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!

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2 thoughts on “The Moffat Problem

  1. Plot holes abound and Moffat simply does what the Doctor does when asked a question he doesn’t want to think about or doesn’t know the answer to… he remains silent and changes the subject! Arrgh!

    An awful lot of the complexity lately has to do with the question of “who exactly IS the Doctor” and why is he so secretive all the time. We are made to believe this is because he is the “last” of the Time Lords. But then when we are given a glimpse of the mythical Gallifrey in Day of the Doctor… it felt rather, well, unimpressive and with very little context.

  2. Pingback: The Clara Problem | Richard's Weekly Journal

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