The Doctor (And Another Doctor)

So it's a year since Stephen Moffat took over the reins as executive producer and chief writer at Doctor Who, and it's time to consider what kind of a fist he's making of the job. In my opinion: a pretty damn good one.

In the new version of Who, I've always loved Stephen Moffat's episodes the best. His writing is simply breath-taking, and he understands the possibilities of time travel for clever, puzzling, deeply satisfying stories in a way that I don't think Russell T. Davies was ever really interested in. It seemed to me that RTD was so caught up in the mythology of the Doctor's character (a near-immortal, deeply lonely, almost god-like figure, stalking the wastes of time and space with the fate of worlds weighing oh-so-heavily on his shoulders, etc etc) that he rather neglected the sheer fun you can have with a time machine, zooming back and forth to five minutes ago with a silly fez on your head and contradicting what you're just about to say, if only you hadn't already said it.

I was quite prepared to not warm to Matt Smith's Doctor (too young, not serious enough) but he's won me over. It's been a wrench to part from David Tennant's No. 10, who did seem to me the perfect embodiment of the Doctor, but I think I've come to terms with it now. And I must admit, at times, RTD's Doctors were so freighted with all that history, all that meaning, that it sometimes became a bit... a bit much. A bit pompous, a bit earnest, a little bit too much staring soulfully into the middle distance with flames in the background. The Eleventh Doctor, Stephen Moffat's Doctor, is playful and merry and clever, and most of the time, he's having fun.

Having said all that, I do have reservations. I don't like the new Daleks. The cartoonish, clunky, brightly-coloured versions just aren't scary to me; I prefer the rough, industrial, ruthless originals. I'm not sure about all this business about being married to River Song; the Doctor doesn't do "married."Moffat doesn't seem to have the same reverence for the Doctor's mythos as RTD; he chucks stuff around a smidge too carelessly, perhaps.

But I can go with it. We all have our own visions of the Doctor. I was around when John Nathan-Turner reinvented the Fifth Doctor as a youthful action hero; there were gasps of dismay from fandom, but we all survived. And the Doctor and his TARDIS keep on spinning, through eternity.


  1. Interesting viewpoint, Kate. I have to admit, I had a good giggle over Daleks with British flags offering cups of tea.

    I know Steve Moffatt created the Angels, but they just don't work out in this season, for me. "Blink" was brilliant. It should have been left as it was, unspoiled.

    Best episode, IMO, was the one with Vincent Van Gogh.

    I, too, remember when Peter Davison became the Doctor. Fans of Tom Baker were awful to him - and he really was the gentlest of the Doctors, one I loved. I will give Matt Smith another season before I make up my mind.

  2. Oh, I adored Peter Davison, even though I was brought up on Tom Baker. I didn't know the fans were mean to him!

    I agree with you that the Angels should have been left alone. SM does play fast and loose even with his own rules, which bugs me - now it's enough to "pretend" to be looking at them? Hm, I don't think so.

    I need to watch Vincent again. First time round I found it a bit schmaltzy (this was even before I realised Richard Curtis had written it). But I will give it another chance.

  3. I went with a bunch of fans to meet Peter Davison at the airport when he came to Australia, not long after he'd landed the role.He came with his wife, Sandra Dickinson - thank heavens, one of us remembered she'd just done Hitch-hiker's Guide To The Galaxy and got her to autograph his drawing of her! It meant she wasn't ignored.

    One of my friends was idiotic enough to ask him to pose with her wearing her Tom Baker scarf! I wanted to strangle at her, as I saw his eyes flare with fury! However, he merely said politely, "Very well, but I shall pick it!" - and he did! Afterwards, she said, "Hey, it's got a hole in it!" and I thought, "Serve you right, mate!"

    Do re-view Vincent! I love it, myself. And check out that museum curator - it's Bill Nighy! :-) (If you've been around long enough, he was Sam Gamgee in the LOTR radio series and I'm quite sure that Sean Astin, who listened to it rather than read the book, copied his voice and accent for the role).

    BTW, just had another look at "Blink" and Moffatt wrote it with Paul Cornell, no wonder it was so good. I met PC once, years ago, before he was famous, as the friend of a friend and he told me that in the UK, if you had a certain small amount in the bank, the government would support your writing - wouldn't you and I love that, eh, Kate? ;-)