September 11, 2015

Ask Gordon Anything - Brendan's Question About Doctor Who

Some time ago, I encouraged friends, readers of this blog, and others to ask me anything....and although I wasn't deluged with questions (as much as freelance assignment seeking and writing), I'm taking the time to answer questions - one post per person.

Our first post is via pal Brendan, who asked via Facebook:

Is the BBC ever going to create a satisfactorily plausible back-story for Clara Oswald? It seems like they just want us to forget that she started out as a Dalek, re-appeared in a different place and time and DIED, and had been "chosen" by Missy, (etc.). Now, THERE's a question for you!

First - and Brendan, I'm not picking on you - but this is one of the many fallacies fans have - that somehow, the BBC must be responsive to their every wish.

Short answer - as long as Steven Moffatt serves as showrunner, it's on his watch.

Long answer - like many other fans, I'm not happy with Moffatt's performance as show runner. Given someone providing guidance (like, say, Russell T. Davies), Moffatt often comes up with moments of brilliance. However, his tendency to be very plotty-wotty, focusing more on intricacies of plot and being a "clever boy" rather than strength of storytelling, is his worst downfall. One full series of this (Series 8) works relatively smoothly, but his prior two series (Series 6 and 7) were often disruptive, awkward, and really never packed a strong narrative punch.

Unfortunately, Moffatt tends to throw in plot holes or dangling hooks without any real sense of resolution. Hopefully, this season may or may not resolve various plot threads, but unless you're willing to endure another checking-off-the-box resolution (I'm talking about you, Time of the Doctor), I wouldn't expect that to happen in the near future.

But Gordon, some of you may be saying, I like well-plotted story arcs, and that's what viewers want.
And here's where it breaks apart, and where Brendan's going to regret asking me this question.

There seems to be three opposing groups in Who fandom: the first who believe that Moffatt can do no wrong, the second that he can do no right, and the third - the rest of us - who simply try to enjoy the show on its own terms.

Those who think Moffatt can do no wrong, that he is the greatest show runner in the show's history....well, they also believe that Doctor Who was progressive because its first show runner was a woman. (And how many have we had since then?) It's impossible for them to believe that it is possible to like the show and also be critical of the show. 

The second group feel that Moffatt is a Dalek-like force of malevolence who should removed because - let's face it - that second group hates what he has done. Even to the point of mocking him, claiming he is incompetent, etc. etc. etc. These are the kind of people who don't celebrate their fandom - they mourn it. They need to be the "smartest fan in the room", asserting their vast knowledge of Who as if they own the right to do so.

They don't. No one does. Fandom means you need to share, and accept everyone's individuality. It means accepting that, for now, Moffatt's in charge....and that if fans do not like Moffatt's work, they can easily watch pre-Moffatt Doctor Who.  Or simply turn off the television and walk away.

The rest of us....well, we just like Doctor Who. 

And Brendan - that might not be the question you asked, but I hope that I gave a satisfactory answer.

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