Saturday, September 7, 2013

Move Along, Moffat or: Don't You Think He Looks Tired?

Let me make a disclaimer before you decide this is a mean-spirited post from a huffy fangirl. Steven Moffat is a really good writer. Before jumping on as showrunner, he wrote some of my favorite episodes on Doctor Who. He also wrote the screenplay for Tin Tin, which I thoroughly enjoyed, and he co-writes Sherlock and we all know how amazing that show is (though problematic at times, but that's another discussion). I haven't seen everything he's written, but for the most part I've enjoyed what I've seen.

That being said, it's time for the man to leave Doctor Who as showrunner.

Let's first look at the biggest beef I have with Moffat - women. Starting with Amy Pond.

I still really like Amy. She's one of my favorite characters in the show and probably the least problematic leading lady in the Moffat era. She's brave, smart, caring, and has my second favorite Doctor/companion relationship in the New Who. Plus, she has actual character progression, which too many women in this series go without.

Here is how Moffat (or whoever came up with these ideas - I shouldn't blame him for things he didn't do, but ultimately he has the final say and should be held accountable still) ruined her:

  • After a couple adventures with the Doctor, she decides she wants to forget her life-long best friend and fiance and sleep with the Doctor. She doesn't fall in love with him, but apparently a committed relationship is no match for time travel and a woman's libido. 
  • She's "The Girl Who Waited" for the Doctor. Rose was the Bad Wolf, and Amy just gets to sit there all her life waiting for someone to make it better instead of doing something about it. 
  • She divorced her husband because she couldn't have babies. You read that correctly. She couldn't have kids, he wanted kids, so naturally she decided to divorce him. Without telling him why. Cause that's a woman's only function - to have babies. If there was only a way to get a hold of a child or baby without actually giving birth...
I'll never get over that last point. Come on, Moffat. 

Let's move on to River Song. This will contain big fat spoilers. 

River is one of those characters who on the surface seems like a great character, but when you start scratching away at that surface becomes a little more problematic. She's a doctor, an archeologist, and a fighter. Basically a female space Indiana Jones. What's not to love about that?

If only it stopped there. She becomes less awesome as you get to know her. She's all too often defined by her love for and relationship with the Doctor. When she regenerates into River, the first thing she does is checks her weight. She's the woman who was "Born to Kill the Doctor". She then promptly falls in love with him (just 'cause) and gives all her future regenerations in order to save the man she met about 20 minutes go and poisoned 15 minutes ago.

Then, when her parents are forever lost to her (for some dumb reason that doesn't make sense. Just go to the year after the one they were sent to and pick them up then. Or maybe park the TARDIS outside the city and go find them in a cab. Seriously, why are they stuck there forever? Because they saw their own graves? That's the explanation? /rant). Anyway, when her parents are lost forever, she comforts the Doctor instead of the other way around. All these things add up and become a little hard to swallow over time.

And last, but not least, Clara Oswin Oswald.

She had so much potential. Maybe I thought she had more potential than she did because her name is Jenna Louise Coleman and I'm Jenna Louise Christensen. There's really nothing that I like about Clara, unfortunately. I probably would have liked her a little had it not been for Amy and River before her, but I'll get to that in a minute. She (of course) kisses the Doctor in her second episode... I honestly can't remember anything else. That's how disinterested I was in the second half of the 7th series. She's just there. A mystery to us as well as the Doctor, a source of frustration for the Doctor because of that, and the one episode where we find out a little bit and she finds out a little bit, there is literally a reset button. And I'm not using "literally" to mean "figuratively". I will never do that. It was a reset button. Oh, and she was "Born to Save the Doctor". Apparently her only purpose in life.

Same spoiler about River in this paragraph. So, if all each of these women were in a vacuum it probably wouldn't have been so bad. But the same things happens over and over with each of them. They're all spunky, fast talkers, brave, smart, confident, quirky... All fine traits, but they get old after a while. Amy and Melody I can kind of see since they're mother and daughter (even though mother didn't raise daughter), but with Clara I was 100% bored. I was so ready for something new, and I didn't get it.

Not only that, but all three of them weren't really characters in their own rights. They were all mysteries to be solved by the Doctor. Amy had the crack that originated with her, River kept meeting the Doctor in the wrong order, and Clara died twice. I miss the good ol' days when companions were just people the Doctor liked and decided to bring along, not people he had to solve some mystery about.

Then there's the nicknames. The Girl Who Waited [for the Doctor]. Born to Kill the Doctor. Born to Save the Doctor. I understand that the show is about him, I really do. But Rose was the Bad Wolf. Martha was... I don't think Martha had a nickname. Donna was the DoctorDonna and the most important woman in the universe. They each had their own lives that didn't revolve around the Doctor. Moffat era women don't have that luxury.

So enough about women. Although these next sections won't be nearly as long cause I haven't given them as much thought.

First, the story:

  • This season especially was excruciatingly dull. 
  • Nothing memorable about Clara. 
  • Yes, I ugly face cried when Amy and Rory left, but the more you think about it the more you realize that it was just lazy writing. 
  • The big arc of "Doctor Who?" and Trenzelore was anti-climactic to say the least. 
  • They're reusing old ideas; "Hey, who turned out the lights?" and "I don't know where I am" were too similar to be a coincidence and the conscious snow (which wasn't a great idea to begin with) was for some reason used twice with no real connection. 

Then there's the little thing of no female writers on his staff (and you wonder where the terribly written women come from [although, that's not fair. Look at Joss]).

Oh, and after a lot of pressing from fans, the next Doctor is still a white man. It wasn't a surprise and I do think Peter Capaldi will do a great job, but it was still disappointing. At least we'll see fewer companion love interests with him being older (or I'll hope, at least).

I could go on, but this post is already longer than I thought it would be. I'll end with this: Davies wasn't perfect (Donna is still the only woman who hasn't had romantic feelings for the Doctor in some way), but the story arcs and character development is markedly worse under Moffat, in my opinion. And that's why I like TV - to get to know the characters.

Move along, Moffat.

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