I’ve been a pretty avid Doctor Who fan for a couple of years now. I think I started around the time just before Matt Smith’s first season (so series 5 of the new reboot) was airing. Ever since then, I’ve slowly been losing hope for the show. Pretty much ever since Steven Moffat took over as headwriter and showrunner. Now, don’t get me wrong: I’m not trying to glorify Russel T. Davies’ era, or completely bash Moffat without any context, just for the sake of it. Trust me, I love this show, its premise, its history, and it’s making me sad that I come to dread new episodes more than look forward to them. I would love to be able to keep loving it.
I went to a local cinema to see the anniversary special, and I tried my very best to be excited and to go into it with an open mind – which wasn’t the hardest task, seeing as I was in a car with two very excitable fangirls (yes, T., you’re a fangirl as well. Deal with it. You’re awesome.)
Sadly, the excitement didn’t last very long for me.
I will try my very best to put my criticism and personal feelings of rage (yes, rage) into coherent form. Some of these arguments are stolen from Tumblr, some of them are my initial reactions, some are a mix of my feelings and far more eloquent writings of other people. Bear with me.
Obviously, everything after the jump will be riddled with spoilers. And anger. And disappointment. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
1. I really do not see the point of the War Doctor. John Hurt didn’t do anything that Paul McGann couldn’t have done. Man, you wouldn’t even have had to change any of the lines, including the bits of “grumpy old man vs two timey-wimey childish boys”. It’s called acting. McGann is a brilliant actor. In one of his interviews, Moffat said Eight wasn’t “gritty” and “dark” enough, that McGann’s Doctor was more the romantic, heroic type. So instead of having any kind of actual character development, he just has him regenerate and jumble up the whole regeneration count, just so that he can have his “warrior”. McGann would have been every bit as capable of playing a warrior. But he wasn’t given the chance.
2. Why did the Doctor write “No More” in English? In Gallifrey? Gallifreyan isn’t translated by the TARDIS, so it’s not like we can claim he actually wrote it in, y’know, the native language.
3. Why have three storylines (the Time War, Elizabeth, and the Zygons in the vault) and literally tie up only one of them? They were negotiating a “fair deal for humans and Zygons” and we have no idea what ever came of it?!? Uh … hello?
4. So Clara is suddenly a teacher, yeah? I mean, good for her, nice and all, but how about some on-screen character development for once, mmmh?
5. Ok, those have been minor issues so far. Let’s break out the big guns. Basically: the plot. Let me get one thing clear: I understand the plot perfectly fine, I just don’t like it.
Okay, so Gallifrey still exists. It is frozen, transported to a pocket universe, but everyone’s alive and fine. The War Doctor (8.5, I guess? What do we even call him?) and Ten will forget all about it happening. 8.5 regenerates and, as we were able to see, turns into 9, without any knowledge of what’s actually happened.
It is pretty neat that Eleven has his home planet back, didn’t actually kill a few billion children and others. I’ll give you that.
Nine and Ten still suffered. A lot. They were angry, scared, ashamed, desperate, seeking forgiveness. With the plot of this recent episode, all of that character development (and it was brilliant character development, at least for the most part. I will not say much about Eleven here, because I despise a lot of things about him, and going into that would need another blogpost entirely of its own), all of what they’ve lived through, is rendered worthless. Yes, it still happened, I absolutely get that. But it’s such an extreme case of gaslighting that it’s not even funny anymore. Oh, you suffered for literally four hundred years? Surprise, it was all a lie.
How would you feel?
It actually reminded me of that one scene in V for Vendetta (spoilers ahead!), that to this day just rubs me the wrong way (in the end, that entire film kind of does, although I did enjoy it): when Evey is captured by government officials and then imprisoned and tortured, with her only solace being the notes another prisoners is supposedly writing her, and she endures it all. Later it is revealed that it it was V who tortured her. To “free her from her fears”. Was it necessary for her to be tortured? So that she could see the truth and be freed for her fears or some bullshit? Fuck that, fuck you if you think that’s okay and watched that film without batting an eye.
But even apart from that, if you don’t care that Nine, Ten and Eleven suffered under the weight of eradicating their entire race and not actually having to, how can you possibly ignore that the Doctor felt like the Time Lords needed to die? Rassilon, with his “Chosen” ones was fucking crazy. Do you not remember the End of Time, where Ten faced him and a few others and you could see the fear in his eyes? And after listening to them, he came to the same conclusion as he did during the Time War: they had to die. Again. And suddenly it’s all okay? Suddenly you can just freeze them in time (not the same as a time lock, mind you) and that’s supersafe, and you don’t have to protect the universe from the insanity of the Time Lords?
Nevermind that, now the End of Time doesn’t even make sense anymore! The whole plotline with the Master bringing back the Time Lords – from where? There is no time lock to circumvent, hell, Gallifrey isn’t even where it’s supposed to be anymore.
7. And this is where things are getting personal: Elizabeth I.
Moffat seems to have this obsession with taking female characters, perhaps even making them supposedly strong (which, in reality, is just hypersexualised and flirtatious) and making them all about marriage. See Amy. See River.
You see, Elizabeth I means a lot to me. For years (basically ever since we talked about her briefly – way too briefly really – in English class) she has been one of the people I’ve really looked up to. When I stood by her grave in Westminster Abbey, I had tears in my eyes. Not because I mourned her death or anything (it’s been a couple of decades – I can deal), but because although I did know that a lot of queens and kings are burried in Westminster Abbey, I never really thought about the fact that that would include her. So I was a bit overwhelmed to suddenly be standing right beside her grave. All in all: Elizabeth I: big deal. And then Moffat comes along and just …. WHAT?!?!?
Let me tell you something about Elizabeth. She was born into a country that persecuted people of her religion, that definitely wasn’t too fond of a Protestant woman as their leader, and that was never entirely safe for her.
To quote a good tumblr post on this exact topic: “Queen Elizabeth 1 who did not marry because she considered herself married to her country. Queen Elizabeth 1 who did not marry because she had seen what became of her poor half sister Mary who lost the support of the people and almost suffered a rebellion when she married a Spanish royal. Queen Elizabeth 1 who did not marry because she believed that to be a fair and just leader, she could not let her heart rule her head. Queen Elizabeth 1 who did not marry because was abused by a man she was supposed to be able to trust in her early teens. Elizabeth 1 whose mother was brutally slaughtered by her husband and so did not trust in love.”
And Moffat takes this historical character and makes her a lovesick fool who is all about marrying/kissing/getting it on with the Doctor. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so insulted (on someone else’s behalf) about the writing of a historical figure. This was honestly kind of the last straw.
I will probably be stupid enough to keep watching. I should have given up a while ago, but once I got attached to something (anything), you’ll need three crowbars and and a tow truck to pry me away from it, no matter how damaging it is to me.
Maybe Steven Moffat will soon give up his space as showrunner. I mean, a girl can hope, right?
And I am fairly excited to see Peter Capaldi as Twelve (or is it Thirteen now?). I’m really sick of the bad writing though, so I can’t bring myself to really look forward to anything.
Sorry that the formatting is a bit off today, WordPress isn’t cooperating and I just wanted to get this over with. Haha.