I wrote earlier this year about my problems with the last few series of Doctor Who. Charlie Jane Anders wrote a blog post on io9 that really hits the nail on the head regarding Steven Moffat’s run as executive producer of the show, and her write-up of the seventh series finale is also spot on. I had very mixed feelings about the finale. I got very choked up when Clara and the other friends of the Doctor were threatened, and the final scene with River Song got me teary-eyed, but I found myself bored and numb when it came to the villain and the threat to the Doctor.
In the classic show and in the first few series of the new show, the Doctor was a brilliant time traveler who would show up, unknown by the people around him, and use his brilliance and charisma to ingratiate himself into the situation and save the day. But that’s changed. Now the Doctor is a lonely god, crucial to the existence of the universe, known far and wide, with secret conspiracies working against him throughout time and space. Just announcing his name can send enemies running. And as much as I love epic stories, I find the godlike nature of the Doctor’s character…boring. It’s upped the stakes of the show to the point where the smaller, quieter stories seem subsumed by the overarching epic plot. I’ve loved Moffat’s past stories like “The Empty Child” and “Silence in the Library” (as far as I’m concerned, “The Girl in the Fireplace” is the quintessential Doctor Who story), but I’ve gotten incredibly disenchanted with his vision of the show as its executive producer and head writer.
When my mother asked me on Facebook about it, I said this:
“Moffat wants to swim around in the mythology of the Doctor, look at him as this epic demigod who is the Most Important Person in the Universe, look at his dark secrets and hidden pain. And I don’t care about any of that. I just want the Doctor to be a brilliant, eccentric time traveler who stumbles around the universe, fighting monsters. I don’t want him to be perfect, I want him to be unsure and afraid at times, but I don’t care about him as this mythic entity who is a legend to everyone in the universe, this tragic figure who hides epic levels of pain behind a facade of eccentric charm. Looking at this episode, ahead to the 50th anniversary special, and back at the past few seasons, and…I just don’t care about the overarching story Moffat wants to tell. Which, I suppose, is my problem, not Moffat’s.”
Maybe I’ll never get the show that I want, the show where an eccentric but relatively unknown time traveler and his ordinary but courageous companions show up somewhere, fight a great evil, then leave to go off to their next adventure, with no monumentally epic metaplot intruding on every story. Maybe stories like “The Impossible Planet,” “The Unquiet Dead,” “Kinda,” and “Pyramids of Mars” are a thing of the past. I’ll probably keep watching the show, because even at its worst, it’s still better than almost anything to me. And I’ll always have the 30 years worth of past episodes to watch. One way or another, the show I adore will go on, timeless and eternal.