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Published on January 22nd, 2014 | by Jonathan Appleton

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Did Doctor Who Betray Matt Smith?

Was Matt Smith let down by the writing during his time on Doctor Who? That’s the verdict of an opinion piece that has prompted a slew of heated online debates.

US writer Ted B. Kissell argues that Smith, although brilliant in the role, was prevented from becoming the very greatest Doctor by Steven Moffat’s handling of the show:

The problem was never with Smith’s performance. It was with Steven Moffat’s conception of the character… All incarnations of the Doctor have been at least a little bit arrogant, but they’ve also tempered that arrogance with varying degrees of humility, selflessness, and a sense of wonder.

Kessell argues that an over-reliance on cheap tricks left the viewer struggling to care what came next:

The entirety of Season Six is when Moffat’s fascination for plot twists and open-ended mysteries (in our house, we describe this unfortunate tendency as “plotty-wotty”) took over the show, and the whole product suffered.

Although full of praise for Smith himself – ‘a wonderful actor… perfectly cast as the Doctor’ – Kessell certainly doesn’t hold back in his criticism of the show-runner’s handling of the character or the series as a whole.

There’s no right or wrong answer to these arguments, of course, and the fact that articles like this generate such a response demonstrates the depth of commitment people feel to Doctor Who. The programme has undoubtedly reached new heights of popularity internationally in the Eleventh Doctor era, and the sheer numbers watching indicate people aren’t being turned off. But Kissell’s views will chime with those who hope the coming of a new Doctor and the resolution of so many of the central plot arcs of recent series will herald a different style of story-telling for the show.

You can read the full article at The Atlantic.

What do you think? Did Matt Smith deserve better? Or was his era a golden age?

Keep it clean.

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About the Author

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Jonathan remembers catching Tony Hughes's Doctor in BBC Schools Mathsshow when he was off school in 1975. This more than made up for having chickenpox. Something of an old hand by this time, he had learned from The Doctor Who Monster Book that there were other Doctors and adventures to discover - an exciting prospect for a five year old.




80 Responses to Did Doctor Who Betray Matt Smith?

  1. avatar Laz says:

    YAMH (Yet Another Moffat Hater). So few, so noisy. Yawn.

  2. avatar Victor says:

    I’ve read the article; it’s full of utter rubbish. Plus the odd decent point here or there. It says Smith’s Doctor is a bully, for one thing. Utter bilge.

    From your own article:

    “All incarnations of the Doctor have been at least a little bit arrogant, but they’ve also tempered that arrogance with varying degrees of humility, selflessness, and a sense of wonder.” As did Smith’s, what Doctor were they watching..?

    • avatar TonyS says:

      Where does it say that Smith’s Doctor was a bully?

    • avatar TonyS says:

      Yep he does call him a bully. Sorry. I should have read the original article as well as this one.

  3. avatar TonyS says:

    These sentiments largely reflect my own concerns about the era of the Eleventh Doctor. And yet I find myself wanting to leap to Mr Moff’s defence. The three series run of the Eleventh Doctor was far from being a disaster. I do think the programme lost direction during series 6. I agree that the story arc and the sense of “look how clever I am” got in the way of story telling. I think splitting series 6 & 7 into two harmed the programme. But we also had some excellent writing; almost universally wonderful acting and some really classic moments.

    And I set my hat automatically against anyone who calls the programme a “product”!

  4. avatar Howard Railton says:

    Moffat’s writing stinks. We can all see the dire-ness of many pathetic Moffat-messes that don’t make any sense and are generally a salacious, innuendo fest with little to recommend them.

    Moffat wont let great ideas be expanded to the two-parters they need to be and instead burns through stories and ends up with weak padding out his seasons.

    I think it is important to see the flaws in Moffat’s writing but it’s not just him, the laziest, most self-indulgent has-been of all Moffat’s cronies is Gareth Roberts and, hey, what do you know, Moffat’s commissioned yet another Roberts’ yawn fest next year, still, if it has the same pace as ‘Closing Time’ it’ll be something viewers can nod off to. Pity poor Capaldi facing such embarrassment.

    Smith was woefully let down. He is a great talent cast in the role who has been largely wasted by ludicrous script messes full of plot holes, spurious innuendo and little of any real worth value to commend them.

    In short, Moffat’s Who-ed out and should be sacked. It’s timey wimey he was sent offey woffey.

    • avatar SutekhsGiftOfUnlimitedRicePudding says:

      Russell T Davies originally brought Gareth Roberts to Doctor Who, commissioning him to write two episodes (The Shakespeare Code and The Unicorn And The Wasp), the Attack Of The Graske red-button interactive thingy, and a number of TARDISodes. In the interest of balance, why don’t you have a go at RTD fit commissioning and recommissioning work from Roberts.
      The rest of your rant is just your opinion and not fact. I notice that you don’t offer any constructive ideas as to which direction the show should go, who should be in charge, and who should be commissioned to write episodes. You just poured out bile.


    • Steven Moffat is but one Executive Producer of a team of 2 or 3 at varying points.

      seems odd to put all the blame for what you perceive to be problems at his door.

    • avatar DonnaM says:

      Strong words, Howard!

      I respect your opinion while disagreeing with significant chunks of it. Yes, Moffat’s tenure hasn’t been perfect (personally I don’t think any showrunner has ever produced “perfect” Doctor Who); I agree his eps can feel rushed, and I found the whole over-arching “era arc” unsatisfactory. I also fear it would drive off the “casuals” and my greatest fear is the show becoming too clannish and fannish – that’s the fastest way to get it off our screens.

      However…

      The article that sparked this debate over-eggs the pudding to my mind. Moffat writes snappy dialouge, clever time-travel storylines, and has overseen the show’s 50th anniversary in style. He’s also written some of my favoutie episodes of NuWho – Blink, The Girl In The Fireplace, The Day Of The Doctor itself. Matt, while a wonderful actor, contributes to my lukewarm feeling about his portrayal of the Doctor by being too hyper-quirky and too knowing for my taste.

      As for Peter Capaldi, I wouldn’t feel too sorry for him. He’s a world-class actor who wouldn’t have been short of work (witness The Musketeers!) if he, as a lifelong fan, hated Moffat’s Doctor Who. He’ll bring a different take to the role to Matt, and I for one look forward to seeing what he and Moffat together can deliver.

    • avatar Geoff says:

      But on the one hand you’re saying the stories should be expanded to two parters and then on the other you’re calling the stories yawn fests! You can’t have it both ways!

    • avatar johnnybear says:

      I agree, Howard! I hate Moffat and his fairytales much prefer a sci-fi story like those of the classic series! Matt was a great character and I’ve always felt sorry for him to be stuck with moffat’s dreary writing! He could have been so much better with the likes of a Terrance Dicks or even Robert Holmes and maybe dare I say it, RTD!

  5. avatar Solonor says:

    Ugh. I am so tired of the Moffat bashing. Did I like every episode of the 11th Doctor’s run? No, but I didn’t like every episode of Tom Baker’s run or Christopher Eccleston’s or Jon Pertwee’s or Patrick Troughton’s or David Tennant’s either. But out of the top 20 episodes of Doctor Who all-time, I’d say at least six were during Matt Smith’s run. And even if he gave us nothing else, Steven Moffat earns my everlasting thanks for The Day of the Doctor.

    If you don’t like the show, then don’t watch the show. Or come back when the next show runner takes over. But, for God’s sake, shut up about how bad Moffat is (he said to “the world of Moffat bashers” not to anyone in particular).

  6. avatar TonyS says:

    Well said, Solonor. I agree with most of what you say. I do not know how many (if any) Matt Smith episodes would make it into my all time top 20 however. He has had some excellent episodes (and some stinkers). That makes his run no worse nor better than any other Doctor. I am not sure however whether many of his episodes have that “classic” status that will hold them in fans’ hearts in years to come.

    And while I have expressed my dislike for some of what Mr Moff has done since he took over running the show, I too tire of this incessant Moffat-bashing!

  7. avatar Kuroba says:

    Can you point to a single plot hole that wasn’t resolved by the end of Time of the Doctor?

    • avatar krumstets says:

      Who was Prisoner Zero in the Eleventh Hour? What wasall that about?

      • avatar CJLP88 says:

        He was a shapeshifting alien held prisoner by the Atraxi. Probably not the first shapeshifting alien convict The Doctor has encountered nor the last. Nothing remarkable about it at all.

  8. avatar Gareth says:

    The Moffat era stories don’t really gel with me , partly as I Really disliked Amy’s character and the stories often felt like a first draft but don’t understand the hate he gets, However Matt Smith wasn’t best served by a lot of the writers and carried a lot of below par stories , I always enjoyed his appearance in Sarah Jane and would loved to of seen RTD write for him.

  9. avatar Ranger says:

    Moffatt has written some of my all-time favourite stories, such as Blink and the “Are you my Mummy?” duo; and I was excited when I heard that he was going to be taking on the show-runner role; however, I do think he has become too entranced with the big story arc idea and that the overall writing (from everyone) in Matt’s reign hasn’t been of the highest calibre – to the extent that while I watch every episode, I haven’t rewatched any of them and feel no urge to get his era on DVD, whereas I watch and rewatch the classic series and the Eccleston and Tennant stories again and again. I do think it is time for Moffatt to go and let someone with a fresh view come in. Sorry if this regarded as “Moffatt-bashing” but it’s how I feel.

    • avatar Paul McGann's Cat says:

      Entirely agree. and it really is quite silly how one can’t have a critical view of the Moffat years without being derided as a “hater”.

      • avatar Victor says:

        I think there’s a difference between being justly critical, and the wailing and gnashing you often see on the internet. Emotion gets the better of people and any decent critical points are lost beneath a rant.

  10. avatar Paul McGann's Cat says:

    Entirely agree with the article. Would’ve loved to see MS under someone else’s wing.

    Series 6 was largely a turd, no question.

    • avatar Victor says:

      Each to their own and all that, but any season that has The Impossible Astronaut, the Doctor’s Wife, Let’s Kill Hitler, the Girls Who Waited, Night Terrors and The God Complex is far, to my mind, ‘largely a turd’. The arc stuff was a bit much, and not ultimately satisfying during the season to me, but there was a lot of good stuff that people seem to overlook in their rush to bag on an arc-heavy season. The distate they feel towards the arc stuff blinds them to season sixes many virtues.

      • avatar Turdy says:

        God Complex and The Doctor’s Wife are the only episodes I rate from Series 6, that others you mention I thought were bloody awful. Nothing more than Moffat tediously indulging himself and letting his plot strands run away with him without knowing how to resolve them (as proved by the fact that most of them had to be resolved with one liners in Time of the Doctor).

      • avatar johnnybear says:

        Let’s kill Hitler was an absolute embarrasment! The idea that you lock up one of the most evil and powerful men ever in the history of the world in a cupboard while you enact some cobblers about a regenerating girl in Nazi Germany was ludicrous! How dare they build us up for months to what sounded like a good story and then transmit a pile of offal onto our screens! Jeez!

        • avatar Victor says:

          ‘How dare they’?? Get a little perspective, heh. It was a really fun episode as far as I’m concerned. And why not deal with an evil man like Hitler in an off hand, zero respect manner.

    • avatar TonyS says:

      Of course the contention that season 6 was largely a turd is open to question! I happen to agree with you but that is our opinion. It is not fact. I am beginning to warm more to Mr Moff after what he did with the Anniversary.

  11. avatar castellanspandrel says:

    I like a lot of things Steven Moffat has done for Doctor Who while disliking others.

    I agree that it should be possible to be critical of him without being labelled a ‘hater’, as I find blind fan-love to be every bit as daft as overwhelming negativity. However, it’s the words employed by some fans who are critical of Moffat’s work which make their opinions come across as purely personal attacks rather than ‘objectively’ critical ones.

    For example, I think Ranger and Paul McGann’s Cat make good points above, but I’d say, PM’s Cat, when you make statements like ‘Series 6 was largely a turd, no question’ as if it’s not even open to debate, then it can come across as a ranted personal agenda rather than as your reasoned personal opinion.

    For what it’s worth, I would’ve liked to see MS under another producer’s aegis, as I would’ve done with DT, just to see what else could’ve been done with the character and with that era.

  12. avatar castellanspandrel says:

    Bearing in mind that we haven’t seen Capaldi’s first season yet, for which I’m keeping an open mind until I’ve seen it, I do think that Steven Moffat should step aside in the near future to give a fresh face a crack at exec-producing/lead-writing the series.

    And when I say ‘fresh face’, I don’t necessarily mean Mark Gatiss or someone who’s already strongly lembedded in Who, but someone like Jack Thorne (BBC3′s The Fades), or a more recent newcomer to the series, Neil Cross, whose work on Luther shows similar storytelling dynamics to modern Doctor Who.

    • avatar Victor says:

      I think Moffat will go soon; and the return of Phil Ford, who co-ran Sarah Jane and Wizard’s Vs. Aliens, makes me wonder if he isn’t back because he’s getting used to working on the show again in preperation for taking over…

  13. avatar Paul Brown says:

    For me, Matt was easily one of the greatest Doctors – and I’m old enough to remember when the character was mere Mr Who, BSc (Hons). I also don’t think the writing let him down at all – if anything, the main problem (particularly with the last series) was lack of screen time to properly develop the ideas and characters. Many of the stories in season 7 felt as though they had been cut down from at least an hour, with occasionally hurried explanations/plot resolutions and underuse of new monsters. With an unbroken run and hour-long episodes or two-parters, I think most people would say Eleven’s tenure was a golden age.

  14. avatar IGettings says:

    For myself, the era contains some of the my favourite ever stories. I was more dissatisfied with series 7 B as it began to feel like there was no script editor or an equivalent – with the fake android subplot in Journey and the Thomas Thomas casting just to make a silly joke being some of the symptoms of a wider problem. I suspect that one day, that time will be examined more in detail, but aside from that and a few miss-hits in series 5, it was one of my fondly remembered eras.

  15. avatar TimeChaser says:

    This tripe again? EVERY era of Doctor Who has had its ups and downs, this will never change. RTD also wrote or commissioned stories that ended up being terrible, but there were also some brilliant gems in his time as showrunner. The same is true for Moffat, John Nathan-Turner, Graham Williams, Philip Hinchcliffe, Barry Letts, and on back to the beginning.

    The man who write the original article needs to chill out, like every other person who hates on Moffat. Obviously they have never seen the rest of Doctor Who.

  16. avatar Andrew Dorgomire says:

    Can we just exterminate him and move on with our lives?!?

    • avatar TonyS says:

      Exterminate whom?

  17. avatar rickjlundeen says:

    While I will admit that I like the Moff better as a writer than a showrunner, and yes, things do get a bit too complicated–not indecipherable, just overly complicated—I think Smith has transcended any lame stories and enhanced the great ones. The only time I think the side was let down by Moffat was series 7B, a very uneven subpar section as a whole but even there, it still had its gems.

    And still a helluva lot better than anything in the 1980′s except “Caves”.

    • avatar TimeChaser says:

      Really? No room for Remembrance of the Daleks, Greatest Show in the Galaxy, Ghost Light, Curse of Fenric, Survival in there? Or the E-Space trilogy? Come on, there were plenty of great stories in the 1980s.

  18. avatar Al says:

    Kissel is full of hops. He wanted Smith to be a clone of the Doctors that came before. That’s not the point of regenerating and reinventing the show every few years. If Smith’s Doctor had been exactly the same as Tennant’s, as McCoy’s, then I’d say Moffat had failed. But he wasn’t, and under his watch Moffat has delivered some of the best Who stories of all time for Smith. Every era has duds (including Eccleston’s) and it’s unrealistic to expect every episode to be a classic because humans, not gods, write the show. Moffat has done Smith proud, and I fully expect he’ll continue to bat it out of the park with Capaldi.

  19. avatar krumstets says:

    I’m not sure we should label people as Moffat haters just because they are critical of his tenure.
    Agreeing to disagree would probably be a better take on this and other criticisms.
    On the whole it’s been very good – although Rings Of Akhaten was a particular low point for me.

    • avatar CJLP88 says:

      Being critical and being spiteful are two very different things. I feel like this article is hating on him because it’s arguments tend to be poorly formed (Calling Eleven a bully for talking down to a ten thousand plus ships that want to kill him, for example). But hell, I love Moffat and I am critical of him. It’s about making the distinction between the two.

    • avatar TimeChaser says:

      When people just say Moffat has killed the show, that he’s the worst thing that’s happened to it… I would call that plain hate and not constructive criticism.

  20. avatar Rupert says:

    I love Blink; I’m extremely grateful to Moffat for boosting the show’s international profile; and I think that his casting of Matt Smith was fantastic.

    However, my opinion is that he has taken the show and the Doctor’s character too far into the goofy and nonsensical.

    I just finished watching all of Season 1 again, from 1963. Certainly, it’s black and white, with shaky sets, limited editing, no post-production, etc. But, it’s serious drama. It takes itself seriously. For good sci-fi to work, it must present what is not real in as realistic and logical a way as possible (in my opinion). That’s not what Moffat does.

    If Matt had been given a little more serious sci-fi drama and a little less tongue-in-cheek fantasy comedy, I would have enjoyed his Doctor so much more.

    • avatar DonnaM says:

      The Doctor’s characterisation did become an issue for me; too much pratting about and general silliness (Geronimo is an infantile catchphrase – I know, I yelled it in infants’ school!) but I do wonder: did Moffat see Matt’s talent for that kind of goofy stuff and think “yeah, that’s a cheap gag, we’ll stick with that!”?

      I’m hoping the casting change will bring a tonal change too. Capaldi’s a fantastic comic actor – and a very subtle one, I can crack up at some of his facial expressions alone in The Thick Of It – but to waste his dramatic strengths would be practically criminal in my eyes :-)

      Let’s see how Mr Moffat plays it! The impression I got from his DWM interview was that the overarching plots would be reined back (maybe wishful thinking; I’ll have to re-read it later) and that would be another positive move.

  21. avatar Joyce says:

    Moffat is a great writer. He wrote some of the best episodes during RTD’s era. However, since becoming showrunner the quality of his work and some of the work of other writers has not been consistent or up to scratch. Other than a few episodes (I’m thinking of The Doctor’s Wife, maybe Angels Take Manhattan at a push) we’ve not had “classic” episodes for Matt. The seasons have been flat, not helped by splitting and the arcs have been dire, pointless. I would characterise Matt’s time as being “flat” and after a while flat becomes, well, dull.

    This is not Moffat hating. I don’t hate him. But he is empty of ideas and those he does have seem half formed. It feels like he is constantly writing himself out of pointless corners in an effort to be clever or to keep viewers thinking.

    So yes, for me he let the lead man down. Someone who could easily have been the best Doctor so far.

    My worries are self evident. He’s still in charge, this time with a very well known and established lead actor who has a passion for the show’s history. Someone who might be able to challenge some of the scripts and ideas. Someone who hopefully knows the meaning of “whippet shit” when they see it.

    Although incredibly popular in the 50th year, the shows future will be very dependent on what comes next. It needs to be good, probably back to basics (please, lets have the Doctor, a companion or two, in the TARDIS having adventures, on Earth, in space, anywhere in time).

    Timey wimey should be dead and gone for a while, pointless paradoxes are so 2008-2013, don’t you think?

    • avatar FrancoPabloDiablo says:

      Can we get rid of that f***ing sonic screwdriver too? JN-T had the right idea about that at least!

      • avatar TimeChaser says:

        Except the Doctor doesn’t have time to spend a whole episode or two to be locked up. Besides, it symbolizes his pacifism. He doesn’t carry a gun, he carries a screwdriver.

        How about we settle for just less random pointing like Ten and Eleven did.

        • avatar FrancoPabloDiablo says:

          How many times in the revived series has the sonic Screwdriver been used to free the Doctor and co from being locked up? Far fewer times than it has been whipped out for various mundane and unnecessary reasons. And just because he doesn’t carry a gun doesn’t mean he needs to substitute one with that bloody device. It’s just an easy escape for unimaginative storytelling a lot of the time. Same with the Psychic Paper, But at least that is used a lot more sparingly. I’ve nothing against the Screwdriver, just it’s overuse.

  22. avatar Mark says:

    Oh dear. Personally I think Moffat is a great episode writer but a dreadful show runner. The doctor, the witch and the wardrobe, or whatever, and the embarrassing Christmas Carol were just NOT Doctor Who, just a Moffatt indulgence. Dreadful. Worse than Timelash, which at least adhered to certain rules. River; oh who cares?
    A new, unheard of Doctor; why? Just self indulgent. My eldest daughter now says, “I can’t be bothered with Doctor Who any more, I haven’t got a clue what’s going on.” a mad man in a box, travelling the universe. The concept worked for half a century, can’t we try it again? Matt Smith was brilliant though, despite the Moffatt indulgence.

    • avatar castellanspandrel says:

      I don’t agree with your general sentiment, Mark, re: Moffat as showrunner, but I have to agree re: Christmas Carol and Wardrobe, 2 of my least favourite stories in recent years.

      For me, the Doctor isn’t – and never should be – Santa. He’s the guy who pushed Laurence Scarman’s dead body out of the way at the Priory to get on with working out a way to defeat Sutekh, for one thing. I know that there are other, lighter, kinder and more humane aspects to the character than that, but I don’t want him ever to be Bono.

      K Jenkins warbling over some plastic tuna and those sodding sentient trees are a bad memory for me.

      • avatar David F says:

        I thought A Christmas Carol was sublime. Easily the most perfect Christmas episode. One of the few times during his time as showrunner that Moffat’s written an episode as inspired and tight as those he wrote under RTD.

        • avatar castellanspandrel says:

          It wasn’t without merit. It was tight, but I just didn’t buy the whole thing – stale reuse of the already much-rehashed Scrooge story, even down to the same title.

          I liked Gambon and his past being changed as the story went along, but couldn’t be bothered with the romance between the girl whose name I can’t even remember and young Kazran.

          Just not for me, I’m afraid, but it was better than the Dr, Widow and the Wardrobe.

  23. avatar RedPanda says:

    I’m not going to lie and say I’ve loved Matt Smith’s run as the Doctor. He’s always been, in my mind a brilliant choice and brilliant in the role, but for some reason his stories didn’t really grip me. It’s not Moffat being a bad writer, it’s just his style doesn’t really agree with me. Of course I thought his early stuff was great, and whenever his dialogue it is almost beautiful to behold, it’s just basically everything from series 5 and 6 didn’t sit right with me.

    This is not a slight on him at all, it’s just personal preference. Series 7 part 2 and everything after actually did impress me, but his handling of the Cannon is… Bold, if nothing else.

    I think he’s a brilliantly talented writer, and I’ve certainly enjoyed his work. Series 5 and 6 wont go down as my favourites, and I don’t have many stand out episodes from Smith’s run, but I don’t think Moffat bashing is entirely fair. If I’m correct in my thinking (and I’m probably not (as will be pointed out, I’m sure)) If Moffat resides over one series in Capaldi’s run, he will have been in the position for roughly the same number of episodes (and even Doctor-Episode ratio) as RTD was.

  24. avatar Geoff says:

    I think Matts Doctor did suffer a bit from a number of things, long story arcs that take years to resolve, split seasons, too much concentrating on the stories of other characters and not enough damned adventuring with the Doctor week in week out. Now I’m not blaming Steven Moffat for this. His job is to try out fresh ideas and he has donesome very successfully and some less so. It could be argued that some of the less successful/popular decisions of the last few years have been down to Steven Moffat being spread too thin what with his other work but thats another conversation, and may not even be a factor. Where Matt suffered was with the less successful experiments but that can be said of all Doctor and like his predecessors when everything went right it was brilliant. So I wouldn’t say he was let down as such at all.
    Now Steven Moffat says he’s going to take the show in another direction, as he rightly should. No doubt some of his new ideas will be great and some less so. But brilliant or not he has as Red Panda says above been bold and I for one would rather see bold ideas even if they don’t always work than timid played by numbers drama.

  25. avatar Ian says:

    He’s right, of course. But the squealing, tantrum-throwing apologists for the terrible modern series would rather attack the messenger than even remotely acknowledge the points made.
    Smith was utterly wasted, and I have little hope that Capaldi won’t get the same treatment.

    • avatar castellanspandrel says:

      “Squealing, tantrum-throwing apologists”. That’s every bit as ludicrous and hysterical, if not more so, as labelling someone a ‘hater’ because they don’t like the modern series.

      If you read this thread from top to bottom, you will find several forum users who admit to liking the modern series yet who also do acknowledge points made by those who don’t.

      Some people like it, some don’t – that’s how it goes.

      • avatar David F says:

        It seems to me that those defending Moffat are, almost without exception, simply being calm and constructive in the face of wild hyperbole from people who are unable to handle shades of grey. If tantrums have been thrown in defence of the modern series, I ain’t seen ‘em.

        • avatar castellanspandrel says:

          In fairness, David, there are a lot of ‘pro’ fans online, including here, who jump down naysayers’ throats simply for being unhappy with the modern crop.

          It can work both ways – intolerance on both sides and a sense of smugness. For those sorts, either they’re intellectually and morally superior to you because you don’t like the current series and they do, or the reverse.

          I just don’t understand why it has to be so binary for some people. I’d ask fans who unreservedly espouse total love: do you really like *everything* in current Dr Who? and those who are overwhelmingly negative: do you really hate *all* of it?

          Some aspects of particular stories can turn me off the whole story, depending on personal taste, while in other cases, I may not like certain aspects but I can forgive them and like the story in general.

          Some of the unhappy ones may feel they’re trying to express a minority opinion and getting short shrift; I felt that way when expressing a dislike towards the resolution of the Davros/Dalek threat in Journey’s End while the majority seemed to love it, so I understand the frustration, but not the more personal outcries of the ‘Moffat, you’ve killed my childhood!’ variety. It’s the latter aspect of negativity towards the series that I find childish.

    • avatar Neu 75 says:

      If you don’t like it, don’t watch it. If you do, you are a hypocrite.

      • avatar yorkshirened says:

        good username

        • avatar castellanspandrel says:

          Isi what you mean.

  26. avatar Geoff says:

    I haven’t read the article do I can’t address the points but I think it’s possible to like some of Steven Moffats tenure (and say so as i did above) without being described as a tantrum throwing apologist. I know you weren’t directing the comment at me but I wanted to point out that a lot of the comments on the thread are in the same vein as mine: there have been some duff episodes, some duff ideas but also some greatness. The bulk of us have made fairly balanced and pragmatic comments. The only melodramatic comments seem to be coming from the Moffat bashers most of whom I genuinely believe would have a go no matter what he or whoever else was in charge did.

  27. avatar David F says:

    First: Sure. Matt Smith’s been betrayed, by being giving a dream job he’s loved that’s a gateway to more dream jobs he’ll love. I wish someone would betray me that way.

    I haven’t quite enjoyed the show the same way I did during the Tennant era, but I think that’s largely due to the fact it’s no longer a novelty to have Doctor Who back. I used to sit there, thinking, “This is crazy. Doctor Who is actually back on TV and it’s popular”. I used to wait for the occasional references to the original run, because I wanted confirmation that the makers saw it as the same series, and whenever they came I was delighted.

    Now, we’re all used to it again, and that element has been lost. But there’s so much more wit and imagination, and the production values are much higher now, than during the RTD era. In many ways, it’s improved immeasurably. There have been almost no complete clunkers in the last four years.

    There are some things about the show that haven’t quite worked. But Moffat is really tuned in to how it functions, and I have little doubt he’s noticed them too and will want to try different approaches.

    Arguably, we need a companion we really understand, who isn’t a big sci-fi mystery but a regular person with identifiable motivations. Clara doesn’t work, in part because we don’t know her, and in part because Jenna Coleman is too quirky and fails to convince us she’s in peril or impressed by anything.

    We need a phase of permanent death. It’s lost its sting, because so many deaths are shown to be temporary or reversible. As a result, there’s less tension.

    Monsters need to be withheld for their own stories, and not be dropped in to make cameo appearances all the time. One of the best things about Doctor Who is seeing the Doctor’s reaction when he encounters an old enemy. That’s been lost, because they’re popping up all the time.

    Also, physical enemies for the Doctor. Fewer abstract consciousnesses and burning suns that don’t talk back. Humanoid villains or actors in latex, to give threats a bit more substance.

    I’d prefer to lose the pre-credits sequences. They eat into the running time (sometimes they’re six or seven minutes long) and in almost every case, they could be entirely cut. Asylum of the Daleks, for instance, would be strengthened if it began with the Doctor and friends waking up as they’re lifted into the parliament. The Impossible Astronaut would be stronger if it began with the meeting on the road. And so much money would be saved and redistributed to cheaper episodes.

    And perhaps we need less time and more space. Not because it isn’t brilliant to focus on time travel. But just because we’ve done it a lot lately, and need some linear stories without timey-wimey stuff. The original series barely did the latter at all within stories.

    But all these things that I’d like to see changed . . . they never make me dislike the show or use extreme words such as betray and ruined.

    Doctor Who is brilliant because it can do anything and go anywhere. It really is the loosest format imaginable. But as an unavoidable consequence of that, it will sometimes miss the target. The whole history of the show bears this out. It’s the price we have to pay for its erratic wonder.

    Millions of people love it just as it is.

    • avatar DonnaM says:

      What an eminently rational comment! Couldn’t agree more, David.

  28. avatar castellanspandrel says:

    “We need a phase of permanent death. It’s lost its sting, because so many deaths are shown to be temporary or reversible. As a result, there’s less tension.

    Monsters need to be withheld for their own stories, and not be dropped in to make cameo appearances all the time. One of the best things about Doctor Who is seeing the Doctor’s reaction when he encounters an old enemy. That’s been lost, because they’re popping up all the time.

    Also, physical enemies for the Doctor. Fewer abstract consciousnesses and burning suns that don’t talk back. Humanoid villains or actors in latex, to give threats a bit more substance.”

    - All the above.

    I’d add: sort out the theme tune, particularly bringing back the old cliffhanger ‘sting’ – the current one, and the arrangement of the theme in general – are lacking in excitement and/or genuine electronic mystery and weirdness.

    Clara works for me. Her character is more identifiable than Pond’s. If you watch her reaction to the Whispermen, there’s no doubt she’s in peril and impressed by the danger – though she’s rather confident/nonchalant in the Black Archive when operating the time travel gizmo.

    • avatar David F says:

      To be fair, she has had moments of effectiveness. She was very good in those quiet barn moments of Day of the Doctor. But, for me, she’s undermined other episodes (most strikingly, Nightmare in Silver). Maybe the dynamic with Capaldi will sand off some of her sharp corners. Amy also suffered a little from being founded on a mystery. And, in fact, Donna ultimately did too, because she got tied in to a cosmic destiny plot that somewhat weakened her original reasons for wanting to travel in the TARDIS.

      In Season 7, we needed to be intrigued by Clara’s mystery. But that served to distance us from our audience-identification character. Instead, we saw things largely from the Doctor’s point of view. But at the same time, we were being teased with mysteries about him, which we needed to see from the companion’s P.O.V., but it was hard because we didn’t identify with her. I think Moffat was pursuing an interesting idea, which is his job, but on this occasion it didn’t come off and fell between two stools.

      It would just be a nice change to have a regular, downtrodden human who travels with the Doctor (continuously, without being dropped off home between episodes) and then, eventually, stops. It would refresh our identification with the series. That doesn’t have to be a permanent rule. It just seems like what we need at this particular point.

      • avatar castellanspandrel says:

        I thought Clara was one of the best things about Nightmare in Silver. I took it simply as them portraying her as having some gumption, dare I say it, ‘some balls’ for a change, rather than being too nicey-nicey and being a weak character.

        But I agree that SM and RTD have both been guilty of losing sight of the identifiable ordinariness of the companion. It started with Bad Wolf, which was okay, but then became:

        -Martha saving the world after travelling round it for a year

        -Donna, temp from Chiswick undergoing Time Lord/human metacrisis and saving the universe

        -Rose Tyler coming back as a dimension-hopping, omniscient warrior who knows everything about time travel

        -Amy – crack in the wotsit….

        Can’t even be bothered typing the rest, but for some reason I find Clara’s impossible girl status more acceptable than all the above. Must be getting soft in my old age.

        Nutshell: I want the next companion to be less game-changing and more credible.
        .

  29. avatar CatPiper says:

    Agree completely with David F about the lack of threat because death is no longer permanent. It also seems to me a decidedly odd message to give children who may have to face death for real in their lives – I’d rather see fewer deaths (and really don’t like it when a well-loved character dies) but those deaths be seen as real and significant.

  30. avatar Geoff says:

    I actually like Clara and I think Henna Coleman plays her very well. Amy was very beautiful but her character was in the arsey sarky mode of some of SM’s previous “powerful” women efforts (see also Pressgang and Coupling) and I find this a bit weary. He’s made Clara different and I like her more for it.

  31. avatar Geoff says:

    What I mean is there are better ways to show you are smart brave and assertive than just being stroppy and taking the piss out of everything the person you are with says with pithy remarks. Perhaps a few Kasterourites shoukd take note too! :)

    • avatar David F says:

      I know what you mean about Amy, although I’d argue the sarcy remarks problem is shared by Clara.

      However, I’m delighted to read any positive opinion in Doctor Who, regardless of whether I agree with it. Any time I dislike an episode, I pray everyone else disagrees with me because that way, the show keeps running.

      • avatar Geoff says:

        That’s my philosophy regarding the fact I really like Love and Monsters. I was genuinely amazed when I found out no one else did.

  32. avatar Howard Railton says:

    As mentioned above, Moffat’s scripts are by and large a load of old pants. They stink up the television. Mostly even the best of them, say for example the Day of the Doctor have hopeless plot flaws the size of a canyon in them such as the Zygons having no real relevance to the main plot alongside all that rubbish about Elizabeth 1st. It’s all self indulgent twaddle. Moffat has even turned to sabotaging classic series’ writers’ creations by perverting the Sontarans and Silurians into a bad joke. If that’s what he wants to do to well loved monster creations why doesn’t he do it to his own, such as the denigrating the weeping angels? His plots are painfully weak. Look at the crass mess that was Lets Kill Hitler, surely a titular theme that should have been done with some thought but under Moffat’s handling the show descended into toe-curling embarrassment. God knows how painfully embarrassed the actors must have been to be in such twaddle. Moffat’s many failures left Smith nowhere to go with the show and poorly served his extraordinary talent. The actor was lumbered with such dung piles as the Wedding of River Song and Moffat’s ludicrously unresolvable, incompatible Utah episodes. What a waste of BBC money, it might as well have been done in an English gravel pit because Moffat’s incoherent scripts were not worth filming. In short, Moffat has damaged the titular character of the Doctor, for example, having Clara go into the Dr’s timestream to counter any danger the Doctor blundered into, thus making the entire series of Doctor Who a complete farce as the Doctor himself is now a superfluous ideot in his own series.

    • avatar David F says:

      a) Please point to a period in the history of Doctor Who where there were no plot holes. Actually, point to two consecutive stories where this was true.

      b) Show us an interview (or a private conversation with you) that indicates the actors in Let’s Kill Hitler were remotely embarrassed by their jobs.

      c) Explain how investing in something that garners the BBC huge international sales and DVD revenue is a “waste of money”.

      d) Rewatch Warriors of the Deep and The Invasion of Time and then repeat your assertion that it’s Moffat who’s turned the SIlurians and Sontarans into “a bad joke”.

      e) Take a look around for other hobbies, because I’m worried that watching and writing online about Doctor Who is making you unhappy, and you don’t need to be. We’re all here by choice. I am, and if it ever stops working for me, I’ll just wander off and do something else with no hard feeling towards TV producers.

    • avatar Geoff says:

      I can’t disagree with you about the weaknesses in a fair amount of SMs work but generally it doesn’t spoil it for me. Case in point the Zygons in Day of the Doctor. For a few moments I thought: why on earth has he written himself into a humans and aliens sitting around a table negotiating again? But thankfully we never had to see any of it. Then at the end of the story: Zygons gone, no explanation whatsoever! I think they were just hoping the excitement of a load of old Doctors and Sir Tom Baker in the flesh would make you forget. And you know what? I did! That’s to say I enjoyed the other stuff so much I just overlooked it. A degree of overlooking has always been required when watching Doctor Who and that’s fine with me. The SM era is no worse than any other and when it’s good it’s up there with the best in my opinion.

  33. avatar TonyS says:

    What really encourages me about this thread is the positive and well-argued way the majority of contributors make their point. It would be unfair to pick out some as I will almost certainly miss some and I wouldn’t want to offend by omission. But thank you: you make me glad to be a part of this community.

    • avatar David F says:

      When these forums are good, they’re very good.

  34. avatar TimeChaser says:

    I think the more pertinent question is, did Doctor Who betray Colin Baker?

    • avatar Geoff says:

      I would say it was Doctor Who and its production team that was shafted in that case, Colin more than anyone else. Whether or not some quarters deserved it is another question but my opinion is that the man who suffered most publicly and was left standing up when the music stopped was the one who least deserved to take the bulk of the blame.

      • avatar TimeChaser says:

        Too true. At least Colin has since had the chance to set things right in the audios. What I wanted to do basically was turn the question around, because I think the question of this article is more appropriate for Colin than it is for Matt.

  35. avatar Spider-pope says:

    I can honestly say during Smiths tenure that there isn’t a single episode i wouldn’t watch again. I can’t even say that for my favourite Doctor’s run, so no i don’t agree with this opinion piece.

  36. avatar paybaragon says:

    Humility? Third Doctor?

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