Earlier in the year, Doctor Who show runner Steven Moffat announced he would be standing down at the end of 2017. That cause a bit of a mixed reaction from fans. Some wanted him to stay beyond that and some wanted him gone immediately. Moffat has one full series in series ten, as well as the 2016 and 2017 Christmas specials to write and produce before handing over the TARDIS keys to the incoming Chris Chibnall. So what should Moffat be aiming to do in his swan song year? I spoke to Wesley McCammon, Rob MacLeod, Duncan Raeburn and Steve Coverdale to find out.
First of all I asked them each to describe Steven Moffat’s era/legacy in a few sentences. There was an interesting split in opinions.
Wesley: I would describe the Moffat era as a confused jumble of half-baked canon rewriting, bad characters, and plot holes. The choices he’s made have been at best ok and at worst a disaster for the franchise. He took a show at the peak of its popularity and with bad writing has led it down a dangerous path. I can only hope that he can redeem himself in his last series.
Rob: For me, Moffat’s era has been a success, overall at least, particularly in how he took the time travel aspect of the show to places no one had risked before. There have been a number of less than spectacular episodes, both in the Smith and the Capaldi runs, but the highs have massively outweighed the lows, in my opinion. I would definitely consider myself a fan of Moffat’s time in charge of Who.
Duncan: He definitely focused a lot more on series long plot lines than RTD, who just hinted at them until the finale. He did tie the modern series more into classic Who though, which I like. Overall it’s definitely disappointing when you compare it to fans’ initially high hopes for him but not completely awful.
Steve: The Moffat era has been one of, at times complicated and convoluted storylines. It’s given us two completely different Doctors and never in the history of the show have the fans been more divided. He’s either a brilliant storyteller or like me, you yearn for the RTD days.
So next up, I asked what has been Moffat’s best and worst moment in charge of the show?
Wesley: Peter Capaldi is an excellent Doctor. And so was Matt Smith. I think in general, casting in series 5-9 has been good. In terms of a negative, everything that was the monstrosity “Hell Bent.” From the disastrous build up of Gallifrey returning to the absolute destruction of Face the Raven, to the horrible Diner Tardis at the end. Bringing Clara back after Face the Raven was clearly the worst part of Hell Bent, and that is saying a lot. Honestly, I wish Clara had left after “Last Christmas” (Did a video on how it should have ended). There are just so many bad decisions in that one episode alone.
Rob: I’d have to go back to what I said earlier about how he made the most of the Doctor being a time traveller, and the complications that arise from living that life. I know that many fans consider his storytelling overly complicated and hard to follow, but personally I’ve never struggled with it. In fact I’ve thoroughly enjoyed all the twists and turns. His worst move was Danny Pink. I could have left it at just those two words, to be honest, but I probably should explain what I mean. Doctor Who is about travelling through all of time and space with a crazy alien. Not moping about, looking miserable and wanting to stay home watching movies about people living the life you could be living yourself. Danny was a black hole of dullness, and far too much of Capaldi’s first series was wasted on him.
Duncan: He was at his best either while writing episodes for RTD or making more references to the classic series as showrunner. His downfall was making some scenes and episodes far more melodramatic than they needed to be.
Steve: I think the best thing Moffat has done throughout his tenure is embrace the past. He brought back the eighth Doctor, some classic monsters on a regular basis and mentioned past adventures from the classic series. I may be going against the grain here but I think the worst thing Moffat did was persist with River Song’s storyline. It just never convinced me and got far too complex in the end.
So that was looking back, now to look forward. In Russell T Davies’ last series, he brought back all of the key characters from his era in Journey’s End. I asked if you’d like to see Moffat attempt something similar.
Wesley: With Moffat as the show runner no. I don’t want to see Amy, Rory, or Clara back honestly.
Rob: Yes, very much so. In fact I’m hoping to see something along those lines actually happen. Amy, Rory, River and Clara have all played such important roles in the Doctor’s latest two incarnations that not seeing them again in some form or other would seem like a missed opportunity.
Duncan: Only if it wasn’t forced. A lot of the callbacks in the S4 finale were great but some of the, just felt like they were put in there purely for the sake of nostalgia.
Steve: I think Journey’s End was probably a once in a lifetime event. I think it’s wonderful to see old characters come back. I would love to see Mickey and Jackie come back, Captain Jack, Rose, Donna, Martha, Amy, Rory, everyone. Not just the Moffat era but the entire Dr Who episodes. Ace, Peri.. etc.
So finally I asked what must Moffat do, and what must he avoid during his final year.
Wesley: Good writing. That has been the downside of the entire Moffat era. Are there some great stories in series 5-9? Yes. But the overall story telling has been not as high quality as series 1-4. He simply can’t bring Clara or Me and that awful Diner TARDIS back. I’ve had enough of Clara for a lifetime. He needs to get good writers to write quality stories and stop with the fan service. The fans will watch it for quality stories.
Rob: The one plot point I want to see Moffat answer is exactly what Twelve was doing when he appeared with his other selves in The Day of the Doctor. Logically, he shouldn’t have been there, because at that point Eleven was still destined to be the last of the Doctors, so that would suggest that he was there for reasons of his own, and I’d love Moffat to address that! He mustn’t bring back Danny Pink, and this time I will leave it at that.
Duncan: I’d like Capaldi to stay on until series eleven. Beyond that I’d like a return to a more “monster of the week” format. He should avoid deviating away too much from the traditional format just to try and freshen up the show. If you do it too much, you end up alienating the old fans.
Steve: I would definitely like to see Moffatt do a multi-Doctor story. The 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th Doctors could all feasibly still appear together. I wouldn’t like Moffat to leave a load of unanswered questions, which is what I think he will actually do.
So what do you think Steven Moffat should do to sign out in style and what must he avoid? Huge thanks to Wesley, Rob, Duncan & Steve for providing such interesting and varied answers.
You can follow the fans here:
Twitter – Wesley: @pisgahscience2
YouTube – Wesley McCammon
Twitter – Rob: @The_27th_Doctor
Twitter – Steve: @Whoatthetardis