What Steven Moffat Doesn’t Understand About Grief, And Why It’s Killing Doctor Who

amy

There’s a popular joke I’ve seen floating around on Tumblr for a while now. It goes like this:

“Joss Whedon, Steven Moffat and George R.R. Martin walk into a bar and everyone you’ve ever loved dies.”

Here’s the problem, though: George R. R. Martin and Joss Whedon are, of course, infamous for killing off the characters that they know are almost universally beloved by fans for precisely the reason that they are beloved and Martin and Whedon know it’ll have huge emotional impact. They pick the harmless bunny of the group and then give them some brutal offing — Tara on Buffy, Wash on Serenity, Ned Stark in A Game of Thrones being an easy handful of examples. But who has Steven Moffat actually killed off?

The two-parter that he wrote during the Christopher Eccleston/Russell T. Davies era literally ends with the Doctor blissfully proclaiming that “Just this once — everybody lives!” In fact, a woman who lost her leg years earlier is restored to bipedalism by space magic. It was an amazing, heartwarming scene specifically because of the first part of that sentence — “just this once.”

everybody lives

But apart from that two-part episode, the Davies era was plenty bloody. While Doctor Who is ostensibly a kid’s show, Davies made it clear that plenty of innocent people have been killed — often en masse — during especially high-stakes alien attacks despite the Doctor’s heroic intervention. And let’s not forget that Davies kicks off the entire reboot of the show by announcing that (nearly) all of the Time Lords and (nearly) all of the Daleks were wiped out by our genocidal and deeply guilt-ridden hero.

That was a hell of a way to re-introduce a popular kid’s show back to the airwaves, but it was perfect. It made the Doctor a new and mysterious character for people who’d never seen the show before, and it changed the way older fans looked at him. You couldn’t just continue down the same old lines and pick things up after all that time without some real change and expect it to work. And the change Davies employed worked beautifully. Until last week, of course — but we’ll touch on that later.

So let’s get back to the central question: who has Steven Moffat killed?

Well, on the last season of Sherlock, fans were reeling when Moffat had the show’s eponymous lead jump to his death, although with the promise that we’d find out how he faked it when the show resumed. So that doesn’t count.

sherlock

Well, what about Moffat’s next Who episode in Series 2, The Girl in the Fireplace? Reinette (Madame de Pompadour) dies, but she dies of old age because — and don’t even get me started on how annoying this concept is — the Doctor ditches her to go back in the fireplace one last time, apparently forgetting that it always results in a huge time jump. So that doesn’t quite count, as Moffat was fulfilling history.

Next up is Blink, Moffat’s first chilling installment of the once brilliant and now sadly tiresome Weeping Angels. Who dies? Well, the nice DI that Sally chats with dies of old age after being displaced in time. The same fate is afforded to Sally’s best friend, but she does manage to write a letter letting us know everything’s pretty much cool, because who wouldn’t want to be taken away from their family and friends to churn butter for 60 years?

But other than that? Nobody. A theme seems to be emerging.

The Silence in the Library and Forest of the Dead? Well, Moffat does kill off River Song and her whole crew, but then has their souls uploaded onto the library server so that they’ll never “truly” die. Again, it’s an extremely softened death, similar to the “old age/time displacement,” in that it’s sad but any real cause for grief has been removed.

Then Moffat, of course, took over the show as show runner. And once again, people just seem to keep… not dying. Part of the problem is that Moffat’s a big fan of the Giant Reset Button — so much so that he literally wrote in a Giant Reset Button into the episode Journey to the Center of the TARDIS. One step above the “It was all a dream” plot, the Giant Reset Button absolves the characters and the writers of any repercussions and they can carry on as they were, even though we, the audience, saw a “major event” that is evidently no longer relevant. You can have your fun and adventure, but you need not learn or grow or change from it.

friendly

Other notable not-deaths include any time Rory “died” in the series, the almost-people clones, the Doctor himself during the impossibly confusing 6th series finale, Vincent Van Gogh and, finally, The Ponds who were killed off exactly the way Sally’s security guard almost-lover in Blink was — by being displaced in time in such a way that the Doctor, for hand-wavey reasons, couldn’t just go pick them back up again and they seem to do just fine living in the past because they have each other, I guess.

All of this is leading up to my biggest problem of all: the recent 50th Anniversary Special in which Moffat, not merely content to sap any trace of blood or death or grief or loss from his own era, removed the basis of the show’s reboot plot:

big button

The mass genocide that the Doctor committed — all the people he killed and all of the times he wrestled with that decision and was forced to come to the conclusion that it was for the best — simply never happened now. All of the amazing episodes in which the Doctor, overcome with grief, spoke about the tragic necessity of his decision are rendered meaningless by this newly-invented War Doctor who allegedly “didn’t count” until now. Now he counts. Maybe. Because of the magic of love and Bad Wolf.

Now of course you can argue that the show plays with time constantly, and that it’s possible that this is a new time stream in which it didn’t happen, and that’s all well and good. But the fact of the matter is that from this point on, the Doctor is no longer complicated by this event. Moffat, who has never had the best track record with character development as it is, has actively written a plot which removes an enormous amount of change and progression from the show’s lead character.

But more importantly than that, when you have no death, when nothing truly has weight or scale, when decisions don’t stick and nobody feels the consequences… it’s hard to care about anything. The stakes on the show feel so low at this point that a once addictive program is unengaging, dull and hollow. Even the 50th special had no real gravitas because we were basically watching a plot be un-done, rather than made. We were watching a character be un-banished, rather than created. For a celebration of 50 years of a television show, it felt awfully like a celebration of a writer who’s only been running it for 4 years. And, perhaps most irritatingly for a Davies fan, the complete erasure of everything that was developed during that previous era.

I don’t think it’s an insult against Davies, though — Moffat does it constantly to himself. Amelia Pond grows up without parents because they were erased by a crack in space and time. When they are restored to her by virtue of yet another giant re-set button, we never see them again. Amy rarely talks about them. You cannot have a character whose parents were taken from her at a young age, who then gets them back — and remembers that she had lost them in the first place — and not see a perceivable change in said character. Similarly, you cannot rob that character of her baby, remove her ability to have children, and have the biggest consequence be that she becomes a model who’s moody with her husband for his own good.

model

Or take the latest companion: Clara cannot live and die hundreds of times for her good buddy the Doctor (who she’d known for, what, a month?) and then basically brush it off like it’s nothing.

We can talk for days about Moffat’s other problems as a writer — the sexism, the homophobia — and those are all valid complaints, but what will always be my biggest gripe is his fear of consequences. When you cannot deal properly with grief or loss or change, you cannot write believable characters or interesting stories. And as long as this show lacks believable, real, characters and engaging stories, it will continue to suffer. So please, for the good of Doctor Who, shed a little blood and actually deal with it. Revel in consequences. Let your human characters behave like humans. In short: restore the heart to a dying show.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

424 thoughts on “What Steven Moffat Doesn’t Understand About Grief, And Why It’s Killing Doctor Who

  1. Did I just read a long diatribe of someone complaining about a story having happy endings for its characters instead of being full of long term misery and suffering?

    Really?

    Boo hoo for you you didn’t get all your death and blood, savage.

  2. De says:

    All I want is for Moffat’s continuity to improve. . . drastically. I’ve watched Eccleston and up and went back (I am currently on the Androids of Tara). I personally have noticed several continuity errors. And I even have a bone to pick with Davies. By having Eccleston state that he was 900 years old, he effectively kills off four Doctors within 150 years. And now, thanks to Moffat, five Doctors. The NuWho, as my friends have taken to calling it, is lacking in continuity. That is my biggest thing. It’s not to hate on the writers. With a show going on as long as Doctor Who, it’s hard to get your facts straight. I know, I write fan fics for the Doctor and other Time Lords and Ladies of my own design. But continuity is ESSENTIAL to keeping the hard-core fanbase, and it feels like this NuWho stuff is only geared to the new people. The people just discovering Doctor Who. Please, correct me if I’m wrong, but it feels stale.

    • Chiara says:

      I am on Time and the Rani now.
      The Sixth Doctors says he’s 900 years old, than he is like Eccleston ( I don’t remember the age of the previous doctors… I think the Fourth was about 700 or little more).
      If the Sixth is 900, RTD killed “only” two doctors: Seventh and Eighth.
      I found lack in continuity watching The Ultimate Foe, with the Sixth and the Valeyard.
      I can’t explain because I don’t want to spoiler….I know that Moffat created characters who can resemble the Valeyard (for example the so called Dream Lord) but if he is the Valeyard why can’t he simply call him Valeyard ?
      Talking of lack in continuity, my question is: where is the Valeyard?

      Anyway people really don’t know the classic series. Most of the people opinions about it, are based on commonplaces, so Moffat and RTD know well that they are almost free to do what they want.
      I’m writing this becouse I knew people who confuse the Fifth with the Seventh because of the similar colour of their clothes…

      • De says:

        I am only on the Fourth Doctor, so I dare not speak of things I have not experienced first hand.

      • Chiara says:

        I correct myself I’m watching Remembrance of the Dalecks (25×01) and also the Seventh says he’s 900. I wonder if the Eighth is 900, too. I don’t know how old is he.

  3. DragonCount says:

    Yea, Moffat’s run is starting to remind me more and more of the D.C. Comics’ massive reboot where everything got restarted with a new status quo and all the history, the good times, the bad times, the happiness, the heartbreaks, EVERYTHING was just “poof” gone.

    I’m going to give series 8 a try. Who knows, maybe, just MAYBE Moffat can start acting intelligently, or if BBC finally decides to pull the plug on him and replace Moffat with someone more competent to give us something akin to Davies’ era. And if not. Well, there’s always re-runs. I’ll refuse to watch any new Doctor Who episode.

  4. Chiara says:

    Perfectly agree. You hit it on the nail. Thank you for your words, they illustrate perfectly my point of view.

  5. I sort of agreed with this. I certainly agree that Moffat can’t write a good character to save his life. But…

    A couple of problems:

    Madame de Pompadour did not die of old age, she did of tuberculosis at 42 (look it up). She is a real historical figure and as stupid as it was for The Doctor to go into that fireplace (and out of character for a seemingly billiant man), he really couldn’t have changed the death of a real historical figure.

    Likewise, Vincent Van Gogh couldn’t have died outside his established timeline.

    Silence in the Library and Forest of the Dead were (together) my favorite who episode of all time precisely because it was so tragic. I don’t believe for a second that any of those people were truly alive and I found it horrific that The Doctor was so desperate to “save” them in any form that he would resort to a half-existence like that. To me, that was a rate exemplification of who he is underneath. Of his desperation to save the day, even if it is in no way saved. What are those things, really? Ghosts? Echoes? River said so herself when she reappeared in the lsat (regular) episode of Doctor Who — that the man wouldn’t let go.

    *****************************************************

    All in all, I’m not convinced that the problem with Moffat is his unwillingness to kill off characters. This is potentially a symptom of the bigger problem, which is that he can’t write a fully realized character and seems to have no understanding of how to deal with the emotions that result from experiences such as the ones in the Doctor Who series. I was totally with you on the Giant Reset Button phenomenon — total cop-out.

    Taking the character problem a step further, the biggest thing Moffat did that infuriated me was totally dropping the ball on River Song. This may demonstrate our differences in priorities, but I admit I’m a romantic and the time travelers meeting at odd times romance was something I’ve wanted to see done well since I tried to read “The Time Traverler’s Wife” (which wasn’t good either). Moffat cheapened River, did not convince me that either one of them fell in love with the other, and frankly did not spend enough time focused on a character who should have been so important to The Doctor. We got more time with The Doctor and his in-laws than The Doctor and his wife, and I didn’t even like Amy or Rory that much. They were flat characters whose actions supported the plot rather than driving it. Even how in love Amy was with Rory at any given moment was keyed to the plot. I cannot honestly tell you to this day who they are and I *definitely* noticed Amy’s lack of family (and the fact that she didn’t even care). The lost of a baby was sort of like, “Oh well then, let’s go find her all grown up now!” That may have been what had to happen, but that’s got to be a real blow for a mom and well… yeah.

    The bottom line here is that more deaths won’t fix the problem. Killing off characters is not a meaningful plot device in and of itself. Those deaths must mean something and they must have impact. But in order for that to happen, you have to be able to write a convincing character and follow-through.

  6. Reblogged this on Disorganized Musings and commented:
    A beautiful post that managed to hit the nail on the head. I’ve been a fan of the show since it came back, and my mom’s been a fan of the show since the sixties. Do you know what we have in common?

    The show has gone down the toilet.

    The only thing that’s making the show more popular than ever is American’s access to it, which before Moffat came aboard and the budget for the show got raised, was limited to BBC America.

    I mean no disrespect to anyone who’s a fan of Moffat or his shows. I’m just stating my opinion. Doctor Who was a show that could give you hope for yourself, your future, your planet, and inspire you. It ripped your heart out and made you grief for the characters, and not only their deaths, but everything that happened to them. When Nine discovered that the Daleks weren’t completely destroyed, you felt his anger – you felt horrible that the sacrifice of his planet had been for nothing. When the Master chose to die instead of regenerate, you could feel all of the desperation and hope drain out of you as you realized that the Doctor’s one chance of being with someone like him drained – and you grieved for all of the time that he and Martha had lost in trying to defeat him, and you felt inspired at his ability to forgive the Master after everything that was done to him. It wasn’t just a show, it was something much more than that. It was like a part of your belief system, the way that you could instantly be transported into a world where the whole universe was right in front of you.

    I think the last time that I shed real tears over the show was End of Time, when David Tennant left.

    You see, their portrayal of typical human nature while at the same time exploring the universe, telling you everything that was out there, and all of the dangers that might be there too was what made me fall in love with the show. Everything seemed genuine and believable, all because of the characters reactions to it.

    The show went from being something that you watched with wide eyes, feeling everything that the characters felt, and believing every minute of it to something that you could watch while never looking away from your computer screen. You might have cried over a character, but never fret! The character comes back! It was like they never died in the first place!

    As soon as I realized this gimmick, I was heartbroken.

    For those fans who have felt real grief in their lives, the shows portrayal of death and reactions to it fall flat. Dry. For the sheltered teenagers who have never lost anything closer tasy to believe that it’s just a show.

    And it never used to be just a show. han maybe a grandparent or pet, it’s perfect. It seems believable. It’s a hit.

    Realizing that this has truly been the gimmick, the gimmick that nobody dies… well. It hits hard. I wished I lived in a world like theirs, but sadly I don’t. The fact that nobody dies in his world makes it really e

  7. Nic Of Light says:

    Hi, I agree it seems so.

    I do think and feel that a sneaky promotion was going on. It all seemed to be about how pretty Mat was how pretty The impossible girl was AND HOW lovely the long Ginger hair was. How refined and stylish it all was. It is true that the visual style was very good, better that Russle very chic. But the heart was missing I thought serious lack in acting skills, script writing and weak characters with little personality or presence ( easier to control) . It was almost as if underneath it all was sort of all about selling British style M and S selling frocks from the show, British style and tailoring i.e Matt’s outfit. It all seemed a bit Naff and Dull.

    I did read BBC may have lost interest in the show as they did in the 90s. Well with Moffat as main Gov I am not surprised. Moffat is ok for a show or two but no more he does not have the talent , skills or long term ability to deliver. OUT OUT OUT. We deserve better. Get a top class comedy writer into SCI fI that would lift the show to where it belongs.

    Did Matt high jack the show for his Handsome looks and Fashion style, Like Blair High jacked Labor and Beckham took over football but maybe he wanted to be a Model in fact he is a all rounder anyway; but not every one is. At the time Matt came in there was still this lets respect someone who can high jack systems and we are meant to admire this?

    Lets get back to a Brilliant show and F … the rest. Oops scuze, Scuza. Er Ciao

  8. Elle says:

    I feel like this article has perfectly articulated what I’ve been struggling to say for the past few years. I used to get so invested in the plots and now, I just don’t. I’ve gotten to the point where I don’t care but still watch out of the hope that it will take a turn back to what I fell in love with. I don’t mind that new fans are enjoying what the show has become but it seems that most people who fell in love with what it was (Davies era and before) haven’t bought this enthusiasm into the new era of the show.

    Obviously the popularity of the show has grown. I feel like this is because of the loyalty of the older fans, introducing new people to it, how highly people regard it, popularity of the actors etc but these new fans think that the show is brilliant without necessarily being aware of the decline that, I too feel, has come about. It’s still got potential and I don’t want to give up just yet.

    I don’t mind if you like what it is, but I just miss what it was.

    • Nic Of Light says:

      Hi, I agree it seems so.

      I do think and feel that a sneaky promotion was going on. It all seemed to be about how pretty Mat was how pretty The impossible girl was AND HOW lovely the long Ginger hair was. How refined and stylish it all was. It is true that the visual style was very good, better that Russle very chic. But the heart was missing I thought serious lack in acting skills, script writing and weak characters with little personality or presence ( easier to control) . It was almost as if underneath it all was sort of all about selling British style M and S selling frocks from the show, British style and tailoring i.e Matt’s outfit. It all seemed a bit Naff and Dull.

      I did read BBC may have lost interest in the show as they did in the 90s. Well with Moffat as main Gov I am not surprised. Moffat is ok for a show or two but no more he does not have the talent , skills or long term ability to deliver. OUT OUT OUT. We deserve better. Get a top class comedy writer into SCI fI that would lift the show to where it belongs.

      Did Matt high jack the show for his Handsome looks and Fashion style, Like Blair High jacked Labor and Beckham took over football but maybe he wanted to be a Model in fact he is a all rounder anyway; but not every one is. At the time Matt came in there was still this lets respect someone who can high jack systems and we are meant to admire this?

      Lets get back to a Brilliant show and F … the rest. Oops scuze, Scuza. Er Ciao

  9. Nic Of Light says:

    Oh For Gold Sake! 2

    Being a fan of the show does not necessarily make one a good writer or producer of the show. In fact the fan mentality can spoil the creativity because trying to be the fan ( the outsider )and the (insider ) is a bit odd and a lot to ask.. But can work with the right person i.e Russle T Davis.

    I am writing this and my other comments because I do not watch much Tv but I take my watching seriously and Dr Who is one of the best ever shows and I want to protect it and ensure it always remains brilliant.

    Matt said you don’t want to be the person who sunk Dr Who ; but it did sink ; but the sinking was protected and hidden by spin something Blair taught us all.

    I also think that claiming as the BBC did at the time that Matt was the most Popular Doctor with Kids is irrelevant because the show is a ‘family show’; that means all the family and friends. All the Gay mates that came to watch, their friends ; everyone; not just kids.

    I will be watching and it better be superb. I want to be amazed and feel great emotion and even have a tear or two that is my text; or I will stop watching until it is Brilliant again.

    Sometimes spin, rubbish, needs to be part of another show. Not Uk;s Most popular international show.

  10. Nic Of Light says:

    Oh For Gold Sake!

    I loved it when Russle T Davis Brought back Doctor who. I thought it was brilliantly done. it was sexy, arty, fun, dramatic and Moving and serious in form and well written. I thought that when Moffat did one or two episodes that that worked with Russle.

    I think that Davis casts’ well and has great taste for actors and actresses who have heart and who can act their ass off. I think Moffat is fairly talent-ess and empty after 2 very boring years since Russle Left. From what I have read Steven tried to get Russle back and I agree this is important; Because Russle is a genius who underplays himself. I have seen this with queer as Folk, and with all his Sci Fi shows including Wizard v Alien. His shows ( Russle) move me deeply to tears amaze me too and I look faward to them and I like that. I love his casting and his characters and his imagination is superb.

    I would say that Doctor who is (a show) not a kids show. It could easily be on; Tv at 9 pm on Saturdays or Mondays even.

    I think BBC can not go on with Steven he is not the right guy for this historic show. Some of his episodes where good but he is not consistent. He has little direction , style which is vital today. I think Doctor who scared him and Matt Smith and he never really got over that.

    I think bring in a Gay producer with strong vision and ideas and style with a Female producer with the same both with heart and understanding of people ( Remembering) that the first 2 producers were Asian and a Woman) with The Brilliant and Theatrical and moving ‘ D Hartnell’ There was a reason that Doctor who had a certain mixture of people and ideas , it was about evolution Musically , Visually and within the Wring and progress when you limit this the show dies. In Buddhism we call it ‘Human Revolution’. When Russle came on board with sexy Gay and Vibrant ideas about the sexy and vibrant and characterful city of London ( even though whales) the show flew and truly was fantastic.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01kqt9x

    I feel this could work well, because of the sense of style and Kitch, color , shape tone, which some Gay people seem to possess; or you could say it is simply part of the culture so part of the thinking and part of the style .The camp throw away lines really suited Doctor who . Moreover I think the show needed to go more camp not into a straight persons sci fi which it sort of became I felt. One example is new ‘Easterners’ 2014 really Camp but really brilliant and funny and moving also.I know the reptile Lady was meant to be a gay women which was refreshing and the characters with River song were the best thing in Moffat’s dull offering.

    Also with Tony Blaires over the top blunt Middle Class Britain; Russel’s Dr Who was a working class contrast to snobbery and tedium. Moffat played into the Rustic Middle class Art scene which should be background, not in the forefront ; it was not really progressive but telling us what we know. T

    Or Mix up the styles so that all can enjoy. I thought that Jack and River song had a lot of style, both camp and sexy this added a lot to the show with Tenants incredible versatile acting skills.

    Matt needs to get to know himself a lot more as a person and as a actor.

    I do like The Sontaron with the Reptile Lady in fact each time they come on the show jumped up a bit in terms of quality and interest.

    I felt that Matt and Steven did not really know what they were doing and this came across and it weakened the show. towards the end ; it was like a trendy experiment which backfired. Matt became stronger and better but it seemed too late.

    Moreover, Moffat directing the new guy 2014 is a big risk. BBC Should consider replacing him gently or bluntly. I think the current Easterners Director and Writer would work well because of the Brilliant understanding of characters. Of the people who producer ‘Death In Paradise’.

    Where are the spin offs? No talent to create them? We were all spolit by Russle . How do you follow that.

    Also make the show more street and sexy more Multicultural which is what Russle brought in and was the original idea for the show. I can not believe that in the 50th Party episode when the ‘Black Achieves were mentioned a black guy was shown at the car window ( a security guy). I found that clumsy and somehow backward?

    We don’t all need a Latte sometimes a cuppa will do Or may be a cuppa in the day a coffee in the evening. The following Day Herbal Tea to cleanse the system.

    End.

  11. i dont have a problem with moffat, i think what he did with the 50th anniversary and the time war was splendid, Think of the day of the Doctor as a prequel, you cant really watch it before the original film (in this case series one) because it could ruin plots or it wont add up. you watch series 1-7 and see the effects of the time war, then see in the 50th anniversary that he changed what happened, but series 1 still remains intact because in the episode it said he continued to believe that he destroyed gallifrey. Confusing yes but brilliant!

  12. […] When they restarted the show after ten years off the air, Russell T Davies and Julie Gardner brought it back with a new set of themes.  Off screen, the Doctor – our hero – killed off the two most important races in the show, including the Time Lords – his own people.  Not just a few – all of them.  Their demise and his guilt echoed throughout the writing and made coping with loss and the peril of rebirth two of the central themes of the show. […]

  13. Mina says:

    I actually agree with a lot of this. And for everyone who’s asking if the writer watched the 50th and understood that in 9 and 10′s mind that the Time War still happened, yes they do. That’s not what they’re commenting on, so don’t jump on it (this fandom does a lot of jumping on people who don’t hold the same personal views, sadly). They meant that all the guilt that had held for all those years in the Doctor had been made null and the the CURRENT Doctor doesn’t have a couple of 100 year old horrible decision hanging over him anymore. 12 was already made ‘the Doctor who forgets’ and taking away this massive choice wasn’t seen (by some) as a great move.

    Jumping on RTD doesn’t really fit here either. Yes, go for your opinion, that’s what these talks are here for, but don’t assume that anyone who agrees with this article thinks RTD is the best thing ever and that he never made mistakes. But, if you do jump on him, give the Rose arguement a rest. If you’d just ‘killed’ your entire race and another on top, you’d be devastated at loosing the only person after them that you had managed to protect. 9 and even 10 were at horrible places because both were still heavily influenced by what they had ‘done’.

    ‘Sides, most of this was about the fact that Moffat can’t seem to kill anyone off and have a consequence for it. That’s pretty hard to deny. There were more then a couple of episodes where the outcome should have been left as was, not reset with a bandaid slapped over the top to make it better. Some of the edge is gone that the ealier episodes had where you actually had to wonder if everyone would be ok and who would make it. Best example is the Titanic episode; everyone fumed when that business man survived but as the other survivor said you can’t pick who lives or dies as it would make you some kind of monster. Not saying that Moffat’s one, but he does need to deal with the idea that not everything is a fairytale end and some variation (not all the time, but still there) is needed.

    Before jumping on this, it’s an opinion of mine, not the whole fandom or whatever else others have been saying so chill XD;

    • Emily says:

      This post (and your comment in particular) have made me realise why I’ve felt a little unsatisfied with Doctor Who lately – there is never any weight to the stories, and as much as I love 11′s lightheartedness, and funness (not really a word but whatever) I think the joking around needs to be balanced out by having some serious weight to the story which we just don’t get when we know that everyone’s going to survive!

  14. Shelley Hunt says:

    All the grief didn’t happen? Are you that UNCLEAR on what happened in the 50th, and on what happens when the Doctors meet up with each other? In The Five Doctors it was made clear that only the current Doctor would remember what happened. So while 10 and the War Doctor and 11 “saved” Gallifrey, rewriting what happened, the ONLY one who would remember this in 11. So that means, yes, that 9 is still angry, and 10 still is wracked with grief and guilt. Please pay closer attention.

    • Everyone commenting understands that. But all of that grief and guilt and anger is no longer with any future doctors, including 11 and 12, which means that all of that character development and plot from that point on is gone from the character as if it’s been swept with an eraser.

    • Lady Greenbrier says:

      Like your comment says, yes, Nine and Ten still believe they ended Gallifrey and are “wracked with grief and guilt.” The character’s feelings aren’t cheapened – it’s our enjoyment as a VIEWER that is cheapened. Imagine someone watching the 50th and then going back and watching “Dalek” from series 1 of the reboot. Remember the emotion, the terror, the danger of the show? The incredible acting from CE as he played a guilt-ridden, PTSD soldier who was faced with his worst nightmare? For the viewer who’s seen the 50th first, that has no emotional poignancy because the entire time, they’re going to be thinking, “But he DIDN’T do it!” It doesn’t matter that HE thought he did it, it’s the fact that we, as a viewer, know something he doesn’t, know that grief has no true foundation (even though he thinks it does).

      So you’re right. Nine and Ten still believe they destroyed Gallifrey. That hasn’t changed. But our view of the show has changed and our view of their grief has changed, and it’ll be hard for viewer to regain the horror and grief they feel as Ten describes his planet with tearful nostalgia (series 3, “Gridlock”), the shock when Nine says, “My planet’s gone. It burned, just like the Earth” (series 1, “The End of the World”).

      (Ignoring what we just discussed, it’s also just bad writing and really makes no sense, like the author of the article said. Why UN-WRITE your character development? Why undo the driving force behind the reboot of the show? There was no reason for Moffat to make the 50th about the Time War, no reason for him to insert his own Doctor into the lineup. The 50th didn’t celebrate 50 years of the show – it was celebrating Moffat and that makes me angry.)

  15. docjoh90 says:

    “In short: restore the heart to a dying show.”

    Pardon my french but MY ARSE it’s a dying show. And you know what Moffat has problems (I honestly don’t see where everyone is getting the sexist, homophobic stuff from with him, I saw more traits of sexism and racism during Davies tenure if anything) but you know what, myself and many others have gotten more excitement and fun from this tenure than we did with Davies tenure. Davies tenure was nothing more than angst and depression and just because he makes everything SAD doesn’t mean it’s GOOD. Seriously go back and watch Davies episodes and you’ll see the man had just as many problems as Moffat.

    Yes I am more of Classic Series fan, but when it comes to modern Who I will gladly rewatch Moffat’s stuff over RTD’s.

  16. Josh Labron says:

    I can’t stand it when fans talk for all other fans. Don’t tell me I think he’s ruining Doctor Who. I don’t think he’s ruining it. Would I love to see someone else take over some time soon. yeah. Do I think he’s homophobic, hell now; I don’t know where that comes from. I’m assuming you read that on the internet somewhere…!

  17. Nyder says:

    This comes from a Old Who fan. Since Moffat took over, this show has gone backwards, anyone who is a fan or not can see it, from the bad writing to the retconning, universal sized plot holes and much more.
    Yes RTD had his problems but he UNDERSTOOD Dr Who, after all he was a fan of the Classic Series himself, the shows Davis made in the early 90′s like Dark Season had little loving references to Dr Who and you could tell he had great respect for the old show.
    Moffat doesn’t Dr Who at all, he writes and produces but has no connection to it, he just seems to see a car he can joyride without anything going wrong, he can screw with what happened in the RTD era and even totally retcon it all if he wants, after all its HIS show now, right?
    The thing is, this has happened before.
    I feel we are now at the point where Classic Who was in back in the mid to late 80′s with producer John Nathan Turner, a man who like Moffat was a control freak, a man who also tried to make Dr Who in his image by various means, such as making Colin Bakers Doctor darker than the others, not because the fans or writers wanted it, but because he wanted it. Turner had too much creative control and in the end, it broke the series. Dr Who shouldn’t be twisted to serve as one man’s ego trip, but it was back then, and it’s happening again now.
    I can tell you, if the BBC doesn’t grow some balls, kick Moffat off the show and get someone who has real talent for this kind of series, a series that has seen the world change so much over the decades, then Dr Who seems to once again be doomed to failure.
    Or perhaps it is time for the show to return to the wilderness for a decade or so? Only time will tell.

    • docjoh90 says:

      RTD understood it? Um No. If he understood it he would’ve have forced a stupid love story with the Doctor, make him pine for that companion constantly and make him mope about all the damn time. And yeah Moffat has problems, but at least he makes the Doctor act alien and FUN. If Moffat is John Nathan-Turner than Davies was Graham Williams. Again Moffat is flawed but so was Davies and he was guilty of just as many things if not more so. Need I remind you of the whole Master retconning with the Sound of Drums nonsense? Or how about the complete screw over of Rassilon’s character. Yeah I’m more of a fan of the classic stuff than I am of the newer stuff but I will gladly take Moffat’s tenure of the angst ridden unDoctor Who like Davies tenure.

      • Lady Greenbrier says:

        The thing is though, RTD’s sad Doctor COMPLETELY makes sense given the events of the Time War. Nine is guilt-ridden, having destroyed his planet and committed double genocide. He’s probably got PTSD and depression (at least at the start of the series) and he’s clearly struggling with it all. Rose helps him with it. He needed someone to help him – it probably wouldn’t have been a love story if it hadn’t been for the Time War. And then with Ten, he was born because Nine died to save Rose. He was born because Nine sacrificed himself for her. Rose kind of becomes his crutch (with isn’t always healthy, I will admit – it’s never healthy to completely depend on someone like they do towards the end of the second series). Ten is INCREDIBLY human and he loves like a human and he mourns like a human. He mourns for Rose and he mourns for Gallifrey and that comes out in his storyline. Ten is DEFINED by his grief. Yes, his story arcs are sad, but they are far more emotionally compelling than Moffat’s “let’s-make-it-so-it-never-happened-and-there’s-no-ramifications-for-the-characters!” story arcs.

        I enjoyed Eleven, but he was characterized less consistently. He was happy!Doctor, making jokes and moving on from the Time War and then he was socially-unaware!Doctor, and then he was sex-jokes!Doctor, and it just never seemed to mesh with me. I’m really upset about it because Matt Smith is talented and I could have loved his Doctor, but he was never given any emotionally compelling story arcs like Nine or Ten. (I haven’t had time to start watching Classic Who yet, so I can’t speak about those arcs, although I have heard they are pretty good.)

      • Chiara says:

        About the Master… it’s too late for an answer but RTD didn’t change the Master, he gave an explanation for his madness. But the character remains the same, the master conducts is the same with logopolis with the ultimate foe and with the end of time: he tryed to destroy the doctor but at the same time he helped him, and he also tried to destroy the High council. RTD just gave a deeper motivation for his hate against the high council but even though we can feel more emphaty and more understanding for this character, RTD respected the intercourses between the master and the doctor, between the master and the high council and between the master and innocent people, as we can see them in the old episodes. This is obviously just my opinion, and maybe I’m going wrong.

    • Shelley Hunt says:

      There has been no retconning. See my comment above.

    • emilyly says:

      I couldn’t agree more! A complex plot which is difficult to grasp is fantastic but a plot that constantly leaves loose ends and things unexplained just isn’t satisfying. To be honest I enjoyed the Davies era a lot more, because the stories had more weight (not that I don’t love Matt Smith) and it’s great when they’re fun, but there needs to be a balance, I think.

    • Chiara says:

      I am watching the classic series (I watched all the episodes with the Third, Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Doctor, give me more time and I ll know every classic doctor) I’m completely agree. Driefly, RTD remain loyal to
      1- the dynamics between the Doctor and the Master based upon rivalry and respect (just watch Logopolis in which they ally, and the Doctor says he thinks the master is a great mind), adding one strengthening the lot with the fact they’re the only two time lords in the universe
      2- give more psycologic solity to the inclination of the doctor to save people and to show compassion (in the classic the doctor refuses guns and in Genesis of the Daleks he choose not to kill davros). In RTD era showing compassion is the way he choose in order to be rather that fantastic doctor who saves people than that monster who made a genocide
      3- In the classic era we can see that most of the time lords were deceiver politicians (Deadly assassin) and selfish megalomaniac (Borusa in the five doctors and Omega) and Tegan leaves the Fifth because she can’t stand his way of life after he killed many Daleks,, and after this the Fifth realize it’s time for a change. RTD shows very well how the Doctor needs a human companion to be stopped
      4- the fifth doctor get angry with the humans when they think to kill the sea devils exactly like the Tenth get angry with Harrieth Jones when she kills the Sycorax. In both cases the Doctor has not a human point of view. we can also see this in Midnight
      5- In City of death and Shada the Fourth doctor shows his consideration for human art and brains, in Satan’s Pit and in Utopia the Tenth also praise human race.
      6- Nine and Ten died to save a human life like Five
      7- Ten is a very good swordsman exactly like the classic doctors

      most of all in the classic era and in the RTD era the doctor is clever and brilliant, HE saves the companions and has the solutions, in Moffat era the companion saves the doctor and the companion is more clever than him (not only clara but amy and river) and none of them is depict like HUMAN.
      in the classic era and in the RTD era the mistery was found in the universe, on the planet the Doctor comes, in the Moffat era the mistery is the companion

      in the classic era and in the RTD era there was more LOGIC, not timely wimely, that is an explanation for everything.

      I don’t want to say RTD was perfect, but I think he gave continuity to many aspects of the classic Doctor.

      Rtd violates the classics spirit with the romance but also moffat had the intention to show the doctor in love with river, the problem is that his portrayal of what a love story is, doesn’t convinces.

      • Chiara says:

        I forgot to write that I don’t think Moffat is incompetent I think he had many good ideas,I really like some of his episodes, I was talking only about the continuity with the classic because I’m tired to read “Moffat brought back the classics spirit”. although moffat is less sad, he changed the show in many other ways .

      • Chiara says:

        and Rtd introduced the “fixed points” to explain why the doctor can’t change the history (for example Pompei) just like the old series does in “the Aztecs” and in other episdes (for example the Fifth Dortor in “the Visitation” could have prevented the Great Fire of London but he didn’t)… (then Moffat keeps using fixed points but they concern the events of the characters life (Amy and Rory in Manhattan, and the the Doctor at Lake Silencio) not historical events, I think)

  18. Some guy says:

    Just dont bother watching the shows. people like you is what’s wrong with the fandom of Doctor who, all you want is David Tennant well you can buy all his series on DVD. why don’t you go off and watch that. there is NOTHING wrong with Doctor who. and by the way TONS of people have died/ left doctor who over the 50 years! I mean fucking Adric was left on a spaceship and crashed into the earth. people die in Doctor who. the doctor has lost lots of people! he doenst griev he just moves on. That’s what was wrong with Tennant he spent a whole series moaning about rose. she was just one person who on the grand scale of the doctors life meant nothing.

    • Some guy says:

      who cares really. I was trying to delete that comment but I cant,

      • Chiara says:

        I saw Tennant in TDotD and I didn’t like him. Moffat didn’t understand the Tenth Doctor characterization. that’s why, after watching TDotD, I’m sure that no, David Tennant is not all I want to see in Doctor Who.

  19. Mary Pyatt says:

    look, yeah moffat has his problems, which writer doesn’t? he writes for not one but two t.v. shows -that i know of- which have a big fan base. all i can think of is that if moffat got hit by a car all the people who proclaim to love doctor who would celebrate… not mourn the loss of the guy who wrote a plot that showed the doctor as a guy.. as a person who has hopes and dreams and has lost a loved one.
    yes, the show has changed since he started writing it, the doctor is no longer stereotypical, the actors are now allowed to have accents that are not brittish and the show has begun to trend.
    This is not a bad thing. it is just a change.

  20. […] he did. And none of that is an easy story tell, so maybe Moffat wasn’t up to it. We know he’s no good at writing about grief, or death, much preferring to have a clever answer for it. However, what that means is that maybe […]

  21. Ana says:

    Thank you so so much for this post, it´s all I feel about what´s wrong with Moffatt era.To be honest, I´ll just ignore all this horrible badly written retcon – as I´m doing already since season 6. It´s sad but I don´t care about Doctor Who anymore. I´ll just wait patiently till a new showrunner comes. Once again, great post.

    • Some one says:

      Shut up, Moffat is a genius. I don’t get why people who dislike the show bother everyone with their negativity. It’s four years know. If you really dislike everything he writes, just go. Stop watching the show, don’t bother. If I found something painful to watch, I would start by making it disapear from my life and then… I would shut my mouth. If all you do is complain, question yourself. Are you really a fan? I believe you are not.

      • Jacob says:

        I’m going to begin by saying that it is NOT okay for you to shun someone simply for their opinion, especially here when it’s harmless. You are being extremely impolite telling Ana to “shut up.” If people want to complain, let them complain. I agree with Ana and this blog entry, actually, and I’m sure there are others out there who agree too. It’s important to value every persons’ opinion.

        Second of all, it is not just “negativity,” it’s simply disappointment that the fans, people who REALLY like the show, feel. We are disappointed that the writer trivializes death and recycles characters. In our opinion, seeing things that we’ve already seen before simply makes for a less dramatic and less interesting series.

        Maybe we will leave, maybe we won’t. If you deal with your problems by “making [it] disappear from [your] life” and then shutting your mouth, then that’s fine. It’s probably not healthy to ignore your problems, but I am not telling you what to do. Deal with your problems your own way, just don’t tell others to think the way you do.

      • Opinions are great — especially passionate ones — but let’s keep things respectful please and thanks.

  22. […] I’m going to be riffing on this post quite a bit, as the author is whip-smart and said a lot of the things that needed to be said. Go […]

  23. […] now, it’s been fairly routine for major TV interviewers to force Tumblr-favorite stars of geeky franchises (like David Tennant, Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman and Tom Hiddleston) to interact with […]

  24. Joseph says:

    I love the show since Steven Moffat took over. It’s gotten more cinematic, clever, well-structured and emotional (there are other ways to produce emotion than killing off characters — if you weren’t moved by the end of Angels in Manhattan or The Doctor, The Widow and the Wardrobe, I call you a soulless robot), so what if Moffat is more of an optimist? IMO it’s a vast improvement over the farting aliens and lazy plotting of the RTD era (read the Wikipedia article on Davies to see how bad he is at procrastinating and rushing scripts after the deadline).

    Murray Gold’s scores have vastly improved. Matt Smith is a revelation. God love RTD for reviving the show and giving us great Eccleston and Tennant moments, but the writing was so simplistic and the 3rd acts so sloppy. I love how Moffat sets up plot points over several episodes and seasons, tying the first and last episodes of a season together, to engage the audience, or even within an episode — little touches of cleverness like ripping the page out of Amy’s book in Angels Take Manhattan to pay off in the final moments, or the mindbending time jumps of A Christmas Carol and The Big Bang.

    It’s so egocentric and against the spirit of Doctor Who to see how many hits you can get on a blog designed to inflame fans against the current show. By the way, Moffat is homophobic? So lesbian recurring characters Vastra and Jenny, and The Doctor kissing Rory aren’t gay enough for you? River Song knowing more about flying the TARDIS than the Doctor is sexist? Amy never changed over the course of the show? You really have no earthly idea what you’re talking about. How about giving him credit for making the main love interest for the 11th a woman in her 50s, how often does that happen in television? You’d rather focus on the negative.

    If Doctor Who is such an insufferable, dying show, how come it’s gone completely global and jumped in viewers and production value since Moffat took over? What a cynical piece of fluff. You’re putting precious time, thought and energy into the world trashing someone else’s art — a colossal waste of all three.

    • Joseph says:

      BTW, to wrap up this counter-rant, I know the Nielsen ratings for live television viewings aren’t higher for Matt Smith’s era, but that doesn’t account for the other ways people watch these shows in the past few years, like On Demand, itunes and Netflix – you need to buy a cable package just to watch it on tv in the US; I became a fan on Netflix myself. I’m talking about the show’s popularity and presence in popular culture, magazine covers, websites, sections of Barnes and Noble devoted to Doctor Who — it’s way more popular than it was a few years ago.

      Another note: read the original Sherlock Holmes stories. Doyle killed Sherlock and brought him back, that’s not a Moffat invention!

      • Cupcake says:

        Hey um…you know that Moffat is also in charge of Sherlock right?

      • Katharina says:

        Whoah, calm down.
        Being a a fan doesn’t mean that you mindlessly love everything they put up there. It means you watch it, think about it, love it; but also criticize it and see flaws. And like it despite of the flaws.

        I’m a fan myself of the series, and that doesn’t change the fact that I think that Moffat is rubbish in character development. That article up there pretty much sums it up. Amy has to go through a lot of crap in her storyline, but over all, she does not change. Yeah, in the beginning, she was wavering about the wedding… But that’s it. Or did I miss any great character development? She LOST HER BABY, and she mentioned it just once or twice afterwards. Rory and Amy were about to get a divorce (which, actually, I liked just because there seemed to be character development), but that problem was solved within 5 minutes. And never mentioned again. And the only time Amy did change in The Girl Who Waited, there’s the Reset Button again and her older self gets left behind, so she doesn’t have to (and I really liked her new self. She was clever and fought for herself. She didn’t need the doctor, and she just believed in herself, because she was let down. There’s some development for you! Oh, but wait, he took that away. Forget it.)
        All in all, the article does sum it up pretty good. Rory gets a bit of change (he was a wuss at first, but turned out pretty cool)

        If you compare it to RTD’s characters, there is definitely a difference. You only have to compare Rose in Series 1 and Series 2: She is much more protective of the Doctor because she ‘lost’ him once and doesn’t want to lose him again. And when we see her again, she took over the Doctors mannerisms even and basically devoted her life to getting back to the Doctor; she almost became somebody else entirely.

        Of all the sidekicks, I guess Mickey got the greatest change of all, from the whiney boyfriend to the warrior. But you could see every step of that and WHY. He didn’t want to be the ‘tin dog’, the one nobody really notices, so he decided to become more than that.

        RTD was overall better in writing emotional moments because of this. Moffat is really good in creating memorable lines, but because his characters sometimes seem unbelievable, the moments do not sink in as they did when RTD had written them.

        The Angels take Manhatten.. yeah, call me soulless, but I wasn’t really touched by it. First, Amy does live happily ever after with Rory, so despite of the fact that she doesn’t see the Doctor again, it’s not so sad. And second, I was really distracted by the big plotholes which were all over the episode. Seriously. That was just sloppy writing.

        Moffat is really good in writing riddles and puzzles, clues that go over episodes and seasons and big story arcs. However, he is not good at emotional things and character development.

      • Katharina says:

        Oh, yeah, I forgot to add as comparisons:

        When Rose left, Ten basically missed her the entire Season, making remarks like “Rose would know” etc. He genuinely missed her. *The entire season*, not just 2 episodes and that’s it.
        Martha, as the new companion, was pretty pissed by that, especially because she started to fall in love with him. In the end, she left because of that reason. See that? She fell in love – she is disappointed because he already is in love with Rose – after a time, she decides she cannot put up with this and that she can do better. (She’s the first companion who left on her own, btw) There’s good development for you.

        Ten makes his own conclusions about this and is hesistant to take Donna with him, because he “just wants a mate”. You can literally see his loneliness, but he is too good to make Donna hopes of any kind.
        And after he has to wipe Donnas memory, he doesn’t want any new companion because they always get hurt. And because nobody is there to stop him, he almost becomes Time Lord Victorious in Waters on Mars (which is a GREAT episode by the way)
        The Doctor needs the companions; they are his humanity, they stop him or show him different ways of doing it. Without them, he loses the grip of what’s right and what’s wrong. Another thing that Moffat likes to ignore. He just skips 200-300 years where the Doctor travelled alone, and nobody knows what happened. Altogether he fast-forwarded around 1000 years with the Doctor know, counting in the Christmas Special.

    • Shelby says:

      I want to talk about the “homophobic” thing here. You reference Jenny and Vastra, and the Rory/Doctor kiss. So I’m going to start there. Jenny and Vastra are not some beautiful queer couple that Moffat wrote in because he wanted to. They were initially intended as a joke. Character makes a snarky comment, Vastra responds that Jenny is her wife. Ha! Who saw that coming? I can say that with absolute certainty because this is how Moffat writes his queer-identified characters. Period. It’s a long running theme with him, not just Doctor Who. To this day, we’ve only seen their relationship referenced one other time, whereas other (hetero) couples will interact in some form of couple-y way somehow or another, these two never get the chance. I won’t even get into the mocking of Vastra’s sexuality in her first episode, or the forced kiss and subsequent mockery the Doctor lands on Jenny.
      So. The Doctor and Rory kiss. Neither of which are gay characters. Both of which are subsequently needing to assure themselves and others that it didn’t mean anything. I would like to draw up a comparison to an extremely similar (scarily similar, in fact) kiss from RTD’s era: The Doctor and Jack. If you don’t remember the scene, I’ll provide a refresher: The Doctor, Jack, and Rose are preparing battle against the Daleks and they’re all aware that this is a suicide mission. The Doctor takes the time to bestow identical kisses on Jack and Rose to convey his feelings of affection and regret to them. That’s it. Simple, heartfelt emotion. Out of the two instances, I will always pick this kiss as the better scenario. Why? Because it wasn’t a lighthearted moment, and it pushed an emotional response from the audience, without any real dialogue.
      I’m not RTD’s biggest fan, in fact I was extremely excited when Moffat took over. But I have to say, when it comes down to the core of it, RTD kept the show on track, while Moffat tends to feed his ego. All of his female companions (and similar) have the same traits, and I would argue are Manic Pixie Dream Girls. He doesn’t document grief at ALL: see Amy and Rory’s daughter being STOLEN from them. Outside of one rather miniscule scene where Amy and Rory argue about who loves who more, we don’t see any lasting effects. It’s as though it didn’t matter.
      I could go on and on, especially in regards to your comments about the Matt Smith regeneration, but I’ll leave it here. Whilst you have your opinions and I have mine, I can’t help but acknowledge many of the flaws that have found their way into the show under Moffat’s direction. Just because he is more punctual doesn’t mean he’s the better candidate for running the show. And furthermore, as a life long lover of Doctor Who (and Arthur Conan Doyle, for that matter), I have to say that I’m bitterly disappointed to see what is becoming of the things that ignited my imagination at a young age. It’s a shame to see a man so enamored with his own skill at crafting overly complicated scripts and plot lines that he forgets the bigger picture.

      • bloodyneptune says:

        I can’t remember, who was it who created the character of Jack again?

      • Russell T. Davies did. Moffat was just the first to use the character in an episode.

      • docjoh90 says:

        Vastra and Jenny a joke? Yeah me no see the connection. Yeah they joke about but they’re hardly a “joke” and really Jack was more of a joke because everytime he came on it was the same thing “Oh I’m attracted to everyone especially the Doctor have a mentioned that?” YES about a dozen times. A just because Davies may have “kept it on track” that still doesn’t mean it’s good. He has just as many flaws as Moffat, if not more.

  25. Ryan says:

    Very astute & interesting article here. I have one question, and this isn’t meant to start anything, but it what ways is Moffat’s writing for the show homophobic? Maybe I am thick, but I don’t remember any specific thing.

    And a comment from Ali really points out why the show has succeeded so far. It is because of the availability of the show. When it was on the SciFi Channel, that was the only time I was able to see it. If I missed it, I missed it. I think if the show had stayed with the SciFi Channel it would have only remained a “cult show” and it would have not become as big as it has.

    • Shelby says:

      Throughout Moffat’s term as show runner, he has repeatedly made jokes at the expense of gay characters, or perceived gay traits. One of the most memorable moments is when Vastra is first introduced as a character, crude jokes are made in regards to her long tongue, and mocking implications made about her sexuality. Legitimately queer-identified characters are rarely seen or fleshed out (Vastra and Jenny have never shared an on-screen kiss, but Jenny had a kiss forced upon her by the Doctor, who laughed off her concerns afterwards), as well as several other existing concerns. In relation to Sherlock, he is seen as a heterosexist (a more holistic term than homophobic) because he makes a point of stating that Irene is gay, but implies that she is cured by the interest of Sherlock. He has also been quoted as saying that Asexuality (in relation to Sherlock) would be pointless and boring, and that no one would want to watch that. Which is interesting, since Asexuality doesn’t mean Aromantic, and it is arguable that John and Sherlock share a type of co-dependent, mildly-romantic relationship that if often pursued by Asexual individuals.

      I have countless other examples of all these things, but I hope this might clear those comments up for you!

      • Ryan says:

        It did! Thanks!

        I think the reason why I have trouble remembering things from Moffat’s run is that, despite what he wants you to think, a lot of his stories as show runner are not very good.

        Yes, he gave us “Blink”, “Forest of the Dead/”Silence in the Library”. But those were written under RTD’s era. And while, a lot of people give RTD flack (his use dues ex machina for example), they give Moffat a pass on things because he writes “cool”.

        I don’t hate either writer. Davies was able to write great heart into the show and made you care about the characters. Moffat writes great puzzle piece stories. But without either one balancing out the other, we are left with a hole (sometimes plot shaped) in the scope of what the show wants to tell us.

        And I did not know that about “Sherlock”. I haven’t been watching it. Not a fan of Holmes stuff personally.

  26. […] just get killed off, at the other, all tension and sense of fear for the Doctor and his crew is pretty much evaporated due to their writers’ discomfort with the idea of killing anyone permanently. Neither of these is […]

  27. arrogantcunt says:

    Thank you so much for this post. It addresses all the issues I have with Moffat’s Who to a T. It’s hard to express any criticism about Moffat online because you will be attacked by crazed Moffat fanboys, so I applaud your bravery.

    I don’t think Doctor Who is dying, though. It’s already dead. Everything that it was about – making hard choices and dealing with the consequences – has been re-written. To use that godawful quote, “Time can be re-written”. I am upset I have wasted so much time of my life giving the show second chances, and angry that a once brilliant show has been butchered before my eyes.

  28. Time's Champion says:

    Terrible stuff.

    And I’m not talking about the new era, I’m talking about this cumbersome diatribe.

  29. altmetalpunk says:

    Are you forgetting a good man goes to war? The doctor blows up half of a cyberfleet, kills off the fat one and the girl from the forrrst. There’s the doctor’s wife where he kills an ood, patchwork people (yes gaimen wrote it but moffat has the final say). How about dinosaurs on a space ship where I nearly cried watching a dinosaur die and he kills the main villain? Honestly during season 6 the biggest complaint I heard was moffats complete disregard for life and how the doctor has too much bloodlust. Now people are complaining he doesn’t kill enough. Dude cant get a break.

    • jane smith says:

      thats not the point, the point is that when people die, THEY JUST COME BACK EVERY BLOODY TIME. it ruins the whole idea of the “dying”

      • altmeatlpunk says:

        Except not… The examples i gave no one came back. They just died. Not to mention how he spends a whole two episodes with the rebel flesh establishing that these creatures are alive and as human as anyone else and then KILLS ALL OF THEM BUT ONE. God Complex everyone except Amy, Rory, The Doctor, and David Waliam’s character dies and doesn’t come back, Wedding of River Song he shows no mercy and kills madam kaforkain (sp?), a town called mercy he blows up the other doctor, The Lodger people are insinerated by the rogue silence time machine, Time of Angels he snaps all of the soldiers necks, or erases them from history, Hungry earth kills 2 sillurians, Nightmare in Silver the head of the punishment regiment is killed. I mean seriously, add those to the ones i already mentioned and the ones i haven’t and that’s a lot of deaths!!! And the doctor in the day of the doctor still had all of the dalek’s kill each other! how many more deaths do you want? the show is written for families including small children? if you want a shit ton of deaths go watch torchwood reruns. Killing people is not what the show’s about! It’s about a mad man with a box who is forgiving and tries to save everyone (remember he tried to save davros at the end of season 4). Go watch some classics.

    • dee says:

      you’re totally missing the point, dude…. the article isn’t asking for moffat to kill more; the article is asking for believable consequences from these deaths. what’s the point of ‘killing’ characters when other characters don’t learn/get affected from these deaths?

      • altmeatlpunk says:

        Moffat’s whole time has been about the doctor dealing with the consequences of his actions. All of the big bads have been connected in some way that we’ll apparently find out at christmas. They’ve all wanted the doctor dead because of what he’s done over his whole life. This is about the doctor not just having enemies but the fact that what he sees as victories the enemies see as attempted genocide. The last 3 years has been the doctor not just dealing with the consequences of the Time War or w.e. other bs RTD created but his whole life. Apparently we’re not ready to think big picture though. Can’t wait for capaldi to come in and clear out the bandwagoners

    • Katharina says:

      But that’s also not what the article is about. Basically, every Who episode somebody dies (and, yes, doesn’t come back).

      But if one of the ‘main’ characters dies you know that he’ll bring them back. There’s no real angst here. Rory died multiple times. River is theoretically dead but we can still see her because of her weird time stream. And the Night Terrors episode.. Was somebody here actually afraid when Amy turned into a puppet? It just told me that ALL the puppets will turn back human again, because Amy will for sure. When somebody is important to Moffat, they are invincible.

    • Emily says:

      And when/if they don’t come back the death is either softened or there are no lasting consequences for the surviving characters – that is, no character development as a result of their deaths. It’s either that or it was a minor character who died ( like in the examples you’ve given) and also in the earlier examples relating to amy – she goes through a hell of a lot, and yet doesn’t really change.

  30. Hope Richardson says:

    Okay – I have to admit I haven’t read every post – too much to catch up with.

    One of the problems I have had with all this syrup is with Matt Smith’s portrayal of The Doctor. IMO, he didn’t seen to have the same emotional range as David Tennant’s Doctor. (did anyone watch “Broadchurch”? I can’t picture Matt Smith in THAT role!). The scripts seem to have been written for Smith’s happy-go-lucky, bow-tie, fez, cowboy hat wearing personality as the Doctor. Even when things are awful – he’s chatters like a chipmunk. Too many personal gimmicks And yes, because of that, everything seemed to be “sugar coated” as someone said above. Smith himself reeks of elfish good-will to men – especially Earth men. I was sorry to see that Tennant gave in a bit and became somewhat goofier than smart in the 50th Anniversary episode. I would hope that it was the writing/directing and not Tennant’s choice.

    I am interested to see if the scripts for #13 (or #12 or whatever) will be a bit darker and less smarmy because of his age and his appearance. I’m also ready to say goodbye to Clara. She’s a bit too cutesy and a looks like she could be Peter Capaldi’s daughter, not a companion.

    • altmetalpunk says:

      A. You apparently haven’t watched a lot of classic who because matts portrayal of the doctor is classic and B. Matts scenes where he looses people are heart breaking. Tennant and eccleston were great, right out of the war doctors. Eccleston was angry because of what he did as the war doctor and tennant was in the mourning, brooding stage. Smith was perfect for where the doctor is in gis progression of grief if the time war and now smith knows what the others cant remember. But when I saw smith sympathize with a dying invisible monster in vincent and the doctor “hes saying ‘im scared’” it was hard not to be moved by his delivery. The doctor is someine who tries to save someone no matter what and when he cant it crushes him. When the doctor lost the ponds smith delivered an amazing performance that out did karens without teeth acting like tennant. If you get a chance watch Christopher and his kind and party animals. Smith has such depth and is such a dynamic actor who can fit into any role he plays perfectly and it totally catches people by surprise.

      • gso1989 says:

        Ok, Moffat. Stop messing about.

      • Joseph says:

        Agreed

      • SPets says:

        I’m going to have to disagree with you when you say that Smith’s portrayal being classic. While the doctor was much lighter and a LOT… goofier? (seriously the best word I can think of) in the classics, there was still a great wisdom to the doctor. The goofy-ness worked because of lines like Tom Bakers “what’s the use of being grown up if you can’t be a little childish sometimes?” Where you saw that it was an act because the Doctor enjoyed it that way. Matt Smith instead seems to have lost that sense of wisdom, relying on the “reset” solution time and time again as opposed to having to make sacrifices. A lot of the time nowadays the issue is almost completely unaffected by the doctors appearance or caused by him/his companions (I am referring to the later Moffat series though). He’s lost the ability to solve the problem, and the plot holes and paradoxes that surround him just make it lose the plot.

        Consequences are necessary, even if they are not fatal. Look at the Dalek Invasion of Earth and the sheer power of Susan leaving. And what about The Caves of Androzani – widely regarded as one of the best Dr Who episode of the classics – it is the heartbreaking resolution that keeps it in your memory because even though the doctor regenerated the knowledge of the consequences of his actions weighed heavily on his mind.

  31. Andrew Sherwin says:

    Interesting read, though I take issue with this premise given one of the recurring themes of “Doctor Who” is not only death, but the understanding that death as humans perceive is incredibly short-sighted. When your show’s protagonist is able to go anywhere in space and time, this inherently means that all characters will not only inevitably die, but they also can inevitably be revisited and always live. To me, Moffatt’s “lack of killing characters” is actually an effective reflection of this core theme, and let’s not forget that if we want to really scrutinize the inability to kill off characters, the Doctor himself has been a monument to this since the First Doctor called it quits in 1966; they could have just have easily killed off the Doctor then and there and replaced him with another Time Lord or other interesting character, or put the show to rest while it was in its prime. Bringing back and reinventing characters has ALWAYS been a staple of the series, so truly, Moffatt is no more guilty than any of the other writers of the show.

  32. Some Person says:

    I completely agree! The show’s lack of growth, progression, and character development are due to Moffat’s inability to face consequences within the show’s plots. When I began watching the fifth season, I liked it. It was new and ambitious. However, as I got into the sixth and seventh season, a bad after taste started cropping up, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. I thought the show was starting to get a little old, but I didn’t know why… Then when Amy and Rory left and Clara came onto the show, the same feeling I had in season five came up again. Everything was shiny and new. Then a feeling even worse than the one I had in season six and seven emerged after I finished watching the 50th. I just couldn’t believe that Moffat had changed the premise and narrative of the show in such a way that it would erase the reason the New Who existed. I mean, he just took all the angst and drama felt by both the 9th and 10th doctors and said, ” Nope.. that doesn’t matter anymore.” Effectively removing the major consequences that essentially formed the make-up of this show. Fans of Doctor who have been saying that the 50th special has revived and refreshed the show with a gutsy re-innovation. I say, however, “At what cost?” Doctor Who isn’t Doctor Who anymore; it’s a show that uses the same rules and history (occasionally) that calls itself Doctor Who, but its premise is totally different. Not only that, it’s a show that doesn’t even live up to what its old show (season one to season four) used to be. While I agree, that the best of shows change immensely (Buffy the Vampire Slayer being a masterful example), they don’t usually lose their sense of identity in the process of such large changes. Which is exactly what has happened to Doctor who not only due to the 50th, but also due to Moffat’s run. Moffat’s inability to show the consequences of every characters’ actions has fundamentally changed the foundation of the show. Not for the better, but for the worse. And it is because of this that, in my opinion, the show has been effectively ruined.

    • Minna Reilly says:

      In all fairness, by losing Gallifrey, RTD lost something of what the /old/ old show was. Not saying it was a bad decision, just that Moffat’s not the only one who’s changed the character of the show like that. Personally, the idea of Gallifrey still being out there is refreshing because we can maybe stop with the bloody moping – Eleven and his stories have gotten more and more hopeless as time has gone on, and it’s got really wearing. The possibility of Gallifrey being out there somewhere for him to find? I’m excited for that because it could give him hope, give him a purpose he seems to have lost a bit.

      Of course, the consequences of his finding Gallifrey again would be vast, and I’m not sure I’m ready to see Moffat try to deal with them. But a girl can hope, I guess.

      • Some Person says:

        I agree with you to an extent. RTD changed Doctor Who AS A FRANCHISE… When the new Doctor Who aired in 2005 it was totally different from its predecessor. It was darker, more serialized, and, most importantly, its premise changed drastically. However, what helped justify such a huge change was the fact that it was technically a new show with its own premise. This premise, however, has been erased by Moffat. Moffat has changed the new who so much, but it’s not so much the change itself that bothers me, its how the show has changed. Rather than making a completely natural change THROUGH THE CHARACTERS (for example, having the doctor come to terms with destroying his own people for the greater good), we get an abrupt change through the show’s plots, themes, and, most devastatingly, its premise, which, to me, is completely unacceptable. What the 50th anniversary was was a massive reset button. Generally, I’m okay with reset buttons… if they’re on a small scale (like one episode). The 50th anniversary special, however, was a reset button on a tremendous scale. In fact, the reset button was so large that they might as well categorize any season/series after the 50th into a different show, a new show. A new show which is ultimately a rewrite of what Doctor Who was in 2005. Moffat erased almost everything that made up Davies’ era, and for that, I cannot watch the show again.

  33. Roberta says:

    I agree with what you wrote, and I read some comments that think that you are fixating of the death of the characters. It seemed to me that you are talking about consequences, be they death or otherwise, which Moffat completely disregards. And to that I add the thing that made me go ballistic when I saw it and it made me really consider to stop watching the show: when in The Angels Take Mahattan Rory e Amy throw themselves off a building. Because that’s what happened. Two people jumped off a building. And putting aside the other upsetting problems (which are very important, anyway), putting aside that it’s meant to be a show for kids, even putting aside that, yes, it’s a tv show, that blatant disregard for the consequences of suicide made me so angry that i never finished watching that episode, just read later what happened. And I kept watching only to bring me to the 50th, that after the first two days of the tipical immediate reactions to nearly every one of Moffat’s episode (‘ohhhh shiny!’ ‘ohhh explodey!!!’ ‘ohhh pretty!!!’ ‘ohhh clever!!!!’) left me with only a long list of the things that I didn’t like. It was supposed to be an episode to celebrate 50 years of Doctor Who, instead was just another chapter of Moffat’s televised fanfiction.

    • altmeatlpunk says:

      except the whole run of matt smith has been about people who side with the villains wanting to kill the doctor because of the genocide he’s caused. The silence, some how, blows up the tardis to get rid of the doctor and for whatever reason, which we’ll apparently find out at christmas, think the doctor is evil along with this past season the great intelligence who even says to ask his enemies whether or not the doctor is a killer. The whole theme of the past 3 seasons has been the doctor living with the consequences not just of his recent travels but his whole life.

      • stacysky says:

        That is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. All Moffat has done was rewrite classic Doctor Who plots. The seventh Doctor destroyed Skaro and in later episodes where it was proved time and time again that Skaro had been destroyed. Yet Moffat brought it back and I don’t care what excuse he gave for it planets don’t make it through supernovas. Especially since he locked Gallifrey outside of time in space a lot of the universe forgot that Timelords were once a real people. Sometimes Moffat throws us a bone by bringing back a Classic Who Alien but other than that it’s his new monsters. And the Doctor has always had to deal with the consequences of his whole life. The Daleks’ encounter with the first Doctor is what sparked them to want to wipe out every other living creature in the whole universe so every time he encounters the Daleks he is dealing with that.

      • Joseph says:

        My perception is that there is small but VOCAL percentage of fans who hate Steven Moffat and love to blog about it, but they miss all the finer details and craft he’s brought — the themes you bring up are about more than “The Doctor saves earth from aliens again”. Let’s not forget DW started as a children’s show, so I really don’t understand the hate he gets for bringing the tone back that way. Kid’s pick up storytelling like sponges, do we really need a children’s show full of death and despair? Since 2005 I always suspected wiping out the Time Lords was a first act that would swing around to bringing them back, for all we know RTD’s plan all along was to resolve that plot as something temporary (9 and 10′s memories were unaffected, so Moffat really didn’t change anything about past seasons in the 50th anniversary show). Anyway, good points, but don’t expect to get much love on THIS page!

  34. Ali says:

    I almost want to make a WP blog instead of my tumblr just to tell you how this outlines everything I’ve felt in recent years with Moffat as showrunner. Good thing I can just comment haha!

    I’ve felt Moffat’s taken all the mick and heart out of the show by making it far too whimsical. You can tell he hates facing things like consequences by how he deleted his Twitter eve a few years ago after receiving inquires about things he’d done with the shows he runs.

    Also, can we talk about how much diversity has gone down since he took over?? I mean, ffs, there wasn’t a single PoC in the 50th special as far as anyone can seem to recall. WhovianFeminism on tumblr made a great post about the special as well that pointed out how the show is just sort of flopping about now. The fanbase is so split over things like this as well. Some people are just like Moffat and use the show as escapism and prefer not to look at faults and abhor anything remotely looking like criticisms, which I think is part of why we see people defending the internalized misogyny, racism, homophobia, etc. that the characters seems to have as something else entirely. Don’t even get me started on how people claim River Song is a “strong female character” just because she kiss people a lot and shoots guns. Uh, no – an SFC that does not make. Gimme that character development and just not a lame plot twist.

    I know this has been a massive discussion with friends and classmates to neighbors I’ve brought into the show’s following, but we all have agreed that Moffat is more suited to writing episodes under another person like RTD’s vision, some other showrunner who can rein in his ideas to bring more down-to-earth (pun intended) stories to DW. I wouldn’t entirely mind him staying on as long as someone else takes over heading up things.

    So, basically? Thank you for this article!

    Longish side note, to many saying he’s made it bigger than ever: I get that it is more popular in North America now than it has been, but that’s in large part due to availability and marketing rather than the supposed success of Moffat. For the first time in the history of DW’s 50 years on/off tv, we have things converging: international simultaneous releases, torrenting/legal streaming like iPlayer/Netflix/Hulu, and social media. This means that people aren’t waiting months to years before content is brought over to the states, which means demand is met more instantly. Same goes for the online viewings. People can actually watch things online in a number of ways if they missed a broadcast instead of waiting for a repeat or a dvd (or vhs as it was at one point) to be released. Lastly, we have popular, accessible media marketing and producing content outside of the show for fans like never before. The official DW Tumblr is a prime example. They’ve independently increased the audience by a large amount in the past few years by themselves by sharing fan-made content and providing a resource for information about the show.

    Now, none of that change or increased visibility is down to Moffat or his writing. That’s just a new era of accessibility and media, really. When DW was really first introduced to the US through PBS, it had what was called a “cult following” for a reason. It didn’t have a huge press or voice here then. If there were things online, it was on BBS/bulletin board systems, forums, and dial-up — not .gif’s, microblogging, and mobile phones.

    I mean, I remember when the show started again in 2005 and I had to catch it on SciFi Channel before BBC America even existed. It would take almost a year for things to come over for US broadcast and then if I missed an episode I was SOL unless they repeated it the next week. The new methods of accessing the show means more potential in increasing the fanbase. Not one writer/runner’s skill.

    Sorry if I sounded repetitive, btw – I was interrupted a lot while doing this and the comment went from being an “awesome points! thanks!” kind to a “have some opinionated exposition” kind.

  35. Ella says:

    I’m sorry, but saying that losing someone doesn’t really count because they are not death or not really death is like saying that Tennat’s Doctor didn’t lost Rose because she didn’t die, she was just was send to other universe. See? Just think about it!
    Grief is not only about death, is about lost, any type of lost.
    So you think that the Doctor didn’t grieve for Amy and Rory? Do you remember “The showman” ? The Doctor just goes to up his cloud and ignores everything. And that is how he grieves That was what they say in the special, 10 grieves is a type of bargaining, yes I kill all of this people, but I also save all of this. 11 grieves by forgetting.
    And yes in “Silence” River’s death it doesn’t being big consequences because we didn’t knew who she was! Think about “The name of the Doctor” when the Doctor kiss River and tells her he can always see her! He knows she is death! Really, watch that scene again! ( I don’t like River but that scene is heartbreaking) .

    For me every Doctor represent a different stage of grief, 9:anger 10:bargaining 11:denial.

    And for a bunch of fanboys that complains so much about character development it annoys me so much that now they are saying but this changes The Doctor…yes it is! And this is good! Do you realise that 400 years have gone by since the end of the time war and the Doctor is kinda stuck in the same place? This gives hum the push he needed to go pass that, is a type of acceptance. This doesn’t changes what happened up to now, is a continuation…or at least that is how I see it.

  36. This article seems to miss once crucial fact about ‘Day of the Doctor’ that is very important.

    You argue that the episode reverts analysis of what the Doctor did in the Time War, while in fact this is the ultimate analysis. The entire episode, from start to finish, is an analysis of the Doctor’s use of the Moment and of his ultimate Genocide of his people. The question of this always has been, “Is Genocide okay if it saves other people?”

    Now, no one in their right minds would ever answer to that “yes.” Except for Hitler. And Russel T Davies (I’m not trying to insinuate that those two people are the same) who wrote ‘The End of Time’ years before hand. His argument and painting of the war was that, because Rassilon was evil, EVERYONE HAD TO DIE!!!! This was a bizarre attempt to justify what the Doctor did, which frankly fell flat. And before you argue “well, everyone in the High Counsel was also evil,” well, just two things there. One, we don’t know that. Rassilon had a glove that erased people from history, would you argue against his opinion? Two, who cares? It doesn’t matter if the entire counsel was evil, blowing up the whole planet was in no way justifiable. That would be like if in ‘The Enemy of the World,’ The Doctor decided to destroy the planet because Salamander is evil. That would make him no better than the Daleks

    Day of the Doctor, meanwhile, asks the question again, “is Genocide okay to save other people?” And it spends the whole story trying to find an answer. And it finally does, like I did before, by revealing an Earth parallel, one of England being invaded by Zygons and Kate deciding to destroy London to save the world. If she had done that, would it have been okay?

    And this doesn’t cancel the Doctor’s lingering regret about what he did. It completes it. The Eleventh Doctor and Tenth Doctor both remark upon what they did as “wrong.” And when they go back to help their younger self complete the action, Clara helps him realize that ending the war as he had before was the wrong decision, and changes his mind. That’s clever writing, that’s proper analysis, that’s a fitting gift of hope to the fandom. If you’re that upset that people aren’t dying left and right I don’t know what to tell you.

    • But that’s the ENTIRE point; that the Doctor did something in his past so horrendous that now he feels the need to make up for it. “Is genocide okay to save other people?” may seem like an easy question to answer while we’re sitting here on a blog … but if you had that button in front of you and the choice was to annihilate Earth or let the entire universe burn? You might not be so inclined to think that way. It’s a heavy burden to hold on one’s shoulders and the Doctor did his best to deal with it. You can’t say that “it fell flat” because it WAS completely justifiable to the Doctor in that circumstance; he had a way to save the hull of reality from destruction .. by “merely” killing an entire planet. Of men, women and children .. his own people. People he may have loved, hated, or simply smiled at while walking down the street. The choice he made was obviously not taken lightly and probably killed himself mentally, spiritually, and physically. It rendered his soul in two.

      Except now .. no. Not so much. There is no burden. He is relieved of all grief that he has put himself through. He is no longer a man on the run. He has nothing to repent for. No horrible, unforgivable sin that makes him a tortured soul. And you can say to yourself, “Well, the Day of the Doctor tells us that he still THINKS he’s a tortured soul who murdered billions!” and that’s all well and good. But in the end? He had not.

      There is a planet out there floating on it’s own. Suspended and waiting to be saved. It’s a sign of hope .. but with no sorrow affixed to it.

      • Exactly! I must remind everyone here that for 41 years before 2005, Doctor Who still existed. He didn’t have to be torched, he didn’t have to live every moment in regret, and if he did it was not because of what he did then. The Doctor existed before the time war, except then he didn’t spend all of his time angsting over something he had once done. And it worked then, and it works now. Matt’s era spend a lot less time focused on melodramatics, and thus it was a far more serious and enjoyable show. The Doctor spent all that time regretting what he had done there, but when he was given the chance to fix it, he stated the genocide was the only answer. THE ONLY ANSWER. Day has a far more intelligent look at the last war. Having the Doctor save his people is far more noble and heroic then having him say “kill everyone.” The Doctor doesn’t have to be an anti-hero to be a hero. There’s nothing wrong with him doing the right thing. And him having a purpose in life, to help his own people. is far more noble then him slouching over and crying over things that he had done before refusing to change his decision.

  37. […] * What Steven Moffat Doesn’t Understand About Grief, and Why It’s Killing Doctor Who. […]

    • This post uses the wrong framework to understand the problems with the last three seasons of Doctor Who. Yes, Moffatt has a hard time killing off characters, or dealing with grief, but it’s not a psychological problem, it’s a narrative problem. Moffatt, you see, doesn’t like consequences.

      Russell T Davies was all about consequences, really he was obsessed with them. Every action the Doctor took during the Davies years had consequences: The Doctor ends the universe-threatening Time War, but utterly destroys the Daleks and the Time Lords both in the process. Rose Tyler is trapped in a parallel universe, and the pain this causes the Doctor ultimately drives Martha Jones to leave the TARDIS a season later. The Doctor hides from the Family of Blood in 1913 to avoid having to kill them, that act of mercy causes nothing but heartbreak, misery, and death. In ‘Rise of the Cybermen’, the Doctor forgets to tell Mickey to stop holding a button for a few minutes, forming a hole in the universe that leads, seven episodes later, to whole armies of Cybermen and Daleks killing humans and each other at Canary Wharf in ‘Army of Ghosts’.

      Davies used every trick available to visualize consequence, and one of these methods was constant death. Davies introduces good, likable, ordinary people with charming backstories and turns them into heroes just so their deaths will have impact. Lynda in ‘Bad Wolf’/’Parting of the Ways’, a reality TV contestant who follows the Doctor, trusts the Doctor, gets caught up in his battle with the Emperor of the Daleks and dies. Daniel Llewellyn, a small man who learns about consequences when the space probe he launched aids an alien invasion, who dies, along with the equally good and noble Major Blake, trying to reason with the barbaric Sycorax in the very next episode, ‘The Christmas Invasion’.

      And it was exhausting. Davies’ passion for showing consequences led to Gordian knots of story lines, and angst, angst and more angst. Simply coping with consequences of being the Doctor becomes the conclusion of the series: in ‘Journey’s End’ when Davros forces the Doctor to confront how he weaponizes people, in ‘The Waters of Mars’ when the Doctor loses control and allows his sorrow at all that has come before to turn into hubris until he finally does break at the sight of an Ood and the sound of the cloister bell.

      Moffatt, on the other hand, avoids consequence. Everybody lives, because it wraps up the story and allows the Doctor to move on to his next whimsical adventure that changes nothing. If you need to see the difference, watch the Tenth and Eleventh count the dead on Gallifrey in ‘The Day of the Doctor’… “the man who regrets” and the “the man who forgets”.

      Moffatt has spent his three seasons as show runner attempting to disassemble the giant framework of consequences that Davies built up. Due to the cracks in the wall, Amy Pond doesn’t remember either of the Dalek invasions. Oswin Oswald erases everything the Daleks know about the Doctor. We learn in ‘The Angels Take Manhattan’ that The Doctor has taken this a step further by erasing all record of himself from a universe that already thought he was dead since he faked his death in ‘The Wedding of River Song’. And the Time War… Moffatt began erasing the Time War in ‘Victory of the Daleks’, when he apparently brought back the Dalek race for good, but now, it appears, we’ll also have Time Lords again.

      Series finales under Moffatt have become grand, convoluted and absolutely without consequence. The Silence spend a season being beautifully creepy, they’re ultimately wiped out without a trace due to a video tape. We spend a season wondering what happens at Trenzalore, it turns out there’s a door into the time vortex and if three people step through it, everything cancels out. Moffat’s problem is not that he doesn’t understand death, it’s that he doesn’t want to deal with it, or anything else. It’s true that this lack of consequence (and death) leads to a lack of grief, but more significantly, it leads to a lack of gravitas. Entire story arcs build up and then fizzle, because an explosion would leave a crater.

      • Yeah, I realize I consistently misspelled Moffat’s last name. Sorry.

      • CNash says:

        That’s a fantastic summation. It’s fair in its depictions of both showrunners – the problem New Who has faced is that neither of them got the balance quite right. Davies went overboard on the emotion and catharsis, often focusing on character development at the expense of story cohesion. By contrast, Moffat loves style-over-substance, producing big flashy stories that ultimately don’t mean very much; his characters are neglected to the point of being interchangeable plot tokens to be moved around the giant game board of his latest storyline.

        You can see this in their dialogue, too – Davies’ dialogue is complex but human; characters converse in full sentences and tend to give exposition in a natural manner that makes sense by itself. Moffat’s dialogue is full of snappy one-liners; the flow is much faster than Davies, which lends speed to his episodes, but his exposition is fragmented and cryptic.

        Anyway, that’s not really what this article is about, so I’ll point to one for which it is:
        http://www.avclub.com/article/which-doctor-who-showrunner-did-it-better-105869

  38. nlp says:

    hm, i’m not too convinced by this. to start, Moffat didn’t write “Journey into the Centre of the TARDIS”. little detail, i know, but it’s one detail that falls flat.

    then, in addition to this, you’ve got the central argument – that because the Doctor didn’t destroy Gallifrey in DOTD, this ruins the RTD reboot. however, this misses the point: the Doctor DID, at one point, see Gallifrey burn. he says so himself to those in the war room. (“I’ve seen that” – “And I never want to see it again”).

    This isn’t ‘time being rewritten’, as the author of this blog seems to think it is. This is two versions of the same event splintering off from one another. After all, there was a version of the Doctor’s history in which he was on his own when the moment was used and gallifrey was destroyed. but in DOTD, he’s joined by two of his future selves – a new thing.

    so, in that sense, we fall back on three precedents.

    first, from “The Girl Who Waited” – the older amy decides to change the younger amy’s history, but still remembers how she got to be old in the first place.

    second, from “The Day of the Moon” – when the Doctor asks Rory if he remembers being a centurion for 2000 years, and Rory replies that that alternative past is like a door he can open if he chooses.

    finally, from “The Tomb of the Cybermen” – when Troughton’s doctor says to Victoria that they’re time travellers, and when they want they can remember all those in their past, but they have to choose to do so.

    my point is this: the author’s mistaken. this isn’t a ruined retcon. this is a splintering of timelines. the 9th and 10th Doctor – when WE saw them (up to End of Time) – really had blown up gallifrey. and the 11th doctor, after DOTD, can now remember two alternative versions of the same event. but he will have to choose to do so. one version of his history is filled with pain and regret and violence, the other with redemption and hope.

    that’s literally MORE interesting than what we had before. i’m aware of Moffat’s faults, don’t get me wrong (Series 6b was a bit of a mess), but he’s done something great here. he’s not only retained the integrity of RTD’s time war plotline, but he’s also given us an alternative scenario in which the Time Lords exists again. more than that, the Doctor’s character can now begin to show not just anger, but also peace. the character is literally better off for what Moffat has done.

    and, if anything else, you’ve got the fascinating prospect of an ‘End Game’, as discussed at the end of this article: http://www.penny-arcade.com/report/article/doctor-who

  39. […] I disagree with some of the specifics,What Steven Moffat Doesn’t Understand About Grief, And Why It’s Killing Doctor Who illustrates the power of death in fiction and, arguably, why Doctor Who needs more of […]

  40. […] then complained that this “erased” a key portion of the series. This article claims that an important element of Doctor Who is grief, and that under Stephen Moffat that has […]

  41. Fernanda says:

    This pretty much explains why I hate Moffat era.

  42. custard, w/o the fishfingers says:

    You know what this means of course, the only “bad” thing left that has ever happened to Moffat’s Doctor is the “death” of River Song. I predict a rescue of River within the first three episodes of Capaldi’s run, unless Moffat can find a way to drag it out over a whole season. Never mind that we have already given her a protracted farewell in NotD, nothing bad must ever be allowed to stick in Moffat’s world.

  43. 1up says:

    “The mass genocide that the Doctor committed — all the people he killed and all of the times he wrestled with that decision and was forced to come to the conclusion that it was for the best — simply never happened now.”

    All due respect, but this is nonsense. You’re right that the genocide never happened, but this doesn’t simply wipe out the effects of the perceived genocide or undo the character’s development. It’s not a retcon, it’s a revelation – we were never shown definitively that Gallifrey was destroyed, it was merely stated and assumed accurate until proven otherwise. The War Doctor (and the Doctors after him) still lived their life believing they had killed all of their kind. He still lived with that guilt for hundreds of years. It still changed him. The revelation changes the game moving forward, but everything that happened before it is completely intact. And more to the point, it proved that, even though the Doctor found a way to save Gallifrey, that he was still completely capable of making that horrible mistake again. He almost did. If not for Clara, he would have.

    Just because Davies set things up a certain way doesn’t mean those decisions have to be followed for all time – each showrunner leaves their own stamp on the show and on the character, and it’s been that way since day one. You may prefer Davies’ run, but it’s unfair to vilify Moffat simply for exercising the same creative control that Davies did. And I am a fan of both; each writer has their own strengths and weaknesses, and as a fan, it’s troubling to me to see one praised while the other is condemned. Both have done exceptional work reviving the series and bringing it to new heights, and that should be acknowledged.

    I like a complicated, tortured hero as much as anyone. The Doctor is that sort of character and will continue to be. But without letting him be a hero, without redeeming him when he can be redeemed, he becomes a hard character to root for. You may disagree, but I thought his redemption in “Day of the Doctor” was well-earned and moving. And if Doctor Who’s 50th anniversary can’t be about hope, about finding a solution to an impossible problem, then what can be?

    • Minna Reilly says:

      “It’s not a retcon, it’s a revelation” – I love this, and this entire comment. This is how I felt about it. He’s become very hard to root for of late, so hope and redemption were a breath of fresh air.

  44. Mike says:

    Nice article. 2 Issues though:

    1) Homophobia – I guess that is why a Female Silurian and a Female human are married and important allies of The Doctor

    2) go back and re-watch Silence in the Library. Only River gets uploaded, not her crew.

    My main issue with Moffat is that the man writes basically the same overarching story for each season. the Doctor is going to Die. It can even be seen in this upcoming Christmas special.

    As far as the reboot not counting, the whole statement of neither the War Doctor nor the Tennant Doctor remembering what happened in the 50th episode means flat out until this point in the Doctor’s life (400+ years after the War Doctor), he believes that he murdered his people out of justice. He did what he had to do. The guilt etc are not moved away, nor is the guilt of those he killed before the end of the war and the blood already on his hands.

    That being said, every showrunner throughout Doctor Who history has a different take on the show and the character. It is part of reinventing for the future, so the show can continue on.

    • CNash says:

      The point about how the Doctor now just *believes* that he killed all the Time Lords and didn’t actually do it keeps being made, and it’s irrelevant every time. The problem isn’t with what the Doctor believes to be true in those past episodes, it’s with what the *audience* – us – believe. How are we supposed to watch those previous episodes with the same emotional reactions now? Our entire response – how we should feel about a certain scene, a certain episode – has been artificially changed. That some people apparently now consider this to be a *good* thing is, quite frankly, depressing.

      • It all depends on how much you allow the story to let you in, which is none of the stories fault, that is on you.

        I’ve watched countless stories over and over again even knowing that things turn out okay, the performance creates the emotion, allowing yourself to experience the story from the characters perspective and not of one who has already seen the story will still generate emotion.

        Surely you’ve heard people “no matter how many times I see it, that scene still gets me”.

    • Emily says:

      Mike, homophobia can come in many different forms besides “gays go to hell”. Moffat has made some incredibly biphobic comments both in canon and out of canon – Clara mentioning how she fancied a girl but it was just a phase, the general queerbaiting that’s prevalent in all of Moffat’s shows, calling asexuality boring, etc. He does many more harmful things for the community than he does good ones.

  45. Dan Clement says:

    Madame Pompadour dies of *old age*?!! At 42?! What are you, thirteen…?

  46. He does kill people. You said it yourself, but then you say “it doesn’t count”. Of course it counts. If they’re dead, they’re dead.
    You mean killing people in the terms of violence. You want a Dalek to blast somebody.

    • magicalpunks says:

      I feel like you might be misinterpreting what’s being said here. What’s meant by the “he kills people but they’re not really dead” statement is that Moffat has a tendency to write characters out of the show somehow, making them “dead” to the Doctor, but really, they’re not actually dead. In The Angels Take Manhattan, the Ponds are given a very emotional send-off, but they aren’t really even dead, just out of the Doctor’s reach. Moffat also has a tendency to kill characters but brings them back later. Take Rory for example; the many “deaths” of Rory is kind of a running joke in the fandom, but really all of his deaths have happened to either clones or versions of him from aborted time lines. Rory himself hasn’t really died, but versions of him have.
      This is what’s meant by he kills people but doesn’t, people “die” but there are no consequences or grief.

      • Dean says:

        He kills people in The Fires of Pompeii. He destroys a whole city. I think this writer’s opinion is a bit one sided. Only giving examples that suit their point without sharing the whole picture. There are plenty of episodes in which he has to kill people.

      • Steven Moffat didn’t write The Fires of Pompeii, nor was he show-runner at the time.

      • What? “there are no consequences or grief?” What are you talking about? The Rory plotline is one of the most tragic of the show. Rory is not only dead, but Amy does not remember her. That’s tragedy. When Amy can’t remember Rory, but is reunited with him, he starts crying. That’s sad.

        And it’s about a billion times sadder than anything that RTD ever wrote, and this has a happy ending, which makes it even better. So how is that tragic.

        Also, Rory and Amy’s deaths in the show were sad, yet happy. Tragic. Again, the point of it all. How are their lives, where they died along and never saw the Doctor again, any worse than if they had both been killed by Daleks. The Moffat plan is much better; like Blink but with people we actually care about.

  47. Scotty says:

    We can go back and forth on whether Steven Moffat should kill off more of his characters and whether his drama — and personally, I think this “people MUST DIE or it’s not VALID DRAMA” attitude that people seem to take about popular fiction is just a little bit weird if you think about it long enough, but that’s a mileage thing — but it has to be said: “The Day of the Doctor was simultaneously broadcast in 94 countries, made about $10 million at the box office worldwide (only “The Hunger Games” and “Gravity” topped it) and was watched by 12 million people in the UK alone. Granted, this was a special occasion hyped up the wazoo, but at the same time that doesn’t exactly sound like a show that’s ‘dying’ in any meaningful way.

    Whether it’s a quality show is another matter (and I personally think that it’s just as good, if not more so, than the Davies era at it’s best, but I think we’ll have to agree to differ on that point). But it’s important not to get “I don’t like this show any more” confused with “nobody likes this show any more”.

  48. Winelord says:

    I love the show, I have been watching since Tom Baker. I think people are over looking somthing important. IT A TELEVISION SHOW!!!

  49. Fletch says:

    I’ve noticed he has this problem too, & while I don’t think it’s *killing* the show I do think it hurts the it, especially with the character progression & such. But then again, it is still ostensibly a kids’ show, so I’m not sure how much of that is the network, how much is him, & how much bloodier it really could get away with.
    As far as bringing back the Time Lords, I’m sorta torn on that, too. On the one hand it really takes away some of the mystery & tragedy of the Doctor, but on the other I like the inversion of the overall plot. When we first met the Doctor back in the 60′s, he was basically running away from home, & never stopped running. Now we have him trying to find his way home again, which I find interesting & compelling too. It also gives him a purpose that he’s been somewhat lacking since the show re-started in 2005. You could argue that his purpose was trying to atone for something unforgivable (killing most of his people & the Daleks, too), but it was much more about just running around solving mysteries & fighting monsters somewhat aimlessly. They only sometimes did a good job of *showing* that his new purpose was atonement. So overall I’m looking forward to him having an overall driving purpose again.
    I’ll also say that the single most important theme of the series, both new and old, has always been hope. It can be a dark show at times, but the big lesson is and has always been, no matter how bleak things get, there’s always hope. They said it best and most blatantly in the Van Gogh episode: “The way I see it, every life is a pile of good things and bad things. The good things don’t always soften the bad things, but vice-versa, the bad things don’t necessarily spoil the good things and make them unimportant.” For a story about hope, it makes a lot of sense to have the main character have an optimistic goal, in this case trying to find his way home rather than trying to make up for a terrible choice. That speaks to me, and I think it’s probably the right way to go for the series, though only time (pun intended) will tell.

  50. Space Crip says:

    I think you’ve made a truly great point about Moffat refuses to let his characters face the consequences of their actions by reviving in some fashion all the wangst-creating deaths. I would add, however, that Moffat era has actually killed a few people dead for realsies. During season 6, the show got into a pattern of introducing characters of color and then killing them off in the same episode: in “Closing Time,” Shona and George (two black employees at the department store the Doctor is working at) are converted by Cybermen and then destroyed by Craig’s love for his son; in “The God Complex,” Rita is killed by the Minotaur; and in “Let’s Kill Hitler,” Mels dies and is replaced by Melody/River Song. Still, the show didn’t deal with the full impact of these deaths, largely treating the characters as disposable.

    • DP says:

      It’s that sad little joke about the black man always dying first, yeah?

      As the op said: there are SO MANY issues with his writing – sexism, racism, homophobia, and so on – but NONE are SO IMPACTING as his inability to allow for character development.

    • B says:

      Rita wasn’t the only one who died in The God Complex. Lots of white people died too. And Mels had to die and regenerate so that we could have the River that we all knew. It was going to happen anyway, and that was a way that made sense.

  51. DP says:

    if you think Family shows prevent real traumatic things from happening, well, that’s not true – stepping aside from DW now and looking at BBC’s other big-hit family show for most of late-Davies/Moffat era, we have Merlin. Now, Merlin aired around the same time as DW in the first seasons, and it was broadcast immediately after DW in 2012.

    And, surprise: it has real trauma. Real consequences to real actions (in many ways, it’s much harsher than DW) – there’s poisoning of friends, patricide, a number of attempts of fratricide (don’t you love arturiana?), hints on incest, rape and straight on mind control with dark consequences. It also had MANY flaws, sure – but it was FAMILY oriented and it had REAL traumatic events, culminating with King Arthur’s death in Christmas Eve (and doesn’t THAT take some balls to do?) after 43 minutes of agony. It smashes your guts, and it was on at prime time, with a very big family audience, right before the biggest celebration in western culture.

    Oh, sure, we’ve all heard the story, and Arthur will rise again when Albion needs him the most, blablabla, nice, it softens the blow, right? … Except when you get to see the title character in a Modern setting, over 1000 years later, still alive, still waiting and still nothing: the hope fades to a enormous blow of pain.

    Don’t tell me that family shows don’t have trauma.

    Don’t tell me BBC doesn’t dabble in it.

    Don’t tell me that the hero never dies, that everything always ends well because the kids are watching.

    Also: Bambi, Dumbo & The Lion King. I rest my case.

    • DP says:

      Also, we could talk endlessly about how it wasn’t done in classic who (dealing with grief), but that means NOTHING, because, sadly, there were a few good reasons for the show’s 15 year gap and it WASN’T just the fact that the sets were wobbly and the plots complicated: it’s because the audience CHANGED. We moved – and keep on moving – towards a more character-oriented kind of drama (in the broad sense of the word), that DW wasn’t offering as it should back then (isn’t offering a lot much now). If we want to keep up with the audience, we must give them what they crave, and they CRAVE for character development. Sure, it’s nothing for the casual viewer, but it’s what transforms a casual viewer into a fan.

      And we all know that, well, fans are what really keeps shows running and their pockets full.

      I’m not here arguing that the Doctor should be more human: I’m arguing that the HUMANS should be more HUMAN – and I think that’s the main point of the OP too!

      • You saying that classic Who was never “character-oriented” means that you clearly have never watched any of the Sylvester McCoy series. in the final season, through a series of trips related to her life, we see Ace change from a Teenage girl into an adult. Arguably, no character development of such range has ever been done before or sense on the show. The 7th Doctor seemed a bit like a clown, but deep down we saw a level of darkness that we still haven’t seen in him again. He became mysterious, manipulative. He used his companions to accomplish his own goals. How is that not “character-oriented?”

        You suggest that the show SHOULD have been cancelled, when it moved along just fine with it’s audience (minus special effects that would have come in a year or two later). There’s only one reason why the show was cancelled, and that’s because Michael Grade was a manipulative ass-hat who hated Doctor Who after having an affair with Colin Baker’s wife. He worked tirelessly to get the show off the air, even as it got more and more successful. And when it was coming back in 2005, he used all the power he had to try and kill it again. But that time we won. That time we defeated the bastard. And let’s never forget that battle.

  52. Niteshadepromise says:

    First, let me say that I wholeheartedly agree with everything you’ve said about Moffatt and how it has effected the feel of the new(er) Who. Which, to me as a fan of not just the start at Eccleston’s run but the originals as well, infuriates me as to how people praise Moffatt when he’s been, very bluntly put, a hack. He reuses SO much of his own stuff as well as just coming back to Daleks and Cybermen(which, yes, Davies did, but did it well), when there is 50 years of monsters to choose from. I am actually a little bit proud of the fact that they brought in the Zygons for the 50th. That pride, however, will fade away every time he returns to it, though, which is very likely.

    Moffatt, to me, simply cannot write a proper story on his own without it seeming like some sad fan fiction(River is a Mary Sue and we all know it). Don’t get me wrong, I loved his episodes during the Davies run, and Girl In The Fireplace is one of my favorite episodes, but when he’s completely put in charge, he fills it with plot holes and made up continuity. People keep saying he’s the genius behind Sherlock’s writing, but honestly I credit Gatiss more for Sherlock.

    I could go all day ranting about his Who run, but I mostly wanted to say I definitely agree with a lot of above…however, and someone might have already posted this(I would read the comments if I wasn’t needing to get to some painting today), but I did feel the 50th had a more Davies-run feel to it(which might be because of Tennant or cuz I heard Davies was a consultant for the special). And while I DO feel that the weight of the destruction of Gallifrey was taken away, it was said in the special that the War Doctor would not remember they actually saved Gallifrey…which in turn is suggested that up until the time that the events of the special ended with, he would not remember that it was saved; their memories are shifted once they step out of that time stream to where they still bear the guilt that they destroyed the Time Lords.
    Now, not to say there aren’t some discrepancies and plot holes…it IS still Moffatt after all, but the whole thing about saving Gallifrey is a little bit easier to swallow if you convince yourself of that Temporal Amnesia theory.

  53. […] reading a blog article that articulated my current irritation with Doctor Who recently I decided to attempt to justify my […]

  54. Corks says:

    Whether the Doctor is supposed to feel emotion at loss or not, I as a new viewer (Ecclestone onwards) always felt something with RTD. The Doctor’s relationship with Rose may have been different, as in stronger, than with previous companions, and maybe this new dimension was inconsistent with older works, but RTD created two Doctors that I as a human viewer adored, and felt a connection with.

    You can say he is an alien all you want but he has been thought up, written, and portrayed by humans, for human audiences. As a Doctor Who virgin watching Ecclestone I was drawn to the show by the morality and depth of emotion that it created. The episodes managed to be about a bigger picture despite often focusing quite narrowly.

    I believe it is important for a viewer to feel a strong connection towards the main subjects. Since RTD left I have only felt emotion on one occasion and that was The Girl Who Waited. It feels as though the main purpose of the show has changed from a loveable and enticing family show where revelations were revelations and the finales were exciting after a roller-coaster journey of seemingly un-related, and sometimes un-related episodes. The characters were never certain and their departures were difficult. Now the show seems a portfolio of attempts to be the scariest, the most confusing, the most dramatic episode. Recently we’ve come to expect every episode to be bigger and better than the last and we’re disappointed when they aren’t. We expect there to be a big revelation about the impending finale and we find them boring when they aren’t. The hints seem too obvious and the spoiler talk is tedious. Where as RTD shocked us emotionally, it feels Moffat is constantly trying to upstage himself and impress us. When the writers now try and touch our emotions we get the likes of Hide and the happy ever after no one ever wants. I love Matt Smith as the Doctor and I felt at the time that David’s Tennant’s Doctor was too damaged towards the end to continue. However, now I feel that Smith’s Doctor has been strangled in to too many emotionless episodes. His best acting (as expected) has been the few moments of real emotion, and yet I feel teased by the limitations put on his Doctor.

    Whether this suppression of emotion is the norm amongst the older series or not, as a newby I feel I have been cheated. I was drawn in by the love and passion of the first four series and now the aspects I love have disappeared and I’m clinging on to the show with the hope that they may return. The episodes may represent one day in many for the life of the Doctor, but RTD and crew created the impression of prolonged sadness and suffering of an ancient Doctor witnessing a continuously cruel world, rather than a hero who’s anguish and angst only appears when deemed appropriate. I appreciate how the 50th Anniversary explained away some of this lack of emotion at times with Smith (he chose to forget etc v. convenient), and I appreciate that each writer and each Doctor will be different. Perhaps instead of saying Moffat is killing the show, we mean Moffat has just made it something different, and that something doesn’t live up to our expectations. I still watch Doctor Who. I still get excited for April time and the new series. But I watch them on record rather than banishing my family from the living room on a Saturday Evening. More often than not I sigh heavily afterwards rather than bounce in my seat as I squeal to my friends and family about how awesome I felt it was. I can only think of three episodes off the top of my head that I’ve enjoyed recently, compared to a ton of RTD’s episodes. It will be mighty difficult to kill Doctor Who, but a hell of a lot of the magic died with RTD for me.

    Long live the Doctor. Let’s hope the episodes pick up for a highly anticipated Mr Capaldi.

  55. […] Steven Moffat doesn’t Understand Grief […]

  56. Paul Hammans says:

    What a well written and well argued piece. Well done! As to its content I cannot say if I agree or disagree with it. It certainly leads to a thoughtful consideration of what death and dying are for in drama.

    I think that at the heart of what you are saying lies an assumption that there are few, death of a character being one of them, devices available that writers may use that can add weight and meaning to a story. It’s a fair point; however, I think this is an area not as straightforward as it seems on the surface. The question for me is: why use death as a device at all.

    Many deaths on screen are actually neither moving nor necessary, in my view. On seeing them one is not so surprised to witness someone the day after, writing derisively about the piece’s ‘body count’ or some such. This comes about when the device was used inappropriately. If a piece of art, any art, uses death properly for its own purposes then, to my mind, it achieves success. If, on the other hand, it just throws in a few ‘heart string stretchers’ just to ‘engage me emotionally’ then I am ejected from the moment as quickly as a cork from a fizzy bottle.

    There are many examples of how fine that balance actually is. One of these would be in what I would consider overall a poor film, but which effectively used death for its own purposes very successfully: the original 1970s Charles Bronson ‘Death Wish’ film. In it, death was more than a merely trite artifact and became an expression of people’s outrage at the horrific rape and disablement of the main character’s daughter. It was used to confirm that there is order in the universe and that the good people should not have to die at the hands of anarchy. And I suppose that for many some form of catharsis was achieved in their own lives. In that sense I suppose the film gained some weight and meaning.

    So, to Doctor Who and Mr Moffat. I believe that The Doctor has been up a blind alley for several years now, because he has been trying to balance the good of one set of players in the drama against others. Utilitarianism, or in the context of The Day of The Doctor the belief that by unjustly killing a relative few you may save relatively many more, always results in the same sterile debate, e.g. the evergreen argument still rumbling today over whether it was OK in the long run to destroy Heroshima and Nagasaki to save potential loss of life in the succeeding few years.

    Had that been leaf as it was then I believe the show would have cornered itself eventually. It is probable that Steven Moffat is deliberately trying to move The Doctor away from the need to have people die in order to make a difference to the story. The relative worth, or happiness, of some faction over another is doomed to failure as a credible story line in the longer term. I think he sees the hero of the piece as a different thing from what it has been for the past few years. Whether that makes the show thereby insubstantial is a moot point. If you need to witness personal loss through death in drama then yes, it probably does.

    All things considered it’s a stimulating point you make and gives me an idea for my own blog. While appearing to sit on the fence over death in drama, expressing the view that there is both good death and bad death available to script writers, nevertheless I think I agree with the overall direction that Steven Moffat is taking the show.

  57. rachel says:

    i think you’re too critical and picky. i guess i just can’t relate because i’m the opposite. but i still enjoy reading this; even if i didn’t agree with it. but why do you think clara only knew the doctor for a month? it was like 7 or 8 episodes. It was definitely longer than a month. The show always has time jumps anyway. But they developed a strong bond very quickly anyway. So the length of how they knew each other doesn’t matter anyway.

  58. Actually you are just watching a show with zero perspective. Your angst ridden and love burdened Doctor are a catharsis that brings back the real Doctor. The Doctor is NOT a human. He is not supposed to be a heroic leading romantic man or some poor befuddled soul who cannot cope. He is a Time Lord. He has been able to see the big picture of the universe for centuries. He has seen the beginning and the end of the universe more than once. He is not supposed to get attached to humans he travels with because they are the tiniest parts of his life. The longest a companion has traveled with the Doctor is 5 years. 5 years out of over 1000. Really??? First and foremost the Doctor is an ALIEN who can feel all of time and space so please stop trying to anthropomorphize him.

    Yes it was great with the reboot that the Doctor need to be saved by being infected with humanity but please remember the 10th’s reaction to the human version of himself. He banished him to the alternate universe because he was too dangerous to be allowed to stay in his own. This is the beginning of the Doctor’s return to being a Time Lord instead of a whipping post for his own feelings. It may only be 7 years for us but it has been FOUR HUNDRED for him. You need to stop thinking of the Doctor in human terms and start understanding that his relationships are not supposed to be human. When you grasp this then everything the 11th Doctor has done and gone through makes perfect sense and the 50th anniversary was the perfect way to bring the Doctor back to himself.

    Doctor Who does not have long drawn out relationships like soap operas because that goes on where you cannot see it. Only the relationship crisis such as in the Asylum of the Daleks are provided with your imagination to fill in the rest. Episode to episode is not day to day. Imagine if you will that you are seeing each episode as a day in the life over the literal amount of time of the actual series. So that would mean only 13 days out of an entire year of what is actually happening. The show is NOT about the companions. The show is about the Doctor. This may have been changed during the retcon but it has lasted as long as it could with the premise that the companions make the show. It is time to move back to what started this in the first place. Doctor who ran from 1963 to 1987 being about the Doctor so PLEASE don’t tell anyone that the show is dying because it is not about the companions any more. The ratings are not a dying show and the people who think Doctor Who is a soap opera about his companions need to watch the classic show or just give the show a fresh look.

    Doctor Who changes. That is how it succeeds and how it has become what it is today. You may think that every emotional development MUST be displayed on screen but truly understanding Doctor Who means you know that with Doctor Who you are given moments that express everything that you do not see. The Doctor sobbing at the loss of Amy and Rory. The Doctor has NEVER cried for anyone except for a few tears for Rose. You are not seeing the forest for the trees because you lack the experience of watching the first 24 years of the show. Try getting some perspective on Doctor Who before you tell people who to write it.

  59. […] At Tea Leaves and Dog Ears, Sarah Siegel questions Steven Moffat’s reliance on circumventing or ignoring circumstances that should have a lot of emotional fallout on Doctor Who (and, to an extent, Sherlock.) […]

  60. Kevin says:

    I am SO glad you put this down for others to read! I have been dissatisfied with Moffat’s direction for the show since he took over and couldn’t analyze WHY. I think you’ve hit the nail on the head. When I really felt my first twinges of annoyance was when River went off on the Doctor at Demon’s Run:

    ” This was *exactly* you. All this. All of it! You make them so afraid. When you began all those years ago, sailing off to see the universe, did you ever think you’d become this? The man who can turn an army around at the mention of his name. “Doctor”: the word for “healer” and “wise man”, throughout the universe. We get that word from you, y’know. But if you carry on the way you are, what might that word come to mean? To the people of the Gamma Forests, the word “doctor” means “mighty warrior”. How far you’ve come. And now they’ve taken a child, the child of your best friends, and they’re going to turn her into a weapon, just to bring you down. And all this, my love, in fear of you.”

    Then Clara (the Osgood Oswald Dalek version) deletes all knowledge of the Doctor from the ENTIRE UNIVERSE ALL THROUGH TIME?! WTF?

    I *liked* “The Oncoming Storm.” I liked the end of “Family of Blood,” when the Doctor went to great lengths to avoid the Family because he was BEING KIND. And they pushed and pushed until he had to show them WHY they should have let well enough alone. I liked the Doctor who had an edge.

    Stephen Moffat has dulled the edge of the Doctor. Now he’s just cute, and cuddly, and wacky. I think the only time Matt Smith’s Doctor has even gotten angry he made mention of it, again it was a Demon’s Run, “Oh, look, I’m angry. That’s new.” NO, IT ISN’T.

    It’s been apparent from the moment Moffat took over that he was un-doing all of RTD’s work. No Rose, no Martha, no Jack, no Donna, nothing from the RTD era EXCEPT Moffat’s own creations, the Weeping Angels and River Song. (sigh) I could go on, but what’s the point? The real “madman with a box” is Moffat, and the box is his box of RTD’s stuff that’s left to unravel.

    • mary says:

      But that’s what Doctor Who is about. Yeah, we get attached to some characters and of course we miss them because they became part of the show and our lives but please could you really imagine Doctor Who having those characters all the time. We would get bored and eventually stop watching it, reason why some tv shows end, although it’s nice seeing some characters come back we can’t always expect that, specially in a tv show like Doctor Who.

      Another thing is that Moffat clearly stated in the Day of the Doctor that Smith’s Doctor is a man who forgets. Now, imagine him visiting constantly his previous friends and companions, not only the show would become monotonous but it also wouldn’t aloud a lot of character development and the message about moving on that Moffat is trying to give wouldn’t be as strong as it is. And so what if he wants to use his own creations? It is not a bad thing at all! Yes, it is Doctor Who and we want continuity but we also need new stuff and Moffat won’t be around forever (even if it seems that way sometimes) to create this complex creatures that bring mistery to the show. Moffat is the headwriter now and you have to accept it even if you don’t like it, just like RTD decided to constantly use the Daleks, Moffat can decide to use his own made up creatures with his own rules because.

      Also, in RTD’s era we would see the Doctor saving the Earth over and over, and every season finale was about saving the humans and even though the episodes were great and badass imagine expecting every single season finale to be about saving the Earth. Again, we would get bored. I know Moffat has weaknesses but don’t talk trash about him because he wants to save the Doctor over and over and he just recycles because I will tell you RTD constantly made the Doctor save the Earth. Even in Christmas specials he did that! And yes, RTd added a lot of depth into the show but now Moffat is softening it with adventure and this fairytale like stories, and there’s nothing wrong with that because it is a sci-fi tv show about a lot of things, including exploring space.

      Never mind, I’m not discussing every writers pros and cons so before you start talking trash about a new thing that you don’t like take a little of perspective and dont be an asshole please. Just, enjoy watching this beautiful show.

    • altmeatlpunk says:

      Clara didn’t delete him from the universe… just from the dalek memory. the doctor deleted himself from the rest of the universe. You do realize that the show has a 50 year history and that the 4 short years that RTD was in charge are not necessarily defining the doctor. That’s one of the flaws of this article is that it’s not taking in the regenerations as stages of grief or how necisary to the plot bringing back the time lords really was. I mean do you rally think that the show could last 50 more years with the “monster of the week/big bad” platform? Each recent doctor was a stage of grief, 9 was anger, 10 was depression and sadness, and 11 was getting to the point where he could accept what happened, Anger, depression, and acceptance. 3 of the 5 stages of grief.

  61. Alison says:

    This was a well written article, however the premise of it fails to take into account that “moving on without seeming to deal with the human aspect of grief” is actually a very viable coping mechanism for dealing with grief. Before anyone jumps all over that statement, please read the whole thing.

    Most of us have had the Stages of Grief drilled into our heads since childhood, and have come to understand those as necessary. However, that is far too simplistic. On a psychological basis avoidance behavior is and always will be a viable coping mechanism, and in fact IS the prime choice for those individuals who have lost those close to them repeatedly. I am not speaking of those who have lost their parents, or their spouse or child, but I am speaking of those who have, at young ages, lost their parents, spouse, children, AND friends due to tragic accidents. Fortunately, most people, while we all endure death of friends and family, do not have massive amounts of loss in our lives repeatedly, every year or more often, for years on end. Unfortunately, there are many who do. For those unfortunate souls who do, the pattern of behavior exhibited by Doctor Who is actually dead on, because if you begin to dwell on that many tragedies in your personal life then you enter an irreversible depression. To see proof of this, read any study regarding the coping mechanisms of those in third world countries (in particular in the rural, poorly accessible areas) where health care is virtually non-existent and life expectancy is tragically short. Families lose multiple children, their spouses, their siblings, their parents, and those close to them socially with frightening frequency. How do they respond? Universally the response is immediate upset (as seen in Doctor Who) and then moving on, focusing on the here and now, because that is the only way they can survive. Those of us in industrialized nations are privileged enough to be sheltered (for the most part) from the necessity of utilizing that type of coping mechanism, for its rarer to suffer that form of loss. So when it comes to Doctor Who being realistic with a character’s reactions, at least on the Doctor’s side of things, it’s very dead on actually.

    As for the other characters, such as Amy Pond, she definitely had some strange quirks. To be honest though, I would imagine her ‘reactions’ to the return of her parents, the loss of her child, and to her not being able to have children were mainly glossed over to advance the plot, rather than lingering on things that do not have to do with time travel.

  62. CT says:

    Well said chum. I’ve had a blog entry churning inside my head for the past week that effectively encapsulates exactly what you have so eloquently articulated here. These issues became immediately apparent last week and despite my protestations, some of my Twitter followers seemed to think that the 50th story worked. It didn’t. For the reasons you’ve said. Moffat is a writer who suffers from a surfeit of ego over talent. A one trick pony whose sole aim in life is to indelibly stamp his rather 2 dimensional view upon Who canon forever but he does it through destroying the legacy of those that have come before and redacting it in his own image. An example I gave was Eccleston’s performance in Dalek has been castrated since we now know that his Doctor is mistaken and everything is, in fact, cool and Gallifrey is safe. The poignancy has been lost within the redaction. This entire business saddens me mainly because some of the best Who in years was written by Moffat under RTD’s supervision. I fear for the future of the show if he continues. I truly do.

  63. JC says:

    THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU for being able to define and articulate the ongoing dissatisfaction I’ve had with Moffat as an arc-creator. Davies was a genius at making the show compelling; after gamely trying to keep the lovelight burning, I started falling away from the show after Moffat took over. It was like a love affair that had suddenly become dissatisfying, and I couldn’t quite say why, except that Karen Gillam’s excruciatingly bad acting for the majority of her tenure had a lot to do with it. (I admit she got better, and I loved her interaction with Vincent Van Gogh.) I find myself not caring whether I miss an epsode (unthinkable before), because the inanity or (and this makes me INSANE) the convenient disregard for rules that had been laid out make sit feel like Doctor Who (the hell are you?). Moffat just “Bad Wolfs” any rules away in the service of his story lines, and I feel angry and ripped off. I’m sure during the 50th anniversary special I drove my co-watchers nuts with my narrative of errors regarding Fixed Points in Time, crossing your own timeline, and of course “IF IT COULD HAVE HAPPENED, IT WOULD HAVE THEN!!!”

  64. Steve says:

    I think this essay has kind of a click-bait melodrama problem that’s common to online writing these days.

    There’s the germ of a good point here–Moffat has a tendency to resort to sort-of-not-really deaths and thus far has basically refused to kill people in really tragic ways and keep them dead.

    But once you get past that basic premise, the article gets fairly ridiculous. First of all, this issue obviously isn’t killing Dr Who, because it’s more popular than ever and the 50th anniversary special that precipitated this essay was extremely well-received by both critics and fans. Sorry dude and/or dudette, your personal reaction doesn’t determine the life and death of the series, you’re just trying to make your observation seem more important than it is.

    Second, the whole point about undoing the character growth of of the haunted, tragic Doctor is weak. First of all, that whole storyline was pretty played out. It was Davies’ thing, he did it for five years, and The End of Time and the end of the Tenant era mostly closed it off. Smith’s character has obviously been an attempt to move on from the wounded, haunted Doctor since day 1. And while the final destruction of Gallifrey has been averted, the Time War still happened and the Doctor still fought in it. He still experienced all the horrors that brought him to the point of using the Moment in the first place. So if you want a Doctor who’s seen attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion, he’s still that guy.

    But beyond that, for a lot of fans of the original show, that has always been a *problem* with the new series. Killing Gallifrey closed off huge numbers of story possibilities, for a start. Making the Doctor the last of his kind is such an old, easy trope to fall into when you have godlike aliens and such. It’s basically exactly the same thing DC did back when they killed the Guardians of the Universe and the Green Lantern Corps and just left one lone Green Lantern with the most powerful weapon in the Universe doing basically whatever he wanted. And that had the same problems with closing off story ideas and making the whole setting more generic. Bringing back Gallifrey means the Doctor isn’t just cool because he’s a Timelord, it reminds us that he’s already a very peculiar Timelord.

    Many fans have always had a problem with the Doctor’s decision in the first place. I did not, but there were a lot of fans who basically went “Thank God” when it was undone, because it was obviously an action that was entirely un-Doctor-like (which Moffat made part of the story, in fact, with the non-Doctorness of the Hurt Doctor [which, by the way, is definitely what he should be called rather than the War Doctor]). This threads an interesting line, where it’s recognized that making that difficult choice was the right thing to do with limited capabilities and information, that it was even heroic, but it preserves the Doctor’s status as the guy who can think his way out of having to make the hard choices.

    But the *worst* thing about this is that it takes a *really limited* view of grief and loss in dismissing all of Moffat’s “Kills”.

    The writer compares Moffat’s run to Davies’s several times. So lets look at the really brutal, excruciating parts of Davies’s run. What were the hard bits? Three immediately come to mind for me: 1, Rose losing her father in Father’s Day, 2, Rose and the Doctor being separated after Canary Wharf, and 3, Donna having to forget the Doctor and go back to her old life.

    What you’ll notice here is that of the three, two don’t involve death at all–they just involve *loss*. In one case, loss so painful it makes Rose speak as though she had, in fact, died. Both Rose’s exit and Donna’s were in some ways more painful than if they had actually been killed, because both parties in these relationships had to live with the loss they experienced.

    And, of course, the Davies run actually has exactly the same problem of oddly attenuated deaths. Rose’s dad died, of course, but inevitably as part of history, much the way Madame de Pompadour did. (M. de P., by the way, did not actually die of old age, she died in her early 40s, of disease.) Not only that, but he was replaced by a better version of himself and hooked up with the better version of his own deceased wife and reunited with his grown daughter. Rose’s non-death departure was also softened when she got her very own part-human Doctor to take home with her so she could live happily ever after with her now absurdly whole family. Captain Jack was killed and then brought back about as thoroughly as it’s possible to bring someone back from the dead. While you see the occasional death of a likable side character (also true of Moffat’s run), none of the major figures die straight-out in the way the writer here is complaining about.

    Moffat may have a problem with refusing to genuinely kill characters, or deal with the consequences of major, painful events (like Amy and Rory’s loss of River, Rory killing his fiance and waiting around thousands of years to try and restore her, etc.), but for the most part, that’s the nature of the show and always has been. It’s kind of a shame, but I don’t think that has *ever* been what fans of Doctor Who have been looking for in the show, it’s certainly not killing it.

  65. Jen Gordon says:

    Lots of people die in Doctor Who, think of all of the monks in the caves with the angels, they died. They didn’t go back in time. Renette died of natural causes in her 30s, hardly old age. The flight attendant on the plane, the bus driver, plenty of people.

    I don’t see the homophobia, not have I heard it as a criticism of the show. As for sexism, this show has some of the strongest female characters on TV.

    • But my main point is this: what is the consequence and outcome of death in Moffat’s Who? Yes, side-characters sometimes die, but does it seem particularly noteworthy or tragic?

      • Mina says:

        But just because something is noteworthy or tragic doesn’t mean it actually is. RTD mostly stuck to killing off his side characters as well and even if they were presented more tragically as you would argue, doesn’t mean it is. I never cared when those side characters died. RTD definitely had a knack for character writing but I still never cared because they were such obvious side characters.

        What is the outcome and consequence of death in RTD Who? Certainly many people die but does it ever really serve a purpose other than a. making the Doctor sadder than he already is or b. showing the power of the monster of the week? Just because the Doctor is sad about things doesn’t mean the grief is well utilized. I found that Ten became quite insufferable in this sadness and I also felt frustrated because it seemed like all of these deaths were written simply for the reason to make Ten said. Certainly Donna’s ending served no purpose other than to make him angst.

      • Happyfeet says:

        The show has never had dramatic deaths though and the one they did have in Adric the Doctor did not linger on too much.

        You are asking us to debate on how death is presented on this show.
        Your answer: It isn’t presented and never has been. Move on.

    • Tammy says:

      Totally agree about the sexism and homophobia bit. The Doctor Who show has had lesbians in it, in the episode with the never ending traffic and the monsters bellow. They had a pair of old ladies who were open lesbians. And definitely have had the strongest female characters known on tv.

  66. Chainsaw says:

    This makes a lot of sense. I’m reminded of what Travis Beacham said about some of the characters in Pacific Rim, when asked if they would come back and not actually be dead:
    “There are no heroes in a world where heroes cannot die.”

  67. aurayafrost says:

    Oh come on guys, seriously? You’re saying this article is being too harsh or unrealistic? I get that its a family show, so no, nothing gruesome or truly horrifying can happen – but to have no dramatic/traumatic things as all just doesn’t work for something such as Doctor Who – it’s all about character development and consequences and stuff like that, and Moffat’s reducing those things to meaningless nonsense.

    Every now and then a Reset Button is nice – every now and then it’s comforting to find that everyone’s come out of an event alive and unscathed – but with the stories and the plots that doctor who covers, people have to die – we have to see characters who’re affected by what they’ve seen or been through – we have to have a sense that this is realistic, otherwise what’s the point (and don’t criticise me by saying ‘It’s a sci-fi about a time-travelling alien, how could it be realistic’ because that’s not an argument – doctor who IS a sci-fi about time travel, but it’s always been known for having a strong link to humanity and things we can relate to, and its losing that more and more under Moffat’s control).

    I’m not saying Davies was the perfect showrunner, but at least he understood that it was about story (occasionally yes, I’ll admit, he went for the more blockbuster, flashy side of things, but, as mentioned in an above comment, I feel that sort of thing is forced by the BBC’s attempts to make it more popular) – but Moffat doesn’t seem to have any respect for character, story or quality whatsoever and it really shows.

    • Jenny says:

      I don’t see how Davies is any better than Moffat. They are both good at times and crap at times.

      One could argue Davies didn’t know how to make anything truly stick or be emotional.

      He created the Time War because he thought the Daleks and the Time Lords were used too much and the Time Lords were boring and annoying.

      If he had left the Daleks alone with “Dalek” it would have been fine. Bringing back a stray one made sense.

      But no, he had to bring them back again and again and again and again with explanations of how they managed to escape the timelock. None to ever any satisfaction. He had them invade the Earth like four or five times at different points in time.

      Then he brought back the master and the time lords. Only to send them back again? What even was the point of that?

      The writers complained early and often and even some of the people in charge of costuming, and set design that they never knew what he wanted and he waffled often.

      It never surprised me Chris wanted to leave. So much of the stuff was over budget and underwritten that Jane Tranter had to come down and mediate between Moffat and the writers or Moffat and the crew way more than once.

      Whether or not Moffat is crap or not, he sticks with his plan even if people hate it. Davies could never decide what he wanted to do with the show and it showed. The only arc of his entire series was that the Doctor was in love with Rose. That’s it. That’s the only thing that carried from beginning to end. The events in between Rose and The End of Time had no overall arc. He just stuck a bunch of ideas on a wall and threw darts at what his vision was.

      • aurayafrost says:

        …True. I’ll give you that. I guess I’m a little under the illusion he was better simply because I enjoyed Davies’ reign more than Moffat’s – but truth be told when I think about it it’s probably more for the actors than his way of dealing with the story. I have to say I got a lot more thrill out of the series written under his control than the most recent series’, but that said you’ve made some very valid points here – although I do think there was a little more story thought up than you’re saying – there were always ripples of the main plot throughout a season, the doctordonna for example, or the Master being Harold Saxon.

        And personally I was a lot more emotional for a lot more of ‘his’ episodes than I have been for any of Moffat’s, and attached to his characters more, so I have to argue that point there (but then again that’s just my own opinion, as the opposite is yours, so fair enough).

        But I see what you’re saying about his lack of vision and ability to stick to things – so I’ll keep an open mind to the point that they’re both bad and good in their own ways.

  68. TelevisionMeetOutside says:

    Guys: Dr. Who is a perfectly fun TV show. It has problems, but so do all television shows.

    What Dr. Who *isn’t* is a big deal.

    A television show is just not as objectively important as the comments here would lead you to believe. It is a television show. Calm down, everyone.

    Go outside and take a deep breath. Cling on to that sense of perspective. It’ll all be OK.

    • The trouble is that media is more important than we often give it credit for. Yes, sometimes people can go overboard when they love a show, but it absolutely is worthwhile to interrogate the media we consume because we consume so much of it.

  69. Vox says:

    This article suffers from lack of imagination, imo. It’s already been said, the very nature of DW as a family show prevents any really traumatic event from happening, but within that framework Moffat has done a really great job. The fantastic one-liners, fan service and serious consequences underneath what’s actually happening results in wonderfully complex characters- you just have to read between the lines. The 50th was a great example where Moffat kept the result of the Time War as a motivation for the Doctor, but changed it significantly to give the new Doctor somewhere to go. Moffat literally put three of the Doctor’s past selves together in a locked (ostensibly) room, and let them hash it out. Seriously, just watch the show more carefully.

    • But again, my argument isn’t about the death toll not being high enough, it’s about death — or loss, or traumatic events, or change in general — not being taken as seriously as it ought to be. Amy having a baby stolen from her is a traumatic event, but it’s troubling when it’s not handled as one. If this were about not showing children trauma, Moffat never should’ve written that storyline at all. Instead, what he did was worse: he wrote something traumatic, and then acted like it wasn’t that big a deal.

      A children’s show — or, more accurately in the case of Who, a family show — should not lack consequences. If anything, we should be more demanding of programming aimed at children, since they’re taking in media and fictional stories with less of an ability to question it.

      • Joseph says:

        You missed the line where they say Amy basically did raise Melody/River, she just did it unknowingly through childhood and adolescence. Wouldn’t you be less devastated if you lost a child but got to grow up as lifelong friends with them instead? That trauma was basically resolved as a two-part cliffhanger in Let’s Kill Hitler.

    • DP says:

      This -isn’t- lack of imagination: we SHOULDN’T have to fill the gaps for ourselves. It should be there, it should be shown, and FELT. Now, yes, as many pointed out, the Doctor is an alien and will go through things about his own weird way, but there’s very little that is shown about those who are around.

      Of course, the scene with the three of them together? It’s wonderful. But that’s a grain in a mill.

  70. Jasmine says:

    I find your article a little harsh, but I feel some of what you are saying is true to me. I do feel that the characters are missing some changes to their personality following the events that they have been through, especially with Amy and her baby, and River seeing her parents disappear (though with her, I don’t always feel that much affects her). However, it’s not just the women that often end up as “hollow” and “sassy” as you put it (though I do get slightly annoyed at the character tropes that Moffat is using- such as the “asthmatic” fangirl in the 50th). Although Rory is a brilliant character, he was made out not to care about his wife as much as she did for him. Now this is all well and good, but this man has sacrificed plenty to be with Amy, and considers himself extremely lucky to have been able to be with a woman like her. Don’t get me wrong, I do believe that Amy really does love him, but…I don’t know. I just don’t seem to see it quite so much (also, making Amy think that all she is good for is making babies- really?).

  71. Mike King says:

    If you’re going to start out criticizing Doctor Who reset button after pointing out how wet you are for Joss Whedon, then you might care to look into Buffy coming back from the dead. Another tip would be to stop reading the TV guide synopsis and actually watch the show, available via BBC, BBC America, ABC Ausralia and others world wide. You’ll enjoy it.

    • lagozzino says:

      Uuuuh, Buffy’s resurrection is the worst example you could have used. It wasn’t a handy “back to normal” reset, it was a huge lifechanging event that affected every character deeply and had a lasting fallout for pretty much the remainder of the series. The writer of this article is complaining that in the hands of Moffat, Buffy would have been brought back, everyone would hug and then everyone would go back to behaving normally.

  72. Andrew says:

    You sound burnt out and/or bitter about the show. Perhaps you need a break. Moffat has his own perspective about grief and regret. It is different from yours. As a reader, I find the tone of this essay so harsh that I think you may be taking it personally. I am not tired of the Weeping Angels. I think some people try very hard to forget their grief and put on a brave face while it eats them from the inside. IMO this was Matt’s Doctor.

  73. […] What Steven Moffat  doesn’t understand about grief, and why it’s killing Doctor Who by Sarah Siegel […]

  74. kayelem says:

    Why does nobody die?

    Because, it is, after all, a children’s show. Many adult fans it may have, especially in the US. But it is written still for it’s original intended audience of 5-11 year olds, watching between supper and bath time. Love is chaste, babies happen with no onscreen sex, deaths are non-specific, nothing gruesome or gory is shown on screen unless it can be played as a bit of a laugh. And the hero always wins, somehow

    • Scarlet says:

      Wrong, it’s a family show meaning for children and adults and it has dealt with some heavy themes over the years such as morality, genocide, loss, guilt. The thing is Doctor who knew how to keep a good balance.

      Heavy themes
      Midnight.
      Genesis of the daleks.
      Turn left(Has holocaust allegories)
      Waters of Mars.
      Rememberence of the daleks(Hints towards racism of the era)
      Dalek.
      Last of the time lords(Hints towards genocide commited by the Master, torture, characters suffering PTSD by the end)
      Planet of the Ood(Features slavery)

      Episodes where the hero doesn’t always win.
      Waters of mars.
      fires of pompeii(Through there are small victories)
      Doomsday(Through the threat was stopped people close to the Doctor where lost)
      Victory of the daleks(The daleks win and rebuild there empire)
      A good man goes to war

      Episodes where people die.
      A lot

      Do you even watch this show?

    • Plenty of people die, there’s just no consequence for that death or that loss. And this children’s show has covered plenty of death in the past. We should demand consequences and appropriate outcomes and change and character progress from a children’s show.

      When something is aimed at an audience that has less of an ability to question what they’re watching, it behooves the writer to be far more careful about the messages being put forward, not less. And it’s up to an adult audience to question it as well.

  75. Groovian says:

    Thankyou so much for this article. I love Doctor Who but I strongly disliked Matt Smith’s Doctor, until recently when I realised it wasn’t him, it was Steven Moffatt’s writing. (I now quite like Matt Smith.)
    As you said, there is no emotional depth or character development. I thought he was excellent at writing individual episodes (The Girl in the Fireplace, Blink and The Empty Child) but simply cannot write long term.
    He did good in the past with Russell T Davies, but I think the best thing he can do is leave and continue Sherlock (‘even Andrew Scott came out before Sherlock Series 3′) even if he ‘doesn’t want to go.’
    Again, thank you for writing this! I love Doctor Who and don’t want to see it lose all touch with people because as Ten says ‘it’s brilliant, stupid PEOPLE!’ The only way for Doctor Who to get better is for constructive criticism.
    Allon-sy!

  76. Thom says:

    I always just didn’t quite care for the moffet storylines because it introduved a big bad plot at the start of the season, hyped it up to be this immense moment, and then just…doesn’t deliver. Say what you will about the RTD episodes, but I can return to any number of his era and enjoy them without some “crack in the wall” plot device. I’m STILL waiting on some story threads to be touched upon from a few seasons ago and that’s what’s ruining the moffet run for me.

    When they did the Bad wolf reveal, in series 1, you thought “Oh shit, that’s right”, Same thing with the master in series 3. A great reveal of a deeper story. Then when moffet takes over, You’re told “Look, it’s a crack, I wonder what this does?”, then they make a point of pointing it out to the audience in a giant “Remember this? It’ll be important”, and it ultimately was a let down, The Pandorica, the Doctors Wife, the overuse of River and the Weeping angels, the Tardis exploding, Any idea that could’ve been great was just overblown and couldn’t stand under it’s own weight.

    • Linda Nicola says:

      I hated the Angels Take Manhattan. The Weeping Angels should have stayed the Weeping Angels…not cute cherubs, not the Statue of Liberty, etc. Part of their fear factor was you didn’t know what was an Angel and what was a real statue.Now all statues are Weeping Angels…doesn’t matter if they are an Angel or even Weeping.

      And Clara is a wonderful character with loads of charm and potential. The appeal is the constant threat that she dies a lot. Now she never really dies. Her explanation was a real let down…oh ok, she’s scattered through his timeline and will always be around.

      Thank goodness they got rid of her nanny charges tho. They were annoying and unlikable.

      So now Doctor’s new goal is to trot through space looking for Gallifrey and restore it …ho hum.

  77. Rick says:

    I stopped watching last season. Love cures everything. Propeller driven aircraft fly in space. Daleks can not rime travel. The 50th anniversary? (Actually 35th, but who counts 15 skipped years) was 10% fantastic, and 90% drivel for school kids.

  78. Nat says:

    I haven’t watched all of Doctor Who, but I’ve always been on the fence about Moffat’s writing and you have pinpointed exactly what it is that I dislike about it. Thank you very much for writing this article! And sorry for the amount of hate you’re getting. Skimming through the comments, I found some valid and nicely written criticism, only buried between a lot of rudeness.
    Most people are equaling a “dying show” with an unpopular show with no ratings, but it’s not like that at all. A recent example: Glee has a LOT of viewers, but it’s been dead for years. Characters have no consistency whatsoever, consequences are episode-lived; being dealt with (many times beautifully) on the episode it happens only to be completely forgotten on the next. And Ryan Murphy’s hit-big-or-miss-it-abysmally portrayal of such important topics (bulimia/anorexia/abortion/bullying/abuse/school shooting/etc) is much more worrying because it gets so much exposure, especially with younger viewers.

    • Happyfeet says:

      This is an incomprehensible rationale that you have twisted in a pretzel to get to.

      You are coming to this conclusion by starting with a false foundation because you are assuming everybody watching that show critiques it as we have done here but they don’t.

      Steven is not writing to please fans who get into the minute details of dealing with every plotline as if it’s a movie he has ages to make it seem “real” to the small fraction of people online who the show isn’t connecting with. Why should he do that and why should he or any other showrunner care? The BBC are incredibly happy with the show and even if stays on and is “dead for years” they won’t care as long as people are watching.

      And not to be mean but if a show is still bringing in millions of vieweres it isn’t actually dead. You personally just don’t care for anymore. All the histronics about Doctor Who come off like a very entitled small section of the fandom are trying to dictate to the writers what they should and shouldn’t do and well babies I hate to take you back to the real world but tv is a spectator sport. You can complain about the coach but he’s going to call the plays and you can watch or stay home.

  79. […] What Steven Moffat Doesn’t Understand About Grief, And Why It’s Killing Doctor Who by Sarah Siegel (Tea Leaves and Dog Ears) […]

  80. Whovian says:

    I seriously think some people over analyse things, ESPECIALLY when it comes to Doctor Who.
    Firstly it’s FICTION (friction, faction- sorry little Donna tribute there)
    It’s to be enjoyed for what it is!
    I dare anyone who has a problem to write a complete episode and send it to the BBC. Then come back and tell us all how they went.
    Give the guy a break!

    • Why shouldn’t people critique or associate some level of quality in the storytelling? I seriously think that some people are so slavishly over-devoted to certain things that they can’t see the forest for the trees. It being fiction doesn’t mean shitty storytelling should be excused.

      • Happyfeet says:

        People are protective of something they love rather than miserable about it? The nerve. People should always have some complaints about the thing they love or else they are just mindless followers! (This lack of critical thinking while at the same time berating others you feel aren’t critical thinkers highlights the real problem with online fans)

        You guys are convinced all your fanwank makes a hill of beanz to people making television when most if not all of them give a rats patootie. Insulting fans who face the real world reality that fans cannot dictate stories and so therefore choose not to tie themselves in knots worrying about stuff that happens is just trying to inflate your own critiques as superior than us lowly mouthbreathers who just coast along.

        It’s not that we don’t find faults. It’s that we realize we can’t do anything to change them as fans do not dictate to a show the story. Want to make the show better? Work hard and get a job at the BBC. Put in the decades of work it took for people like Moffat and Davies to get there.

        Last thing I’m writing. This clickbait is starting to get me upset which is exactly my point. I should not be getting upset over a TV show and neither should anybody else. It isn’t healthy. Just watch something else.

  81. Paul K. Bisson says:

    The Emo perspective! I love it.

  82. Geisthander says:

    I’m mad that you don’t like a thing I like! Here are some singular examples which ignore the trend and thematic thrust you’re talking about because spending ~50 minutes retconning an old thing out so we can have an older thing isn’t lazy storytelling or a fanboy’s neurotic fear that someone could have a bad thing to say about their thing, but something that was totally brave.

    What you fail to understand is that I know everything about this thing and for you to criticize this thing I like and publicize that you don’t think this thing that was barely adequate as a standalone episode, nevermind the big world-changey bollocks, is a crime because the show has ratings and ratings=objective gooditude. Also it makes me feel good and my feelings about a thing are the only feelings which matter so shut up.

    • After reading that last sentence…I still have no idea which side you’re on…which may be your point…hmmm…

    • Jenny says:

      Or maybe they just realize the show has to go on and the fact that moffat recognizes Davies time is over and soon maybe so is his and wants to set up a way for future showrunners to have a way out from the timelocked home planet of Gallifrey is a good thing and you think the show should stagnate on Davies’s time to the point the show will end up painted in a corner trying to stay true.

      Really what you should have wrote is:

      “I’m mad, that you’re mad, that I’m mad about a thing that was retconned by a person I don’t when the retcon the person I do like was just fine and psh there is no such thing as the 30 years that came before the person i like doing the thing I like cuz it made me feel good and had good ratings which is objective.”

      Seriously you all do realize you’re complaining about the retcon of a retcon right?
      It’s like the verbal version of russian dolls.

  83. sam says:

    I’m sorry but I don’t understand how 9 & 10′s feelings of regret and grief are cheapened just because we now know the truth. If you are letting an episode from season 7 change your views on ones from earlier seasons I don’t see how that is Moffat’s fault. Because it isn’t.

    If anything, things are now even more tragic because you know these characters feel guilty for nothing. And that is just horrible because we can’t go through the TV to tell them it is all okay. Guilt is a horrible enough emotion to feel as it is. But guilt over something one is actually innocent of? It depresses me just thinking about it.

    And I really think your ideas of what grief is and how it should be shown are unfair. Because grief is different for everyone and every situation. Amy’s entire storyline in Asylum of the Daleks was her way of dealing with her grief. Maybe she didn’t handle it that well but not everyone does. She was shutting herself off from everyone and trying (but failing) to pretend things were okay. Which eventually lead to her breakdown/confession to Rory. Same with the Doctor dealing with losing Amy & Rory. He dealt with losing them by literally hiding away on a cloud. Again, not necessarily the best way to go about things but he still reacted to it. It still had an effect. He didn’t just start out the episode like nothing had happened.

    Your argument kind of reminds me of one people are making about Emma from OUAT. They’ve been saying that because she had a little breakdown over the situation with Neal that she is not a strong character. Because they’ve been led to believe that “strong” women can’t possibly cry over a man. Which in itself is a very sexist argument. Like I said, people feel and express emotions like grief in all different ways for different situations.

    • sam says:

      I just had to add this as I hadn’t thought about it until someone else mentioned it. But what about Martha Jones and the year that never was?

      Do her memories suddenly not matter as much because all that never technically happened? Or what about Rose’s storyline? Is Doomsday no longer sad because you know Rose will end up with TenToo and the chance at a happy ending?

      Of course a major event like this is going to somewhat change how previous episodes are viewed. But the same can be said for any tv show that has gone on for a few years.

      The previous doctors feeling guilty and grief stricken is not meaningless. And I’m sorry but I find it really unfair that you want to blame Moffat for you feeling that way.

  84. Shalottibat says:

    RTD is one of my absolute favourite television writers. Steven Moffat is one of my absolute favourite television writers. Doctor Who is my ALL time favourite television series.

    The central messages of the special are crystal clear and full of human truth:

    1: Grief & the associated guilt take a ridiculous amount of time to come to terms with (400 years even) and when you can finally reach that place (within all facets of yourself) you can properly move forwards with the big adventure that is called life again.
    2: Even the cleverest people in the universe need their friends and loved ones to help them realise that they are and always have been a good person, worthy of thinking about a brighter future.
    3. Everyone needs to learn to laugh at themselves a little more, even in the face of absolute adversity.

    The writing of the special was soooooo respectful of RTD’s central themes, it could quite easily have been a co-written episode.

    I’ve just rewatched for the fifth time, and I still hoot and weep with joy at the sheer brilliance of the damn thing.

    And there is my two penneth on the matter.

    Adieu.

    • TelevisionMeetOutside says:

      You are a terrible, terrible nerd.

      Go outside.

    • Jenny says:

      While I don’t find either particularly inspired I find all the slobbering over Davies time completely annoying. Particularly because he’s been off the show now for nearly four years and his stans are still complaining about stuff and I don’t even know what they expect to happen because Moffat is going to do what Moffat is going to do and Davies did what Davies did.

      They are in the unique position of not being in a unique position and thinking they are.

      They don’t realize all this stuff is exactly what classic who fans went through with Davies retconning their stuff.

      They see it from the other side and the other side only. And when showrunners change the next one will probably retcon Moffat’s stuff. It’s the only way the show can continue.

      The stakes can never been truly high because the show isn’t built for that and never was.

      The only option available is to either move along with the show and enjoy it or watch something else.

      That’s not to say criticism isn’t allowed but when it’s criticism of how something on the show should stay true to a single era of a show built for change it seems like some of the fans Davies dragged in with his stuff never really got what the show was about and unfortunately were destined to become disappointed. Which is not entirely their fault.

      I don’t blame Davies either. He and Gardner had to update the show and make it cute so it would appeal to the new culture of fandom but ultimately it was a minor phase in the show, was never going to last, and was destined to be a let down when the show moved on to different pastures.

      The show is Doctor Who. It will go on in some form or another forever. It always has. Anybody who doesn’t realize anything in the show is up for grabs and the that rarely does anybody die is always going to be bitterly disappointed since they’ve misunderstood the reading that the BBC has looked for from the start.

  85. writingtears says:

    My feelings about Moffat are really mixed. On the one hand I really like him, because of series 5 and to some extent 6. I think Moffat was exactly what we needed after RTD’s soap opera-ish series finale(s). We were all getting tired of RTD and Moffat was a perfect replacement. Series 7 has, however, made it clear that we need a new showrunner ASAP. Moffat is done. This dying show, and yes it is dying because we can’t go on much longer like this without popularity drastically dropping and people getting angry, needs fresh life. I do commend Moffat for trying to give it that with this paradigm shift, and I look forward to seeing where it will lead, but I think it’s all a very short term solution.

    “The stakes on the show feel so low at this point that a once addictive program is unengaging, dull and hollow.”
    My feelings have never been summed up quite so accurately. Thank you for writing this.

  86. Nathan Bell says:

    Ok, so before I comment I’ll just say some things. I’m 18, haven’t seen Classic Who but have seen every episode of the reboot, or whatever it’s called. Anyway, the only real issue I have with your article is the assertion that (quote) “All of the amazing episodes in which the Doctor, overcome with grief, spoke about the tragic necessity of his decision are rendered meaningless”. In my opinion, although he never really killed them all he had THOUGHT that he did, and the emotions behind that thought would have been very real. While people may be disappointed that such a huge point in the Doctor’s character development was basically rewritten, and I must admit I would probably have preferred if the three doctors had pushed the button, I believe that a lot of the negative feelings about this is influenced by our hindsight. If we were to re-watch or even reminisce about the ‘reboot’ we wouldn’t be able to without thinking of the 50th special. Aside from that, I do agree that Moffat’s work has lost a lot of the emotional attachment to the characters. My favourite companion will probably always be Rose Tyler, and that is influenced quite a bit by the bond between her and the Doctor, which has been lacking in recent companions.

  87. stantlitore says:

    I actually don’t agree with this particular criticism. The blogger is oversimplifying. The reboot has dealt almost exclusively with grief (to the point where many fans are calling for a happier story arc), and with the idea that even if you were granted the godlike power to recreate the universe (see “The Pandorica Opens” / “The Big Bang”), this does not relieve you of, or atone for, loss. The Eleventh Doctor is old; his age and haunting sense of loss is continually commented on. His episodes are a litany of goodbyes: River Song’s grief when she faces the Dalek in “Pandorica”; Amy’s grief and love when she realizes Rory has been shot to the past, and the Doctor’s aching solitude once she is gone. Nor is pain without consequence; the blogger is simply not correct. Take the example of Amy Pond. Amy isn’t “moody” because she lost a child. She is severing herself from relationships, intentionally, haunted by the fact that she — and Rory — want children and she can’t have children. Even the 50th Anniversary episode, which unwrites a genocide, doesn’t unwrite the Doctor grieving for that genocide for 400 years; he doesn’t recall that he tried to save people. He has to live with that. The episode isn’t about erasing consequences; it is about forgiveness and staying true to one’s purpose and by doing so, finding fresh purpose.

    See also: “Father’s Day” for Doctor #9, and “Family of Blood,” “The Waters of Mars,” and many other episodes for haunting portraits of grief and real consequences for Doctor #10. Can you honestly separate our cultural image of the Doctor from his moments of grief? Don’t be led astray by the fairy tale stucture of the story: World has Problem, World Meets Doctor, Doctor Fixes World. This is a fairy tale for adults, one in which most fixes carry consequences for the one doing the fixing.

    Stant

  88. hashy says:

    What a bunch of Moffat-hate standard crap.
    The man is a genius, he has written and he’s writing some of the best episode the show has ever had; his episodes are not filled with deus ex machina stuff, that really let down every series finale in rtd era; his way to handle the “time” part of the show is mindblowing! No real deaths? Is really that the problem of a children show? Because the depart of the Ponds from 11′s life wasn’t strong enough?
    His characters (the companions) weren’t just there for the Doctor’s pants (the only good companion was Donna, and I mostly remember her for the Library episodes… Moffat’s episodes) and he never screwed an entire character (sorry, but Rose was just bad in s2/s4), as a girl, I can’t relate neither to Rose or Martha, on the other hand I find Amy an amazing character with an amazing development, River is the most badass woman I’ve ever seen in a drama, and Clara is just a normal girl, who’s not looking for the Doctor’s pants… she was a mistery and not a “person” for The Doctor for s7 part2? Has anybody realized that every writer/era has its different way to approach to companions? In classic era some companions couldn’t leave the Tardis, because of various reasons, of some we know very little about their life, of other we know to much, in rtd era they were people The Doctor found on his way, Moffat has is own right to have his way on companions, and I really love it (and I think we know more on Amy’s life, than Rose’s/Martha’s/Donna’s).
    So all the critics about sexism and stuff about women, in both Doctor Who and Sherlock, is just crap.
    And all the complaints about of he’s “changed” all the new series with the 50th… really… how can you complaint? Have you understand how the show works? It’s a show about a time-traveller. Nothing about him destroying Gallifrey was written in stone by OTHERS, HE thought he had destroyed it, because of what happens to the War Doctor until the 50th, after the events of the 50th he forgets about him actually saving Gallifrey, when he’s War Doctor/Tenth Doctor (and 11th until before the 50th) back in their timeline, but on the other hand, he as 11th, from now on, remembers that he didn’t killed billions of innocent people and now he can go out and looking for Gallifrey. I think this is the most beautiful present Moffat could have ever done to The Doctor for his future.
    (Oh and “Journey to the Center of the Tardis” was written by Thompson, not by Moffat himself. And it was a quite lovely episode.)
    As you said in the article “for a Davies fan” it is clear why you don’t like Moffat, and it’s a bad reason, like the people who still hate Matt, because he’s not David (and I bet those people will love Capaldi because he’s not Matt, the one who replaced David)…
    I’m not a Moffat fan, I’m fan of the series, not of the writer, when I have to criticize Moffat I do it, like I do for rtd, but when people throw shit on a good man/writer that is doing his best for the series, I get really angry.

    • TelevisionMeetOutside says:

      How dare a blogger criticize a television writer I think is a genius! I like him! Nerd rage!!!

      MANY MANY PARAGRAPHS WORTH OF WRITING, TIME I WILL NEVER GET BACK BECAUSE I AM NOT THE PROTAGONIST OF A CHILDRENS TV SHOW I NONETHELESS SPEND AN INORDINATE AMOUNT OF TIME NOT JUST WATCHING BUT THINKING ABOUT AS AN ADULT

      • Basilikon says:

        How dare someone feel strongly about something they love! Emotion frightens me!

        MANY MANY HOURS SPENT READING HUNDREDS OF COMMENTS MAKING SNIDE AD HOMINEM REPLIES TO PEOPLE, TIME I WILL NEVER GET BACK BECAUSE I AM NOT POSSESSED OF ANY PASSION IN MY LIFE NONETHELESS SPEND AN INORDINATE AMOUNT OF NOT JUST WATCHING BUT INSERTING MYSELF INTO SAID TOPICS

        ALSO I STILL THINK NERD IS AN INSULT THESE DAYS BECAUSE I AM HOPELESSLY OUT OF TOUCH

      • Jenny says:

        How come this is your only replies? Trollbait?

  89. Marquis de Gig says:

    So… You don’t like Moffat’s writing because he doesn’t kill enough characters on a family show…? Hmm. Ok.

    • Nope, I don’t like Moffat’s writing because he does not deal with loss or death or consequences, does not move his characters forward as a result of these events, and then at the end of each season effectively magics the problem away. I don’t like Moffat’s writing because it’s lazy, inconsistent and boring.

      • Tabby says:

        boring?! excuse me, but…have you watched his stuff and actually compared it to rtd? I’m not saying moffatt’s perfect, hell no, he really isn’t, but compared to the crap rtd put us through in the end (“I don’t wanna go” – really?!?! regenerating is just like dying? – did that man even know what show he was writing for?!), he’s a genius. and definitely not boring or inconsistent. and he actually deals with consequences a LOT. the eleventh doctor was nothing but three series of an old man dealing with the fact that he believes himself to be a monster and feels constantly alone. it’s as sad as saturday family entertainment can be.

  90. DE says:

    The Show is basically for kids and those of us who never grew up. I don’t have a problem as I allow a lot of poetic licence in FICTION writing. There are lots of issues in any and every ongoing saga that may niggle, but I either put it into perspective or quit watching. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and to voice it, but not to assume they’re right like many replying. Equally – people agreeing doesn’t make it true either – except for the few who agree. Judging by the viewing figures the vast majority are happy to just enjoy.
    PS can I point out that facts remain facts? Reinette (Madame de Pompadour) does NOT die of old age, the King himself tells the Doctor ahe was ‘only 42′ (consumption killed her)

  91. PrimeSonic says:

    You don’t deserve half the hate you’ve gotten in the comments over this article.

    It was with RTD that I came to know and love Doctor Who. I was passionate and invested in the characters and stories.
    Moffat took all that and brought me to utter indifference about the characters and the stories. Everything I found relatable was gone and it turned into something that just doesn’t have the same impact it used to.

    It’s a shame cause if this is the route the show is taking, then I guess this might be where I get off the ride.

  92. As a basic reference, see http://thegrandstories.wikidot.com/deaths-in-doctor-who for the listing of deaths in each story since reboot. The majority of Moffatt stories have at least one death — true, Davies had someone dying in the vast majority, but that’s like saying “there’s a crime in every Law & Order episode.”

    • But again, I think people are missing the forest for the trees (probably because I wasn’t clear enough). It’s not the simple lack of death — it’s the lack of consequences, reactions, growth and development as a result of major plot points, including — but not limited to — death.

  93. rogue1 says:

    What Steven Moffat doesn’t understand about Doctor Who…..is that Steven Moffat is NOT Doctor Who.

  94. hereforonce says:

    The Day of the Doctor was a brilliant way to walk away from a view of the Doctor as dark, tormented and unkind, without actually disrespecting the storyline that put him there. Which, in my opinion, was more than that storyline deserved, given that it made the Doctor distinctly untrustworthy and unlikable, and it relied heavily on heartstring-pulling emotional manipulation that, by its nature, loses effectiveness when overused. The RTD era was a mixed bag; he revitalized Doctor Who with faster pacing, updated storytelling, and a Doctor more emotionally engaged with the people around him, but at the same time, he mistook dark-’n-gritty for deep and meaningful. My feeling is that Moffat has pulled off a difficult trick, restoring the feel of the classic Doctors while retaining the elements of New Who that make it so appealing.

    • Ironically, one of the things that I dislike about Moffat is that his Doctor is much more of an asshole than 9 or 10 ever were, and yet tries to sell him as this happy-go-lucky good guy.

      • hereforonce says:

        Not surprisingly, I couldn’t disagree more. Nine and Ten were downright misanthropic. I felt “I only take the best” was a dreadful choice in writing the Doctor. But I suspect there’s no point debating this. Your feeling that Moffat can do no right is clear.

      • Tabby says:

        Yes! finally something I agree on with you! 11 is a horrible person,but he is supposed to be! moffatt doesn’t sell him as a happy-go-lucky good guy, but as a guy who constantly pretends to be like that because otherwise he can’t cope. he’s the darkest doctor so far, 10 was just depressed and misanthropic, 11 is angry and deeply self-loathing. how is that not character development??
        I somehow get the impression that we’re watching two entirely different shows.

      • Jenny says:

        None of them are assholes. The Doctor cannot be an asshole. If you think any of them are assholes you can go fly a kite. The Doctor is a hero. Sorry that bothers you. Too bad. Go watch something more your speed. Something really emo that spends tons of time hand wringing over every plot. I think General Hospital is still on.

      • You see, I don’t think Moffat does sell him that way. I think 11′s a deeply wounded and conflicted person who attempts to mask that trauma through his happy-go-lucky demeanor. He’s a very, very old man in a young man’s body. This is the way the character’s been presented since “The Beast Below” back in season 5, and was explicitly signposted in Clara’s talk with the War Doctor in “The Day of the Doctor.”

  95. Zac Hansen says:

    It seems like you don’t understand the plot of The Day of The Doctor. Everything still happened exactly as we saw it, because The Doctor doesn’t remember anything that happened. So he still believes he burned Gallifrey.
    Other than that, I agree with you completely.
    I can’t wait for the day that Moffat gets replaced by someone who actually knows what they’re doing, because he clearly doesn’t understand the show at all.

    • Dan says:

      Yes but we as viewers now know that emotional pull is a sham. It cheapens not only any future interactions based on that traumatizing event, but all the past ones. Eccleston and Tennant’s motivations are now forever tainted by the fact that they’re motivated by lies.

      • Precisely. A cruel and almost mocking irony now taints amazing scenes.

      • Basilikon says:

        That is untrue. To them, they are motivated by the truth. The fact that we as viewers know that it is not the truth is irrelevant. The viewers/readers of just about anything always know stuff that the protagonists don’t know. People are always acting against their interests yet they don’t know it, but we as a tense observer do. It adds drama and tragedy.

      • CNash says:

        Yes, exactly. Moffat has artificially injected a large amount of previous episodes with a heavy dose of dramatic irony – which, as it wasn’t present originally, is now terribly jarring to those who go back and watch those older episodes. The Doctor’s bittersweet reminiscing at the end of “Gridlock” is, as originally written, very affecting; he’s describing a world that only exists in his memories, and that he can never return to. Viewed through the filter of DotD, however, we’re meant to feel desperately sad that the Doctor doesn’t remember that Gallifrey is ok and always has been. The emotional impact of the scene has been irrevocably altered; twisted in a way that the script was never intended to accommodate. DotD damages older episodes; that’s what I can’t forgive.

      • CNash says:

        Ehh, sorry – the “Yes, exactly” opening was directed at Dan, I’m agreeing with his post and not Basilikon (with whom I emphatically disagree with – our perception of events and how that affects us as viewers is arguably the most important aspect of any story as it’s us, and the end of the day, that the writer has to convince.)

    • Sorry for any confusion — I did understand it, and I suppose my point is that there are now a lot of scenes with 9 and 10 where they work to get over this event, and it turns out that they’re for nothing. And those were some of the best scenes and speeches of the new series. Sure, they don’t know — and some people have argued that that makes them more tragic, but given the number of times they said, or someone said to them, that what they did was, ultimately, right, it seems funny to now go, “Just kidding!”

      • Not actually. Gallifrey was in a time-lock. Please re-watch “The End Of Time” which IS a Davies creation and Tennant’s last episode. What happens? Oh bollocks, they’ve figured out how to break that time-lock using the Master and asjfdhakfhgdhf. I hate Moffat for what he’s done to the show, but Day of the Doctor was explaining something that already happened on-screen.

  96. Captain-Jim says:

    Thank you. I have been telling my friends all that for months now. Erasing the war and the hard decisions the Doctor had to do meant basically erasing some of the best bits of his personnality (that amazing scene in The End Of Time with the gun…) as well as forgetting susbtantial plot elements (weren’t the Time Lords supposed to have become evil and shit?)

    And yes I do agree that Moffat never kills anyone and should never be helmed as a rival for Joss Whedon in the realms of television. What Joss took away from his fans is like a leaf on the wind, it never comes back…

    • I have to assume that they’ll address the Time Lords Gone Crazy thing, although the flashbacks to the Time War don’t give me a lot of hope.

      • To address this: The End of Time is pretty much taking place at EXACTLY THE SAME TIME as “Day Of,” give or take a few hours. There’s a line about “…the High Council’s plan has already failed” in “Day.” Likewise, in “End of Time,” Rassilon says, “The Doctor has possession of The Moment.” If you watch it without knowledge of “Day,” it sounds like a fancy way of saying “the time is now his.” But later on…Ah!

        So, to summarize where I’m going: Daleks are bombing Gallifrey; thirteen Doctors take Gallifrey out of time and space. Where does the planet go? It teleports right close to Earth. Time Lords emerge, and the Master gets his revenge by sending them back into the War. The sweetest part? The Doctor has already seen this, and he knows how it works out.

        One more thing: Moffat Who undoes a lot of death because Eleven follows on from Ten, who broke the rules in a big, big way. Eleven breaks the rules in a lot of smaller ways, but he does it for the right reasons. He’s a man who just can’t stand to see any more death and will stop at NOTHING to prevent or undo it. New Who is, I suppose, a lot closer to a novel in many ways…there are a lot of intricate little threads that you didn’t catch the first time, but which reveal themselves the second or third time.

  97. Thank you! Finally…It was so hard to explain to all my friends why I thought this ‘happy event’ was so bad – if everything is happy all the time, with no bad to compare it to, you start to lose sight of how important those happy moments are. You get bored and disinterested. I know the 50th couldn’t live up to all my expectations, but I never expected it to go ahead and tear down the very Doctor that it was meant to celebrate, and who so many fans, myself included, have come to love so much.

  98. Chloe Bowen says:

    The thing with changing the whole genocide thing the doctor forgets that he tried to save them, he thinks he pushed that big red button and killed them all, the 9th doctor thinks he did it, the 10th doctor regrets it, but the 11th, oh the 11th has hope, which should definitely be killed at Christmas to keep the show going. But I do agree with nobody dying, and no real grief.

    • Zac Hansen says:

      It seems like you don’t understand the plot of The Day of The Doctor. Everything still happened exactly as we saw it, because The Doctor doesn’t remember anything that happened. So he still believes he burned Gallifrey.
      Other than that, I agree with you completely.
      I can’t wait for the day that Moffat gets replaced by someone who actually knows what they’re doing, because he clearly doesn’t understand the show at all.

    • Zac Hansen says:

      That was not meant to be a reply to you,

      • Mark S says:

        And what makes you think the next showrunner is going to be any better? When RTD left Moffat was the obvious replacement. There are no obvious showrunners waiting in the wings. Any of the current writers could take over but they all already have detractors. And what happens if the BBC choose someone who isn’t a lifelong fan of the show? What then?

  99. Harry says:

    really sad that no one really even mentions the fact that the Master SAVED the Doctor at the cost of — what— we don’t know now — but he was basically redeemed with that sacrifice, and its all forgotten by Moffat.

    Once the star was shattered, he could think again.

    And he saved his old friend, the Doctor.

    Sad that both Moffat AND most people choose to ignore that.

    And grief? Ten sobbing over the Master in LOTL ? That doesn’t count as a loss? And don’t give me that it was just the last of his kind drivel … RTD himself said they had a lot closer relationship,. and it was hardly just being the ‘Last’

    • Tholomyes says:

      “old friend”… I’m going to hazard a guess that you’ve never seen classic who.

    • Tramen says:

      Friend is not a term the Master would use to describe the Doctor. They have been enemies for centuries, and are more like Sherlock Holmes and Moriarty in their dealings.

      I mean, would you try and kill you friend repeatedly? Would you try and stop your friend saving the day, and in turn cause him to fall off a tall tower to his ‘death’ and cause him to regenerate? That’s just the first example I could think of, but there are many more times the Master and tried to do in the Doctor.

  100. Jacinta Wyld says:

    some great points. such a good read. my only note about the genocide that never happened is this, he still believes he did it so is still torn up for hundreds of years about it. only difference is now there MAY be a possibility of more timelords in the future.

    I liked the 50th a lot as it means the show can go anywhere from here but I did have a few concerns. how did Clara and the doctor get out of his time stream? since when did Clara want to be a teacher? and what happened with the negotiations of the zygons?

    • Sure, and I get that, but I think as a viewer it makes a lot of scenes seem cheaper because I now know that the genocide never happened. I mean, arguably you could say that it did happen, and this is now a re-write of time, but it still bothers me more because the Doctor has essentially absolved himself of that sin going forward, and any growth or development that happened as a result of it will probably be wiped clean.

      I think the Clara teacher thing is meant to be an extension of her nannying, but honestly, how much time has passed? When did she get the degree? When did she apprentice? Is she like 32 now?

      • I get that the special seems to cheapen 9 and 10 for some people, but I don’t get why it has to. Now it’s just dramatic irony if we go back to early seasons of new Who. I’m more concerned with squaring this with End of Time. Also, I think people are ignoring that the sequence of “protagonist saw or did event X in past ,event X has horrible consequences, protagonist on future time loop must try to recreate effects of X without event X actually happening but still leading them to do right action” is not an uncommon trope in time travel stories. The War Doctor makes it clear that he feels 10 and 11 need their remorse to motivate them (although I admit, that struck me as arbitrary, since it’s not like he didn’t help before the Time War).

        That said, had the Time War plot been resolved with 10 and 11 pushing the button with the War Doctor, I would have been content with the episode. I definitely agree that I feel like we didn’t get much of a feel for why the War Doctor was banished from the mind of the Doctor.

    • Charley says:

      given that all the doctors companions were on the board in the black archive and she didn’t have her memory wiped on leaving what is going to do with the knowledge the the chair of governor’s at the school she works at is Ian Chesterton?

      Oh and what kind of loving parents calls their child Osgood!

      • Jacinta Wyld says:

        osgood is her surname.

      • Who’s to say that Clara doesn’t already know about Ian? She probably knows the Doctor’s history better than most of his companions, and surely she can read the sign in front of her place of employment. Heck, it’s conceivable that that’s the reason she was able to get the job in the first place, despite not having any experience (that we know of) teaching.

        In truth, though, it probably doesn’t matter in any real sense.

    • Jacinta Wyld says:

      also, I didn’t thing renette died of old age, didn’t she die of a heart condition she has or something? she would have been a bit older but the king wasn’t heaps old so she wouldn’t have been either.

    • Feli says:

      I don’t think they got out. They might still be in there, remember the in the Ep befor when they saw the war-doctor and it like ended right there? the jump is wierd… and theymaybe might continue there for the x-mas?
      I alsow like the idea of more timelords. I mean, it wont be him living a lie as 9 an 10 becaouse for him it’s true that he burned them, but atleast 11 can get free of that.

    • I am so glad someone else brought up the Zygons! That has been bothering me so much that we never heard about them again!

  101. Stephani D says:

    I totally agree with you on things becoming way too static and characters not reacting to change! And with the undoing of the Time War (I’m not happy when established canon is rewritten) …
    Well, the Time War will have to be unlocked and then the insanity of Rassilon dealt with, the Nightmare Child and Army of Could-Have-Beens and Never-Weres… I hope Moffat remembers that…

  102. James says:

    Great read. Man was the 50th disappointing.

  103. I do agree that Moffat is not the best writer or showrunner. His character development skills could use some work and his lack of killing characters could hurt the show in the long run but Doctor Who is NOT “a dying show” as you claim. All of evidence to the contrary. I think you need to take a look at and consider the ratings, merchandising sales and other monetary related statistics before you declare Doctor Who “a dying show”. You’re right about writing for Peter Capaldi being Moffat’s greatest test. If he doesn’t do a good job at that I wouldn’t be surprised if we have a new show runner for series 9.

  104. Provocative argument; interesting. Yes, there’s Rory, yes they’re linked, but there are (plenty of) unrecoverable deaths in Moffatt. I think you’re closer to the mark on the Big Reset than on the avoidance of death, and that’s largely a problem from the “okay, how can we endanger the universe THIS time and have the Doctor bloody save the day again??” standpoint.

    What bothers me more, even than the Big Reset? The mystical deus ex machina endings. How the hell does Amy pull the Doctor into existence from her vague memories? How does the Doctor save Clara with the memory of a leaf? That’s all claptrap even in a world with shifting jargonish deus ex machinas; as Ursula Le Guin said, it’s okay to say the moon is made of green cheese, but then you have to follow that through.

    Okay, MY pet peeve is now on the floor with the pool of blood spilling out. Next!

  105. B. says:

    I’m happy I unfollowed you on Twitter after reading this article.
    Oh my God, I can’t believe you’re basically saying that the genocide should have happened. This is. Disguting. I have seen so many people saying the same thing since the episode aired and it’s like everyone is pro-genocide, and no one realises that what they are saying is very problematic. I love how you included (without including it completely) the example of Sherlock, which is invalid (The Reichenbach Fall was not written by Moffat, despite what you seem to think). Guess what, he didn’t invent the story: Conan Doyle “killed” his character and took it back to life in The Empty House.
    This is his way of writing, as you have your way of writing bullshit on your blog, but no one will tell you off because you’re following the other sheep of internet, hating on Moffat for supposed sexism and homophobia (I’m laughing at this oh God).

    • Nikolas says:

      That’s not being “pro-genocide.” It’s saying that the Dr. Who show was better written with a genocide than it is with an undone genocide. It’s like you don’t need to be pro-murder to think a mystery is better with a murder than an implausible fake murder.

      • Ooga says:

        I personally think the the fact it lasted almost 30 years without genocide speaks volumes to how well the show can do without it.

        Niggas need to watch the classics. RTD was the least Doctor Who-y of all era of Doctor Who. Even less than Colin Baker who blatantly murdered people and spouted one liners like a schwarzennger movie.

      • A show that’s been on the air for decades should never change? And if it does change, it should be changed back? That doesn’t make sense.

      • Basilikon says:

        Tea Leaves, then why are you upset that it changed again?

    • James says:

      Pro-genoice? Are you mental? You do know that it’s a TV show, right?

    • merton_pride says:

      Conan Doyle only brought Sherlock back because people demanded it. He would have been perfectly happy to have him stay dead, as was his original intent. And I don’t know about the sexism or homophobia, but there is certainly a precedent as he has outright stated that asexuality isn’t interesting enough for TV. You also seem to have trouble understanding that wanting bad things to happen in fiction doesn’t mean we want them to happen in real life. Bad things do happen, fiction should reflect that.

      • Ooga says:

        Well, Davies started removing the asexual aspect of the Doctor first.

        I find it odd that Moffat said that though considering he writes Sherlock to be asexual.

      • Writers have been chipping away at the Doctor’s asexuality since at least the 1996 TV movie. Honestly, Davies was worse about it then Moffat, and even he was careful not to go too far: his fascination with Rose is never really sexual in nature, at least on his part.

    • OMG! You unfollowed him on twitter! That’s like…so harsh! He like, totally deserved it for like, expressing his well thought out and logical (but totally ‘disguting’) argument!!!

      • Md says:

        Ooga: To claim that makes this article ‘pro-genocide’ is ridiculous.It is writing, it raised some brilliant questions about a hero we are incredibly attached to who had to make a incredibly difficult, morally ambiguous decision for what he believed was the greater good. That made it interesting as a mirror back at us.

        And A-sexual? The Doctor had a grandaughter in the very first episode. I don’t compute that with a-sexuality…

      • Tholomyes says:

        Asexuality isn’t exactly the right term, but relative to his companions, it fits enough. Yes, the doctor had a granddaughter, but there’s a significant difference between the doctor having a relationship with a Time Lady, and having one with a species whose lifespan is a fraction of his. Having his companions be attracted to him is one thing, but It’s quite creepy for him to return the feeling. It’s not a relationship between equals here.

  106. Peregrine says:

    “Well, on the last season of Sherlock, fans were reeling when Moffat had the show’s eponymous lead jump to his death.”

    Um… what? Everyone knows Reichenbach Falls ends with Holmes’ death. It’s not exactly a surprise when the novel the show is based on has been around for decades; you may want to figure out exactly who is writing what.

  107. ScribeOfRhapsody says:

    I must say, I agree completely with this! Death is so cheap these days in Doctor Who! We’ve seen Rory and Clara die, what, like ten times? And the characters never go anywhere! The Doctor grieved for Amy and Rory for like one episode, and then he was back to being exactly the same as he was before! Rory lived for 2000 years protecting the Pandorica and was… exactly the same the next episode. Whatever happen to episodes where everything wasn’t sugar and rainbows, like The Waters of Mars? Whatever happened to companions who didn’t get to live happily ever after when they left, like Adric?

  108. Baroquemyworld says:

    OMG SO MUCH THIS. I have been wondering if I’ve just lost touch or grown out of it as so many people around me seem to be so mad about it. I’m not really a proper fan anyway, seeing as I’ve never seen any pre-Eccleston episodes and for me there’s always been the odd dud in the Davies era, but I could accept that because it’s good for it to appeal to a wide audience from different ages, backgrounds and tastes. It’s just now that I’m left cold by every single episode and I just don’t get it any more and seem to be watching it more out of habit than anything else. Plus the vain hope that maybe this next episode will be the one that brings it back. Very interested to see whether Capaldi will bring that something that transforms the show into being watchable again. However, Matt Smith did some commendable acting at times but the main problem was the storyline, which wasn’t his fault, so maybe it’s a change of writers and overseers, executive thingamajigs et al, whatever they call themselves, that is the real change we need. Maybe Moffat hasn’t suffered enough in life or is too settled in his safe family bubble to write anything edgy enough to make his children nervous. Who knows? Sure, it’s good for a programme intended for kids to be suitable and enjoyable for kids but a good kids’ programme is also enjoyable for adults. I miss Davies. Was also disappointed by the anniversary episode. Sure it was a great self-congratulatory celebration of Doctor Who but in terms of drama I didn’t feel it in any way lived up to the hype. Most exciting part for me was when they showed the Sherlock trailer straight afterwards. We live in hope of its resurrection to watchable status.

    • Geraint Thomas says:

      ^I find myself agreeing with this comment quite a lot. I actually think Matt Smith’s a really good doctor, and pulls off the “youthful energetic human crossing into ancient powerful alien” split in the doctor better than the any of the other Doctors so far, but it gets cut off by awful overarching stories and many of the episodes don’t have a great deal of consequences (some are good, Asylum of the Daleks, the doctor’s wife, the Flesh episodes, the Silurian 2-parter, and Hide are examples of good one off story episodes in the series in my opinion). I think Moffat’s too concerned with being all flashy and having complex time-distorting plots (most of which don’t work or have established faults which should destroy the universe) and forgets that he’s left all these loose ends lying around (the exploding tardis, the silence, what happens on trensilor that’s so important that the doctor has to be killed somewhere else etc). He also doesnt build up very well after series 5 (the moon episodes should have been a climax to the series, or the climax should have been a replayed from an older Doctor’s point of view with a different context, also Rory and Amy should have actually died in the angels episode, which would at least have given more gravitas and sacrifice to it).

      At the same time I accept that Davies overplayed the heartstring tugging a little his development of the Doctor and the surrounding characters was at least consistent (except in the end of time, where Martha’s randomly married Micky rather than the guy she was engaged to, and the doctor can be killed by radiation that he casually brushed off earlier in the series, which I think he probably wouldn’t have done if it wasn’t his last episode).

      Again though I think this was actually a good stand-alone episode, it just fails in the context of everything else (and yes, if they find gallifrey and release it you’re immediately going to have Timothy Dalton walking on camera narrating his own actions as he rips apart the space-time continuum in this version of time, also he still needs to press the button and destroy all those other planets, like Skarro…).

      Frankly I think a better use of David Tennant and Billie Piper would have been in a separate episode, as the cloned Doctor, maybe with Rose being in some form of danger that’s collided worlds together, what with her job at torchwood and all, which provides its own motives and stakes for the Doctor going to trensilor.

      The 50th I think should have dealt more with the build up that caused the John Hurt Doctor to commit his crime, with Matt Smith being brought in to try to save Gallifrey (he can even succeed without Hurt finding out, provided the destroy the universe thing’s explained away properly), it could even have had them running alonside the time-stream bit, thus showing the slightly-over-used-at-this-point Cameos within some form of context.

      Ok nerd rant over for now…

      • Baroquemyworld says:

        Certainly agree with your good episodes run-down. The worst thing for me though is how every episode has this problem that makes everyone freak out for a while, and then something amazingly potentially cataclysmicly doom-laden happens and threatens to wipe everyone out, before the doctor suddenly waves his magic screwdriver (which he completely didn’t think to do earlier) and everything is miraculously fixed. So many unconvincing anticlimaxes. Maybe I’m just bloodthirsty but I didn’t mind Davies being a little gratuitous with the messy consequences. I find it hard to swallow that there would be no repercussions from such major crises. Some of it has so much promise but the endings are terrible. Everyone keeps changing the rules about the doctor’s past and what’s survivable, bless ‘em – I agree about the radiation thing. Not entirely convinced by the whole Trensilor thing yet. Also I reckon some things should be let to lie. David Tennant really didn’t seem like the old doctor I remember, in the 50th. Maybe he and Matt are too similar but not in a compatible way. I’m sort of glad no-one mentions the clone doctor any more. It was a great series of episodes at that point but I don’t know how much more there is to squeeze out of it. Best left to the imagination. I’m glad you enjoyed the 50th but, I ask you, what was with the airlifting the TARDIS to Trafalgar Square? When the doctor started hanging out of it… It was worse than what they did in the 2nd Harry Potter film.

      • inhonoredglory says:

        Totally agree with everything here, POINTS my friend. Just one disclaimer. In “Smith and Jones” it was a different radiation that Ten could kick off, not *nuclear* radiation, and certainly not at those levels.

  109. Dglas Raeat says:

    After watching “Day of the Doctor,” I couldn’t escape this terrible empty feeling perhaps for the same or a similar reason as presented in this article. The new series, from Eccleston to Smith are about redemption as a primary motivator for the Doctor. Each of the companions touches in this or that way on this character-driving need, all of which stems from the genocide of both Gallifrey and the Daleks. Now that is gone…

    There was the moment, in the show, in which three of the Doctor’s incarnations almost come to own that horror – at that moment I almost thought there was a terrible but necessary owning of that horror, rather than running from it, the first step in the path to redemption. Instead, what do we get? A terrible failing that can only be seen as a failing of the writer, and I thing Moffat knows it. In the celebration of the 50th anniversary, bracketed by Hurt and Smith, Moffat has the haunted look of a storyteller unable to tell the necessary story, a sell-out, a con artist.

    And again, where is River Song? How can we have a redemption story without the love of the Doctor’s life? The Doctor seeks redemption by being the Earth’s saviour, it’s protector, it’s healer, all the time perhaps knowing that it is the Earth that is the Doctor’s redeemer and healer. But the forgiving of the Doctor needs a face, an identity, or someone close to the Doctor, but someone who might not give that. each of the companions offers that to a lesser degree, but it takes a potentially devastating figure, one the Doctor must recognize to truly forgive him of that horror, and before that can happen the Doctor must stop running from what he has done. He must stop trying to trick his way out of it.

    The “Day of the Doctor” was a terrible, perhaps irrevocable, setback in this process.

    • Tholomyes says:

      Having River in the 50th would have killed it for me, the same way having Billie Piper almost did (and would have, if she were actually Rose). The 50th should be a celebration of all that is Doctor Who, both classic and new, which I think it accomplished. By providing closure (overdue closure, but closure still) to the Time War plot device, it celebrated the new series, however, by returning the time lords and restoring that paradigm, it celebrates the classic series.

      The story of the 50th is indeed a story of redemption, but I think you’re wrong that it was a failing. The story of redemption isn’t any lesser because of the third-option; the story of the doctor’s guilt has always been an internal struggle. The fact that 10 and 11 were willing to come to terms with what they were willing to do is the redemption. It’s not a matter of whether he did or not, but that he was willing to do what he had proven unwilling to do in Genesis of the Daleks, and coming to terms with that was his redemption.

  110. Mari says:

    I agree and disagree with a lot of these comments. Sure the old series was less romantic, less feelings, but even though they have the same titles and backstory, they are different shows. I mean twenty years separated seven and nine, and the direction that NuWho has taken is more suited to what most people watch on the television these days. Also, because the show is fixated towards a younger audience, who want more of the romance, and the real feelings towards grief and anger and love.

    • Certainly. But there’s as much as a difference, in both time and style, between the second and seventh Doctors as there is between the seventh and ninth Doctors. The question to me, isn’t whether the show is different, or should be different than it used to be, because it is, and of course it should. The question is whether the difference itself is for better or worse.

      And, honestly, I’m not an elitist about it by any means. I’m not sure I’d even go so far as to say the classic series is “better” than the new series, creatively speaking. But for all the ways the new series has improved on the old, there are definitely elements of it I feel have been ill-considered.

  111. Mari says:

    you’re forgetting a few people like Harriet Jones, and other people who have died to save the doctor. But come on, especially with deaths like River’s (AND HER ENTIRE ARCHAEOLOGICAL TEAM), knowing that the person is still alive in part, but you can never see them again is just as hard as them not living at all.

  112. badwolf says:

    Complete nonsense. The 50th does not erase anything, nor does it make anything meaningless. How did you even come up with this tripe?

  113. I couldn’t disagree more completely. Sometimes it’s much worse when someone doesn’t die (and I am saying this from personal experience). Having Amy and Rory pop off into the past where the Doctor can no longer see them and knowing their lives are happy without him? That is grief, especially for a character like the Doctor who is always lonely.

    Needless to say, grief does not only occur with death (or many deaths). Grief is much more varied than that and I feel that Moffat gets that. It almost seems trendy now for TV series and movies to kill off a main character, just for the shock factor.

    Also, I think you’re missing a key part of what Moffat’s writing always gives the Doctor: hope. Even in grief, there is hope. Again, something I’ve learned from personal experience.

    • I feel like a lot of people are getting hung up on the death part of my article which, admittedly, is most of it. What I was really trying to say was this: take literally any story line from the past few seasons, and now try to think of what the emotional outcome of it was. Good, bad, it just seems like the characters don’t grow or change as a result of their experiences.

      Everything Amy or River, for instance, experience should be a part of who they are. But instead they feel very much like hollow sassy women who have these happen to them, certainly, and then they carry on much as they were.

      • Companionist says:

        Yes but every actor (including the various incarnations of The Doctor) has such a short time on the show that too much change can possibly prevent the audience from growing to care and love for them. This isn’t Friends or Game of Thrones, where they can decide when a character is leaving for good. This is the Doctor and his various companions, who can only be around for a few years max. Comparing Game of Thrones or Buffy to Doctor Who is like comparing Lord of the Rings to the Chronicles of Narnia. The dynamics of either are entirely different and therefore deserve their own categories.

  114. Jonathan says:

    Let me just give a little backstory about myself. I’ve been watching Doctor Who since 1975, Tom Baker was my first Doctor, and I’ve been keeping up with it ever since, including the audio stories.

    I personally disagree with everything you’ve been saying. I don’t give the faintest monkeys about RTD’s ~THE FEELS~ plots. I watch Doctor Who for the science fiction and fantasy, and to watch The Doctor vanquish foes and solve whatever problem is at hand. Not for the soap-esque drama, for the kisses and crying, for “omg, hes dead, so sad rip”. It’s nice nowadays seeing someone killed off without the show dwelling on it too much, it kind of reminds me of how the Fifth Doctor responded to Adric’s death – he did care and showed some level of guilt and some development, but not enough to make the plots of the show suddenly become less upbeat, and it was nowhere near what RTD would’ve done. He probably would’ve made The Doctor go absolutely crazy if one of his companions died.

    The Doctor is not human, was not human*, and never will be human – why do people cry out for him to act human? The entire point of the show is he’s not like us.

    Also, the Time War, IMO, was the most awful plot device RTD could have come up with for a back-story for the relaunch. Did it even need one? Did he really have to erase such a prevalent species from Classic Who for some character development, which by the way, ended up as nothing but constant whining from Ten (and a bit from Nine)?

    Frankly, I’m glad Moffat returned us to the no-nonsense attitude of Classic Who, and gave us a Doctor that is actually worth watching and not some split-personality psychopath.

    *Apart from in Human Nature/Family of Blood, but that was a one off story to see how the Doctor would progress as a human.

    • Jonathan says:

      by “omg, hes dead” I mean random side characters nobody even cares about anyway. If someone has to be killed off, it should be someone important, to make room for someone new. I’m glad they did that without having the show dwell on it too much (Yes, I know The Doctor himself was written to sulk on a cloud for 200 years or however long it was, but the show moved on pretty quickly, and didn’t have Eleven constantly mentioning Amy to Clara and making her depressed, unlike S3 of Doctor Who which was cringey as hell)

    • But I’m not really complaining about the lack of “feels” in some sentimental sense of the word. Any show — no matter how silly or campy or sci-fi — should have emotional resonance with its audience. In short, you should care. And my main argument is not that Moffat isn’t *trying* give his audience the feelz and I wish he would, my argument is that he is trying and he’s failing.

      • Jonathan says:

        There’s a difference between providing emotional resonance and making all the characters feel like soap opera characters (Martha in particular, typical soap opera rebound character with no actual depth, Rose is the clingy girlfriend of some male soap character who cries when she’s more than 20 feet away from the Doctor, Donna was great though).

        People complain about River Song/Amy/Rory being soap-esque, but at the very least they did it right by actually exploring proper relationship dynamics between multiple characters (Doctor/Amy, Doctor/Rory, Doctor/River, Amy/Rory, Amy/River, Rory/River) and how they worked as a team, rather than what RTD did and only show Doctor/Rose, Doctor/Martha, Doctor/Donna… … Jack/Rose maybe, and Donna/Wilf sure – all other character interactions (such as Jack/Donna, Donna/Martha, etc) were barely anything other than both characters speaking quickly to each other, rather than building a semblance of an actual relationship.

        So the difference is, there are actual developments shown there during Moffat’s era, other than RTD’s constant uses of kissing/screaming/crying as a replacement for actual character development. I mostly want sci-fi/fantasy, but yes, I do want *some* emotional resonance, however I do not want “hey, let’s shove the companion into an unreachable place and show a lot of crying between everyone for several blocks of minutes at a time, that’d be so sad, oh it’d be even sadder if the Doctor didn’t say I LOVE YOU, so sad, OH YOU KNOW WHAT WOULD BE SADDER? Let’s have the Doctor mope about it for an entire series before starting to move on and the trick is WHEN HES MOVING ON WE BRING HER BACK ANYWAY omg imagine how emotional the Doctor would feel to bring back Rose just one more time”. RTD Who basically became THE ROSE SHOW after a while.

        That’s not to say Moffat doesn’t do that at times. Series 6 admittedly did feel like THE RIVER SONG SHOW at times but at least it actually served a plot purpose rather than LETS MAKE TEN WHINE

    • Tegan says:

      Excellent points Jonathan. Unfortunately, many “fans” these days haven’t seen a single episode of classic Who, despite being excited for the 50th, and have no idea what it was originally about. Or who Adric is. This is why many who I’ve come across love Who but don’t actually like Sci-Fi as a genre. Despite being in my 20s I was indoctrinated pretty early on by my mum, who incidentally named me after Tegan ;)

      In regards to this post, a very interesting read. I think some valid points were made in regards to character development, especially Amy. I don’t think the lack of death of significant characters takes away from the show though.

    • Cat says:

      Apparently, from what I’ve heard, having a plot where Time Lords wouldn’t appear in the show was required of RTD by BBC. I don’t know if it’s true, though, as they apparently changed their minds later.

    • I know what you mean, though I personally watch shows for character pieces and drama, I completely understand if you watch something for a different reason, and dislike the idea of the Doctor getting emotional/falling in love, I get that.

      But with nothing -NOTHING- happening to Moffat’s characters, with these horrific things happening to them, and them acting like nothing has happened, and with little purpose beyond plot devices, well….how the hell am I supposed to give a shit about them?

      • Exactly! I don’t need the Doctor to fall in love, I don’t need his companions to fall in love. I just want them to behave like people when things happen, otherwise why bother having anything happen?

      • Jonathan says:

        “with these horrific things happening to them, and them acting like nothing has happened, and with little purpose beyond plot device”

        Isn’t that literally the entirety of Donna? Donna’s story is tragic and RTD made her completely forget and act like her entire series didn’t happen. For no other reason than “well, let’s move on from Donna”. Seriously, someone tell me, what actually came from Donna’s mind wipe other than being tragedy for the sake of tragedy? It barely caused any character development in Ten – he didn’t even once look back on her from The Next Doctor until The End of Time where he was basically forced to.

    • Tammy says:

      (Applause) Finally some sense on here! I bow my hat to you sir.

  115. Personally I do agree. I do not find that I am as emotionally involved in the newer series as I used to be. The new series’ are too slapstick and ridiculous; especially the Mr Sweet alien. I used to get so emotional over Dr Who and now I feel nothing.

  116. Sid says:

    I am often annoyed by Moffat’s writing, but I cannot agree with you what so ever on this post. I found your post well done and thought through, and I respect your opinion fully. I don’t want you to misunderstand me on that point. I am not telling you that you are wrong, I am just saying that my personal opinion disagrees with yours.

    The anniversary special, to me, was brilliant. I didn’t feel like it was a big un-doing of everything Davies has worked. i felt it added a new shade to it. Moffat is not avoiding grief in this episode, but rather telling us that the Doctor, the wonderful Doctor, has been in all this pain for several centuries. The past 7 seasons have been about grief, the Doctor being so sad, rendering him mad. We saw that, Ten had counted all of the children on Gallifrey, all of the children presumably dead, but Eleven had forgotten. They are showing the development in the Doctor’s grief, from regret to denial. Eleven has denied himself recognition with the War Doctor as himself.

    Eleven – “The day you killed them all.”
    Ten – “The day we killed them all
    Eleven – “There’s no difference”

    I am sorry, but this broke my heart. The point of having these different Doctors is to get an insight into the different aspect of their complex character and behaviour, and especially showing the development that time brings. And wow, what a powerful development shown only in the difference in pronoun. Sometimes I just want to clap Moffat on the shoulder for doing this kind of thing.

    The idea of Moffat fearing bloodshed seems reasonable to me when you put it in that way, but the idea that there is no grief is not agreeable in my mind. The point you make about the weeping angels is a perfect example of a horrible way to watch someone die, by not watching them. Taking someone from their prime time in life, and make them grow old in an unknown place and know that this is where they will die is the scariest shit ever. And it is just as horrible for the Doctor watching for example Amy and Rory being taken away to a place where he can never reach them. That is a grief he can never accept, because he never gets to see their death in the most concrete way. It is hard to come to terms with something you actually haven’t seen, like wives getting to know their men in the army are missing in action. Missing, gone, unknown place, maybe dead, probably dead, dead. There is no acceptance involved in the Doctor’s grief. As with Gallifrey.

    The Doctor never reaches the point of accepting his act of murder on the Time Lords, despite the thought that it was for the best. Instead, the Doctor forgets, no, chooses to forget and deny his part in it. It is heartbreaking to see such a silly character like Eleven, and know that the only reason he seems so silly and joyful at times is because he is trying to deny his grief.

    The anniversary special was not undoing, it was giving us information about something that has already happened, just like Davies telling the viewers about the Time War through Nine, without actually showing it. Now it is shown, in addition to information we did not know. Not only didn’t we have this information, but neither did the Doctor. This is one of the rare times where the audience is just as oblivious as the Doctor, which just amplified the human part of him by only giving os this idea of that “even the Doctor doesn’t know”.

    All this undying and returning of Moffat’s writing feels to me a foreshadowing of the undying of Gallifrey an its return. And often, people have died of old age, just like the War Doctor did. I just find that amount of planning is amazing (the War Doctor’s death might have been in the act of the Moment, but well well)

    On the death of the War Doctor, it is left a bit open how he seems to forget. I had the impression that the Moment organized it so he wuldn’t remember, because it was the act of the Moment that brought the Doctors together, and the only way to not make a paradox out of it would be to leave that information out of the War Doctor’s mind. And what better way to do that than to make him regenerate? All of his cells are renewed before the newly acquired information has time to set, leaving him with just some glimpses of information:

    - Bad Wolf
    - The image of Rose Tyler (the Moment probably left these here on the influence of the Bad Wolf in The Parting of Ways, leaving the traces of Bad Wolf left so that the Doctor would find Rose and therefore create Bad Wolf)
    - The death and devistation of the Gallifreyans
    - The dislike for big ears
    - The decision to kill of Gallifrey

    And then he comes back from the regeneration, and seeing that Gallifrey is gone, he assumes he did it.

    I thought the Anniversary Special brought a horrific shade onto the character of the Doctor, especially Nine. It is heartbreaking to see the loving and wonderful character we saw in John Hurt and see that fade away in Christopher Eccleston as he thinks, wrongfully, that he killed his entire species. The episode just made the grief of Nine worse to watch.

    • “- The image of Rose Tyler (the Moment probably left these here on the influence of the Bad Wolf in The Parting of Ways, leaving the traces of Bad Wolf left so that the Doctor would find Rose and therefore create Bad Wolf)”

      A little bit more than that: The Moment pulled the image of Rose from the Doctor’s timeline and planted it so that, after he regenerated, the Doctor would instinctively latch onto a shop-girl who looks just like the conscience of a sentient weapon of mass destruction. Key word is “conscience:” the Doc needed someone who could temper his inner darkness and get him to feel the world again.

  117. trivialpunk says:

    As much as I agree with many of your criticisms, specifically because the Whoniverse feels sort of small and unreal to me now compared to when I got into the show, I would like to mention that, according to the 50th, The Doctor won’t have any memory of saving Gallifrey. The eternal question being: can that be made meaningful? I love the show so very much, but I’ve lost a lot of faith in Moffat’s ability to bring things to a satisfactory crescendo and close. That lack of faith makes getting into the intriguing plots a sort of tiresome affair, because I don’t feel like they’ll go anywhere interesting. I mean, the whole reason we got Gallifrey back was to give The Doctor some more regenerations. Where will this go? What will it mean? I’m eager to conjecture and guess, but I’m sort of losing interest in seeing it on the show. Maybe that’s because a singular manifestation is always a bit of a let-down compared to the infinite possibilities of guessing, but I dunno.

    • I understand that 9, 10 and 11 (up until this point) will not remember this. And in some ways, that cheapens things even further for me. You have these characters who give impassioned, tragic speeches about their mountain of guilt and it’s all for nothing. Matt’s single greatest speech on this show (from Rings of Akhaten) is basically meaningless now from the audience’s perspective. That sucks.

      • trivialpunk says:

        Except that now we know how they feel inside, and that feeling hasn’t changed or been absolved. They have to go on feeling that way, and we know they could stop pining for a tragedy that never occurred, but they can’t. Sure, there’s always loads to criticize, but I find that aspect tragic in its own right.

      • Under a different writer, maybe.

      • I agree – everything you said before actually links right back to this. There is such a lack of consequence that there is no longer any weight to any of the characters’ actions. To me the entire series feels like it’s now written on a whiteboard, adjustable and erasable at Moffat’s wish. And like you oh so eloquently stated “that sucks”.

      • Lucinda says:

        YES. THIS. 1000 TIMES THIS.

        “I have seen things you wouldn’t believe! I have lost things that you will never understand!”

        All of it, shat on by Moffat. All that pain, from Doctors 8 through 11…gone. Wiped out in a single instant on horrible retconning by an incompetent writer.

        Oh my God…the Moment wasn’t there to destroy Gallifrey and the Daleks! It was there to destroy an amazing show! And it worked…Mother of God.

        Seriously, though, please ignore the impassioned, yet incomprehensible rants you’re getting in this comment section. I have found that many of the newer fans (especially those who “watch because the Doctor is cute”) have the mentality of sheep. They receive what they are given and do what they’re told. Overall, very immature and stupid.

        It’s really sad when a fandom goes downhill.

        Hopefully Moffat will retire/step away before the end of Capaldi’s run…and maybe *our* Doctor can return for one last season or two?

  118. You’re absolutely brutal. But make perfect scene… I can’t go on pretending the problems aren’t there.

    My biggest concern with the plot was that the whole reasoning behind the destruction of Gallifrey was because the High Council was about to destroy time and become pure consciousness. The 50th didn’t even address this! “No More” doesn’t even make scene in this context. He just wanted the fighting to stop, yet the end of 10th rein revolved around the High Council trying to end time. Yes, you saved the children, but aren’t they still in danger? It’s possible that they’re going to address this next season… but I don’t think so. Moffat is getting lazy.

    • I’m interested to see if Moffat will address the “Time Lords went crazy” thing. Because that was such a huge part of 10′s reasoning for continuing to damn the Time Lords when the Master nearly freed them last time.

      • hod-the-blind says:

        Thank you, someone else thinks this! It annoyed me to no end that 10′s tragic sacrifice and fight to stop the timelords once more was utterly ignored. It was an intrinsic part of the Doctor from 9 onwards: that he was able and willing to kill every one of his species (including the kids) for the greater good. That entire brilliant scene where they discuss how many children died and whether he counted was made meaningless, as they are all fine and good!

      • Agreed! If it doesn’t get addressed arms will be tossed into the air, profanities will be uttered, angry words will be had, and faith in Moffat will cease to exist.

  119. One question. How old are you?

    On 9 November 1989 the Berlin Wall fell. It wasn’t quite a division between the Cold War era and the post Cold War era, but as symbols go it will do until a better one comes along.

    But for anyone who grew to adulthood in the era of MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction) and the Doomsday Clock, “everyone lives” is not a banal storyline, it’s an unthinkably joyous story line. And I for one, aren’t going to get bored with it any time soon.

    • I didn’t say “Everybody lives!” is a banal storyline, I said it’s banal if it’s overused, as it has been here. It’s very nice that everything works out and that there’s always a deus ex machina, but “everybody lives” is meaningless if nobody ever dies.

    • 20. I’m not going to ask yours since you just tried to compare world war induced events to a television series that’s starting to lack depth. Please refer to Bananas in Pajamas – there is absolutely no death there I assure you.

      • Ooga says:

        Doctor Who has been a kid’s series since 1963 way before you were born and through Davies and Moffat’s eras as well.

        Not quite sure what you’re implying about the Bananas in Pajamas comment when you’re literally upset about a kid’s show.

      • beautyandbeast5 says:

        You don’t need to be 50 years old to know that a television series (for kids or not) cannot compare to real life events. I mean, Trying to imply that wanting more grief (and yes, that may be because we’d like someone – anyone! – to die) in the show is the same as advocating the death of a hundreds of Jews and the devastation caused by the cold war is a little idiotic.

        I was merely offering an alternative where everyone is happy all the time and ‘everybody lives’ for the upset OP.

    • Tallulah says:

      Why do people keep comparing Doctor Who to real life? They are utterly incomparable situations. When a nuclear bomb drops, no one goes, “ooh yay now we get to see the EMOTIONAL FALLOUT!”

      Isn’t that the point and beauty of fiction? To explore humanity/characters in adversity? Moffat presents no adversity, so how are we supposed to care about the character?

  120. Pshaw I say! Pshaw! This reads like a very angry Davies fan, more than actual criticism. Davies used plenty of resets and space magic and love as plot devices over and over; See the end of series 2, 3, 4 and the End of Time: 2 Rose and the Doctor are separated for forever! Nah Rose pops up again in series 4 and even gets a whole Doctor to herself, cause fuck loss. Series 3 space magic literally restores the Doctor and makes him a god for some reason and then when he reverses the paradox nothing happened and no one remembers, except the American president dies, but he was a dick so fuck him and Martha’s family remembers but they get back together so yay. Then series 4 the Earth is moved, thousands if not 100′s of thousands of people die from the Daleks, but in the specials no one cares, its life as you please, and Rose comes back, and Martha is dumb. Then in the End of Time (which I love) the Master comes back because for some reason he trusted a bunch of humans with magic liquids to bring him back to life, then Galifrey literally comes back, which makes way more sense with what happens in the special than them following a diamond out of a time lock and no one remembers/cares that everyone looked like the master or was in weird places or was doing weird things and we get 15 min, at least, of love and goodbyes where the doctor fixes things despite being about to regenerate. And Davies sucks at writing plenty of characters too: Rose’s different dimension parents get back together for no reason other then a happy ending, a huge hatred for any sort of mother character, Martha ‘nough said, etc.
    The author talks about how the grief and loss of what the Doctor did drove the reboot, drove the character and his plot, and it did. For 7 series’ and a ton of specials, it did just that. But that is a long time for any one plot to hold a show together, even one as big as Doctor Who. I say bring back the Time Lords who were antagonists as often as they were helping the Doctor, change things, shake things up. What else is the Doctor going to do build cabinets and eventually go die on transilor? I’ll take modern TV effects Galifrey over that any day.

    • I didn’t say that Davies didn’t use those tropes, but I will certainly say that he often used them more effectively. And even when he did, people like Martha and her family still remembered and we were explicitly told that even the magic reset button didn’t and couldn’t fix everything. My main concern isn’t the lack of destruction, it’s the lack of reaction.

  121. sofie says:

    I never really thought about it, but after reading your article I completely agree. Moffat is infamous for killing off everyone’s favorite characters, but he never really kills them off does he? So why is he so infamous and why do people think he’s been killing characters? Because, in my opinion, him sending people off to some sort of unreachable place is cruel in its own way. You never get any real closure for their permanent dissapearance. You have no idea what happens to them. This can fool you into thinking they’re really dead and you start to hate Moffat, but you still like the show.

    • I think what makes Moffat’s “non-deaths” so cruel is exactly that: it’s not real closure, and you can’t help but think that he leaves them in these positions where they could potentially come back, which feels… cheap.

  122. Anna says:

    … But the point of Doctor Who was never about people dying … It was about logic and compassion winning out over senseless violence and hatred, and the return of Gallifrey captures that perfectly. It shows that there is always another option besides destruction, and that your choices define who you are, and so the Doctor is, ultimately, a good man.

    Moffat and RTD have different writing styles and RTD probably killed more people, but saying the change to Moffat is “killing the show” just because you don’t like his style is a little simple minded.

  123. Fish Eye no Miko says:

    “fans were reeling when Moffat had the show’s eponymous lead jump to his death”

    Moffat didn’t write that episode, Stephen Thompson did. I really wish people would stop using this as an example of Moffat “giving us feels”.

    • Trisana says:

      Also, it’s a modern twist on a story Conan Doyle wrote so that he could *stop writing Sherlock Holmes.* That he then un-did because his fans demanded it. So we all know that’s coming, because we all know that they’re more-or-less following the general ideas of the original stories.

      • Fish Eye no Miko says:

        Yes, exactly! You wanna talk about your “Reichenbach feels!!!”, give the blame/credit to Conan Doyle, for Pete’s sake.

      • I have — multiple times. And it was being used as a further example. Not to mention the fact that Moffat chose, after only six episodes of this show, to use that story. It was written originally by Conan Doyle, but Moffat opted to take that route now, rather than much later in the show’s run. And he chose to use it as an emotional shock.

  124. Rafaela says:

    I don’t agree that bringing gallifrey back is bad, I think it will give fuel to the story, a new objective. And all that grief is not easily forgotten.But I DO agree with the fact that Moffat can’t grasp the particularities of relationships and consequences of losing each other. Clara is the lamest companion so far, even thought the actress is good. She is just… Nothing. There is nothing interesting or stimulating or whatever about her carachter. Also the River/Amy/Rory relationship was super badly explored. They don’t look like a family.
    And I hate his obvious inability to keep the story coherent. Like the author said, it’s all big splashy stuff without much meaning behind, without the subtlety and deepness of the stories from the Davies era. It’s boring.
    I won’t even go on about the sexism in his writing, thought it’s not even a little bit surprising that it is there. Considering how shallow Moffat is, and how everything he says is just common sense and cliches, he is just not interested in giving much significant deep thinking to anything

  125. Ingvild says:

    Oh, and what I forgot to mention: I’m not sure about the return of Gallifrey, but I do think it’s good that he finally has a personal agenda, something to tie it all together, and hopefully we can get some epic season finale on Gallifrey.

    • Here’s the thing: I actually love the idea of bringing back Gallifrey. I had kind of hoped that, like the Daleks, there was just an outlying group of Time Lords that we’d eventually run into, but as someone who started with the new series, the idea of bringing back something that was an integral part of the show back in the classic years is exciting. I just hate the way it was done.

      And I do agree that there’s an enormous amount of hope that with a clear agenda, Moffat might be able to turn Capaldi’s first season into something more cohesive, something a little more like Smith’s first season. Because the lack of a cohesive arc has really been bothering me.

      • Packetdancer says:

        I actually agree with a lot of what you’ve said in principle. I have a number of issues with Moffat as show-runner, including that he’s averse to consequences. I could write an extremely lengthy essay on why I personally think he’s not the best show-runner, though admittedly that’s all just my opinion and I’ll spare you the diatribe.

        However, there’s a place I disagree with you: this one time, I am completely okay with the removal of consequence Moffat’s prone to.

        For fifty years now, Doc has been running *away* from things. First he was running away from the rules and regulations and restrictions of Gallifrey, off to be a rogue Time Lord. Then he was running from his responsibilities as Lord President. If you bring the Eighth Doctor audio dramas into it (which, more or less, we did due to Night of the Doctor) then he was eventually running from several losses—including his own great-grandson, Susan’s son Alex. Then, finally, he was running from the consequences and the guilt of his own actions during the Time War.

        After the Day of the Doctor, for the first time, he actually has something huge to run *towards* as he tries to find Gallifrey again. And *that* shift seems to me to be a change on a level appropriate to the 50th anniversary.

        So, as much as I usually dislike the magic wiping away of consequences that Moffat’s prone to, “just this once” (to steal the quote from The Doctor Dances), I’m okay with undoing the consequences of hard choices.

  126. Ingvild says:

    I didn’t actually think about most of this before, but when you say it, I see you are right. I love most of the episodes Moffat wrote in the first seasons, but I really don’t think he should have taken over as head writer. I feel like he tries to make it all as complicated as possible, without really explaining things properly, and of course, he is terrible with characters. I do like the Ponds, and I love River, but it’s true what you say that there isn’t enough emotion or developement, not enough risk, and it might just be the actors carrying it. And don’t even get me started about the Rory deaths. When it comes to Clara, I wish she would just magically disappear. I don’t even care how unrealistic. Just get her off the show. I really don’t like it when they have some great mystery or whatever. I want a Doctor Who like the first seasons of the reboot, where he could just grab a stranger’s hand and whisper “run.”

    • The weirdest thing about his over-complication is that it all leads to such a disappointing resolution. In many ways, it’s usually the most obvious one, too, and yet in the time we spend getting there it’s made to seem like this enormous and incomprehensible puzzle.

      And the problem with River and the Ponds is that we’re repeatedly told that he loves them dearly and they’re his greatest companions/friends/lovers, but the actually stories don’t support that. Saying it isn’t enough.

      I do love Clara, though.

      • Ingvild says:

        What you say about the Ponds (including River) is actually very true. I feel like there is way too much we don’t get to see in their relationship. When we first saw River and she told him she had travelled with him and all that, I imagined she’d turn up later as a regular companion. Maybe she did have more adventures with him, but I wish we could see more of it. As for Amy and Rory, I feel like they got a fair amount of screen time, actually, but maybe there should have been more emotional scenes with them and less running around having fun? (Not that you don’t bond over running around having fun, but still.)

        At this point I can’t really explain why I don’t like Clara. Maybe because it feels like everyone (including Moffat), views her as a special snowflake (without irony), maybe because she magically has been in all the Doctor’s lives, maybe she’s just too sweet… Or maybe this post in a way explains it…?: http://inspecjean.tumblr.com/post/65543265924/tenxrosetyler-i-think-this-is-it-i-think#Notes

        It might just be because she’s the new girl, and that’s not her fault at all, but I’m an old and bitter lover of Rose Tyler and River Song ;)

  127. Sebastian says:

    All so true and ironically Moffat pretty much said it himself (through the awesome voice of john hurt) – “Great men are forged in fire, it is the privilege of lesser men to light the flames”…how prosaic moffat, except you didn’t light the flames did you?

    • The funny thing is that Moffat often says that about his own legacy on the show — that he treats it like he owns it specifically because he doesn’t. But it’s not that he has to treat the show with deference or respect, it’s that he has to take it somewhere new. And that’s what I feel he isn’t doing.

      • Tholomyes says:

        See, I feel the opposite. In my eyes, it was RTD who acted as though he owned the show, by making huge departures from the nearly three decades worth of classic canon (and more, if you include the audio dramas that continued even after the series was canceled). Thus anyone who wanted to return to a dynamic similar to that of the classic series would have to be seen as ‘retcon’er or a revisionist. RTD basically, by virtue of being the first showrunner of the revived series got to enforce his view of the series moreso than anyone since Verity Lambert in the 60s.

        I don’t think it’s that Moffat doesn’t want to take it somewhere new, but rather that he doesn’t have the same power that RTD did to direct the series in the way he wishes it to go, and if that direction is different than RTD’s, then people complain that all he’s doing is going backwards.

  128. Synesthete says:

    I personally would disagree with most of this article. As well written as it is, it doesn’t appear to take into account other types of grief; death is not, by any means, the only way in which grief in caused. Take, for example, the entire story of River and the Doctor. They spend their lives learning more about the other while the other they learn more about knows less and less about them each time they’re together. Imagine the grief of knowing that, one day, you will have your last kiss with the man you love (or woman, but we’re talking about River here) and that you know it at the time.

    It is true, without some grief the show would not be as strong as with it. However, I would argue that the ‘plot change’ where Galifrey is saved, if you can call it a plot change, does not diminish the show, but build on it, including on the grief the doctor suffers. Any person who has lived through a traumatic event will know that the grief does not disappear because of a change in perception; here the grief would merely be lessened. The Doctor still has to live with his own intentions to commit double genocide, as well as the belief that he had for several hundred years. That pain would be hard to ignore, even if the thing about which you grieve no longer exists as you once thought.

    All people’s grief manifests in a different way. By leaving Rory, Amy’s true love (the one man she loved more than the Doctor), she is causing herself unimaginable grief for his sake, believing it to be the best for him. Meanwhile, Rory is heartbroken, believing Amy to no longer want to be with him, and not knowing her true intentions. Anyone who has been through the pain of a break-up, no matter how short the relationship, will have at least a small insight into their pain, though until experiencing the loss of a child it would be difficult to really understand. But we can imagine. And since Amy has grown in the Doctor’s company and become a more intelligent and powerful woman, her new direction in life shows how it affected her mentally.

    As for Clara, we are led to believe the only reason she is alive is to help the doctor. Her death’s are not about the pain of dying, they are initially about his inability to save her. She is there every time, but only one can live because only one should actually exist; the others are merely there because she is littered through his timeline. It is not that Clara does not express grief at continually having to die, but that she does not continually have to die. It is a different Clara every time and no two share memories. And not that much happens to the Clara that jumps into his timeline, so why should she be expected to show grief that doesn’t exist for her?

    Finally the giant reset button; it wouldn’t really make sense if the entire universe was destroyed or never existed, would it? The whole point of the show is to play with time and create pockets or important events within pockets, nested importance, if you will. When some episodes begin, it is like opening a parenthesis, and when they close so does the set of brackets. It never happened, thus never alters time and space, however it stays in the characters’ minds and forever alters the way they see the world. There are personal consequences to every ‘adventure’ they have, but we shouldn’t expect to see into their minds every time. That is now how people are.

    • Death is absolutely not the only type of grief. And I think if I misrepresented one part of my argument, it was in implying that *only* through death can the kind of resonance I’m asking for be achieved. Frankly, even the scenes with Amy and Rory could’ve been more tragic if more effort had been put into their back stories, their home lives, their motivations, their emotions, their feelings and if we saw them really and truly grow.

      Instead, we’re told again and again that they’re so important and so special and that the Doctor loves them dearly, but we don’t really *see* that and we don’t really feel it — and that’s the trouble.

      And the River storyline is potentially very tragic, but again — I just didn’t feel it. And why? Because I cannot believe that a woman stolen from her parents as a baby, raised by an organization hellbent on killing the Doctor, trained as an assassin who then studied to be an archaeologist has ZERO emotional problems or issues with trust. I don’t believe that she mostly walks around being sassy and sexual. I don’t believe that she would fall in love with her target that she has been trained to hate from the moment she was born. I don’t believe any of that. So River’s storyline is robbed of any real resonance because it makes no sense and no human being would behave the way she does.

      • Sera says:

        I have other thoughts on this on the whole, but this in particular just made me want to scream THIS!

        The way that Moffat did River’s story line really bothered me. I think, at the very least, there should have been more time spent on it. Her story line was an incredibly complex idea, that I was all for, but it never really gets developed on screen, which leaves the viewer with your kind of reaction.

        I can believe that she fell in some kind of love with the Doctor, but it wouldn’t have been any kind of healthy love. There’s a kind of reverse Stockholm Syndrome, where the aggressor comes to care for their victim, but it’s not any kind of healthy thing. I think, in some twisted way, in the beginning, she kind of had something for him that was tangled up in her obsession with him, but it wasn’t anything good (it couldn’t be). She was, as you mentioned, brainwashed into wanting to kill him (and the way she chose to do it should say something, too). That doesn’t just go away in a few short hours. Maybe over time, but, seriously, not in a few hours.

        Not to mention, she’s kind of treated like her story doesn’t really matter, and we only see it in spurts. I wish she had been given more screen time to fill in the gaps between one extreme to the other. The entirety of her story just feels like it was a second thought on the part of the writers and that just did her a terrible injustice.

      • Jenny says:

        Beliefs are not stories. Your “beliefs” are irrelevant to whether or not a story is good. It’s like saying “I don’t like blue balloons therefore blue balloons cannot be liked.” The two ideas are not one and the same. The question is, does one have to believe in the Doctor’s assistants to enjoy the Doctor? The question has always been no. I blame this current feeling of being ripped off by Moffat on Davies who introduced a brand new generation of fans to a show about spunky women and the man who happens to be an alien that comes across them instead of a show about an renegade alien and the women who happen to run across him.

  129. Lonnie says:

    Hey Guys sorry got through most of the comments and agree and disagree with a them. If someone stated or said this already sorry but I may not have had the time to read these ones.

    Anyway to the point. I have no problem with actually bring back of Galifrey (I may be spelling this wrong) and I know all the time lines and the reasons the doctor was angry and everything while 9, 10 AND 11 (Sorry now changing my numbers for anyone) are still intact. My issue is with character development and Moffat. I know most people agree he really just can’t do it and now we have an almost brand spanking new doctor who’s character development was mainly based off an event he now knows never happened. Whats that mean folks? Well it means now we must rely on Moffat to redevelop the doctors character. Translation we now have a flat doctor, a flat companion, and a flat show which only relies on big sparkly events (since Moffat took over) to make it a show. I have scared for the future of this show and I hope that Moffat steps down as soon as possible.

    Also the article itself was great but I am almost positive the security guard you spoke up is not a guard he was a detective with the police department. Someone please correct me but I have find a negative in the article and that was the easy one.

    • Yeah, you’re right — I’m not sure why I thought he was a security guard. I’ll change it in the article.

    • Jenny says:

      The show has broke screening records, viewing records, and the usa audience is bigger than ever and viewing in other countries reached highs as well and you’re scared for the future of the show?

      Thank goodness you weren’t alive during the 80′s. You lot might’ve offed yourselves when you heard it was going on hiatus and they fired Colin.
      Such overreaction.

  130. Pterodactyl says:

    I am really confused, how can you have a Time War that takes place in one single time and one single place – wouldn’t this just be a ‘war’? Even if America blew up they would still have so many foreign military bases and aircraft carriers and navy ‘out there’. Was not one single Time Lord away on holiday at this time?

    • It’s called the Time War in the show because it was the Time Lords vs. the Daleks. Two time-travelling races fighting for time supremacy or something.

      • shhdontlook says:

        Yeah but I always did imagine they were messing with Time itself, and that’s why they (both Daleks AND Timelords) were a danger to the Universe.

      • Pterodactyl says:

        Thanks for replying, I just don’t get why two time traveling races would chose to wage war in the most un-time-travelley of ways.

    • Jenny says:

      Therein leaves your problem. It could never have been a Time War as RTD stated. The whole going back and forth over and over across time having Time Lords die and then regen and having whole races be wiped out and brought back

      (this is supposedly before the Last Day in which Rassilon creates the Final Sanction despite the fact it went against all previous characterizations in which Rassilon found immortality abhorrent which is why he had the Death Zone set up and obstacles placed to get to the Tower. Any Time Lord who reached the end would be turned to stone as punishment for trying to achieve the secret to immortality.)

      The idea was that it creates so many paradoxes that event becomes timelocked. But when an event is spread out over all of space and time then how does it become timelocked? Surely then all of time and space would become deadlocked.

      Who knows? Another thing Davies never explained/waffled on. Up there with “The Woman” “The Face of Boe”

  131. Sparrowthetimelord (tumblr) says:

    i have watched since 2005, rose was the idol growing up.
    i see myself as more of a clara.

    not all young women are a martha or a donna.

    anything can happen in the doctor who universe, theres no real limits to what ridiculous
    sci-fi things he can do, i like it that way, anything is possible.

    clara is a big sister, a listener, she speaks when it seems words are needed. thats me too.

    people have kids and can never have them again, the ponds almost divorcing showed that the doctor can’t fix everything.

    i really can’t fault moffat after ‘the day of the doctor’

    • I disagree — Martha, Rose and Donna were far more real than River or Amy or Clara. I like Clara a lot, but the trouble with the characterization of Moffat’s women is that they start out normal and then are stretched and tortured and warped and they don’t seem to change at all. Much lesser things happen to Martha, Rose and Donna and they change enormously.

      • Jenny says:

        Rose refused to let go of the Doctor so much her boyfriend left her in the parallel dimension because she was so awful to him. Rose was the worst characterization because she always had ZERO CONSEQUENCES for anything she ever did.

        Look into the Time Vortex which previously when done had ripped whole demi gods like Omega to shreds, nothing happens. She gets kissed and everything is right as right as rain again after the doc regens.

        Davies had a lot to play with. The after effects of that should have given her nightmares or PTSD. I mean she saw all of time and space including the dawn of time and the old gods who were hideous creatures that caused chaos and pain. and the universe running out where time ceases to exist and all that’s left are beings that can exist without bodies or waking conscious.

        Nope, Rose is perfectly fine with just that good old girl next door pluck of hers! Let’s hear it for the boring girls! Davies: See girls! You don’t need education, wit, or even to be a real person to save the day. You just need a little magic to go super sayian and all is right. No, don’t worry nothing bad will ever happen to you.”

        I could understand if the Doctor had erased her memory of Bad Wolf but he didn’t. Which he should have.

        So Rose remembers all of time and space but it’s done nothing to her? At all?

        Can we talk about the fact the way Davies wrote about Rose was always how she wasn’t intelligent but could still save the day cuz grrrl powa! He had no concept that women were anything more than shop girls or secretaries and the one he managed to do right with, Martha, he made her suffer the most by making her the Doctor’s emotional rebound.

        In New Earth the Doctor gets suspicious the moment Cassandra!Rose knows about the different wards of a hospital. I mean really? That’s what the Doctor thinks of Rose’s intelligence? She wouldn’t know a hospital has an intensive care unit?

        The rest of it is perfectly logical. His suspicion over the fact she knows what a subframe is or that she is unconcerned with people dying but the initial first reaction is that he knows it’s not Rose because the person in front of him is smart enough to know the different wards of a hospital.

        Then can we talk about how the two white people portrayed on the show treat their non white companions as secondary and almost emotionally abusive while they search their way back to each other?

        Davies was not the best writer either or even better than Moffat. He was just a different kind of jerk. Not everything is a choice between the lesser evil. Sometimes both people are equally as problematic.

  132. Cat says:

    Yes. A hundred times, yes.

    I’ve tried really, really hard to love the Moffat era, but I’ve come to admit that I just can’t. I thought it was just me being stubborn, but then I noticed my gf starting to shout during the episodes because nothing made sense, from the plot (that we often excuse in dr who) to, more important, characters reactions (that were, for most of the times, greatly written) instead of trying very hard no to cry like she used to do in RTD era.

    That’s the very first thing I hate now : this show does not move me anymore. I used to feel something and I still cry like a little girl every time I see Donna being mindwiped. When Amy and Rory were displaced by an Angel, the only thing I felt was “great, not too soon.” The actors are really good, particularly Karen, but they just don’t have anything to feel. My daughter’s gone ? Yeah, no big deal.

    Someone mentionned that Dr Who was a kid show after all, and so on. As I remember, classic Who used to make Kids cower and hide behind the sofa. It used to make them fear as much as make them laugh : it used to make them FEEL something. My young cousin whom i got into Dr Who confessed to me that Moffat Who is fun, cool, flashy, but really boring. To him, it’s become a comedy show that he just watch from time to time waiting for the one line puns and the flashy cgi. Yay. (Whereas he refused to answer me about how he felt at the end of Doomsday…)

    back to the 50th, there’re few things people don’t seem to realize or talk about, with the Gallifrey reboot :
    - Time Lords are now cool people again ! Yeah, sure they were partly assholes during classics, full evil assholes during RTD and now they’re back to nice. No big deal. Timey-Wimey wibbly-wobbly lamy-drooly.
    - Also suddenly crossing your own timeline is not a big deal, be it one, twice or thirteen times at a time but i guess that’s now the norm since The Big Bang where a doctor could just jump into a plothole to save himself from the past. Keep you wondering why he doesn’t do that every time, or why he doesn’t rewind time everytime he’s faced with a tough… oh, shoot, he already does it.
    - Time Lords are now LAME people ! Aren’t they supposed to be on par with the Daleks in warfare and/or tech ? Come one, were are the battle tardis we heard about ? Where are the “forbidden weapons” we barely hear about ? Where is the REAL battle that made EVERYONE ELSE IN THE UNIVERSE COWER IN FEAR ? (including Cass in the mini prequel written by Moffat himself, goddammit !) All we saw here was an invasion of Daleks, not a Time War. Seriously, mere humans acted more fiercy during the the double invasion of cybermen and daleks, and they had nothing to fight them.
    - Time Lords and Daleks are now the only one involved in the Time War ! And, mind you, only on Gallifrey. We wouldn’t want the mother of all wars to impact anyone else in the universe, like we’ve been told several time since the reboot.

    Like someone else in the comments said, at this point I’m convinced Moffat just want to rewrite everything RTD set up because he doesn’t like it, because his vision of the Doctor doesn’t fit with it. There is some real concern here and I can see the reason behind this.
    I can understand it, but i can’t accept it. I guess I’ll just need to wait ’till Moffat leave his throne to watch doctor who again.

    Sorry for the long comment. I’m tired and depressed, because Dr Who got me out of depression and it feels there’s nothing left to continue it.

  133. Jarka (@SV_lover) says:

    Great article. Beautifully written. Thank you for this.

  134. This is perfect and sums up all of my problems with the Moffat era. There are no stakes when there’s no risk and you know the status quo will be restored by the end of the episode/season. You can get invested in these characters because they’re not actually characters who grow and change, they remain the same or when they change (The Girl Who Waited) a reset button is pushed, and it’s a clean slate all over again.

  135. fever-hit-I-quit says:

    I agree. Moffat actually made me stop watching Doctor Who. My parents were sure to introduce me to the series as a child, so the idea of staying away from it really made me uncomfortable and I missed the Doctor, so I came back.

    I’ve been severely unimpressed. I could go on, but I’ll stick to the points you’ve made as to not make this a war with other people. Much love to the people that love Moffat and the direction of NuWho.

    Bringing back Gallifrey was such a mistake. I understand that the 9th and 10th and even the 11th (or the 10th, 11th, and 12th?) Doctors will not remember that Gallifrey was saved. But the fact that it was, really does dampen the meaning behind it, especially the 12th (I’m going to stick with 12th and if this is the 13th Doctor…then, it’s the last one we’re getting!) Doctor’s story line. “Hey, you know that moment that defined your life and basically changed the way that you view others, yourself, and the universe….well, it never actually happened. YAY!”

    So while, yes, the previous Doctor’s still shoulder that burden, it basically becomes meaningless once the 11th Doctor finds out that hey, home is still out there. That grief and anger now seems like a sizzle. It doesn’t feel real anymore. I’ll admit, I am a fan of “angst,” and I understand this is still a show aimed at children, but Moffat has basically covered the Who!World in bubble wrap and bumper guards. How can I invest in these characters, in the story line, where there’s no character that I can grow with, when the story line has no consequence?

    I’m really hoping Capaldi is the shake of the shoulders that this show needs. I miss it. I miss looking forward to it.

  136. cabbages says:

    Been leaving replies all over here but I’m ashamed to have forgotten to thank you for the article. It’s a very clear outline of why I feel so numb watching Doctor Who lately. I really miss when the Doctor’s actions, good or bad or ambiguous, had consequences.

  137. It’s actually interesting that people are complaining about “too little grief”. As far as I’m concerned, this is a kids show. And I’m not saying that kids must be treated like idiots or be spared of consequences. They’re seeing it in a controllable enviroment that a TV show offers, but still… Kids show. Meaning: it can’t be all about death and sorrow. We know for a fact that the basis of this show is change, which means that the Doctor always say goodbye to his companions and allies.

    Giving the characters a “weak” death is, without a doubt, a way of, well, easing the sorrow, so we don’t get a sad ending, but instead a bittersweet one.

    Gallifrey coming back to the picture does not erase the arc of the previous seasons, since the Doctor does NOT remember he didn’t blow them up, so this argument is invalid. And even after knowing that he didn’t destroy his planet, he lived hundreds of years with this burden — it’s not like it’s going to be erased from who he is now. He knows what he felt like, it’s now an undeniable part of him.

    That said, no, I don’t mind (most) of the “characters deaths”. I just find Amy and Rory’s ending, for instance, pretty unnecessary. Apparently every single companion now has to be completely erased from the picture, otherwise they would never let go of the Doctor, which doesn’t make much sense to me. Martha’s departure should be utilised more often. Amy and Rory could easily say “well, that was lovely, now it’s time to grow up” and go home, and the Doctor could pop in for a visit every ten years or so. That’s one of my problems with Moffat. Instead of giving them those “weak” deaths you talk about, I’d be pretty happy if (most) of them said “goodbye and have a nice life” (which I guess, for you, would be worse than “weak deaths” =P).

    From my point of view, the endings aren’t the real problem in Moffat’s writings. It’s the characters. When it comes to this, I absolutely agree with you. Clara is the most shining example of his lack of skill. Amy was already very annoying and completely underdeveloped. But I feel like Clara isn’t even a character, she’s merely a plot device that talks. And a very bad plot device, I must say. Series 7 was dreadful, but not for the lack of real death or consequences, as you put it, but for the lack of real characters.

    Give me Donna Noble back any day, sir.

    • cabbages says:

      Before I launch into a really long ramble, I just want to agree 1000% that Moffat’s writing for his characters is awfully sketchy. I can pin down specific moments when I’ve loved Amy and Rory and River and so on but they’ve never felt fully conceived. I want so badly to like Clara but I just couldn’t care less about her or her relationship with the Doctor because there really wasn’t much of one (aside from a lot of lying) and the episodes suffered for it.

      I’d argue however that Series 7 was at least partially dreadful because of the lack of real death or consequences. For starters, seeing Clara “die” twice already removed any sense of peril that she faced as a companion, since even if she did “die” there’s probably more out there, and even when she threw herself into the Doctor’s timeline her consciousness wasn’t actually ripped to shreds and scattered to the winds the way River described. She just kind of… floated and groped around in a void. And then was pulled out again after suffering no damage that we can see whatsoever (no consequences!). Also, the Doctor never faced any real consequences at all for lying to her, which sucks since it would have been a fantastic moment to give her a character moment.

      Anyway, on to the rest.

      I don’t think the central argument is that the show has to be all death and sorrow as it is that Moffat’s reputation as a guy who writes kill-em-all tragedies isn’t very well-grounded, especially when most of his character deaths are soft and bittersweet at best, as you say.

      As for the whole business of the Doctor not remembering and how that doesn’t change his character, well, here’s a quote from Moffat about the reason for the reset that’s been floating around:

      “I remember thinking, ‘what was the most important occasion in the Doctor’s life?’ Obviously it was the day he blew up Gallifrey. Then I tried to imagine what writing that scene would be like, and I thought literally – there’s kids on Gallifrey and he’s going to push the button. He wouldn’t. He wouldn’t. I don’t care what’s at stake, he’s not going to do it. So that was the story – of course he never did that. He couldn’t have. He’s the Doctor, he’s the man who doesn’t do that. He’s defined by the fact that he doesn’t do that. Whatever the cost, he will find another way. So it had to be the story of what really happened that he’s forgotten. Of course he didn’t! He’s Doctor Who. He doesn’t do things like that.”

      tl;dr: This does fundamentally change his character because the guy running the show and wrote the episode specifically stated that the Doctor would never, ever have blown up Gallifrey and that is entirely the basis of the retcon. It DOES invalidate Nine and Ten’s past characterization because they were men who decidedly DID do it.

      And even if he had never been quoted saying that the Doctor “just doesn’t do things like that”, while on a narrative level the Doctor not remembering does not affect the events of the series or the pain the Doctor goes through the fact of the matter is that in the audience I will always know that his angst and self-flagellation and death-seeking and eventual acceptance that shaped his character was based on something he’d forgotten, a lie he told himself. When I watch the Dalek Emperor taunting the Doctor in the Parting of The Ways I’ll always be thinking, “Would he still have said he would prefer to be a coward if he knew that he saved his people? Would he still be ‘the Exterminator’?” When I watch Turn Left I’ll be thinking, “Would the Doctor have been willing to die with the Racnoss if he knew his people were still out there and he wasn’t alone in the universe?”

      The origin story for NuWho’s Doctor, whether people like it or not, is that he killed them all and he did it because until a week ago there was no other way to stop the destructive, galaxy and era spanning chaotic mess that was the Time War, where the armies on both sides were monsters and they were dragging the rest of the universe down with them. Retconning this is just a terrible way to resolve the Doctor’s angst, especially when for all I could see, he was already over the worst of his guilt by the end of Season 5. It ruins it for me. It’s like if Batman’s parents never died and they just went into hiding or had amnesia or whatever. Banging on about how nothing’s changed is just patently wrong because on an in-story and meta level it’s all been rewritten.

      Phew. Apologies for the length; I’d cut it if I knew how.

      • Jarka (@SV_lover) says:

        And The Fires of Pompeii! He DID it there! He killed all of the people because he had no other choice.

      • I agree with you when it comes to Clara, I just have one thing to add: as underdeveloped as she is, I don’t think Clara’s deaths were the central part of her bad characterization, because it “ruins” consequences to her. I thought if she was a REALLY convincing character, she’d be the mysterious one. The *real* impossible girl, and her story wouldn’t be about this kind of consequence (death), but the opposite: how would she feel, what would be the consequences for a girl who cannot die and is scattered around the Doctor’s timeline?
        According to the canon so far, none. And THAT is what bothers. I also agree with you: whatever happened to her and the Doctor when they came out of his timeline? HOW did they manage? Why they didn’t suffer anything? (One could argue that The Day of The Doctor is still inside his timeline, so the retcon could be considered a lie, but I don’t think that is the case).

        Anyway, back to Gallifrey. When I first saw that it was about the Time War on the theater, I didn’t like it. I’ve written a small review in Portuguese (my native language) about that. To me, the Time Wars were something so dreadful, so dark, so absolutely out of proportion, that should never be depicted on screen. Because in the rare occasions that the Doctor mentions it, it sounds so dark, so extreme, and when we see it for real, it always takes away this feeling of dread. So no, I didn’t want to see the Time Wars on screen — let alone be told that they were “undone” in a way.

        Did I love that Gallifrey came back? Hell, no! I, like you, prefer a Doctor that made something as extreme as blowing up his whole planet and had to live with that than this version now. However, I can’t deny that knowing that Gallifrey is somewhere out there is a good perspective for a new series, his search for Gallifrey. Though I can see many other ways that he could’ve something like this hope without saving the entire planet.

        In any case, by the end of the episode, I had kind of accepted that Gallifrey stands.

        About Moffat’s quote: well, I had never seen it and I didn’t like what I read. Is it weird of me to think that the Doctor *is* that kind of a man who blows up his planet, even though he didn’t? I don’t think though that, as much as Moffat says that, this is so strong in the TV show. Nine and Ten AND Eleven were men who did it. In their heads, even if it was a lie, they did it. I believe that someone’s personal beliefs are much stronger than reality — if you believe you did something awful when in fact you didn’t, your headcanon says you did.

        You can still think about all these questions, “would he have reacted that way if he knew the truth?”, but it would be for no use. Wondering the “what ifs” does not change the beliefs of the character that *make* him who he is. And yes, I’m completely ignoring Moffat’s inner motivations and taking everything from the tv screen. Because I don’t care abou his motivations, I care about what’s on the show. Hopefully he will not write that line saying the Doctor is not that kind of a guy.

        So, to sum it up: it bothered me that he delved into the Time War and “changed it”, but by the end I accepted (not that happily, but I accepted). I believe the characterization of the Doctor does not change, though based in a lie (how many lies do we tell ourselves everyday and make us who we are?). Too many unanswered questions about how the Doctor and Clara got out of his timeline. He can’t write proper characters. And I want Clara to go away as soon as possible, even though I see other 2334 problems in her departure, which makes her existence even more annoying.

  138. : It’s about a) the feelz and b) teh klever. It’s serving up emotional impact to people who want their to be lots of emotional impact by having ‘splosions and kidnapped bebbehs and heavy romantic luv and then serving twists(?) via double-triple-quintuple bluffs and withheld information that make the audience get relief from the death or unfortunances previously served up… which brings on more happy feelz. In shorter form, fanwank.

    Big action, zero consequence. It reminds me of a line from “As Good As It Gets” when Melvin answers the question about how he manages to write such amazing romances.

    • That said, the 50th anniversary special very specifically addressed the notion of the Doctor’s guilt over his committed genocides. The freedom from the guilt only comes for Eleven/whatever-number-he-is-now and the following incarnations. Yes, it was a bit hand-wavey, but it’s something that’s been done before (memory loss) and so is fair game. (Meh, but fair game.) I enjoyed the much of the special, primarily for nostalgia reasons. I’ve been watching the show since 1977, and it was nice to feel something good about the show since I really haven’t since about the end of the 2006 series. I’ve been a writer and actor (and occasional director) for stage and film/video for twenty years, and the show frequently’s driven me to distraction with how it’s been handled since 2006. I’ll take whatever thrill I can find in the show when- and wherever I can. It’s so rare these days, alas.

  139. Meggie Muff says:

    Eloquently put. I completely agree. Moffat has begun to ruin the show for me, thanks for being able to spell out why for me.

  140. Mireo says:

    I have nothing good to add here, but I just wanted to say I totally agree with your analysis, 10000%.

  141. Beth says:

    I agree with some of this but how can you call the man who came up with Captain Jack Harkness Homophobic? His best friend is also gay. I fail to see how Moffat is homophobic.

    • I don’t think Moffat is enormous homophobic, but he occasionally writes some dumb lines that rub people the wrong way. That said, Russell T. Davies came up with Jack, as a character, Moffat was just the first person to write for him.

      • Jenny says:

        I don’t know if Moffat is or isn’t homophobic. I think that is a very charged term to throw at someones character. Does he queerbait? Yes and it’s bullshit. He thinks he’s giving the fans what they want by feeding into fan service but without a payoff it alienates actual LGBTQ fans. Same issue with say Supernatural, Teen Wolf, Hawaii Five-0, House, and Rizzoli and Isles.

        Is it Moffat or is it that the people running these shows like Moffat are all around the same generation? The generation when people started coming out and LGBTQ became a think you knew about but still couldn’t talk about?

        They seem to think that their version of subtext is enough for fans who are tired of the generations before them never moving the needles enough on queer rights or representation. They confuse the queer side of the fandoms for simple fan fiction writers and thus think they are giving the audience want they want. Squee subtext to write dirty stories on but that’s not what queer representation is.

        On the other hand, Davies despite being homosexual was so unwilling to give any visibility to pansexuals he refused to call Jack pansexual and referred to omnisexual instead which isn’t a correct term but does mean the same thing. He had Jack say “Oh your orientations are so…QUAINT” which is a huge slap in the face to pans who finally had a character on TV only he wasn’t called pan and worse yet just because I guess gay men have visibility like Davies providing visibility for other orienations didn’t matter.

        It’s not enough it was inferred he was pansexual. Especially since he also referred to him as bisexual which means he wasn’t even clear on what he wanted him to be bringing it to the first paragraph.

        The fact other non monosexual identities are so interchangeable and “quaint” is highly offensive. So I don’t know why you think it’s such a crime to be homophobic (iyo) but make no reference to how Davies engaged in bi and pan erasure.

        Furthermore, Jack Harkness was a mixed back for non monos. It shows how desperate we are for visibility that we even are willing to overlook the fact that the character provided negative stereotypes of us as all wanting to fck anything that moves but even when we capitulate and still want to be attached to the character we are erased with a made up term that mean THE EXACT SAME THING. :P

        It’s not a matter of whether or not Moffat was/is homophobic so much as was Davies really good at portraying LGBTQ characters other than homosexual men? Jack was supposed to be Pansexual but ended mainly with men. Davies instead of owning up to his own bias towards representing his orientation solely insulted loads of people by inferring it wasn’t the fault of his writing or his bias but the sexuality itself.

        “The problem with bisexual men is you usually end up falling into the trap of having them only sleep with men.”-Davies Well you know he was the show runner on both shows. He could have fixed that. He didn’t want to and it was only when non monos called him an erasing jerk I believe in some review on some website did he even address the matter and it sounded more like trying to spin the damage than actual legitimate understanding.

  142. Owl says:

    Woah woah woah. I was accepting what you said until the part about homophobia. I disagree with your comments about Moffat, but I respect that that’s how you feel. However, you seem to be forgetting the fact that at the moment two major companions happen to be an inter-species lesbian couple. And let’s not forget the Doctor/Rory kiss in 07×02. Just because the Moffat era doesn’t have a Captain Jack Harkness, doesn’t mean he’s homophobic.

    • Admittedly it was a throw-away line that I should have qualified better. I don’t think he’s a gay-basher, but I do think that his attitude toward homosexuality is often a little… gimmicky and questionable.

      • r1pvanw1nkl3 says:

        Either qualify it or take it out of your article. It being there illegitimatizes the rest of your points.

      • For a lot of people who’ve followed criticism of Moffat’s era as show runner, it is a point that serves as a familiar reminder to many, many other posts and comments that have been written over the past few years. I threw it in there as a nod toward that, and I’ve also written a previous article myself tackling Moffat’s sexism. With the utmost respect, I thank you for your imput but I will leave it as it is.

      • Ehrich says:

        I think the “gimmicky and questionable” would be better explained by an example, because I failed to see this. Moffat gave us, for example, a lesbian couple who area trully attached and not a caricature of a couple.

      • Pipi says:

        Moffat and Gatiss wouldn’t be such good friends if S.M. was homophobic… I’m gay and I don’t see any homophobia in DW :) Also, I don’t think he’s sexist (and I’m a woman)

      • That’s not how it works.

    • I just want to jump in and say that just because Moffat included a kiss between two men does not mean he’s automatically incapable of being homophobia. Not that I’d accuse him of being homophobic specifically — in my opinion, he’s done a piss poor job of representing bisexuality (Clara’s “just a phase” line is one among many).

  143. Anna says:

    I think your conclusions specifically about the weeping angel stories are wrong. Just because the characters don’t die on screen in front of the audience – and I’m thinking of Amy and Rory, of course, less so the characters from Blink – definitely does NOT mean that no grieving occurs. We see the doctor become emotional, and I know that I became emotional watching it. I’m sure many other viewers did as well. No, Moffat does not follow up with an episode of the Doctor mourning his companions. But has the show ever done that? Why would that be a good plot device? There is plenty of grief in this show, and just because it isn’t done to your particular taste doesn’t mean it isn’t there. As they say, everyone grieves differently.

    Now, I have my problems with Moffat and his character development as well. And that he does spend a fair bit of time putting in convenient plot twists that we’ve seen no previous clues to (Amy and Rory growing up with a previously unmentioned friend who is their daughter springs to mind). But, in fairness – this show is 50 years old. The character of the Doctor has been through so many adventures that, honestly, to expect the show to keep on going and attracting viewers without changing big things would be foolish.

    Also, to echo a point above – your criticism on the Sherlock point is meaningless because Moffat did not invent the character of Sherlock, and nor did he invent him faking his death. You can thank Arthur Conan Doyle for disliking his character, and his fans for pestering him without end, for that plot twist.

    • cabbages says:

      “No, Moffat does not follow up with an episode of the Doctor mourning his companions. But has the show ever done that? Why would that be a good plot device?”

      That was literally the entirety of Season 3. Also School Reunion was somewhat about that, about how they all leave anyway. And it comes up in Season 4 + the specials. I mean I know Ten was ~the angsty one~ but it’s not like the Doctor moping around after a companion isn’t a thing. And besides, the Doctor did mourn the loss of Amy and Rory in The Snowmen.

      The point isn’t that there’s no dwelling on the sad things that happened, it’s just that their deaths are just really not all that sad (at least to me). Amy and Rory grow old and die together, at a moment when they’re already thinking they may have to move on with their life from the Doctor anyway. They’re apart from their friends and family, but because we never knew their friends and family or their relationships all that well apart from Brian it didn’t seem so bad. (“P.S.” was the only thing that about their leaving that truly gutted me.) The Doctor’s upset but he gets over it, as he must.

      Besides that, I think OP’s point is that Moffat’s character deaths are never all that tragic because they all die in the most weak ways possible, where their status is “dead, but not really” (if they die at all).

      • Tholomyes says:

        I fail to see how this is something that you can throw the blame on Moffat for. After all, Rose was “killed off” much in the same way. She was sent off to an alternate universe where she can live happily with her parents (including her father, who died when she was very young in her own universe). When Donna left, all her ‘loss’ was, was that she had her memories of the Doctor wiped.

        Hell, even in the classic series, I can count the amount of times that the deaths (or the “sent off to a farm” equivalent) are actually particularly on one hand. That’s my problem with this post, it seems to argue that Moffat is at fault for the show not being something that it’s never been in the first place.

    • I respect that. I guess my real problem is that the angels feel like a very soft way of killing someone off, and the reasoning for why the Doctor can’t just go back and pick them up again never quite makes sense.

      Ironically, last year’s Christmas special was supposed to be about the Doctor mourning Amy and Rory, but to me it just didn’t come off as believable — and he got over it pretty quickly once Clara turned up.

      I’m also not saying that Moffat invented Sherlock or that storyline, but I was using it as an example of a “tragic” moment that fans talk about when they talk about Moffat killing their “favs,” and how it doesn’t really count as a death/tragedy — that’s all.

  144. jesse bass says:

    Thanks for writing this. This is exactly my complaint with Moffat.

  145. Casey says:

    I don’t know. I mean, moving forward, everything that has happened in NuWho thus far certainly isn’t rendered meaningless whatsoever. The Doctor chose to change what he did in the Time War BECAUSE of all of the grief and pain he has felt after believing that he killed his own race. More importantly: he BELIEVED he killed his own race. Says a lot about who he is, don’t you think? He’s still an incredibly dark character, it’s just that now, a certain weight has been lifted off of him. He’s still a killer, he has still lost many people he loves, and he has still made some horrible choices that deep down he acknowledges, even if he justifies them. His grief stems from plenty more than just the Time War. Personally, I think it was about time for a new direction. You can only run with the “Last of the Time Lords” thing for so long.

    Doctor Who is all about change. I think with a new Doctor and new series coming soon, now was a good time to change the direction of the show. It was a 50th special that had hope for the future and set up a storyline that can go in so many different directions. I like it.

  146. L says:

    Well written, good points but your conclusion is foul. You say there are no repercussions or consequences but The DOCTor Cannot see Amy / Rory again, as if they are dead. Sorry that the OPs original bloodlust and Moffat-bashing tendencies results in a desire to kill off beloved characters.

    • I must taste the blood!!!!

      I see what you’re saying, but I guess my point remains the same: it’s basically like Moffat is telling the Doctor and the audience that he sent the companions to a farm upstate. It is softening a certain amount of the blow.

      • Tholomyes says:

        But that’s what Doctor Who has always done. Rose was “sent to a farm” in another dimension, and when that wasn’t good enough, RTD “softened the blow” a bit more, by giving her the half-human doctor. Hell, very rarely is a companion killed off.

        Occasionally they leave of their own accord, but often times, those cases don’t feel any less of a “sent to a farm” ending, except that they’re usually given a hastily justified reason why they’re not coming back, from a character perspective rather than from a narrative one, but that doesn’t make it any less hastily justifed

  147. Ok, there is nothing wrong here. In Whoverse, the man known as “The Doctor” is given something like a second chance and doesn’t destroy his home world, but as we all saw, he will not remember because he forgets a lot of things when he regenerates and of course because it simply isn’t in his time stream. It will not affect his memory of the act (he thought he did) Although, now (in the 11th regeneration) he knows because he is a part of it.

    As for the grief part; they are clever writers and all clever writers can come up with some clever way to keep characters from dying. Like with Sherlock and Moffat; Sherlock was- is a genius faced with his death at the hands of a true psychopath that wanted him dead. He found a slim opening and took it with blind faith. And as far as the Sherlockians know, it worked and he is on his way back to John.

    I have a question for whoever wrote this: Did you watch the shows/movies?

    • Ingvild says:

      You know what clever writers do, missy? They kill their darlings. They create emotions. They bring out tears and laughter. It’s not clever to misuse death. In most cases it should really only be used one time on each character, or else it loses its effect. If all characters just go happy on with their lives there is no developement, and that makes a bad show.

    • First, thank you for reading and I respect what you’re saying. I’m not claiming that Moffat invented that story line on Sherlock — I know he didn’t. I’m not a Conan Doyle superfan, but I’ve read my share of the stories and seen my fair share of the adaptations. So I’m as well-versed as an average fan, I guess.

      What I was more using it as an example of was the kind of plot line that fans often refer to when they talk about Moffat being a writer who really gets at “the feelz,” and I was pointing out the fact that the Sherlock storyline mirrors a lot of the other ways he will go for cheap thrills and easy emotions in his own original work that can often be ret-conned or undone later.

  148. baticeer says:

    I like a lot of this, and I agree with your central point, but I have two big problems:

    1) Moffat didn’t write Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS. Considering you made a point of looking specifically at the episodes he wrote during the RTD era, it’s a pretty glaring error to blame him for a device of Steve Thompson’s script.

    2) The idea that saving Gallifrey renders the entire Time War plot redundant. I just have such an issue with this…
    The Tenth Doctor and the War Doctor forget the events of Day of the Doctor. Here’s what the Time War was before: The Doctor wiped out Gallifrey and spent several hundred years emotionally dealing with the guilt of that action. Here’s what the Time War is now: The Doctor was fully prepared and willing to wipe out Gallifrey, but at the very last minute, another solution was found. Except his memory was erased, so he still *thought* that he did it for the rest of his life up until the point where Eleven experiences Day of the Doctor.

    So you say “All of the amazing episodes in which the Doctor, overcome with grief, spoke about the tragic necessity of his decision are rendered meaningless by this newly-invented War Doctor who allegedly “didn’t count” until now.” But I’m just thinking … really? The Doctor still made that terrible decision. He still believed he had done an awful thing out of necessity. He still had to deal with the grief and go through the character arc that Nine and Ten experienced. It’s just that now, after hundreds of years, he finds out that he’s able to bring Gallifrey back eventually, and does so. I found it quite hopeful and heartwarming and I don’t think that it makes any of his previous ~Time War angst~ “meaningless” at all.

    • baticeer says:

      I just reread this comment and I realized I sounded kind of harsh and argumentative, so I wanted to apologize if I came off as rude — I do agree with the central point that Moffat’s writing tends to avoid dealing directly with consequences and skips over emotional arcs in characters in favor of flashy ideas. I just didn’t think bringing back Gallifrey was an example of that particular Moffat Thing.

      The most egregious example of it in Day of the Doctor was, I thought, the fact that Clara is a teacher now. Really? It’s a nice classic series shout-out to have her teaching history at Coal Hill School but it also means that we’ve just had a timeskip of several years at least (do you think Moffat knows what it takes to become a secondary school teacher? that’s not a job you can just walk up and apply for! you need qualifications!) and jumped over a lot of Clara character development. Including the ramifications of her now knowing all about the Doctor’s entire timeline.

      • chrysostom57 says:

        Well said. I’ve been increasingly disappointed with the writing of the show lately, but I doubt I’ll ever think of bringing back Gallifrey as anything less than a master stroke of genius. I might be disappointed again when it plays out, but the decision itself makes me unspeakably happy.

        My favorite Doctor Who episode is Moffat’s A Christmas Carol, and yes, it includes the permanent death of a young main character. But that element could be changed and it would still be my favorite.

      • KitKat says:

        I don’t think bringing Gallifrey back was a stroke of genius. It makes sense that it was the one thing that NuWho and Classic Who fans would all enjoy and was big enough to make the 50th something special.

        As for Clara: her non-existent character development will become an issue later I feel. I like that this article and some of the comments have really brought to light what Moffat is lacking – substance. RTD got messy. He talked about emotions and consequences and rage and compassion. Moffat glosses over it all and gives us silly plot twists to make up for it. And while I think saying Doctor Who is dying is a little over-dramatic, I do agree that Moffat has made it so shallow that it will start to lose people. Capaldi will be a big test for Moffat: can a barely fleshed out companion help us transition to a new doctor? I can already see where Moffat is going with Capaldi (angry, ‘fatherly’ to Clara) and I think it will be the end of him. Hopefully.

  149. Neva says:

    Beautifully written and I agree with many points. However, I do not think reference to the Sherlock Series 2 finale should be a mention in terms of his fear of death and consequences considering Sherlock is based on, well, Sherlock Holmes by Doyle. Even though Doyle may have intended for Holmes to actually die in Reichenbach Falls, pressure from fans and his publisher pressured Doyle to bring Holmes back, thus making the death faking part of the source material for the television series. I really don’t see how that one can count against Moffy (yeah…I call him Moffy) since even the Sherlock’s own creator didn’t stick to his guns and keep him dead.

    • Yeah, I appreciate that. Without echoing myself too much in this thread, I was using Sherlock more as an example of when fans refer to Moffat being a “life ruiner” through tragic story lines, and pointing to Sherlock as yet another example of the not-quite-death that’s used for emotional impact, but can be undone later.

      Obviously that was originally Conan Doyle’s conceit, although I am in the camp of people who think that Doyle really did want to kill off Sherlock for good.

      • Rosesthorn says:

        He did. He flat-out stated it at one point. Then the fandom cried out and he was more or less forced to bring Sherlock back (Sound like Coulson in the MCU, anyone?)

  150. Lexi says:

    All fair points, though personally I sorta think he’s deliberately undoing the parts of the Davies era he dislikes (like when JNT and Christopher H Bidmead decided K-9 and the Sonic Screwdriver had to go back in 1980): Davies came up with the Time War thing because he considered the Time Lords to be a bit naff, IIRC, and his relaunching of the show revolved around the idea of getting rid of the naff bits of Doctor Who.

    I would also argue that the weight of the Time War was diminished slightly by Russell himself nearly bringing the Time Lords back in The End Of Time (But now evil-er!) and the Daleks in a couple of other stories. It’s like, if it didn’t wipe out the Daleks what even was the point in all that genocide business? :P

    Steven Moffat, much like myself, seems to be more of an old-school Who fan, and if you’ve watched the nigh-on two decades of not-that-consistent-but-pretty-damn-rewarding-nonetheless greatness that were 1963-1980 and are attached to them, the Time War/dark Doctors idea can seem a bit…. uggghhhhhhmoderntellyuggghhhh. It’s almost like watching him gradually undo all the changes between ‘classic’ Who and ‘modern’ Who.

    I prefer to think the RTD era and the Moffat era have both failed to be as good as they could’ve been in different ways. While these days everything is fixed with time-bending and clever plot twists, I still find that preferable to the FLASHY LIGHT ALL THE BAD IS GONE NOW rubbish that RTD employed for every series finale. It was like he couldn’t be bothered to resolve any of his plots satisfactorily, so it was always FLASHY LIGHT EVERYTHING’S OK. Daleks? Cybermen? London? FLASHY LIGHT EVERYTHING’S OK. It was fine the first time he did it, with Eccleston and Rose, but it got seriously old.

    Incidentally, the best example of a series finale in the modern Whoniverse that DOESN’T fall prey to either my criticism of RTD or yours of Moffat was probably the Torchwood Series 2 finale, where a lot of people died including some of our main cast, in a thoroughly tragic and devastating fashion.

    Personally I think that both RTD and Moffat are great writers who, unfortunately, have had all their limitations revealed by the show (series 3 and 4 of Torchwood seemed to show Davies writing in a far more comfortable fashion – I dunno if it was the pressure of Doctor Who or what, but he did say it was the first time he’d ever written something for a specific audience). I don’t know who should take over as showrunner from Moffat, though I think at this point I’d like to scrap the ‘showrunner’ idea altogether and go back to having a producer and a script editor instead. Under Moffat the show has been constantly pushed towards sensationalism rather than professionalism/good old-fashioned storyteling. LET’S CUT OUR SERIES IN HALF AND HAVE A BIG CLIFFHANGER! LET’S HAVE CLARA CHANGE THE ENTIRE UNIVERSE IN A BIG PLOT TWIST! LET’S TITLE AN EPISODE THE NAME OF THE DOCTOR AND MAKE THAT PUBLIC INFO! HYPE HYPE HYPE HYPE!

    What I know for sure is that in all the time on the air, very, very rarely has the show been consistent in quality. Sure would be nice to see that change.

    • Kim says:

      I like this reply

    • cabbages says:

      Are you saying Moffat *doesn’t* go “flashy light everything bad is now gone” in the finales because the last three seasons have literally been all this. I mean, bringing back the Time Lords is about as “flashy light everything bad is now gone” as someone can get, really.

      I agree that RTD and Moffat both have their writing issues, but overall I think I can pardon RTD for a lot of his flaws because his character writing and the emotional depth of his plots (for lack of a better word) are superb. Moffat is great at writing standalones and brilliant when it comes to monsters and big concept stuff but his overarching plot is pretty unsatisfactory; he’s all great ideas with awful execution and plenty of recycling basically.

      As for the TIme Lords returning, I’m a NuWho fan so I suppose you’re right that it’s a generational thing about whether you’re okay with that decision or not. I’ve gone back and watched some Classic Who and I loved the stories set on Gallifrey and hoped at least some Time Lords and Gallifreyan society survived, but this big reset was definitely not the way to get them back. I mean, for one thing it’s just dumb because it’s been pretty much canon from the outset that most Time Lords were a bunch of self-righteous twits at the best of times and by the end of the war were regarded as outright monsters (even in “The Night of the Doctor”, a SHORT MOFFAT WROTE HIMSELF god does that get me). And for another thing, if Daleks and the Master survived surely it’s relatively simple to handwave a handful running away before the start of the war? Or they dreamed back into existence by Amy or something. There was no need for the massive reset button.

      As an aside, the BBC specifically picked up Doctor Who again because Gallifrey had been excised from the plot so, I mean, if RTD hadn’t thought them to be a bit silly we may not have had the show renewed for quite a while.

      • Madeline says:

        I’m hoping that Moffat will actually flesh out the consequences and continue with the story of this huge decision he’s made of preserving Gallifrey into season 8. Perhaps the fact that most Time Lords are dicks will be explored more and factor into some of the repercussions of what the Doctor did in the 50th. Or perhaps by asking for a real story line I’m putting my expectations too high for this man.

  151. Great article :) Totally agree. Moffat’s character deaths lack definitely lack punch.

  152. Mcdefenseless says:

    This is beautifully written, and explains exactly why I can hardly stomach Moffat’s Who. Everything is sickeningly sugar-coated and every episode ends with some grand reveal that magically solves everything.
    Well done, fellow human, well done…

    • Thank you fellow carbon-based life form!

      You know what I can’t quite figure out, though? Is why I do so love the original conceit Moffat went with — the idea of the Doctor as a fairy tale figure and his companions as children lost in some kind of waking dream. That was very interesting, if slightly mishandled. And I think if that had been taken to a more complete resolution, I’d be a lot happier.

  153. kaelyncole says:

    Journey to the Center of the Tardis was written by Stephen Thompson, not Moffat

  154. This post is exactly why I will always have a problem with his story lines.

  155. hannah says:

    Beautiful

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 818 other followers

%d bloggers like this: