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Doctor Who - Moffat is on the way out

Steve Moffat, the helmsman of the recent series' of Doctor Who is to leave the show.

What can I say?

How about:

Thank <Deity> and friggin' Hallelujah.

I think that makes my feelings clear enough. ☺

 

What was wrong? Well... Let's see...

We don't need:

  • incomprehensible story arcs that don't make satisfactory sense in the end - Bad Wolf (Russell T Davies) started off good then got a bit weird. The Crack In The Wall (did it ever have a name?) was... well, basically Bad Wolf expressed as a hole in the wall instead of seven letters. The Impossible Girl was excellent, then utterly ruined by making Clara "mundane" in the following series, then the President Of The Goddamn World. That a load of twaddle.
  • I get that Moffat can write witty dialogue. But, come on, Dr Who isn't supposed to be a comedy. Enough with the clever wordplay and witty banter every single friggin' episode - if I want that. I'll go watch iZombie. Seriously, recall to mind "Are you my mummy?" and you'll understand how it is supposed to go. You just can't feel there is any danger from the incoming Dalek invasion if everybody is making wisecracks. The correct reaction is for the Doctor to say "Oh...crap..." and the Assistant to wet herself. Well, maybe not the last part as it wouldn't pass muster pre-watershed. But facing the demise of the world (or some other world) you don't go ha-ha-ha-lol. There's just no emotional depth at all on show here.
  • yet another "Doctor Meets Child" leading to the same repetitive soul searching about what it means to be <x>. It gets old.
  • I'm one of the few that liked Clara, and probably a lot of that was due to the fact that she looked damn good in a tight sweater. That aside, River Song is a great character. A vapid space vixen par excellence who knew the value of not giving spoilers (even if it became a rather smarmy catchphrase). What was Clara exactly? For sure, JLC is a great actress as it seemed "Clara" changed from episode to episode, and I'm guessing nobody on the writing team really managed to tie her down to "this is Clara".
  • Thankfully the Doctor is an old bloke so we're saved the endless flirty-flirty as he and a young woman (hello Clara) would be a bit "ewww"; as it is when practically every single bloody Moffat character flirts at everything with a heartbeat (...usually...) with little concern as to species, planet, or gender. My God, even The Master is at it in the guise of that batpoop crazy biddy.
  • While Moffat has done some good episodes, his writing style really needs an overhaul. We all know the series can be better than this (and whoever wrote that horrible horrible Christmas episode needs a slapping). We have had glimpses and we know that Capaldi can be a more intense actor ... but he rarely gets to use that...
...the story about him breaking out of his Confession Dial prison punch by punch was plagued with silly, but he carried it almost single-handedly and really it should have been given the time and scope to fully appreciate the sheer horror of it.
Likewise, Ashildr/Me, she is going to keep on living until the end of time. Possibly even to the state where the planet dies around her and she...doesn't die. Spend a moment thinking about being immortal, you'd be like "awesome!". Think a bit more and you'd be "oh, hang on". Think about it hard when you go to bed at night and you might start to realise what a complete mind-screwy horror show life would be if you had to be immortal for the past few thousand years, never mind until the end of the universe.
Maybe this is the problem. The seeds of some good stories exist in what we see, but the glib and trite dialogue and cop-out situations and red-button-endings...these don't allow the show to stretch into what it could be, these certainly don't allow the actors to stretch themselves into true performances, and in the end it is just Blake's 7 with a bigger budget.
  • Quit with the music drowning out the dialogue. If the dialogue is so bad you feel the need to do that, write something better.
  • We accept the sonic screwdriver, in moderation. Sonic sunglasses is taking the p!$$. I would comment on a sonic trowel, but that entire episode is best forgotten. We don't need a sonic toothbrush, sonic panties, or sonic anything else. Quit with these easy-fix contrivances because nobody can write a convincing Moon Logic Puzzle.
  • Please no more dire "the entire universe will be destroyed", followed by "but if I can only <technobabble> my <technobabble> with the <technobabble> and <technobabble>... yup, done it. Fixed. Everything is better now." Remind me why I wasted 45 minutes watching for such an utterly inane resolution?
  • Stop with the faux Hollywood grandeur. I think that's what ultimately what did in Torchwood. It worked as a tight-knit team of mostly undercover operatives investigating the strange and the weird in Cardiff. When it become the abduction of the planet's children, or the inability of anybody to die, it was huge in scale. And while ambitious, it stamped upon what Torchwood was. Don't let Doctor Who fall into the same trap.

 

I want the following from Doctor Who:

  • I want to see a new Big Bad that will make the Daleks look like the roadside cafeteria pepper pots that they are.
  • I want the companion to face proper existential threats - this was almost set up by the raven and Clara...brilliant right up until the part where they ruined it.
  • I want the Doctor to fail once in a while. It is boring if he always always always saves the day.
  • I think it would be fun to have an Evil Little Girl story, with The Doctor looking for all sorts of alien possession and the like, but in the end it turns out that it's just an evil little girl doing horrible things for the lulz. Not everything needs to be extra-terrestrial.
  • I want to cry. The last times I cried were at the end of ET and I was like ten years old, and after watching Lamb on TV while alone in the dormitory alone. I think I was fourteen ad if you know how Lamb ends, you'll know why it upset me.
    I almost cried at the end of Kyōkai no Kanata (wiki) until they messed it up.
    It takes a lot for me to get invested in a character enough to have an emotional reaction; with Doctor Who I have felt exactly nothing. Not even when Clara died. Because I knew they'd screw it up. And sure enough, they did...
    Maybe the writers of Doctor Who should take a look at the works of Joss Whedon - especially Firefly and Serenity. Or, hell, how about seeing if Joss can show you how it is done? I think we'd all rather have ghost vampires in space in preference to... what was all that nonsense with the not-quite-autistic girl and the trees?
  • If somebody should ever write on the ideas board some idiotic gem of an idea like "the moon is a giant dinosaur egg that hatches once every billion years" then please do us all a favour and erase the text.
  • You can keep Capaldi with the guitar. That's actually quite funny and one of the most memorable scenes of the last series for me was Capaldi arriving at a bout in the Middle Ages rocking out atop a tank. Whatever twisted sod thought up that scene deserves a beer. Of course, when the most memorable moment is a completely absurd scene...kind of makes you wonder if the series is in good health, or good hands. Either way, can I get Capaldi doing a bit of Nightwish, please? ☺
  • I want to be disturbed. I want to be enlightened. I want to be educated. British television has done some great things, there is much to aspire to, rather than rehashing the same cliché stories to keep the geekdom quiet. We've noticed. You know we've noticed. We know you know we've noticed. So change.
  • Would it really be so hard to find some smart people (maybe even smart fandom?) so the technobabble not only makes sense, but actually has relevance in the plot and in reality? You want something fun to play with, try quantum physics. That's practically hardcore science that writes its own sci-fi plot all by itself.
  • But perhaps most of all, I want writers clever enough to put together a decent solid twist ending that makes you want to go back and watch it all again because the ending has changed everything. And not in a cheesy Jack Harness voice-over way, but in a "I now understand what that means" way. Or better yet, in an "I now understand that differently" way.

Now go watch "Carnival of Monsters" from... when was it... 1979 or so? Back when the programme at least tried and wasn't aiming to placate with regurgitated mediocrity week after week. Then afterwards, watch the four episodes of "City Of Death", set and filmed in Paris, to see how even a plot with comedy elements can be interesting and well crafted. Plus there's the added bonus of the assistant wearing a school uniform for no reason other than because she felt like it. The effects are minimal, the creature features are silly, but I'd rather watch that again because the lack of effects are by far made up with the story, plot, pacing, and interaction between the characters. Rather than the current series that looks great but I'm increasingly wondering why I'm spending time watching it... As Douglas Adams said regarding City of Death: ""If the programme didn't move and take a few risks then it would have died of boredom years ago". Words worth paying attention to.

 

 

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Gavin Wraith, 26th January 2016, 18:12
Concerning the inconvenience of immortality, the lines 22-23, in Hittite, on the back of clay tablet 30.10 (we are talking mid-second millennium BC) dug up at Bogazkoy says: 
mam=man dandukisnas=a DUMU-as ukturi huiswanza esta man=a=sta man antuwahhas idaluwa inan arta man=at=si natta kattawatar 
In English: If a mortal were to live forever, and the evil sickness of man were to stay, would that not be a downer for him?
Rick, 26th January 2016, 22:20
Read that out loud, it sounds like garbled Japanese. ;-) 
Yes, quite interesting that over 4000 years ago they'd already figured that immortality would suck. 
Things like this make me wonder why humanity isn't a lot smarter, given the intervening span of time. Then I look to the nearish-East and I look to America and I realise that it seems that our species seems intent on going through periods of stupid, where people are not only willing to turn their back on provable science in preference of a wishy-washy fairy tale, but are willing to embrace it to the point of wanting to indoctrinate everybody and crush dissenters... <sigh!>
VinceH, 27th January 2016, 18:55
I agree with most of what you said. (And you definitely aren't the only one who liked Clara!) 
 
The only bit I'm unsure of is: 
 
"[We don't need] incomprehensible story arcs that don't make satisfactory sense in the end" 
 
If the problem is purely the fact that they don't quite make sense in the end, I agree. 
 
I like story arcs. In fact I *prefer* story arcs to episodic stuff where everything has to be resolved in the limited time slot - but the arcs on Doctor Who have consistently left me disappointed. 
 
Not just because of whether or not they made sense in the end, but also because sometimes rather than a story arc that builds, we've been given a big hint in episode one, then reminders tacked on to the end of episodes as the season progressed.

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