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Moffat Defends Plot Hole Criticism

Aha! The thick is plottening… Who’s lead writer has given an insight into the mechanics behind the storylines. Last Monday, the Moff went on Chris Evans’s Breakfast show to discuss Sherlock, writing and plot-holes.

The veteran broadcaster and ex-hubby to one Billie Piper asked to what extent writers need to “seal up” any plot holes such as those pointed out in the press. Moff’s reply (above) is interesting.

I think people have come to think a plot hole is something which isn’t explained on screen. A plot hole is actually something that can’t be explained.

Sometimes you expect the audience to put two and two together for themselves. For Sherlock, and indeed Doctor Who, I’ve always made the assumption that the audience is clever.

The issue here is that a writer creates a world they ask the audience to believe in and when something impossible happens, it threatens our belief and might get called a “plot hole”. But of course some things go unexplained as deliberate mysteries and some things go unexplained as they’re part of the genre – is it a plot hole that time travel or dimensional transcendentalism is never clearly explained?

The traditional plot hole is where something couldn’t happen and looks like a writing mistake – something was supposed to happen at night but the sun was shining or someone was in one place and then suddenly turns up miles away. But that’s not the complaint leveled at recent Doctor Who. Moffat’s era from Smith’s debut up to the Time of the Doctor has been blessed and cursed with complexity. The usual complaint is that it’s too complicated for the casual viewer and Moff replies that there are pre-teens who are fully clued-up!

However I’ve got two niggling confusions that the Christmas special didn’t fully “explain” for me.

1)    Why were the Silence building TARDISes and what was one doing abandoned and disguised on top of Craig’s bungalow in The Lodger? And…

2)    Who was Prisoner Zero? How did he/she/it get on the other side of the crack and was there no more significance to him/her/it other than they knew of future events for the Doctor and he/she/it was *passing through*?…

I realise I may never know (but if any of you can explain me out of my misery, there’s good will and imaginary chocolates in it for you!) And as Moff says it’s not that either event was impossible – it’s just been left to us to fill in the gaps. But did the story perhaps imply that the gap would/ should have been filled in?

What do you think Kasterborites? Is it a writer’s *job* to make sure EVERYTHING is explained and upfront on screen? How much should the viewer roll with the unexplained and are there some things that seem so significant they really deserve a denouement? And how well were the plot threads of Matt Smith’s era tied up for you? Tell us below…



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