This is the second of a three part segment in which I explain my negative feelings concerning Steven Moffat. If you missed part one, you can find it here. For the rest of us, let's continue...
Season seven finally rolled around and I was cautiously optimistic. I'm a bit of a fool that way. It was my hope that they had just had a couple of bad moments and that everyone had gotten used to working with each other and were ready to blow my mind.
My excitement was increased when I watched an interview with Moffat in which he talked about the season premier. The Doctor would face off against the Daleks that even the Daleks thought were too mad. The possibilities were enthralling.
What if they went down and found this compound filled with Dalek prison gangs all fighting for dominance? Since Daleks are a lot like Beholders in that any variation amongst them is seen as inferiority, this could lead to some truly intriguing power struggles. Can you imagine a 12-foot tall, mad, Dalek faction leader with a couple of side mounted missile launchers and symbols carved into its chassis like prison tats? It would be a remarkable opportunity to introduce named, possibly recurring villains and introduce some depth.
Except that instead, they all went down to the Junkyard of the Daleks. It was just a series of old, dusty garages filled with sleeping, rusty Daleks. None of these creatures were portrayed as unique or interesting in any way. The entire thing seemed like a clumsy vehicle to introduce Clara Oswin Oswald, a way-too-smart, pretty young girl that had managed to get herself turned into a Dalek.
What? What the fuck?! Look, I know I said that I wasn't going to refer back to anything that happened pre-Moffat, but I just can't let this go. Back in the season one finale, one of the big reveals was that the Dalek Emperor had rebuilt the his race by cultivating a few worthy cells from millions of kidnapped and processed humans. This dude went through an insane amount of effort to crate Daleks, while these guys can apparently just flip a switch somewhere get a one-to-one Human/Dalek ratio.
Fine, whatever, but the Daleks also have the ability to cover a planet in a nanite cloud that can convert all tissue, living or dead, into Daleks and make sleeper agents out of them and nobody talks about it?! Everybody just goes along like this is something that just happens now. There's nothing to stop the most vicious race of race of xenophobic psychopaths the universe has ever produced from stopping by a world, dropping in a nanite bomb, and leaving with a whole planet of extra soldiers and no one thinks about it? Not even the Daleks? I just... it hurts.
Then Clara decides to kill herself, because life is easier that way.
The Doctor, Rory, Amy, a big game hunter, and Queen Nefertiti try to wrest control of a giant spaceship from the janitor of Hogwarts before it crashes into Earth. The only thing stopping them are a couple of dimwitted killer robots voiced by the always delightful British comedians David Mitchell and Robert Webb. Also, there are dinosaurs. Through a series of trickery and quick thinking, the Doctor slides into victory, but not before allowing the robots to murder an outrageously adorable dog-like triceratops named Tricey.
We all love dinosaurs and spaceships, so it would seem pretty hard to fuck this one up.
Except that they find a way. I think fucking up is to Steven Moffat what life is to Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic Park: it finds a way.
The absolute only threat in this entire episode is those two robots. Two rusty, old, not-at-all made of wood robots. Also, the Doctor has a sonic screwdriver that is adept at disrupting all kinds of circuitry, especially, say... two rusty, old, not-at-all made of wood robots.
This wouldn't have been a difficult thing to get around. All it would have taken is five seconds of screen time in which he scans the robots and tells us all that they have some sort of "sonic shielding" or some such. I don't care what they call it, but give us some device to tell us that this wouldn't work. It's not even like this technique is unknown to them. They even use it in that very episode for something else. When they accidentally got teleported somewhere on the ship, they couldn't teleport back because some circuit or another had been fried. It didn't matter, it was just a device to get them to run from some pterodactyls and that was fine. Just have the decency to do the same thing in order to protect the central plot of the story.
The scene opens with a guy named Kahler-Mas getting gunned down in the American Southwest by a cyborg in a poncho and a cowboy hat.
The cyborg, Kahler-Tek is hunting down Kahler-Jex, the last of the war criminals responsible for turning him and many others into war machines against their will. However, in the interim, Jex had become a beloved town physician, leading to some conflicts of interest. In the end, the Doctor distracts the cyborg using the plot of "Amigos, Amigos, Amigos" enabling Jex takes a step toward redemption my ending his own life so that no one else has to die and Tek doesn't have to take another life. Touching.
Except... why was the alien space cyborg wearing a poncho and cowboy hat? This may seem like a tiny complaint, but it's just ridiculous. He clearly wasn't trying to blend in and there was no way that his metal scalp was getting sunburned. Why do this at all? Because someone wanted a cybernetic desperado and they didn't care how they got it. It's just one more example of how willing they are to sacrifice the integrity of their story in order to increase its flair.
Also, the name of the alien race is the Kahler. These three names are equivalent to everyone going around saying "Morning, Human-Bob." "Oh, good morning Human-Jim." It's a ludicrously inefficient naming convention, especially when you consider that on a planet of millions, you're bound to run out of one syllable names pretty quick.
Oh, and "Amigos, Amigos, Amigos" was an episode of The Three Amigos in which everyone in town dressed as an Amigo and overwhelmed the villains with distractions, leading to a town victory. You can also see this play out at the end of the movie about the Three Amigos called ¡Three Amigos!. The problem with this was that the cyborg threatened to kill everyone in town if they didn't deliver Jex, so it doesn't seem like a good idea to dress everyone in town like Jex. There's nothing to stop him from shooting everyone, just like he said he would. Except that's not how it happened in the script.
I... I don't really have anything against this episode. It's only one of the season so far that I'm not going to tear up and it felt weird not to mention it.
In the interest of avoiding an anticlimax, I'm going to skip ahead to the Christmas special.
One of the things that I despise most about Moffat's war of Style against Substance is that occasionally I find myself liking it. As much as I loath the degradation of the narrative, some of the style is just plain lovely. This episode is a prime example of it.
The Grumpy Old Doctor is living in the clouds above Christmastime London and has to be coaxed down by a peppy and clever Clara Oswin Oswald (who is inexplicably no longer dead, or a Dalek, or anything), along with a lizard lady, her human wife, and a potato-nurse. The episode was fun, humorous, and lovely. I really do like Clara and I sincerely hope that they do something worthwhile with her.
Except... look, I'm not saying that the Doctor can't live on a cloud above 1890s London, but why would he? This is nothing like anything we've seen him do before. Yes, I'm willing to entertain the notion that he's no kind of man that he's ever been before, but still. And if you want to be alone, why surround yourself with people? Why not go to an uninhabited planet or the depths of space? Sure, he had a subconscious desire to be pulled out of his funk, but why not at least allude to it? Why must I continue to tell the the story to myself?
Here's the thing that really gets my goat about this episode:
Another smitten girl kisses the Doctor.
First, can we stop having companions fall in love with the Doctor? Why is this such a thing since the restart? It was nice having that break with Donna Noble, but everyone else can't wait to get their hands on Timelord dong. Well, the ladies that is. Well, the ladies and Jack Harkness.
Second, sure he doesn't kiss her back, but neither does he mention the little fact that he's married. You'd think that kind of thing should come up pretty quickly in this kind of situation. I'm not comfortable with this combined with the instant and powerful emotional connection he's formed with this woman. Sadly, this has forced me to come up with a far-fetched and ridiculous theory in order to explain this away so I don't have to think about a philandering Doctor. I will share this now, though you'd be better off skipping it.
So they've never really dealt with the death of River Song. She's not really dead, you see. Her consciousness is fully intact in a giant computer planet along with a handful of others as seen in the end of "The Forest of the Dead." If only we had a way of getting a computerized copy of a person into a custom fit body. Oh wait, we can, as seen in the aforementioned "The Almost People." All that we have to do is connect those two systems and everyone in the library gets a shiny new body. You do River last, because that's the way she would have it. Then, her quasi-timelord genetics muck up the process. We know that the process worked on the Doctor, but it almost failed. If it did fail on River it could cause her to regenerate, because the process might re-imbue her with regeneration energy. Only something goes terribly wrong and not only does she regenerate, she then gets split up through time, one for each remaining regeneration. And all of them are an amnesia stricken Clara Oswin Oswald. This explains her super intelligence, instant draw to the Doctor, and why I don't have to feel weird about them kissing (or that Alex Kingston is 20 years older than Matt Smith).
*End Conspiracy Theory*
That's all we have for today. Join me next time as I wrap up this series on why
Steven Moffat :: Doctor Who as The guy pooping on your best friend :: Your best friend