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Published on August 1st, 2011 | by Andrew Reynolds

Moffat Reappraised

What hasn’t been said in criticism levelled at the Moffat era of Doctor Who is that most of the complaints: ‘Its changed too much’, ‘the writing is bad’ ‘its too sexualised’ have all been levelled at the show before.

They’re not unique to Moffat’s rule at all. They are the general gripes and moans that come with watching a programme that can give the greatest and occasionally toss the worthless in our general direction.

In an attempt to address these criticisms Den of Geek’s James T. Cornish has asked the burning question: Is Doctor Who really in trouble?

Taking on each criticism the article adds a sober, common sense perspective where other mediums may have jumped on the issue.

Although its readiness to dismiss the Private Eye rumours out of hand – especially using the example of Planet of the Dead’s budgetary issues after the damage to the iconic double decker (surely a one off accident is different to the internal management problems that Private Eye reports?) – is a bit disappointing after the considered approach it takes to:

Doctor Who becoming too dark:

Doctor Who has always had a dark streak running through it, right from the very first episode…In The Daleks’ Masterplan, Sara Kingdom was aged by the Daleks’ Time Destructor until she turned to dust… Not to mention the Master’s penchant for eating the homeless in The End Of Time.

And if you don’t think Midnight is dark, then you’re made of sterner stuff than most people.

It’s changed too much:

“In 1970, Doctor Who was given a radical overhaul. It was in colour, the producers and script editors had changed, and the Doctor was stuck on Earth helping UNIT. From then on, the series went from strength to strength.

Doctor Who’s success is rooted in how freely it can change.”

And Doctor Who has become too sexual:

“There’s been a pseudo-sexual element to Doctor Who since the 1960s. It’s there to keep the dads and teenage boys watching. Why else do you think the costume designers put Wendy Padbury (the Second Doctor’s companion, Zoe) in such short skirts?”

The article is well worth a read if not only to renew/validate your faith in Moffat but to look at the great history this show has and that, even during the best times, there are always criticisms.


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About the Author


Everyone has a favourite Doctor and mine - just for his honesty, his fairness and his ability to not notice the Master's awful, awful disguises/anagrams (Sir Gilles Estram!?!) - has to be the Fifth Doctor, Peter Davison. The stories didn’t serve him as well as his acting served those stories.

15 Responses to Moffat Reappraised

  1. avatar John Harley says:

    Doctor Who is TOO sexual now! Do we really have to have gay innuendo in most of the episodes? Can you imagine this happening during The Pertwee era or Tom Baker’s reign? Of course not,back then it was wholesome TV! Nowadays we have a writer who thinks he’s God’s gift and a platform for homosexual rights on a childrens television programme..

    • @John Harley – we would appreciate it if you could put some thought into your comments in future, rather than using it as an excuse to have a mini rant that comes across as ignorant. If you truly believe what you say, please back this up with some evidence and hard facts, rather than appearing to troll for a reaction.

      @Leon Clowes – that sort of reaction is as unconstructive as the original post. Addressing John Harley’s statement rather than taking some sort of high ground is more useful to any discussion

      @Reddalek – regardless of what you think of John Harley’s comments, equating homophobia to the Nazi persecution of Jews is highly suspect. You’re either extremely uneducated about this period of history or are very naive. These are two completely different things and by comparing them in this way you lessen the effect of each. Again, a better argument is required.

      Apologies if these comments come across as a review of your comments! We’re keen to keep the standard of comments high, however.

      • avatar reddalek says:

        As someone recently said ‘Gay is the New Black’. Please just substitute Gay for Black or Jewish and see how the wheel turns…But it’s ok to burn stone or turn away when you feel uncomfortable when it’s just an ajenda. As someone once screamed at my sister..’queers go home’ what for? a nice cup of Tea?

  2. avatar Leon Clowes says:

    John Harley – ‘wholesome’, ‘gay innuendo’, ‘a platform for gay rights’?! Get over yourself Mary Whitehouse and go play with your heteronormative Tonka Toys.

  3. avatar mabtycoon says:

    Maybe you should read the whole article over at before you talk about sexualisation in tom baker or pertwee era – it goes back to Troughton actually.

  4. avatar reddalek says:

    ”Nowadays we have a writer who thinks he’s God’s gift and a platform for homosexual rights on a childrens television programme..”
    So Gay people should have no rights? as what? human beings? or as 3nd class invisible citizens?
    So lets take the Heterosexual ‘agenda’ out of all programmes too. Because parents find it too uncomfortable to take 5 mins to talk to their kids. Dealing with Homosexual ‘agendas’ (what does that mean?). Bit like the Jewish problem in the 1930′s then? Stigmatise a section of of our society and blame them for all our ills. Dr. Who has always dealt with ‘a dislike for the unlike..’ its core issues for people not to judge based on knee jerk reactions.
    Oh yes! Homosexuals dont produce ‘GAY’ babies it’s the Heterosexuals who do. Why would you want to stigmatise your own offspring? And bring them up hate? Opps! because it’s easier than to explain the world to them.

  5. avatar Paddy says:

    I feel some more balanced response is required here..

    Can we imagine gay references in Doctor Who in the Pertwee or Baker eras? Probably not. And why? Because Doctor Who, timeless program as it is, is a product of the age in which it is broadcast. Gay rights and issues were simply not as much in the national consciousness back then, Pertwee and Baker were on TV only a few years after homosexuality was stopped being viewed as a criminal offence!

    Does the fact that there are gay characters and references to homosexuality within Doctor Who make it less “wholesome”? No, not really. Whatever your personal feelings about it might be, it is a simple fact of life, it’s not disgusting, it’s not something that children should be sheltered from. If children are to be free to make their own choices in later life they shouldn’t be sheltered from such things. If we want to ensure homophobia becomes a thing of the past we need to make sure that there no reasons one sexuality would be made to seem less “normal” than another.

    Doctor Who’s always been a little bit sexy. And there’s nothing wrong with that, as long as it stays within proportion to the main story and doesn’t detract from it. There have always been subtle bits of naughtiness in there. Does it matter whether these references are to heterosexuality or homosexuality? No, not really.

  6. avatar Rick Lundeen says:

    I think it’s a bad idea in the first place whenever someone such as den of Geek in all their wisdom decides to “answer all criticism”. Sure, they have to add content but they’re never going to change the minds of the nay-sayers and they don’t have to convince the yea-sayers of anything. All they do in these situations is invite heated and hateful responses like those above. Maybe less opinions/editorials/lectures and more straight reporting of events.

  7. avatar John Harley says:

    I’m not using this as a platform against homosexuality! I just don’t think that such issues should be on Doctor Who! I mean if it was a police series or a drama as such then I would have nothing to complain about! It’s part of the modern age whether we like it or not! My argument is that it has no place in Who! I’m not a great fan of the new series at all and actually preferred RTD’s vision to that of Moffat’s! I didn’t actually expect this type of response to my post and yet I should have done due to the fact that most TV viewers today are like The Living Dead! Good Night..

  8. avatar vaguely says:

    @Christian Cawley

    You do realise that the pink triangle gay emblem comes from Nazi persecution of….yes, you’ve guessed it.

  9. avatar vaguely says:

    Ooops. Hit return in error. Something like 1m homosexuals were targeted by the Nazis in a variety of evil ways.

    If anyone moaned about “:Jewish innuendo” they would quite properly be excoriated. Just sayin’ – if you’re gonna tell people of for not knowing their history, you’d better be on secure ground

    (Also, as the ATD article notes, Wendy Padbury was put in a short skirt for a reason – -which is exactly the same reason that the contemporaneous female crew of the Enterprise were – despite having trousers in the pilot!. Sexualisation is not new)

    • @Vaguely – more than aware of what you’re saying, but the point still stands.

      Disabled people were euthanised under the Third Reich, gypsys and Serbs were also among the millions who died in those atrocities.

      These events affected different peoples in different ways and still do to this day. Lumping them altogether desensitizes society from the truth of these horrors.

      It’s also worth pointing out that demonizing anyone as a neo-Nazi for having differing opinions is in itself a pretty Nazi thing to do, IMHO

      • avatar vaguely says:

        The trouble with not treating them as equal is that it turns victimhood into a competition. I don’t think that is very healthy.

        I’d criticise reddalek for lack of originality (Godwin’s Law and all that), but pointing out that something is offensive is not itself offensive.

        Captain Jack was a Moffat invention that RTD ran with enthusiastically (sometimes to the detriment of the storytelling in TW), but to suggest that Who has a “gay agenda” *is* offensive (does it have a “black agenda” ‘cos of Freema/ The UNIT captain/ the stewardess in Midnight/ Colonel Runaway? No, of course not. A female agenda ‘cos most of the companions are double-XXers?).

        I realise your primary aim is to keep things civil (and happily applaud you for that), but something I have noticed on a few boards is how clever bigots are it keeping it indirect and snide – at being “civil” in a thoroughly uncivil way, specifically to provoke OTT response, and how blind moderators can be to this (I *do* note that you rebuked the OP too).

        But the thing is, what cuts-to-the-bone for some people is a long way off the radar of others, so history lessons (rather than a simple “don’t rise to the bait”) might not be the optimum approach. As I said, just sayin’.

  10. avatar Ian O'Brien says:

    Too sexual? LOL. Recently myself and a friend watched the Time Monster, how many times did Jo flash her knickers, and her skirts were shorter. And its been said that the Tardis detector in the same story is rather phallic looking.
    One thing I am glad that Steven Moffat has done is to stop the Doctor fancying his companion, when Amy last year threw herself at the Doctor and he pushed her away I was delighted.

  11. avatar STLShawn says:

    I still have to thank Leela for helping me through puberty ;)

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