Why I’ll Miss The Moff
Guest contributor Ben Hobson shares his reasoning.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone who splits opinion quite like Steven Moffat. Justin Bieber may be one, perhaps a number of politicians too, but Moffat’s up there with all of them. His six (soon to be seven, overall) years of running Doctor Who have had a very mixed response throughout. Unfortunately, as time has gone on I personally have seen much more hate than love, even in the wake of the excellent ninth series. So today he will be defended by none other than, er…me.
Possibly the most dividing factor of the Moffat era has been his story arcs. Ever since the ‘Reboot the Universe’ arc of Series 5, people have complained about his arcs being “too complex”. I disagree. Sure, some require a little bit more thought to understand, but I think that’s part of the problem – people are too lazy to do that. Many just want the answer handed to them on a plate, but where’s the fun in that? If there’s ever a show that should require a little bit of extra thought on the viewer’s part, it’s Doctor Who. The answers are all there, you just have to look a little closer. I find it just a bit too ironic that people watch a show with a box that’s bigger-on-the-inside and a man who can change his entire DNA and then call it “too complex”. As a side-note, that’s also one reason why I defended Kill the Moon in my previous article; the main complaint there was the science – despite the fact that the show wouldn’t even exist if it was scientifically accurate.
After the ‘Crack in the Wall’ arc ended with the Eleventh Doctor, he did simplify the arcs a little for the Twelfth Doctor. Was this an improvement? I’m not so sure. We practically all guessed who Missy was from day one, and I felt the Hybrid arc was a little flat, myself. Personally, I feel the arcs for the Eleventh were better. He’s a (or was at the time) 1,200 year-old Time Lord who fights aliens across the galaxy for a living, and therefore he’s going to make lots of enemies. Of course it’s going to get complex; it’s only natural that it would. That is why I personally preferred those arcs to his latest ones.
I do agree that most (but not all) of his standalone stories didn’t quite match up to those he wrote under RTD. From ‘The Empty Child’ to ‘Forest of the Dead’, and of course ‘Blink’, practically every story he wrote then was timeless. Not quite so here. But what do you expect? Everyone has slight off-days. The Beast Below wasn’t all that, and I’m in the minority who didn’t see the massive hype behind Listen either.
Most of them, though, were still great. The Eleventh Hour was a perfect opener for a new Doctor; it allowed Matt Smith to flex his muscles and show what he’s got as the Raggedy Man. His two-part opener of Series 6 was wonderfully dark yet humorous, and ‘Asylum of the Daleks’ and ‘The Bells of Saint John’ were brilliant too. But his best work came in the form of the opening and closing two-parters of Series 9. Clever, funny, shocking and downright wonderful in equal measure. Let’s not also forget the outstanding job he did for the anniversary episode too; that must have be a Hell of a task but he pulled it off with confidence and flair. The man’s also been brave enough to change the lore and address some key things in the Who Universe. Though the changes (like everything else) have often been divisive, it was brave of him to do it. Bravo, Mr Moffat.
The Doctors themselves have also been amazing, and of course Matt Smith and Peter Capaldi should be credited for bringing them to life. But without the mind of the Moff behind them, they’d have had nothing to work with. Moffat catered for two totally different Doctors and did so very well by writing material perfect for them.
Casting them was also part of Moffat’s job, and at the end of the day, we wouldn’t have had either Smith or Capaldi if Moffat hadn’t show perfect judgement in choosing them. He’s not only got a fantastic writing hand, he’s also got two great eyes for spotting the man who will take the Doctor forward. Two shots, two goals in that respect.
If I leave this out, people in the comments will undoubtedly call Moffat misogynistic. Totally untrue. Rory was well-written and his character developed well. Nervous and slightly suspicious at the start, he grew to love the adventures just as much as anyone. But as great as Rory was, I’d like to concentrate on the girls.
Amy was strong, confident woman whose only moments of loss of control were when she, say, had her own baby melt in her arms, or had been left alone (from her perspective) for nearly forty years. Even in the latter scenario, she found a way to survive. Like Rory, her character evolved and grew as time went on. It never once struck me that this character was perhaps being written who sees women as inferior.
Now we come onto Clara, for whom I, again, see a lot of hate. Hilariously, not only do I see people calling Moffat misogynistic, I also see people referring to the show as ‘Clara Who’. Does he love or hate women, people? Make your minds up! Either way, I still love Clara. I agree her role was a bit too forward in Series 8, but other than that, I see no issues. She’s clever, sassy and cute – and that last one is not a bad thing. Some people see it as misogynistic to make a girl cute – why? I don’t get it. Some girls – and boys, of course – are just like that. Nothing wrong with it whatsoever. Clara grew as a character as well, and always, like Amy, stayed strong, even through Danny Pink’s death (which was again the one time she lost control – the same time anyone could).
He wrote very strong companions, did Moffat. Of the New Who era, Donna is still my favourite – but Clara and Amy are a close second and third for me.
Just a very short point here, some people complain when the Moff leaves slight holes in his stories. Okay, I’ll admit, he occasionally does, however – why can’t the fan just fill it in with their own theory? I relate it back to my earlier point of people wanting all the answers on a plate. If there is a slight hole, be a bit creative and come up with your own theory to share! Bit of added fun and immersion for the fans.
Era as a Whole
Was it perfect? No. Nothing ever is. No era of Who has ever been perfect, not since 1963. Davies’ wasn’t, Moffat’s wasn’t and Chibnall’s won’t be. Not even the fondly-remembered era of Philip Hinchcliffe was perfect. Of course Moffat’s era had its flaws, but I feel that they are vastly outnumbered by the positives. It was under Moffat’s tenure that Doctor Who became a truly global force. In fact, it’s only in Britain where the people have let it slip a bit; worldwide, it’s grown hugely. In my opinion, the cinematography and direction have generally been improved during Moffat’s time on the show, and this in turn has improved many stories. For me, also, the writing has been excellent. The era as a whole has not been perfect, but it’s still been a darn good ride.
My conclusion is that Moffat’s era was not only as good as Davies’, it was actually slightly better. I see people calling for Davies’ return; do you not remember Fear Her, or The Idiot’s Lantern? Every era has and will have duds, and yet for some reason it seems to me that people give Davies much more leeway. They let his flaws go, yet hone in and constantly complain about Moffat for his.
I personally have loved Moffat’s era and I will miss him. We’ve got one more series left which I’ll greatly look forward to and no doubt enjoy, and then it’s onto Chibnall, whom I have high hopes for! I have no doubt that some will disagree with me about this article, and that hopefully some will agree with me too. Whatever your thoughts are, leave them in the comments below. Thank you for reading!