Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Shall I Compare Steven Moffat to a Bloody Diaper? - Part 1

People communicate on a very superficial level these days. Last night I posted a link on my Facebook page expressing my complete joy that head writer and executive producer of Doctor Who, Steven Moffat is beginning to consider leaving the show.

Not long after a friend of mine asked me why I was so happy about this. My response wasn't more put together than "because he sucks and I hate him." To which Friend responded, "yes, but why?"

I was a bit stunned. Not that I had never bothered putting to words why I hated Steven Moffat, but that someone bothered to dig deeper than surface Social Media bitching. Well, with points in the ether to be made and the show about to start back up again after its winter break, it seemed like a good opportunity to do some kvetching. make some valid points.

If Doctor Who isn't really your thing, you may be better off coming back in a few days once I've gotten this out of my system. We're about to get super Nerd-Ragey up in this bitch. So, here we go...

Why I'm Pleased that Steven Moffat Will Leave "Who"
Why Steven Moffat can Get Regularly Assaulted by a Diseased-Ridden Rape-Griffin and I'd be Okay with It

There are a few things I feel I need to get out of the way before we get started:

First - I'm coming from a place of love. I remember being a small child and hiding behind my couch from Daleks. When the show rebooted in 2005, I was skeptical. However, it didn't take me long to simply fall in love with the show all over again. The stories were complex, but never came across as contrived. The characters didn't always do what I expected them to, but they were always true to themselves. I didn't always know where the show was going, but they always rewarded my faith by pulling everything together by the end.

Second - I think it's ridiculous that Moffat refuses to interact with anything that came before him, but I'm not going to harp on it in this. I understand that it's nearly impossible to maintain 50 years of continuity, and it would actually take a small amount of effort to factor in what Davies did before him, but I will hold Moffat accountable for the reality he sets up himself.

Third - I want to be thorough enough to get my point across, but brief enough to fit into a post. If you would like to elaborate on anything, let me know and I'll try to find a way to fit it in... giggety.

And I loved me some River Song
When the previous executive producer, Russell T Davies decided to step down and Steven Moffat took his place, I was optimistic even then. Moffat had written a couple of my favorite episodes, including Blink, and Silence in the Library. I wasn't afraid of change, I was excited to see the new direction everything would take. He started the job with every advantage a man could have.

Then slowly, ever so slowly that I wasn't at first at all sure that it was happening, Moffat shat the bed. And he just. Won't. Stop. Shitting.

Season 5 came and went before I was even sure I smelled anything. I believe that the only fair way to do this is by listing particular offending episodes and why they contribute to the loathing.

So the Doctor spends a solid week with this chick who sleeps in a stasis pod which has a number that ticks down every day and she asked about her doctors when they first met. The Doctor noticed the number on the stasis pod, but he can't be expected to remember everything.

Except that's exactly what he does. He puts those little clues together and saves people. Abigail asking if he was one of her doctors was very reminiscent of Amy asking if he was a policeman when they first met. There was every indication that the Doctor was onto the mystery, but then he just... forgot. Besides, there wouldn't be as much of an emotional punch if he had fixed her, right?

I would have been satisfied if he had found the illness, but there just wasn't a cure. The fact that he didn't even check seemed incompetent to the point of out of character. I freely admit that it is difficult to write a character who is smarter than you, but this was the first time that line got crossed for me.

This was the first episode that caused me to scream at the television as I was watching it. The moment when they realized that it was reflective surfaces, not just still water, that allowed the Siren to come through, the Doctor decided it would be best if they through all the treasure overboard, which led to the greedy captain dooming his son by accidentally dropping his purloined crown.

Except that they repeatedly proved that it doesn't just have to be reflective, it has to be actively reflecting. They could have thrown a tarp over the treasure and it would have been perfectly safe, but that wouldn't have caused the captain to lose his son over his own greed, so they glazed over it for storytelling purposes.

Then, for no great reason, the Doctor decides that suicide might end well and they all get sent to the phase-shifted spaceship on the other side of the veil. Sure, whatever. Only they got there just like everyone else, and they didn't get put were everyone else got put. Everyone else was laid down unconscious in life-support while the Doctor, Amy, and the captain got sent to an empty room for no damn reason at all.

Then the episode ends with the Doctor giving a bunch of murderous pirates a spaceship.

Cripes, what a downer. That's okay, sad can be good, but this wasn't.

A whole two-parter has gone by in which we learn all sorts of lessons about what it means to be alive, unique, and human. In the end, the Doctor clone and the foreman clone hold off the monster behind the door to buy time for everyone to get away. They then kill the monster, killing themselves in the process. Quite noble, proving that one's origins does not dictate one's morality.

Except that was the stupidest thing they could have done. There was a point where everyone was gathered around the door and the TARDIS was only 20 feet away. Any two people could have stayed behind to fire the clone-killing weapon, including any of the real versions of the ones who died. They even had time to sit around and talk about it. There was absolutely no reason that those two people had to explod-o-melt except that it made for a more emotional ending.

So far we've been talking about the characters being drastically poor decision makers, which is okay in and of itself, except that here it's an example of writing out of character. This episode introduces an entirely new style of cheap writing.

Remember how Amy grew up ostracized and out of sorts because no one believed her stories about the Doctor? Did you catch that his willingness to believe/indulge her was one of the main reasons that Rory and Amy were able to bond?

Except that Moffat doesn't give a corn-filled turd about you or what you remember, so let's ret-con that shit!

Hey, remember how Amy and Rory grew up with this really ballsy black chick who totally believed in the Doctor, was totally with them all the time, only no one ever mentioned her even once until now? Well, it turns out that was River the whole time! What a twist! Aren't you surprised? I bet you didn't see that one coming!

Creating a brand new element that was supposedly there all the time is cheap. Making that the axis of a major plot point is terrible.

Let me first say that I don't actually dislike this episode, it's just that it's a prime example of a trend that I dislike in Who storytelling.

The thing about the Doctor is that he's just a clever guy. A clever guy with a time machine and a dozen more chances at life that the rest of us, sure... but he's still just a guy. He's not super strong or bullet proof. He doesn't know 50 martial arts, in fact, he's much, much better at running away than anything else. He spends most of his time thwarting villains with nefarious schemes and setting right what once went wrong... The bad guys were mean and scary, but they were usually just guys.

Except now he's psychic and defeats abstract concepts with the power of feels. In the God Complex,
there's a space-minotaur prison warden who feeds on the faith of his victims by trapping them in a 1980's Earth hotel with their greatest fears, and the Doctor defeats him by sending his companion into an existential crisis.

One episode later he saves a chubby house-husband from being forcibly turned into a robot by reminding him of how much he loves his kid. Man, it would have been nice if any of the millions of other victims of cyber-conversion had families to think about (they did - it didn't help).

They had spent 50 years establishing a setting and people got used to what sort of things were possible within the scope of this universe. We know what the TARDIS and sonic screwdriver can do. Psychic paper is all right by me. All these things have limitations. If the Doctor's trapped in a wooden box, we know the screwdriver isn't going to help (it doesn't do wood). But when you add feels to his list of weapons as a vague "I will this to work" tool, it cheapens the rest of it.

So the Doctor that died on the beach was the Doctor shrunken inside of a mechanical Doctor suit the whole time.

Fine. Whatever.

Except that if that's the case, then where did all of the regeneration energy come from after River shot the robot? By the way, River Shot the Robot would be a great album title. There was never any mention of the suit having any holographic capabilities, but that's all it would have taken to explain that away.

I like having a mystery to solve. I don't even care if I'm right in the end, I just need the story to make sure its got its facts straight, or else I'm going to feel like they just pulled it out of their ass. I'm looking at you, entirety of "Lost."

Sure, there's a lot of plot holes and questionable story telling going on around here, but does that warrant a man getting buggered by a syphilitic half-lion half-eagle Greek monster? No, of course not. This is just the beginning.


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