2010. Steven ‘The Moff’ Moffat, the astoundingly-talented author of modern Who classics such as the intriguing ‘The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances’, the heartrending ‘The Girl in the Fireplace’ and the, frankly, magnificent ‘Blink’, was about to show us what he could do.
The man responsible for omnisexual philanderer Captain Jack Harkness, the mysterious Professor River Song and the outrageously hot Sally Sparrow, was about to take the reins.
Steven ‘like a Moff to a flame’ Moffat, the BAFTA award-winning, fairy-tale obsessed, lifelong Who fanboy, was about to take over the year.
And take the year, he did. Although we were not quite at the point of ‘David who?’ but considering the shoes that Matt Smith had to fill, I think he did an extremely good job.
We were introduced to our new, deceptively young Doctor in stunning style, with the series’ visual effects looking superb. Matt Smith came bounding out of the TARDIS, determined to take his Doctor away from the very human Doctor that Tennant had won our hearts with. This was an altogether different Doctor; more awkward, more distant and much more alien.
However, one aspect of the Doctor’s personality will never be changed: his need of companionship. The great Time Lord’s immense intelligence and near-immortality has made him extremely lonely and so he has always needed someone with him in his enormous time machine.
Well, what a someone we got! Karen Gillan made a highly unusual entrance, handcuffing our hero to a radiator before revealing herself to be the young girl that the Doctor had met some years before and who he had unwittingly abandoned. Amelia Pond must be the girl that every man has secretly dreamed of. She was a feisty, finely-accented, funny, fiendishly sharp and also incredibly beautiful young redhead. The perfect addition to the team.
And so the stage was set for Doctor Who Series 5….. slash 1….. slash 35. The premiere was very well received and the series rolled along beautifully, with Matt Smith finding his feet early (I still find his ‘Nobody human has anything to say to me today’ scene from ‘The Beast Below’ absolutely stunning…Why should the Doctor be on the side of such monsters as these humans?), the aforementioned visuals staying remarkably good and the writing (with a couple of exceptions) is absolutely outstanding.
I maintain, even after the years in between where I could have ‘cooled off’, that ‘The Time of Angels’ is the best Doctor Who episode ever made. The threat levels throughout the episode are absolutely through the roof, The Doctor is rendered near powerless by the might of the Angels (always a treat) and that twist is utterly superb (if you saw it coming, I genuinely pity you! Doctor Who has always given me goosebumps but that twist took it to a whole new level).
The traditional two-part series finale was excellent. Even if it was a little too ‘wibbly wobbly timey wimey’ for some, the reintroduction of Rory was a staggering moment and him spending two thousand years guarding Amy inside the Pandorica was extremely touching (although let’s be honest….you would have waited for her too, right?).
I was ecstatic! As a fan of the classic Doctor Who series, I very much enjoyed Matt Smith’s quirkier, Troughton-channelling Doctor. I thought that the writing, the look, the feel of the show was all spot on and that, if anything, it had gotten even better following the departure of David Tennant (something I thought I’d never say).
It was all going so well! ‘The Moffinator’ continued his creative stranglehold on television with the brilliant ‘Sherlock’ and, personally, I would have been more than happy had his hands never left my televisual throat again…and then came 2011.
Series 6 slash 2 slash 32. Although there were still flashes of brilliance (The Doctor’s Wife being the brightest), the overarching story just didn’t have it….particularly compared to the previous season.
When the future-Doctor came to Amy in ‘Flesh and Stone’, I utterly adored that A) I had spotted it in the initial episode and B) that Moffat had manage to lay this trail of breadcrumbs throughout the series with a subtlety that Russell T. Davies had never managed. When Amy recited the wedding proverb ‘Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue’, I could feel the ball of awesomeness in my chest explode outwards (cue massive goosebumps) and I was moved to the point of tears at the connection Moffat had made between Amy and the Doctor.
The Doctor and his companion.
When River Song was revealed to be the Pond’s daughter? I felt as though I’d been the subject of a cheap retcon. I mean yes, I had a moment of reverence for how very clever it was that ‘River Song’ was a translation of ‘Melody Pond’ but it still remained just that. Very clever. An intellectual trick. Such things are entertaining, of course, but I don’t watch Doctor Who for entertainment anymore. In it’s initial run, that was the best we could hope for. But since the new series began, the true power of the premise has been expertly realised. Russell T. Davies, helped in no small way by the electric talents of David Tennant, and then by ‘Dustin Moffman’ and I realised that I had begun to watch purely to be moved.
And this is the point that I have been driving towards throughout this article: Doctor Who has become too clever. The ‘Moffster Munch’ is trying too hard! He is desperate to top his first season and he seems to genuinely believe that the way to do so is to tickle our intellects with his witty dialogue. Of course, the dialogue is first rate for jokes and for cleverness but it has lost the humanity that made the series so much more.
River Song cropping up in, seemingly, every episode. The plotlines becoming more and more complex, by default. Every character spouting quickfire witticisms as often as they possibly can.
It’s funny, it’s visually impressive (more so than ever),and in short it’s everything that you could ask for in a television programme.
But we have been treated to something more. We have been spoiled, from 2005-2010, with such a phenomenal story woven by the best actors, directors, writers and that has got better and better and better…. Which is why it makes it so painful to watch the series drop down to the level of ‘normal television’, no matter how much better it remains than it’s rivals.
‘Grand Moff Tarkin’ has been a huge part of this wonderful tapestry and I can only hope that he realises that he has missed something so simple, but so utterly integral to what makes Doctor Who (and still makes ‘Sherlock’) so many cuts above the rest…..its the heart (two or otherwise).
This article was first posted on December 8, 2012