The Moffat Problem

WARNING: THIS CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR TIME OF THE DOCTOR.  If you don’t wish to be spoiled about certain extremely important plot details, turn away now.

I know I said in my last post that I was going to make a list of Matt Smith’s best episodes (or at least my favorites).  I’ll get to that eventually.  For now, having seen Time of the Doctor, there are certain thoughts rolling around my head that I need to get out.  Before I get into anything else, I want to point this out.  I am a Moffat fanboy.  I have greatly enjoyed his work on Doctor Who and Sherlock.  I think the man is excellent at creating emotionally satisfying and entertaining stories.

Moffat came as a welcome change for me when Davies decided to drop the reigns of Doctor Who.  Davies, over his tenure, had made Doctor Who a bit too… bleak, for lack of a better word.  As a friend of mine once put it, he had turned Captain Jack Harkness into Angel (the vampire from, well, Angel), and it almost looked like Davies was trying to turn the Doctor into Jesus.   Davies made everything feel a bit TOO heavy, like we were watching more of a drama than a sci-fi show.  Then, Moffat came and brought back the humor, the fun, the sense of adventure that Doctor Who is supposed to have.

Series 5 will probably always be my favorite series of Doctor Who.  I believe it’s Moffat’s best season (at least so far).  It brought back the lighthearted-ness of the Doctor while giving some great dramatic moments that did not negate the good times.  I don’t think Moffat’s lost that sense of fun in the slightest.  However, I think he is getting a bit too cocky for his own good.

Part of the problem comes from a bit I praised before:  Moffat’s stories have a lot of emotion weaved within them.  While they are always satisfying on an emotional level, they also felt a bit manipulative on the same level.  See, I’ve noticed that Moffat tends to hide a lot of his overly complex stories that don’t make a lot of sense within stories that have high emotions.  That way, people tend to focus on the emotional part of the story instead of finding the flaws in the plot itself.

That distraction completely falls apart for me once the episode is over.  I start really thinking of the story, and I start noticing plothole after plothole.  His three most recent stories, Name, Day, and Time of the Doctor, are all particularly guilty of this.  I start wondering why characters acted a certain way, why an inconsistency happened, why things feel too complicated to understand.  With that last thought, I go into the other part of the Moffat problem:  complexity.

Moffat feels like he’s falling into the Davies trap.  Davies tried for most of his tenure to make every plotline important to an overall goal.  Moffat feels like he’s been trying to do the same thing for at least the last half of series 7.  Everything felt too big.  For the 50th anniversary episode, the hype was so high, so massive, that there was absolutely no way that Moffat was going to satisfy everything he was promising.  With this last episode, he had a big promise to fill as well:  The Doctor versus all his worst enemies.  What did we get?  A montage of hard to see battles with things that might have been Sontarans, Cybermen, Daleks, and Weeping Angels.  Moffat simply did not give us what he promised to deliver.

All of it is part of that bigger problem:  Moffat is making things too complicated.  At this point, I feel charts are needed to keep up with all the plots and interweaving connections that Matt Smith’s Doctor had to deal with.  Moffat sort of succeeded in answering a lot of questions brought up throughout his tenure so far in Time of the Doctor.  However, I feel like it’s all still a bit up in the air.  Things don’t feel like they’ve gotten less complicated.  The Doctor has been given more regenerations and Galifrey is still out there.  Questions still remain.

I may be in the minority, but I sort of hope those questions aren’t explained any time soon.  The Doctor is a new man.  This is the opportunity for a fresh start.  Moffat needs to let go of the big, complicated questions for a little while and take a breath.  I, as a fan, feel like I’m on the verge of emotional burn out.  With a clean slate, I feel like the Doctor needs to go back to something simple, at least for a while.  It will give the audience time to recuperate.

As I said before, I still think Moffat is fantastic at telling stories.  I just believe that he needs to go back to something simpler for a time.  With this past season, it felt like he was trying to rush to something huge and wasn’t taking the time to plan it out right.  If he takes this time with a new Doctor to make something new, something not too complicated, I think everyone will be happier for it.

I think this will be my last Doctor Who related blog for a while.  I just feel a bit burnt out from talking about it.  I will blog in the future about my favorite Matt Smith episodes, but that can wait for now.  Also, let me know how you feel about Doctor Who, Moffat, Smith’s departure, anything of the sort in the comments.  I welcome all alternate opinions.  Until next time, Happy New Year, everyone!

My Least Liked 11th Doctor Episodes

Another Doctor Who post coming right up!

It’s common knowledge that, when a person loses a loved one, they go through 5 stages of grief:  Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance.  Let’s call this blog part of my Anger phase.  In an effort to let go of my favorite Doctor, I feel it’s important to look at a few episodes that I found lacking one aspect or another.  Instead of the prerequisite Top 5, I’ve selected my least liked episodes from each season and my least liked of the Christmas specials starring Matt Smith as The Doctor.  Let me first make clear that, even though I feel these episodes are weak, I still find them enjoyable in one way or another.  Nothing will ever be as bad as “Love and Monsters” in my eyes.

Season/Series 5:  Vampires of Venice

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I love a good vampire story.  Vampires, while being one of the most over romanticized horror icons, are still scary and make very interesting stories.  This story, however, has a twist.  These vampires aren’t vampires at all:  They are alien fish disguised as humans… Yeah, when you put it that way, it’s really silly.  I just couldn’t buy the whole fish angle.  It seemed a bit too weird for me.  The plot, when it comes to the aliens, is also pretty simple and boring.  They want to flood the world so that their race can take over.  For this show, it’s simply too “par for the course.”  With an uninteresting plot and weird aliens, I just couldn’t find myself completely liking this episode.  Still, the fish-pires are still better vampires than anything Stephanie Meyer could think up.

Season/Series 6:  The Curse of the Black Spot

Pirates!  Just the word calls to mind the high seas, big adventures, piles of gold!  You’d think Doctor Who would make a great, action packed pirate adventure, right?  Wrong!  Instead, we get a semi-horror themed episode where everyone gets picked off one by one.  And who’s the culprit?  A pseudo-ghost.  (The episode has a more sci-fi-y explanation.)  The fact that it was a horror episode is fine.  I just find it disappointing that the Tardis ends up on a pirate ship and nothing pirate-y really happens.  They tried to stick a sword fight into the episode, but it didn’t last very long.  Pirates were just an incidental element of what could have been a story of high adventure.

Season/Series 7:  Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS

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The TARDIS is one of the biggest icons of nerd culture on the planet.  Ask any nerd what they think of when you say the words “blue police box” and they will say “Doctor Who.”  An episode exploring the vast complexities of this fantastic time and space device is just what The Doctor ordered.  However, it’s not what we got with this.  Instead, we got an extended chase sequence that happened to be inside the TARDIS.  We didn’t really get to experience what the TARDIS had to offer.  Plus, the ending of the episode completely negates the entirety of what happened.  I DESPISE those types of stories.  If your story ends either with it all being a dream or something happening that means the rest of the story didn’t really happen, then what was the point of your story?   I know, I know, I’m getting too complicated and too angry for a blog.  Still, this episode was massively disappointing.

Christmas Special:  The Doctor, The Widow, and the Wardrobe

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The Doctor is helped by a random lady on the street one day.  In return, he decides to try to give her and her family the best Christmas ever.  Things go awry quickly.  There are two main reasons for my dislike of this episode.  First, I simply did not like the kids in this story, neither by their characters nor by their acting.  Child actors irk me.  Unless they are handled with delicate precision, I hate it when a child is trying to act and is the driving force of a story.  These kids, I’m sorry, simply could not act.  The little boy was wooden and never expressed even the slightest emotion.  The little girl was just not believable.   Secondly, I never understood why the Doctor would go through so much trouble to pay back this random stranger.  It felt too random and I just don’t get his reasoning.  Maybe it’s just that he’s a much better person than I am.  (Ironic, seeing as he’s an alien.)

As I said, although I didn’t enjoy these episodes as much as others, I still enjoyed parts of them.  Vampires of Venice had an original take on vampires while still remaining faithful to the lore (ei, no reflections, no sunlight, biting people, etc.).  Curse of the Black Spot was a decent horror story.  Centre of the TARDIS had some very good scenes with the Doctor and Clara.  Even the Christmas special mentioned had that fantastic Christmas feeling, preaching family, togetherness, and good will in a very nice way.

Even with these four semi-disappointing episodes, the 11th Doctor has had other fantastic episodes.  I have a whole slew of episodes I like to call my favorites.  Yes, you should expect that list in my next post.  Until then, I believe I’m over my Angry phase of this grieving process… Hey, Matt Smith?  If you’re listening, uhm… I’ll give you all the money and things I have if you stay with Doctor Who just a while longer.  Please?  Come on, I’m sure we can reach some sort of bargain…

Goodbye, My Doctor

Before we start:  This is going to be another Doctor Who post.  Fair warning.  Not interested in Doctor Who?  This article is not for you.  Thanks for stopping by!

Also:  My last post is now basically debunked.  Steven Moffat has his own plans and they will become apparent in the upcoming Time of the Doctor special on Christmas Day.  Pity, really.  I really liked my theory.  Oh well.

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Ladies and gentlemen, Matt Smith is My Doctor.  If you’re a Whovian, then you know exactly what I mean when I say he’s My Doctor.  Coming this Christmas, my Doctor’s time is up.  As such, I’m using this post as a way to talk about my favorite Doctor, how I feel about seeing him go, and even how I came to like Doctor Who in the first place.

A couple of years ago, I was hearing a lot about this show about aliens and time travel.  It seemed that wherever I turned on the internet, I’d see a mysterious blue box and a man wearing a bow tie wielding a glowing green metal stick.  A question was haunting me.  Doctor… who?  My curiosity peaked.  I did research and saw that the show had a rich and vibrant history.  I just didn’t know where to start.  I consulted a friend who told me “start with the Eleventh Hour.  It acts as a good jumping in point for newcomers.”  So, I did.  I hunted it down and watched.  Only an hour later and I found myself completely hooked to the show.

Since that day, I’ve seen every episode of the new series and have gone back to watch the classic Doctors.  (If you’re curious, I’ve seen a few eps of Hartnell, the last serial of Troughton, the first serial of Pertwee, all of McCoy’s era, and the movie from the 90s. So far anyway.)  Despite liking every Doctor I’ve come across so far, Matt Smith was my first and is my favorite.  As I have watched him, I have felt more of a connection and relation to him than I have with any other Doctor I’ve seen so far.

Matt Smith’s Doctor is the biggest nerd out of all the Doctors I’ve seen.  He wears fezzes and bow ties as attempts to be cool.  He’s clumsy at times but always seems to have all the information he needs to handle any situation.  He often talks quickly and tries to act clever.  He has an energy as the Doctor that immediately captured my attention.  His seasons, for me, were the most enjoyable, having interesting story arches and some of my favorite episodes as well.  Bottom line, I was entertained by him the most out of any Doctor I’ve seen so far.

This coming Christmas, my Doctor is taking his final bow.  Personally, I hope he goes out in a blaze of glory.  When he eventually does regenerate into Capaldi’s Doctor, I’m going to be sad.  I’m going to miss that big, goofy grin, that swooshy hair, the energy and spirit he gave the role.  However, I am hopeful for the future.  I’m confident Capaldi will make a great Doctor.  I look forward to whatever type of performance he has in store for us.  For now, goodbye, my Doctor.  Bow ties will never be the same again.