From the Desk of Captain JP Lazarus: my thoughts on the current state of "Who" (SPOILERS AHEAD)
Okay, so I just watched the season finale of Doctor Who and I feel like I can finally articulate why I’m not a big fan of the direction taken with the last couple of seasons.
So when Who returned in 2005, they brought the Doctor back rebirthed from the flames of a terrible war accompanied by terrible guilt. What was so intriguing about the show, really, was the conflict within the character of the Doctor and how that affected his relationship with others, especially his companion. The next incarnation of the Doctor was born out of love, some would argue, and so each season continued developing upon that — having trouble accepting the limits of his own existence because of the heartbreak that accompanied being born out of love. Basically, the narrative of each season, then, revolved mostly around the growth and development of the character of the Doctor. To be fair, this usually led to some fairly terrible and outlandish season finales, but that didn’t matter so much. The character development was intact.
When Moffat took over as showrunner, however, this changed. With each season, the story now revolves around an increasingly complex plotline with mysteries that, frankly, I don’t even care to answer anymore. The focus on creating some big question out of nothing and then working through the season to answer the question takes away from what made the show so appealing in the first place: the exploration of the growth and development of the Doctor. As a result, everything that happens within the storyline becomes arbitrary and self-serving. And this upsets me because it means that, despite the often fantastic performances of the main cast (especially Matt Smith), I care less about the characters as a whole.
Steven Moffat is a talented writer when it comes to creating mysteries, but only if those mysteries serve the purpose of the show. That’s why Sherlock is practically flawless and why his one-off episodes during RTD’s reign as showrunner are so outstanding. When the mysteries don’t serve the show as a whole, however, it feels like it’s being shoved down our throats at the expense of what we actually want out of the show.
Because that’s the thing about Doctor Who — at the end of the day, it’s not really about solving the mystery or beating the bad guy or arriving at the final resting place. It’s about what happens on the way there.