Because there's too much (unwarranted, IMO) hatred against Moffat in recent years, I wanted to ask you what your favourite things he's done is. Such as structure, themes, characters, stories, whatever. One of mine is how he's embraced the more irrational aspects of storytelling. It's not about how it would play in real life, but about the characters. If we can believe them, we can believe the story. I'd elaborate more, but tumblr asks only allow so many characters haha.
ANON YOU FOUND MY KINK AND ITS POSITIVITY
seriously this is the kind of ask I was born to answer I’m so ready and by that I mean I’m going to actually get changed out of my work clothes and make a hot chocolate cos I have So Many Thoughts
*34 minutes later bc I started dancing to Hayley Kiyoko’s new EP in the kitchen*
I’m back and ready, and I’m even bringing proper punctuation to the table. Buckle in, kiddos.
Disclaimer: these are my (well informed) opinions, not blanket statements. Doctor Who is an incredibly subjective show, and in the face of the opposite, I try to avoid making objective comments because almost nothing about this show is inarguably anything.
I’m going to start with saying that my favourite thing he’s done is actually his own personal growth as a writer and person over the last decade. He’s actually taken on what people have said to him, and gone from someone who did maybe have some sexism issues in the past to someone pushing the blatant feminist agenda on Doctor Who that has so many whiny nerdboys complaining. He’s actively worked to increase diversity in the show since he realised that he was wrong in his naive assumption that open casting would do the trick. Like Peter, he’s just a nerd living his dream job except he likes being in the background and actually gives himself a lot less credit than is due.
If more showrunners could actively listen and grow and work to better themselves the way Moffat has, we would see so much improvement in television and the industry itself.
Now. Onto his actual work. In this particular case only talking about Doctor Who, a show that it doesn’t take itself too seriously, and the fact that Moffat doesn’t take himself too seriously is why it works.
I can’t just pick one thing he’s done when it comes to this show, but I think I’ll focus on plot, themes, and characters.
(Small note, as I nip back up here from further down: you’ll notice how this post has a kind of defensive undertone? That’s subconscious and automatic as I’m writing. Thank you, negativity spreaders, for ingraining the need to have to justify my love for the thing that got me through high school and is probably the only reason I’m mentally healthy.)
To start with, I just want to mention the whole “fairytale” thing. I’m not really sure I’d call it a theme (actually, it is, for Amy’s character, but I’m talking more for his era in general), but his whole era has this kind of fairytale quality to it. Which is strangely uncommon for sci-fi, I think, given that wondrous new things is such a staple part of most works within the genre. But it just…fits Doctor Who so well. Because DW is a bit fanciful, and wondrous, and I love the awesome combination of fairytale/sci-fi that we think shouldn’t work but does.
I’ve picked my three favourite themes of Moffat’s to talk about. (I would also like to say that I personally think he does the best thematic writing in DW so far.)
Stories: This theme works so well because of the links to the three main ladies of his era, with Amy’s fairytale narrative, River’s diary in which she writes down her life with the Doctor, and Clara’s love for books and being an English teacher. Plus it’s always cool for the show to be able to comment on itself, especially with the main character being being a figure who comes with a story, the two most common being the unsung hero or the infamous renegade.
Names: The way the name theme in the Moffat era of Who (and actually Sherlock as well) is done would be fantastic in any show, but has so much more depth for a show whose main character is famous for going only by a singular title he chose himself.
Hybrid: In addition to spawning a great meme, when viewed more seriously this theme is just so clever. It’s so relevant because of the duality in the Doctor’s life, especially in Series 9. Missy is enemy and friend. Clara was the Doctor’s salvation after losing the Ponds and River, but by the end of Series 9 has become a kind of destruction. The Doctor was also Gallifrey’s greatest embarrassment, destroyer, and saviour all at once.
Although I won’t go so far as to say that he does it the best (there’s probably a BF story that would prove me wrong even if I weren’t against the idea of “best” anything in a show this subjective), Moffat is one of the only writers who truly has the capacity to play with this show’s huge scope and pull it off as well as he does. He really has the “timey-wimey” knack that a lot of writers could only dream of possessing.
He plays a long game, and I think some of the reason that people take issue with his plot is that they don’t realise it’s not a plot hole if it just hasn’t been explained yet?
Example: the fact that Eleven’s era never actually completely made sense until his very last episode. It made enough sense as it went for us to enjoy and move through it, but things like why the TARDIS exploded in the first place were big ??? until Time of the Doctor.
His parallels are on a level of fantastic I don’t know I’ve seen anywhere else. See this post and the tags for a great example of this.
And to anyone who tries to say that his plots are overcomplicated, I’m sorry but…they’re not, really? They’re as complicated as time travel should be, but not actually massively difficult to understand if you stop and think about it. I personally don’t need plots that join up every single dot for me, part of the fun is working out some of it for yourself and that’s always been something DW expects of us. Moffat’s adamant about not simplifying things for children because he knows that children are more onto it than a lot of adults. (I can’t stand people who act like children don’t understand shit, they understand almost everything and Moff knows this and writes accordingly.)
Another great Moffat thing is all the Classic Who references etc that he uses. Bringing back the Lethbridge-Stewart run UNIT and the Zygons and the Time Lords, it just makes it so enjoyable.
A lot of hatred for him comes from a viewpoint where what RTD did is what DW is at a fundamental level. Which is just simply not true. For example, Torchwood’s cool and all, but UNIT is the crucial alien fighting force in this universe and it’s nice to see that very much the case again.
(Pause to say that I am not in any way criticising RTD’s work or trying to make this a RTD vs Moffat thing. RTD did a lot of great stuff and I love his era. Like every other DW writer, he’s not perfect, but I’m a big fan. My issue is with people taking some of the things he did as law when it wasn’t and then having issue with Moffat deviating, when it was often a deviation back to something in the classic series.)