I really enjoyed reading this rant and agreed with most of what your wrote. I think that Steven Moffat is a good writer but like Douglas Adams he need a good story editor to reign him in. Douglas Adams gave us such great Doctor Who Stories such as: The Pirate Planet, City of Death, and Shada. Part of the reason why these stories were great was that Adams had Robert Holmes over him as story editor. Granted Adams co-wrote ‘City of Death’ and ‘Shada’ was never completed (The Big Finish Audio play with Paul Mcgann was great!) but he is a great writer like Moffat but they need their idea filtered with an outside source (I.E. a story editor). Adams always wanted to merge the genres of Science Fiction with Comedy and I believe he succeeded with ‘The Hitchhikers Guide to The Galaxy’ (check out the BBC mini-series it was better than the movie although I did enjoy the movie) but there’s a thin line between being humorous and silly. When we take a look at Adams run as story editor on ‘Doctor Who’ we see that he amps up the ‘humor’ at the expense of the plot (I.E. Destiny of the Daleks). I believe Moffat is guilty of the same thing as Adams: He may have some good ideas (like Adams) but they need to be filtered throught a: Russel T. Davies if you will, or a Terreance Dicks, Robert Holmes, Phillip Hinchcliffe, John Nathan-Turner, Marc Platt, Nicholas Briggs or an Andrew Cartmel to clear up the dross from the plot. Anyway, it was a pleasure reading your rant but I felt that the tone was rather condescening (even for a rant) and I’m not sure if you were trying to persuade or insult your audience (I.E. ‘simple thinking’). Aslo, I feel that profanity is very unbecoming of anyone and is utterly uncalled for in any situation but besides that good rant. Until we meet at the fields of Trenzalore and the fall of the eleventh, God bless you.

    “A man only curses because he doesn’t know the words to express what is on his mind.” — Malcolm X

  10. Nexus Verbal, I really enjoyed reading this rant and agreed
    with most of what your wrote. I think that Steven Moffat is a good
    writer but like Douglas Adams he need a good story editor to reign him
    in. Douglas Adams gave us such great Doctor Who Stories such as: The
    Pirate Planet, City of Death, and Shada. Part of the reason why these
    stories were great was that Adams had Robert Holmes over him as story
    editor. Granted Adams co-wrote ‘City of Death’ and ‘Shada’ was never
    completed (The Big Finish Audio play with Paul Mcgann was great!) but he
    is a great writer like Moffat but they need their idea filtered with an
    outside source (I.E. a story editor). Adams always wanted to merge the
    genres of Science Fiction with Comedy and I believe he succeeded with
    ‘The Hitchhikers Guide to The Galaxy’ (check out the BBC mini-series it
    was better than the movie although I did enjoy the movie) but there’s a
    thin line between being humorous and silly. When we take a look at Adams
    run as story editor on ‘Doctor Who’ we see that he amps up the ‘humor’
    at the expense of the plot (I.E. Destiny of the Daleks). I believe
    Moffat is guilty of the same thing as Adams: He may have some good ideas
    (like Adams) but they need to be filtered throught a: Russel T. Davies
    if you will, or a Terreance Dicks, Robert Holmes, Phillip Hinchcliffe,
    John Nathan-Turner, Marc Platt, Nicholas Briggs or an Andrew Cartmel to
    clear up the dross from the plot. Anyway, it was a pleasure reading your
    rant but I felt that the tone was rather condescening (even for a rant)
    and I’m not sure if you were trying to persuade or insult your audience
    (I.E. ‘simple thinking’). Aslo, I feel that profanity is very
    unbecoming of anyone, and is utterly uncalled for in any situation, but
    besides that good rant. Until we meet at ‘the Fields of Trenzalore at
    Fall of the Eleventh’, God bless you.

    “A man only curses because he doesn’t know the words to express what is on his mind.” — Malcolm X

  11. I pretty much agree with the entire article. Thank you. It’s just the constant build up to a nothing of a climax. Honestly after all the build up to Trenzalore for River to speak his name when she wasn’t really there but the Doctor could see her even though it hurt him, etc. Just nonsense. He’s not Joss Whedon. He’s had 3 seasons to deliver on the season story arc and failed each time. He needs to hire some solid script writers who understand Doctor Who (the classic series lasted for 26 seasons for a reason). Stop using time travel as the way to resolve a problem. And enough of the sonic as magic wand. I am so worried he is just going to do a whole bunch of retro conning in The Day Of The Doctor. How dare he not respect the original Doctors/ actors as to not include them in a major way (promotion for the 50th anniversary is my problem even if he does sneak them in after all).

    Any way thanks for the article. You should listen to the Splendid Chaps pod casts as they recently have covered new Who and specifically addressed Moffat’s poor writing for female characters in splendid-chaps-nine-women, and will no doubt have alot to say about Moffat Who on Splendid Chaps Eleven coming up next month.

  12. It’s probably not that he’s a bad writer, it’s just that he thinks Doctor Who as a franchise is aimed at a certain demographic, it’s meant to be fun and cheesy so he doesn’t try hard. Doctor Who though as a concept is amazing and if it had the weight of writing the first two series of Sherlock had it could be truly one of the greatest series ever. He just needs to start respecting it.

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