Archives For Steven Moffat

At the end last week’s fairly decent – and politically charged depending on how long you stayed on Twitter – episode, Clara had ripped the Doctor a new one, leaving him to shuffle off unsure as to where it all went wrong. So, it came to a surprise to a lot of us, I’m sure, when this week the Doctor was seen stepping out of the TARDIS with… Clara in tow. Had the Moffat-haters begun sharpening their wits ready for a full on attack on the importance of continuity later that evening? Probably. Had continuity been forgotten? Nope.

Clara and The Doctor were calling it quits. Clara had decided to stake her claim in her time, with Danny by her side and a bunch of young minds to inspire. If she had been with the Tenth Doctor, he would have probably beaten the concrete, crying that life was so unfair and wondering where Rose was. The Seventh would have probably said goodbye, and then tricked her into overthrowing a dictatorship. The Third would have sloped off and driven Bessy around in a strop. The Twelth was just awkward. But oh, it was beautiful.

Taking her on board a space-bound recreation of the Orient Express, he struggled to understand what Clara was feeling. Something he’d been doing for some time, but now he’s beginning to see what he’s doing is a problem. Not, that he was going to let Clara realise that. He continued to bluff his way through his emotions, trying to cut her short on any topic to do with her leaving.

And then people started dropping dead, crying they could see a mummy stalking them. That’s always going to rain on your parade. Not that the Doctor was going to jump into the mystery with both feet. No, seemingly having learnt his lesson about dragging Clara into danger, the Doctor slinked off to his bedroom to have a good think and argument with himself. Whilst we’re on the subject, can we please have more of Capaldi’s Fourth Doctor impression, or even just hinting that he’s talking to his past selves. It’s a lovely little quirk and anchors the new to its past without alienating the casual viewer.

Obviously this is Doctor Who, so of course the Doctor made the decision to get involved. As did Clara. As I’ve hinted at in previous reviews, particularly The Caretaker, the monster of the week shenanigans the duo get caught up in aren’t necessarily the A-Story this season. Whilst the Doctor went toe to toe with a Mummy, the real monster in Jamie Mathieson’s superbly written episode was addiction. For the Doctor, it’s the thrill of the chase. When the space-train is revealed to be a lab, the Doctor wastes no time in allowing people to die in order to collate data. There was no ‘I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.’ Just calculated collateral damage, with the help of TV’s Frank Skinner.

Meanwhile, despite her protestations at once again being manipulated by the Doctor, Clara finds that she can’t quite shake the habit of time travel. Discussing her return home with Danny, in actions that echo previous companion Amy, she lies to both to him and the Doctor so she can continue to bounce around time and space. A number of comments on the internet have pointed to The Caretaker as being an episode where a woman’s choices take a backseat to the men in the room. I actually think that was a deliberate choice on the part of the Danny/Clara/Doctor triangle story. Previously Clara was flustered and allowed herself to be caught up in Danny and the Doctor’s pissing contest. Here though, Clara is fully in control of what she wants to do. I don’t think it’s her wisest decision, but for now, she does and who’s the one to take that away from her.

But she’s not the only one lying. After the Doctor tells Clara about their fantastic escape from the Orient Express, she asks him if he’s lying. He jokes that, yes, he was making it up and he left people to die. I’m with Clara. I think he’s lying too. Whilst Missy wasn’t to be seen this week, it is unusual that we didn’t get to see the Doctor being all heroic. At the end of the episode, he may have been smiling, but the days are counting down when something is going to come and bite him on his time lord posterior.

About The Author
My name is John Noonan. I’m a freelance writer that specialises in arts and entertainment. From genre flicks to chick flicks, I love the stuff. So much so, I started a film review blog at earlybirdfilm.wordpress.com. I also contribute to online and hard copy press, including FilmInk magazine.

If you like what you see, I am available for hire. You can contact me via the social media channels above or the form on my home page.

I’ve mentioned before how Twelvy seems to be going through a reconstruction from the ground up; his human side having all but been stripped from him since he regenerated. It’s as if he has to relearn everything. For example, after being told his chastising of Courtney last week had led to her feeling unappreciated, he did… Well, nothing. Well, he sneered and he blustered. But at no point did he apologise and say she was special. Perhaps he was working by the principle of if everyone is special than no one is. Not that I particularly like that idea. I spent the first five minutes of Kill the Moon whispering, ‘But… but… but my Doctor thinks everyone is special!’ This wasn’t the Doctor that stayed on Trenzalore all that time. This wasn’t the Doctor who hugged scientists simply because of their curiosity. It really threw me off.

Apparently, this episode had been originally written with Eleven in mind and was rewritten to accommodate Twelvy’s new attitude to life. And maybe that was the problem. I can envision Eleven feeling terrible about what he’s said and then going overboard with an apology.

‘I’m so sorry. LOOK! Here’s the moon! You’re the first woman on the Moon. How cool is that?!’

Hell, I can even see Eleven going back in time to apologize to the caveman whose head he threatened to cave in back in An Unearthly Child. However, the ‘show don’t tell’ approach didn’t work here for Capaldi. It just felt like an excuse to move the story forward.

So, how does he resolve the problem? By taking Courtney to moon, where spiders attacked her, she discovers the moon is in fact an egg holding a winged beast and that maybe, just maybe, she’ll one day grow up to be the president. How’s that for feeling special. But why didn’t he just say it? Obviously, in hindsight, we now know he knew the risks – that there weren’t any outside of the killer spiders – and left it to humanity to decide whether the creature about to hatch from the Moon should be killed or left to live. Or to be more exact he left it in the hands of Clara, Courtney and Astronaut Lundvik (a great Hermione Norris) who was investigating the disappearance  of the previous team on the moon. Clara, not wishing to see baby Mothra die, was the one who left it to humanity, calling out to planet Earth to vote on the creature’s future like it was a contestant on Big Brother.

Over the last 48 hours, a lot has been made of Kill the Moon’s seemingly prolife message. To suggest the episode is as right-wing/patronizing as twitter and the like is making, is to project an anger on the show that is time-wasting and unnecessary. Kill the Moon was no more about abortion than The Unquiet Dead was about the evils of immigration. Baby Mothra was the last of it’s kind. Blow it up and you condemn its species to extinction. Clara’s actions didn’t stop an abortion, they stopped genocide. We can all read something into Doctor Who. There are Tumblr sites dedicated to it. Usually I’m happy to live and let live, but on this occasion, I think people might be hearing the sound of horses and thinking it’s zebras. It’s a shame as this is a fairly decent episode that’s getting snarked at for the wrong reasons. I draw your attention to the Doctor not telling someone they’re special. Seriously, I’m gutted.

Would the Doctor have allowed all this if the stakes were unknown? Hard to say, but the fact is in his gargantuan brain, he thought he was showing Courtney she was by allowing her to make a grown up and complex decision. To be honest, it would have been a lot simpler to send her some flowers and an apology note. Which seems to be the impression Clara got and led to one of my favourite scenes in Kill the Moon.

After taking a fair amount of shit from the Doctor in this episode and previous, she unleashed a torrent of anger aimed squarely at his ego and his recent shift in attitude. And whilst she probably didn’t realise it, she was ripping him a new one on behalf of Mel, Barbara, Rose, Jack, Donna, Martha, Rory, Ace, Peri and every other companion who has ever been left out in the cold simply so the Doctor can prove a point.

Deservedly getting several strips taken off him, the Doctor ran back to the TARDIS with his tail between his legs, leaving Clara to contemplate life without him. But not before Danny stepped in to give her a shoulder to cry on. Danny seems to have mellowed out exceedingly after last week’s ball breaking of everybody; encouraging Clara to really think about what she wants to do. Will she go back to the Doctor? Maybe. But then the question is, will he be able to swallow his pride enough to give her the opportunity.

About The Author
My name is John Noonan. I’m a freelance writer that specialises in arts and entertainment. From genre flicks to chick flicks, I love the stuff. So much so, I started a film review blog at earlybirdfilm.wordpress.com. I also contribute to online and hard copy press, including FilmInk magazine.

If you like what you see, I am available for hire. You can contact me via the social media channels above or the form on my home page.

Confession time… I bloody love Gareth Roberts. Like with Mark Gatiss, as soon as I hear that he’s written an episode, I’m chomping at the bit to watch it. As a writer on Doctor Who, he has never let me down. And it’s at this point I’m supposed to write, ‘until now’ but I won’t because once again he knocked it out of the park with The Doctor going undercover at Coal Hill School to hunt down a murderous robot. Of course, much like the Lodger, his attempts to play human go awry to humorous effect; Capaldi reminding me of a certain Northern regeneration as he blustered around the school insulting anyone in his path.

Except that wasn’t really the plot was it? No, it wasn’t. Well done. Have a biscuit.

Indeed, The Caretaker was really about The Doctor meeting the new love in Clara’s life, Danny Pink. And boy did it fail to run smoothly. Danny, sensing when someone is looking down their nose at them, undermined The Doctor at any given opportunity. Whilst the Doctor seemed to be bruising from the fact that Danny was a sign of Clara destined to leave him. For a soldier no less! Strange behavior for a man who sent Martha Jones to work for UNIT. Or maybe, it was because Clara wasn’t attracted to her floppy-haired, bowtie wearing colleague. Maybe not. Either way, the episode ended with begrudging acceptance from both men; the likes of which we haven’t really seen since The Doctor first met Mickey Smith all those moons ago.

I’d like to think that Danny isn’t going to make her choose, but that’s mostly because I don’t want to think Clara could be told what to do. And the only reason I haven’t suggested the Doctor might make her choose is because I don’t think he’d bloody dare. What happens from this point on is hard to judge. Will Danny step on board the TARDIS? I don’t think so now. His mistrust in the Doctor is two great. Though by the end of the season, he could be in a big yellow truck trying to open the heart of the TARDIS. Hmmm, that would make a good episode.

About The Author
My name is John Noonan. I’m a freelance writer that specialises in arts and entertainment. From genre flicks to chick flicks, I love the stuff. So much so, I started a film review blog at earlybirdfilm.wordpress.com. I also contribute to online and hard copy press, including FilmInk magazine.

If you like what you see, I am available for hire. You can contact me via the social media channels above or the form on my home page.

What’s been refreshing about this season of Doctor Who is the absence of unwieldy arcs. Patient Zero, The Silence, the ‘mystery’ of River Song… They never really convinced, did they? Instead of enticing, they sort of weighed things down like the Doctor was swimming through treacle. I think I realized this when I was asked by my sister, who was returning to show after an absence, to briefly explain the backstory of the aforementioned Song and the Silence. It was impossible. Like trying to a do a join the dots puzzle without numbers on the dots. Or dots. Or a pen.

This time, Moffat seems to have taken a leaf from RTD’s book, giving us something to look out for each episode without it staining the episode too much. As the Ninth Doctor had Bad Wolf and the Tenth danced with Saxon, we’ve been meeting Missy, who seems to be gathering a nice collection of collateral damage from the Doctor’s adventures. Yep, we’ve had no throwbacks to two year old storylines whatsoever… Until now, when Twelvy rather rudely reminded us that he never did clear up the mystery of the woman in the shop was who gave Clara his private number. Sneaky Moffat.

And then, and then! He and Stephen Thompson, who wrote this episode with him, led us to a plot resolution that cruelly suggested it was going to tell all, before skirting off into another direction. Confound you men!

But what of the rest of Time Heist.

Well, it was okay.

The Doctor and Clara are seemingly kidnapped with their memories wiped and encouraged to rob a bank with two other people to get the TARDIS back. All in all, it was a perfectly watchable episode of Doctor Who that was only ruined because of my constant need to second guess everything. By the time, the Doctor had dropped several elephant sized clues as to who the ‘Architect’ of the bank heist was and the fact the episode has the rather spoilerific title of Time Heist, I was waiting for everybody else at the finishing line to hear him confirm my suspicions that he was the number one suspect. And I’m sure I wasn’t the only one.

Then there was the two ne’er-do-wells also caught up in the action: Psi (Jonathan Bailey) and Saibra (Pippa Bennett-Warner). Painted in angst and black, this duo of cybertech and mutant felt like they’d been ripped out of the pages of The New Doctor Who Adventures Novel from the 90s. Oh, but I’m being mean. Maybe after all the character development we’ve had between Twelvy and Clara, I was so hungry for more I was left unsatisfied with what was essentially a rompless romp. It’s certainly not the worst episode of Doctor Who, but I won’t be reaching for it in the future when I’ve got an hour to spare.

About The Author
My name is John Noonan. I’m a freelance writer that specialises in arts and entertainment. From genre flicks to chick flicks, I love the stuff. So much so, I started a film review blog at earlybirdfilm.wordpress.com. I also contribute to online and hard copy press, including FilmInk magazine.

If you like what you see, I am available for hire. You can contact me via the social media channels above or the form on my home page.

…we came in?

A few years back, in the early part of my relationship with the woman I proudly call my best friend/wife/listener to the worst of my pop culture rants, I used to have a terrible time shutting my brain off. I’d start thinking about little things that bugged me. Really pointless inconsequential things. These little ticks would snowball and before I knew it, I’d be turning to my best friend/wife/person who makes a cracking stir fry and cry, ‘I’ve done it again. I’ve thought too much.’ I could construct monuments to paranoia and anger; the biggest ball of introspection in the west. After a while, I managed to sort it out and can get through the day quite reasonably without starting a fight with myself…

I’m sure everyone has a similar story, which is why the latest episode of Doctor Who, Listen, worked so well. We’ve all talked to ourselves, we’ve all debated ourselves into a knot and we’ve all thought about the worst case scenario. And that’s where we find the Doctor; talked into a corner by himself and trying to find out whose fault it is.

Grabbing an almost unwilling Clara, The Doctor bounces around time trying to work out why we all talk to ourselves and why we sometimes have that sense of dread that we’re not alone. The genius of this episode is how Steve Moffatt manages to lay out two co-existing plots here, and I’m not just talking about the sub-plot with Danny Pink, but we’ll get to that. No, I’m referring to the following:

Storyline 1: The Doctor believes there is a creature out there with a terrific ability to hide. You can feel it just behind when you’re in the dark. It plays with you by moving things around. Everyone at some point in time will meet it. The Doctor pieces together the clues to hunt it down.

Storyline 2: Lost in thought he recalls a time in his childhood when he felt most terrified. The Doctor begins to overthink things, which leads him into failing to see the woods for the trees. He turns a molehill of a memory into a mountain of misunderstanding, corrupting the facts to fit his hypothesis.

Look on the internet and you’ll see that people are divided as to whether there was anything out there. Even when there’s other witnesses, such as a young Danny Pink and his descendent Orson Pink, the story is written to fit a number of conclusions. Young Danny could be the victim of a practical joke, whilst Orson has been on his own for so long his mind is playing tricks on him. Or maybe not?

Staying focused on Danny for a moment; He is, for me, fast becoming our sense of reality on Doctor Who. He’s Wilfred. He’s Jackie Tyler and Mickey Smith. Suffering from PTSD, part of me feel he’s  a reason for Clara to stay in the present should the opportunity arise. But then, Orson did mention that one of his great-grandparents used to tell him stories about time travel… Why must we assume that it’s Clara? To assume that is to assume everything works out for Danny and her in the end. I don’t think Moffat works like that. Danny may step on board the TARDIS one day, but I’m not sure he’ll be with Clara forever. Especially if she continues to put in her foot in her mouth. She may very well be able to stand up to alien creatures and overlords, but she is not so good on a first date.

And then there’s that scene in the barn and a young weeping time lord. Some will, or already have, cried foul. Ooh, Moffat is messing with Doctor Who canon, blah, blah! But then those people, politely, need to get over themselves. Not to sound dismissive, but as the last 50 years of Doctor Who have been built on chopping and changing the show’s canon, I couldn’t care less. Whenever you get really angry about someone changing something in the show you hold dear, just remember that a long time ago, Doctor Who was about an old man with a time machine and one heart. Psychic paper, time lords, Adric and regeneration limits were the stuff of fancy. Times change and so must we.

Anyway, yes, it all turns out that the Doctor was comforted back to sleep by Clara, who soothed him with words she learnt from the older him only hours earlier. And then, and THEN! She ends up telling him something that he’ll end up saying when he kidnaps a couple of teachers in his future. It turned my brain in to a pretzel, but I loved it and, honestly, it brought a tear to my eye.

Listen was a brilliant episode and possibly one of Moffat’s best since Blink. Since the problematic sixth season, he has been upping his game and if this is the kind of thing he can do, then I look forward to more of the same. Come on Moffat. I know you’ve got it in you.

And then I began to think… How do we actually know that it was the Doctor Clara was talking to? Who’s to say that it wasn’t a young boy who had stared into the time vortex and was driven mad? Who’s to say that Clara’s soothing words weren’t accidental encouragement for a pre-destined goateed maniac who will try and conquer 1970s UK and then the world? Look, I’m not saying it WAS the Master, but it could have been. But it probably wasn’t. But it could have been. Though it’s doubtful. But it might not be. I’m drifting. Have I ever told you I over think things?

Isn’t this where…

About The Author
My name is John Noonan. I’m a freelance writer that specialises in arts and entertainment. From genre flicks to chick flicks, I love the stuff. So much so, I started a film review blog at earlybirdfilm.wordpress.com. I also contribute to online and hard copy press, including FilmInk magazine.

If you like what you see, I am available for hire. You can contact me via the social media channels above or the form on my home page.