I had high hopes for Steven Moffat when he stepped into the executive producer's seat of Doctor Who. For the longest I was irritated at how Russell T. Davies, who can write a good scene or two, could never actually write a full episode that was solid. Moffat on the other hand, with the exception of his last three in the Russell T. Davies era of Who, seemed to hit it out the ballpark.
Fast forward to the season finale of Series 7 which just aired this past Saturday and it's RTD all over again. I set off a firestorm of controversy, after watching the first episode of Series Six, where I stated on ChicagoNow that Doctor Who needed to be canceled. This finale still proves my point.
To keep this short, I will point out five things that bothered me about this entire story.
I will combine one and two here.
The logic of the opening is that in some way shape or form, Clara Oswald (played by the excellent Jenna-Louise Coleman) has helped with The Doctor throughout his entire timeline.
This was created as a teaser for the 50th anniversary special and not a teaser for the actual episode itself. To make matters worse the editing and super-imposed inserts of Jenna-Louise Coleman in past Doctor Who episodes seems to hearken back to the dark ages of the series during the John-Nathan Turner era. I don't know if that was the entire point, but it just felt cheap (this is not to say it looked cheap).
The other issue I take with this particular opening is that it represents what something which i09's Charlie Jane Anders has with Steven Moffat's direction:
The more you put a hero at the center of the universe, the smaller that hero paradoxically becomes. A larger than life hero has larger than life adventures, encounters huge and unknowable things, and battles foes so great, you can hardly imagine how the hero could win. In fact, what makes heroes epic is how small and insignificant they are — and yet, how much of a difference they're able to make.
The Doctor was never considered the biggest thing in the room in the original series. In fact, there were times in the original series (particularly back in the early 60's) where the people around him were constantly fighting with his ability to make sound choices. To make him a legend within the context of the series itself confines the plot lines to two different tropes:
- Why The Doctor Is A Hero.
- Why The Doctor Is Also A Villain.
(I'm really upset that Ms. Anders took the words that I meant to type down right out of my mouth since she makes similar points)
Flawed hero's are fine and dandy. Explaining why over and over again as part of the plot element of the series gets irritating. Moffat, with this episode, has essentially turned Doctor Who into a fanfic.
Pushing The Doctor into legendary status also reminds me of the fact that everyone who comes in contact with the guy suddenly becomes a gushing fan boy (or girl). That's what ruined Martha, why I couldn't stand Rose and why Donna's transformation into a companion in Series 4 made no sense.
So the episode is titled "The Name Of The Doctor". This suggests that we will finally discover as an audience the real name of the main character. What happens in the episode doesn't actually reveal his name at all.
It does however reveal, strategically, is that a mysterious man who is a past (or future) incarnation of The Doctor did something horrible in The Doctor's name. What that is doesn't matter because the entire name of the episode was designed to get you to watch a collective heap of crap for one great scene (thus making the episode "In The Name Of The Doctor").
Wait! This is RTD all over again.
The fourth issue is with Clara herself and the mystery of her character. I wanted her to be another timelord (Romana perhaps?). I wanted her to be, since the character was originally designed as a timelord, a regenerated Susan. I wanted her so badly to be something that actually makes sense.
To say that Clara's entire purpose is to save The Doctor is completely stupid. A show about a hero should never suddenly revolve around the side-kick. That's like Lois in Superman II suddenly figuring out a way to get Clark back his powers after figuring out who he is.
Now...the final issue.
I think he is a solid choice to play an incarnation of The Doctor. If Matt Smith decides to leave, put him in his place. Too expensive? Maybe. At least with John there will be a captivating actor in the role as opposed to a guy just looking for a ticket to America.
Sigh. Guess I'll just wait for the 50th anniversary special and watch Moffat screw up his screen time.