The Steven Moffat Era of Doctor Who: The Good and Bad

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If you are a fan of Doctor Who or are just up to date on your news all things geeky and or nerdy, then you would know that the BBC announced last month that writer and executive producer Steven Moffat is stepping down as the head writer and show-runner of Doctor Who after Series 10. Writer Chris Chibnail will be taking over in 2018 after Steven Moffat steps down at the end of 2017. Steven Moffat has gotten a lot of hate and criticism during his tenure, but let’s not discount his accomplishments. Let’s talk about the Good and Bad of The Steven Moffat Era!

  *WARNING MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD*

Steven Moffat has been the head writer of Doctor Who since he took over for Russel T. Davies in 2010, but he made a big impact on the show well before he became the head writer…

THE GOOD:

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He Wrote Some Great Episodes for Multiple Doctors

When Doctor Who was revived in March of 2005, Steven Moffat was one of the lead writers on the show and he wrote two great episodes for The Ninth Doctor (Christopher Eccleston) “The Empty Child,” and “The Doctor Dances,” which was so great because we got to see The Doctor save everyone for once and it made him so happy, considering sometimes The Doctor cannot always save everyone. Steven also introduced villains with wearing gas masks that kept asking “Are you my mummy?” Steven really knows how to freak out his audience, but in a good way.

During David Tennant’s tenure as The Tenth Doctor, Steven Moffat wrote “The Girl in The Fireplace,” which introduced the terrifying and creepy villains known as The Clockwork Droids and gave The Tenth Doctor some great character development and we also got some insight into the pain he has experienced throughout his long life.

Also during Tennant’s tenure, we got a fan favorite episode in Series Three “Blink,” which introduced the most iconic and memorable Doctor Who monsters…The Weeping Angels! The Weeping Angels are creatures that are quantum locked, but only when being observed, when you look away or even just blink they can move, and they move fast! The Weeping Angels will transport you back in time and feed off that energy to live forever. Despite “Blink” being a “Doctor-lite” episode fans still loved it because it was just so engrossing and the main protagonist was immediately likable and the story had that classic horror feel! This episode has gone down as one of the best episodes of Doctor Who and it’s no wonder why! Steven Moffat deserves credit for introducing a great new villain and for coming up with a very enticing episode!

In David Tennant’s final series (Series Four) as The Tenth Doctor, Steven Moffat introduced River Song (Alex Kingston) in the two-parter “Silence in The Library,”  and “Forest of The Dead,” who knew The Doctor very well, and was someone from The Doctor’s future. The Tenth Doctor hadn’t met her in his timeline, but River had met him and gone on many adventures with him in her timeline. It was a very interesting concept and I thought it was a great way to introduce a new character! These two episodes will always be some of my favorites!

Steven Moffat introduced The Eleventh Doctor (Matt Smith) in the one of the most exciting episodes! In “The Eleventh Hour” The Eleventh Doctor is freshly regenerated and forced to save Earth from an alien threat, and forced to work with Amy Pond (Karen Gillan) to save the planet! This episode gave us a great introduction to the character of The Doctor and more importantly The Eleventh Doctor! We understood the type of character he was right from the get go! Steven Moffat wrote an amazing first episode for Matt Smith and it paved the way for a great first season for Matt Smith!

When Peter Capaldi hit the scene, I was wondering if Steven Moffat could still write great episodes for Doctor Who and it turned out he could!

In Series 8, Steven gave us an intriguing concept in the episode “Listen,” which focused on the idea of a creature that was adept at hiding and could avoid detection, which begged the question “are we ever truly alone?” I know this episode got some criticism, but I really enjoyed it and put it up there as one of my all-time favorites!

Most recently in Series 9, Steven Moffat gave us another intriguing concept, “what if we had an episode with just The Doctor?” Well let me tell you it was an interesting concept and Peter Capaldi really impressed me and audiences with his performance, which felt like an extended soliloquy. The twist was something I never saw coming and it made it that much better of an episode!

In “The Husbands of River Song,” The Twelfth Doctor meets River Song, but she doesn’t recognize him! This episode was great because we finally got to see Capaldi’s Doctor interact with River and it was awesome! This episode also wrapped up the River Song arc pretty well too.

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HE CREATED THREE AMAZING DOCTORS

Steven Moffat may deserve a lot of criticism as a writer but in my opinion he deserves a lot of credit for creating three incredible and fully fleshed out Doctors. Matt Smith’s Eleventh Doctor was something unique because we see this physically young 20 something man, but deep down he is this ancient being who has seen and experienced so much. Eleven tries to mask his self-loathing, pain and anguish by acting more happy and fun and goofy, but this doesn’t fool everyone, including his companion Amy Pond. Matt Smith really nailed the part of the old man in a young man’s body and I really like the direction Steven Moffat took with his Doctor. The Eleventh Doctor was a happy go lucky, fun, absent minded man, who harbored a lot of guilt and as a result he hated himself. The Eleventh Doctor had great character development, and he will go down as one of the best Doctors!

When The 50th Anniversary year was here we were introduced to a forgotten regeneration of The Doctor, The War Doctor (played amazingly by veteran English actor John Hurt). We knew very little about him other than that he was The Doctor who fought in The Time War, and destroyed Gallifrey. At first I was expecting to see a bitter old man, who was angry and quite different from his past incarnations, but instead we got an old man who was tired of fighting in a long, bitter and endless war. He was somewhat silly, but more mature than his future incarnations Ten and Eleven. Despite only getting one episode of screening time, we got to see how he became The Ninth Doctor (Christopher Eccelston) and that was fantastic!

When The Twelfth Doctor was introduced, he was quite different than The Eleventh Doctor. He wasn’t immediately approachable and a much tougher pill to swallow for his companion Clara Oswald. He was also more pragmatic and blunt than his previous incarnations and as a result came off rude to others. Twelve had trouble communicating with people and was more alien than he had been in quite a long time. As he developed he became more fun, and someone you would want to spend time with because he is THE DOCTOR afterall! He started to dress more retro and started sporting a guitar! Twelve became the rebellious teenager in an old man’s body. He has his serious moments that make you wonder why anyone would dare challenge this incarnation of The Doctor. Twelve is the right balance of past Doctors and has enough qualities that make him unique, Peter Capaldi and Steven Moffat really did a great job with this incarnation’s personality and overall character! I cannot wait to see Twelve’s next adventure!

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HE HAS WRITTEN SOME GREAT STORY ARCS

Steven Moffat has written some great story arcs for Doctor Who. The Eleventh Doctor had an intriguing character arc with the crack in the wall, The Silence, The First Question and The Fields of Trenzalore and The Fall of The Eleventh. When you see it all play out and everything comes together it makes it much more fun when re-watching any of Matt Smith’s episodes!

Steven Moffat also gave us the ultimate fan service by bringing The Eleventh and Tenth Doctors together and meeting for the first time on screen! The interaction between them was amazing and definitely lived up to the hype!

The story arc for The Doctor by the end of The Day of The Doctor was one of the best I have seen on the show since it was revived in 2005!

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HE BROUGHT BACK ONE OF THE MOST ICONIC DOCTORS AND GAVE US THE REGENERATION SCENE WE ALL HAD BEEN WANTING FOR YEARS

During The 50th Anniversary year, there was a lot of content being released. Here in the States on BBC America the whole week was filled with a Doctor Who marathon along with some new shows, including the TV drama “An Adventure of Space and Time” which chronicled the William Hartnell years of Doctor Who. One special episode that should not go unmentioned was “The Night of The Doctor,” and featured the return of The Eight Doctor (Paul McGann) and gave us his regeneration scene!

The episode itself was only six minutes or longer, but was amazing because it filled the gap between The Eighth and Ninth Doctors and showed us how Eight became The War Doctor! This episode also made The Eighth Doctor’s Big Finish adventures canon! The Eighth Doctor also had one of the best final lines of any Doctor “Physician heal thyself.” This episode was incredible and I want to see more of The Eighth Doctor!

Okay we have talked about The Good, now it’s time to talk about The Bad…

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HE HAS WRITTEN SOME GREAT SEASON ARCS THAT ULTIMATELY HAD ZERO PAYOFF

In the second half of Series Seven, we are introduced to Clara Oswald and re-introduced to The Classic Era villain The Great Intelligence, and the series seems to have a good direction. Unfortunately The Great Intelligence doesn’t show up again until the final episode of Series Seven and is seemingly destroyed. The Great Intelligence was such an intriguing concept, but seemed to be wasted. Series Seven had too much going on and as a result the series suffered overall. We are introduced to Clara Oswald, and The Doctor is concerned with who she is and why she is, and she becomes a plot device. The main villain takes a back seat to the mystery of Clara, which ultimately ends up hurting the series as a whole.

In Series 8, Steven Moffat introduced Peter Capaldi in a great way, but unfortunately Series 8’s arc was a bit of a let down. Here we have Missy (who turns out to be a female regeneration of his old friend and now enemy The Master) who plans to use the dead to create an army of Cyber-Men! Now this is an interesting idea, but ultimately falls flat when the second half of the episode is resolved so easily! Also Danny Pink is a waste of a character and only serves as a solution to the threat in the final episode. It’s a shame that “Death in Heaven” was so disappointing because “Dark Water,” was an amazing episode.

Series 9 also had an interesting story arc with The Hybrid and The Doctor’s Confession Dial, but by the end of the series, the arc has no payoff. We are teased with the return of Gallifrey and told that The Doctor is angry because of The Time Lords trapping him in his Confession Dial, but this is all a ruse! The story focuses on The Doctor and Clara and Gallifrey takes a back seat! What a waste! I would have been fine with being told “Hell Bent,” is going to focus on Clara and The Doctor’s relationship, but instead we are given false advertising, which was really sneaky and deceiving on the part of The BBC. Series 9 is still great, but it wasn’t perfect and could have been better. Capaldi was amazing as usual and helped save some of the weaker scripts during the season.

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HE HAS MADE SOME BIZARRE CHOICES

In Series 9, The Twelfth Doctor shoots The General on Gallifrey and he regenerates into a woman revealing that The General had always been a woman and that was his first regeneration as a man. During the episode this scene actually took me out of the episode, because it felt completely unnecessary, why do we need a regeneration? This regeneration held no emotional weight and was shoe-horned in there just to force the idea that The Doctor SHOULD regenerate into a woman. Not to mention it was a waste of a great actor in Ken Bones, I was really enjoying his portrayal of The Time Lord General, and it was a shame to seem him killed off. Let me be clear I am okay with The Doctor becoming a woman, but the idea that IT HAS TO HAPPEN is utterly ridiculous! The show has survived for this long without changing the character’s gender. I think if anything we should break the racial barrier first, cast a black actor as The Doctor!

Another bizarre choice Steven Moffat made was when he brought Clara back from the dead after she was killed off in “Face The Raven.” I don’t know if Jenna Coleman asked Steven to give her character a chance to be able to return or it was just Moffat meddling again, but either way it was a weird choice! Now when re-watching “Face The Raven,” Clara’s death scene will hold no emotional weight or impact whatsoever. I feel bad for Sarah Dollard because that was a pretty good first episode for her to contribute to Doctor Who.

Either way I think it’s well time for Steven Moffat to leave Doctor Who, seven seasons is long enough and I want to see some fresh ideas brought to this amazing show!

Those are my thoughts on Steven Moffat’s era, what say you? Do you agree with my points? Do you disagree? Are you happy to see Steven Moffat leave? Whatever your thoughts let me know!

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3 thoughts on “The Steven Moffat Era of Doctor Who: The Good and Bad

  1. I agree on the Doctors. 11 is my fave of the new guys and third fave overall and I’d take 12 to 10 and any day of the week.

    Moff’s story arcs however have IMO all been awful. I think he makes them up as he goes along, in fact I know he does.

    He said he decided to bring Missy back at the start of series 8 when Michelle Gomez asked for a part in the show. That shows that he clearly didn’t have an idea who the woman in the shop that brought the Doctor and Clara together was.

    Thus he had to invent the stupidest of reasons as to why Missy brought them together “Oh you love Clara so much you’d go to hell and back for her” what a lot of mince!

    Personally as much as I loved Matt’s era and I even wrote a defence of Moff after season 8, I am really glad he is gone. I only wish after Hell Bent that he would leave sooner TBH.

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  2. Sarah

    I will miss Moffat quite a bit. My favorite Doctor is 10 and 5, but my favorite episode(s) is the Family of Blood, which is a Moffat classic.
    There are things he’s done that I haven’t enjoyed(CLARA), but overall he was a great show runner.

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