Is there anything you actually like about Steven Moffat?
I think he writes good monsters. He’s skilled at tapping into very basic, almost primal fears. Some of his creations are amazing and feel iconic to me. The Weeping Angels, for example, are bound to live on in Doctor Who years into the future because they’re such a great concept. He also has a real knack of making ordinary things unnerving. I mean I’ve never been more scared of a house than Amelia Pond’s house back in Eleventh Hour. The idea of some whole other room existing because you don’t pay attention is horrifying. Also the Vashta Nerada were a pretty cool concept. And the Silence were good before we found out too much about them, because to me they lost some of their appeal and they didn’t make much sense. But the initial idea of a monster making you forget them is really frightening.
I also think he’s a great ideas man. This might be why his stories work so well within a series headed by another writer. I really looked forward to his episodes while RTD was in charge because RTD had already taken care of the character building and making believable relationships, and Moffat could throw in his scary stuff and clever time travel plots without having to lose that characterisation element. RTD also had a series arc which would run through his stories, so Moffat’s episodes felt connected to all the others.
Also he can write very funny dialogue for eccentric characters (like Missy for example). I just think he lacks the ability to make more normal characters come to life. You can get a lot of quotable lines from Moffat, but I think he lacks the emotional heart to make his characters believable. Which is fine if you’re writing larger than life pantomime characters, but maybe not for everyone else.
One last thing I thought of (there’s probably more), is that he created the Eleventh and Twelfth Doctors, and although I hated what became of Eleven later on, the initial concept and how he was in Series 5 was good. And Twelve definitely works. As concepts they are successful, which I suppose ties into the fact Moffat’s an ideas man. It’s just a question of whether he can hold onto these ideas and finish them off in satisfying ways without jumping onto the next concept or trying to distract viewers from the things that don’t add up.