Moffat versus Russell T

Ten & Eleven, (c) BBCGood morning! Two more episodes to go in series 7 and no double episodes this whole series. What did you think of the Crimson Horror? Personally I was glad to see something with a bit more (comprehensible) story, although the trick with the sonic screwdriver was a bit tacky. In this post I will offer my two cents on why I love series 1-4 but don’t experience anything beyond amused in series 5-7.

In my previous post I already betrayed that I am not much of a fan of the Moffat era of Doctor Who. I am a Russell T girl all the way (yes, I know the T doesn’t stand for anything). Ever since series 5, I have been trying to pinpoint exactly what the difference is between the two eras. Why do I like series 1-4 and not 5-7? For a while my main explanation was Matt Smith, but I do not think that is either fair on him nor is it the whole answer. He is, after all, a decent actor.

The eleventh Doctor is doing a copious amount of running around

Before I continue, I wish to stress that I have nothing against Moffat in general. I absolutely adore Sherlock, so I certainly believe the man can make amazing television. I just don’t think he’s right for Doctor Who. So what is the difference between the two eras? Well, I think I have finally figured it out. Sure, Matt Smith isn’t my Doctor and neither Amy nor Rory made my heart beat any faster (although I liked little Amelia!), but the main difference, I believe, is in the writing of the show. It should be noted that some writers have written for both captains, but overall it has been a significant change.

Partners in Crime

I would like to argue that there are two main differences in the writing of Doctor Who between Moffat and Russell T. The first difference is that Russell T’s episodes were largely story-driven, while Moffat’s episodes are largely action-driven. I personally feel that the eleventh Doctor is doing a copious amount of running around, shouting things I cannot understand due to the equally exuberant music. From beginning to end, series 5-7 are action, action, action! While Ten also does a good deal of running, there is a lot more calmness in those episodes. Those episodes usually build up gradually towards a climax with a lot of running, but until then there is plenty of time for the Doctor and his companions to chat, offer explanations and laugh.

This also accounts for the fact that the episodes in series 5-7 appear to be much shorter than in series 1-4. While I believe they actually are 5 minutes shorter, they feel about 15-20 minutes shorter to me. This is due to all the action. Compare for instance a film like The Avengers to an art house film. The latter will generally feel longer, because it is slower. Now I am absolutely not saying that story-driven is better than action-driven, but since I personally prefer story-driven, this simply explains why I like the Russell T era more than the Moffat era.

I don't want to go

The second main difference I have observed between Russell T and Moffat is the emotional factor. Many if not all of the episodes of series 1-4 have an emotional arc as well as a story arc. A good example is the Doctor’s Daughter. Right at the beginning the Doctor becomes worried, reluctant when Jenny is created. However, before too long he starts to warm up until he becomes his enthusiastic, bubbling self again. He starts to love Jenny, whether he wants to or not. But then Jenny dies and the Doctor collapses. And I, as the viewer, feel that with him. I feel his enthusiasm and then his despair, his anger, his desolation. It is a kind of catharsis and I love it!

As for the eleventh Doctor’s episodes, the closest I have come to feeling that same emotional catharsis is in Vincent and the Doctor, when they take Van Gogh to the Musee d’Orsay and show him that his art will not just be appreciated one day, but that he will be hauled as one of the greatest painters in the history of art. O yes, I weeped! But perhaps that is because Van Gogh is my all-time favourite artist and I have been dreaming for years about doing exactly that. Generally, Moffat just doesn’t seem to have much patience with the emotional factor (while I love it). Possibly that is why he does such a great job on Sherlock!

The finale...Well, those are my two cents about why Moffat’s Doctor doesn’t work for me. What do you think? Do you like series 5-7 as much as 1-4? How do you feel about Eleven? Ten? Nine? Do you agree with my analysis? Do you have a different theory? A different opinion?

If you liked this blog post, please consider signing up to follow my blog by email. Thank you!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s