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Reviews Comments: My problem with Series 7 Doctor Who season review by James Picard

I love Doctor Who. It's the most flexible and dynamic sci-fi show ever made. You want a horror story, they can do it. You want a love story, they can do it. You want an action piece, they can do it. Anything can happen on this show. The problem is that you need good writers to make a good story. And lately, we just haven't been getting that.

I'm talking, of course, about Steven Moffat. Now before anyone cries out, let me explain. I like nearly all of his works on Doctor Who, and I love Sherlock. But that doesn't change the fact that this series has done poorly under his direction for the show. In an effort to distance himself from the convoluted mess of Series 6 (which I liked, but still found convoluted) he's completely abandoning the idea of a story arc. Not only does this show that he didn't actually plan anything out like some people believe, it's also a huge whiplash. We go from the ending of Series 6 where the Doctor is forced to fake his death and step back into the shadows of time after learning that eventually, the answer to the question "Doctor Who?" will cause Silence to fall. And then this premise is completely forgotten about in the Christmas special, and when series 7 starts. If you're not going to follow through with this stuff, don't set it up in the first place. Furthermore, "Asylum of the Daleks" was TERRIBLE. The Daleks didn't have any trouble killing each other in "Remembrance of the Daleks" and all the other times they killed each other, why should they hesitate now? They find them beautiful? Pardon me, but I thought "Daleks have no concept of elegance" which therefore means no beauty either. And Amy and Rory's divorce? Not only was it poorly handled, it had no impact. At all. It was filler! Then there's The Angels Take Manhattan" where Steven Moffat completely rewrites his own rules on altering time. Also, River defies the book to no affect, and they still treat it like they have to do exactly what it says. And the Statue of Liberty does absolutely nothing! If you're going to use that, make it do something at least! And then of course there's Rory's departure. While it does give good closure for Amy's character, Rory himself deserved better. He's just whisked away by sheer coincidence. Bottom line: Moffat needs more people who will say No, this isn't a good idea.


  • TomWithNoNumbers
  • 29th Dec 12
The Christmas special was because they found a person who would be perfect for the new assistant, but after they'd written that series and moreover, it's a person who the fans would want an explanation for existing. So instead of just passing it over he's decided to rewrite the whole arc he had planned out to instead include an (arc long?) reason for their choice of actor in the new assistant and there's no evidence that he's dropped the old plot line either at all (because the series isn't out yet!), in fact in the Christmas special he makes reference to the arc words again.

He had an hour to introduce a character, an arc line and have a satisfying enclosed story and to be honest he didn't really have time to fully do the latter, there was no way he could also have it significantly advance the story arc
  • TomWithNoNumbers
  • 30th Dec 12
Sorry I'm talking nonsense. I got confused about what a series 7 is =D However I think Karen Gillian and Arthur deciding to leave happened between 6 and 7, and I think it was right to devote an entire season to them leaving and introducing the new girl, even if the other storyline was put on hold. On the other hand if you've got a source that its a step back from any arc at all that would be interesting (although we've already had an arc plot starting with Asylum+Christmas. Thats 3 episodes at least)
  • Scorpio3002
  • 17th Feb 13
It just wasn't the sendoff the characters deserved. Although personally, I think Amy and Rory should have been written off after series 5, perhaps occasionally popping back in for an episode or two. Instead, they stayed so long that Matt Smith is inseparable from them, and the only way for him to go on now is either to wallow in grief or completely forget about them when a new companion comes along (both of which happen in Snowmen).

Moffat's writing lately has the smell of a man who is desperate to show you how clever he is. Unfortunately, he just winds up being dumber on the inside. Thus you have the Doctor saying what a brilliant plan the Angels had when they invaded the city that never sleeps, where they could have eyes on them all day. Thus you have River's "it's called marriage" line, despite not making any sense on any level. Thus you have Moffat having characters saying "Doctor Who" over and over again, as if he were trying to convince you that this was a thing.

He had a great arc in series 5. Then in series 6 he traded the malevolent, faceless force that was destroying the universe for a dumb organization that caused the events of series 5, and appeared to have no idea what they were actually doing. Now he's just grasping at straws, trying to find something that works, and failing spectacularly.
  • nrjxll
  • 17th Feb 13
@TomWithNoNumbers: This would seem to confirm a deliberate intention to dial story arcs back a bit.

I do agree with the review's criticisms in part, but I also think there's definitely an element of Real Life Writes The Plot going on here, and some of the "failings" of Series 7 should be judged in that light.
  • AnsemPaul
  • 31st Mar 13
I can endure season 7s flaws if it means washing away the increasing clusterfuck season 5 and 6 were building into
  • JamesPicard
  • 14th Apr 13
While I also believe you have to give allowances for what's going on behind-the-scenes, it doesn't change the fact that Series 7 has been pretty weak. I don't think that there are any problems with the actors or the production itself, it's the writers that are failing it. Granted, I will say that I've been enjoying the second half, now that it's come out. But it doesn't change the fact that the only episode without any problems was Dinosaurs on a Spaceship (I know it's kinda cheesy, but come on, that's an awesome set-up). I think the biggest problem was they were trying to make every episode like a blockbuster film. That doesn't work, because Doctor Who is television, a wildly different format. Concepts and ideas that work for the blockbuster won't work for a 44-minute television program. It has half the running time, a quarter of the budget (if they're lucky) and a need to focus on the characters along with the plot. That was the ultimate failing of Moffat's scripts. 'Asylum' sacrificed the characters for the sake of the plot, and 'Angels' sacrificed the plot for the sake of the characters. You have to balance them out, and the only way to do that is to look at what you're doing, understand the limitations of the form, and find a way to make them work for you. Moffat tried to force his vision onto the show, which should never be done. However, the Snowmen did get a little better, and the second half of Series 7 looks like it's getting back on track. I don't know if it's a fluke or not, but three good episodes in a row (following one that was okay) is a good sign. Hopefully Moffat has realized that Doctor Who is at its best when it doesn't lie to itself. Oh and the title sequence? Pure Awesome.
  • Wackd
  • 14th Apr 13
"Moffat tried to force his vision onto the show, which should never be done." Tell it to every showrunner Who's ever had. Dicks wanted morality plays, Holmes wanted gothic horror, Adams wanted a comedy, JNT wanted camp, Saward wanted buckets of blood, Cartmel wanted slow-burn intrigue, RTD wanted character pieces. You can argue the success rates but it's never been a problem with the vision itself (well, except Saward), it's a problem with how good they are at imposing it.
  • Wackd
  • 14th Apr 13
...admittedly, I'm painting them with rather broad strokes (except Saward), but you get the point.
  • JamesPicard
  • 15th Apr 13
Yes, but the difference is they created situations where their visions made sense in the context of the story. Moffat is just saying "I want Event A to happen and Event C to happen, even if Event B doesn't make any sense!" He has an idea for the beginning and the ending, but when they just can't meet he forces them to anyways. Now this isn't a problem that's exclusive to him, it's just something that's become very common in his stories in particular as of late. That's why I have a problem with the Series first half. Thankfully he's realized that he needs to try harder at coherent storytelling with the last episode he wrote.

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