Archive for the ‘RTD vs Moffat’ Tag

Re-Invasion   Leave a comment

Imagine my delight when my husband announced that he’d like to watch ALL the Christmas specials this year.


“Oh I should think so.”

And so it began, with ‘The Christmas Invasion.’

Two things stood out for me this episode, things characteristic of the RTD era which I find I miss now that he’s gone. One of them is the newscasts. Trinity Wells and her ilk covered no fewer than eight alien incursions on Doctor Who, The Sarah Jane Adventures, and Torchwood over five years of Russell’s reign, lending verisimilitude and a familiar humanity to the events. Of course we’d all watch the Slitheen or the Sycorax on television, as we watched everything from the moon landing to the Challenger disaster to the September 11 attack on New York.

Since then of course most of us have moved away from twenty-four-hour CNN; everything happens on the Internet now, as in ‘The Bells of St. John.’

The other thing I noticed was the inclusion of small, anonymous moments of humanity. When the Sycorax engage their blood control, one third of the population enters a trance and leaves home to climb the tallest buildings they can reach – many of them families. Early Christmas morning, Rose’s baffled neighbor follows her partner out of the flat and up onto the roof. Nearby, a terrified mother urges her husband and children to respond to her. The tears in her voice break my heart. Many of Moffat’s stories focus closely on our heroes; Russell makes sure we see everyone.

We had a great time re-watching this episode. Rose, Mickey, and Jackie are my television family. Harriet Jones is wonderful and terrible. The special effects have aged no better than their forebears on the classic show. Revisiting the Tenth Doctor’s first outing is a delight.

I look forward to Donna in ‘The Runaway Bride.’


Posted December 16, 2015 by Elisabeth in Christmas Specials, Season 1

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Are you my Mummy?   1 comment

What a breath of fresh air, after two uncomfortable episodes.

Moffat mostly fails when it comes to character stuff. For one thing, Doctor Who is not primarily a character kind of show. When Davies developed Rose and Mickey and Donna, he did it as part of the adventure, not as a side track. With ‘Caretaker’ and ‘Moon,’ the adventure is the side track and the character development – weak and inadequate as it is – takes center stage.

‘Mummy on the Orient Express’ is a return to proper Doctor Who. It’s beautiful to look at, it’s scary, it’s fun, it brings in all sorts of interesting people and gives the Doctor lots of theatrical speeches. The music is fantastic and the in-jokes a delight. It’s also sharply clever; the Doctor solves the problem with his brain, without need for weapons, with a little help from the ordinary people around him, just as it should be. Capaldi is at his best in this episode.

Clara isn’t bad either, in spite of being relegated to second string. Her care for Maisie and her mixed feelings for the Doctor are reminiscent of some of Rose’s early adventures. However, after raging at the Doctor for lying to her and making her lie to Maisie, she turns around and tells the biggest lie of all, to the two people she supposedly cares for – and who supposedly care for her – the most of anyone in the universe.

Still, ‘Mummy’ remains a spectacular episode, easily the best of S8 and one of the best of the series as a whole.

I look forward to ‘Flatline,’ where Clara and Mathieson get to shine.

The Doctor and the Queen   Leave a comment

Not the Rani – I refer to Queen Elizabeth I.

Elizabeth I first appears in the First Doctor story ‘The Chase,’ when Barbara makes use of the Time Visualizer to look in on her court. I haven’t seen the story, but it sounds like just a quick appearance alongside Shakespeare, adding historical material to the show’s then-supposedly-educational format. A cameo and nothing more.

She turns up next in the closing minutes of ‘The Shakespeare Code,’ demanding the Doctor’s head for reasons unknown to him, hinting at an event taking place in his personal future. It’s a fairly hilarious moment, one of the joys of time travel, and I wish they’d left it at that.

Instead, dear Russell – and Moffat after him – decided to make something of it.

At the opening of ‘The End of Time,’ the Doctor lists the things he’s done since the Ood summoned him. Among them:

“Got married. That was a mistake. Good Queen Bess. And let me tell you, her nickname is no longer. Ahem.”

Elizabeth I’s nickname – among others – was ‘The Virgin Queen.’ At the time ‘virgin’ merely meant ‘unmarried,’ so while the Doctor’s comment is technically accurate on that score, his discomfort suggests a more modern usage of the term. (Davies and Moffat have since argued publicly about whether the two ever consummated their relationship – I am so not linking that conversation here.) Later, in ‘The Beast Below,’ the Eleventh Doctor encounters a many-times descendant of the Queen, Liz X, who makes a similar observation:

“And so much for the Virgin Queen, you bad, bad boy.”

I suspect I’m in the minority, but I find suggestive comments regarding the Doctor’s sexual misbehavior uncomfortable and inappropriate. Moffat is the main culprit, but dear Russell is far from innocent. Romance, relationships, and sexuality are not always handled poorly in the show, but often enough that I wish they’d just stop.

Then we come to ‘The Day of the Doctor.’

On one hand, the scenes between Ten and Elizabeth are a pretty hilarious jab at Russell’s relentless romantic storylines, Tennant’s undeniable chemistry with each of his co-stars, and many fans’ slavering adoration. Joanna Page makes an entertaining Queen, reminiscent of the inimitable Miranda Richardson of Black Adder fame, and she has a ball doing it.

On the other hand, ew. Elizabeth’s slavering adoration is extremely unqueenly. Not that Elizabeth herself was incapable of such feelings – she was, as far as I can tell, historically no ice princess – but Page and Moffat really take it over the top. It’s not impossible that the Queen, who apparently felt that marriage would require her to cede too much of her power, would choose to ally herself with an alien; a man with no interest in the crown would have little reason to try to control her. But her gushiness, and her apparent inability to see through him, don’t sit well with me.

Moffat then slaves himself to Russell’s original idea and throws the two a wedding. I’m not a fan, but it does make possible that delightful exchange between Eleven and the War Doctor:

War: “Is there a lot of this in the future?”
Eleven: “It does start to happen, yeah.”

Wonderful commentary on modern vs. classic Doctor Who.

(It does beg the question, though: If, in the crossing of the timelines, Ten and the War Doctor lose their memories of these events, then how is Ten sufficiently aware of his marriage to comment on it in ‘The End of Time?’ Timey wimey, I suppose.)

There are other aspects of Elizabeth’s characterization I really like. She is tough and ruthless enough to fend off and kill an attacker herself. She is wily enough to fool the enemy into thinking she is one of them. The Doctor underestimates her each time, and each time he’s proved the fool. I have trouble seeing the Doctor’s callow, gullible Elizabeth and this one as the same woman. (Unless she’s playing him too – in which case, why would she be so angry in ‘The Shakespeare Code?’)

Interesting to note, I feel similarly about Martha. What is it about Ten that makes people stupid?

I’ve said before, I’m not a fan of romance. (My adoration for Rose and her story notwithstanding.) I’m not a fan of marriage as plot device, or as fodder for bad jokes. In classic Who, the Doctor was once accidentally engaged, in a charming little scene from ‘The Aztecs;’ modern showrunners, however, have run that gag well into the ground.

As annoying as it may be, though, Ten’s fling with Elizabeth I does little to diminish my enjoyment of ‘The Day of the Doctor.’

The Doctor, the alien   1 comment

I think I just figured something out.

A friend and I were talking on the bus a while back, and I said a lot of the trouble with the writing in S8 was a failed attempt to make the Doctor seem more alien. He didn’t really understand what I meant. Then he mentioned Twelve’s comments about Clara’s appearance as being a step too far, which I agreed with in part but couldn’t quite articulate the other part.

Those comments are part of the attempt, and they fail. They don’t make the Doctor seem alien; they make him seem like a jerk. I was thinking about this today, and thinking that some of what I liked about S1 was the alien-ness, the jarring moments where the Doctor said or did something unexpected, something no ordinary person would. And I saw, these weird little jabs of Twelve’s are Moffat’s failed attempt to capture that alien-ness that RTD expressed (to me) so effectively.

The particular example that occurred to me is from ‘The Unquiet Dead.’ The Doctor wants to let the Gelth use human bodies. He says it’s like recycling. Rose thinks it’s wrong. “You can’t,” she insists. The episode does not choose sides; the audience is left to do it for themselves. Would it be okay to allow benevolent aliens (which admittedly the Gelth turned out not to be) to use corpses which we are only going to bury or burn? Particularly if the Doctor could then find somewhere else for them to live, somewhere they wouldn’t make the family and friends of the dead uncomfortable, somewhere they wouldn’t increase the pressure on an already overpopulated world?

That conversation was one of many that stuck in my mind as demonstrating the Doctor’s alien-ness. Not good, not bad, just alien.

Twelve’s jabs at Clara are different in that they are not ambiguous. They are mean (if not mean-spirited) and unfounded. Even if an alien were inclined to say such things, it is unlikely he would restrict his target to one person. It’s a poor writing choice – not just for plausibility, but for singling out the one ongoing female character – in several episodes, the only major female character – for deprecation. It’s really not okay.

Maybe RTD really IS the better writer, overall…

Posted February 25, 2015 by Elisabeth in Season 1, Season 8, Writers and Writing

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moar Tumblr   Leave a comment

I really need to go do other things, but I wanted to share this: RTD vs Moffat

Like the original poster, I am baffled by the hate and sharply aware that neither (nor any prior) showrunner is All That. Neither, nor any, is all bad either. Everyone has their favorite stuff and stuff that bothers them. That’s life.

I also agree that ‘fair and balanced’ does not mean equal. Personally I like RTD’s era better than Moffat’s, and Moffat’s contributions to that era better than anything else either of them has written. I’m never going to enjoy S6 as much as I enjoy S1, no matter how fair-minded I might like to be. That’s life too.

There’s really no need for people to be rabid about it either way.

Posted January 23, 2015 by Elisabeth in Fandom, Writers and Writing

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Stuff part deux: Family   Leave a comment

On the subject of Orson Pink…

In his apparent dismissal of Orson as Clara’s descendant, Moffat speculates that upon his death Clara kept in touch with Danny’s family, ultimately bequeathing the unarmed toy soldier to a young niece or nephew. It made me realize that we know nothing of Danny’s family. Mickey’s mum gets a mention in his very first episode, so it’s not just because he’s secondary. Moffat seems to have dropped the whole family aspect of the show that Russell began so beautifully.

Classic companions never had any family left behind. Tegan’s aunt and Nyssa’s father were killed as quickly as they appeared. Introducing Jackie, Mickey, and Pete – and later, Francine, Clive, Tish, Leo, Sylvia, Geoff, and Wilf – created a depth the show had never had before. It grounded the Doctor’s companions and made them real in a new way. Personally, I think it was a great choice.

Moffat, however, has let it go. Amy’s parents appear in two scenes and are otherwise hardly mentioned. Rory’s dad gets some screen time, but not until the very end of the Pond’s run as companions. Clara’s family is confusing. We know her mother is dead. Her father appeared in flashbacks in ‘The Rings of Akhaten,’ and in ‘Time of the Doctor’ with a pair of ill-defined female relatives – an aunt and a grandmother, supposedly. The elderly woman appearing briefly in ‘Dark Water’ may or may not be Clara’s grandmother. But with the exception of Brian Williams we get to know none of these people a fraction as well as we know Jackie or Tish or Wilf.

It’s a missing for me. I wonder if it explains why I don’t have the emotional attachment to Amy or Clara that I had for their predecessors. They’re characters more than they are people, while Rose, Martha, Donna, and even Mickey were people as much as they were characters.

Posted December 22, 2014 by Elisabeth in Companions, Writers and Writing

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Romance and the Doctor   Leave a comment

I’ve posted a couple of times about companions behaving badly, and today I dug through some ancient Internet history to find a comment I made on the topic over at The Mary Sue. The relevant post quoted original director Waris Hussein’s displeasure with the romantic direction of the show, and asked readers’ opinions.

Here’s the comment in entirety:

I think this is a very interesting question.

Television in general is sexier than it was fifty years ago. There’s no denying that Cumberbatch’s Sherlock is a different animal than any previous actor’s version. The same is true of the more recent Doctors – as early as McGann, I understand, though I haven’t seen the movie. I’m not sure the avuncular Doctor of the sixties and seventies would even play to modern audiences. RTD set out to deliberately create a sexier show than the one he grew up with. I don’t have a problem with this, generally, but I didn’t grow up with the show so I don’t have a background context for it. I do have a background for Sherlock Holmes, though, so I think I can understand classic fans’ feelings a bit.

Personally I don’t like romance; as Kaesa said, there are other stories out there, and romance is done to death on other shows. I do think Rose’s story was handled better than most TV romance, and I also think from a certain POV it was necessary: Rose, the audience surrogate, HAD to fall in love with this new Doctor, as the creators needed the audience to fall in love with him for the show to succeed. Same with the regeneration – the show needed the audience to fall in love again, and so with Rose. That storyline serves its purpose.

By the time Martha came along, that story was done and the show needed to move on. It didn’t, and like Fortyseven said, it’s getting tired.

Again, like Fortyseven said, there’s no reason to think the Doctor couldn’t or wouldn’t love someone. But we forget he isn’t human. Why should a Time Lord suffer the drives of a human male, when he lives ten times as long or longer? No race with that kind of lifespan is going to evolve that kind of sex drive. (Vulcans, anyone? And they only live twice as long as humans.) While a human being could hardly travel in close proximity with a beautiful young person without developing some feelings, there’s no reason to think the same is true of a Time Lord. There is no reason for the Doctor to behave like a man when he isn’t a man at all, young body or no.

Again, I can personally buy his feelings for Rose, given the space he was in at the time story-wise. But now that’s been done, let’s move on to something else.

I still think it’s an interesting question, a choice not everyone is going to agree on, and a matter that has been handled well and also handled badly over the modern run of the series. I think RTD had an obsession with romance, and Moffat is hung up on the battle of the sexes. I think it’s going to be a point of contention forever.

But on the whole I’m glad it happened, because of this:

'We've only got five billion years till the shops close.'

‘We’ve only got five billion years till the shops close.’

and also this:

'Trouble's just the bits between.'

‘Trouble’s just the bits between.’

I adore them and I always will. ❤

Posted December 9, 2014 by Elisabeth in Companions, Writers and Writing

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