I have made no effort to disguise my growing disdain for NuWho. I was concerned I was speaking to an empty theater so to speak, but to quote the Face of Boe, "You are not alone". On one of the Facebook pages I belong to (Classic Doctor Who Fans Who Dislike New Who), I have come across a series of thoughts by Mr. Paul Berry. We in the group were so genuinely impressed by his series that I urged him to publish them.
Ethan White of Sixstanger00 has requested permission to upload them on his YouTube page. I don't know if Mr. Berry has but hope he does. I for my part asked for permission to reprint them on this site.
Mr. Berry has graciously allowed me to republish them as he posts them, and here is the sixth of a ten-essay series. It is reprinted as written with the content exactly as it appears. The only alterations made are for any grammatical/spelling errors, spacing for paragraphs, and perhaps a few afterthoughts which will be noted after the photos.
For this essay, I also added all the photos save for the last one, which was part of the original essay.
I hope readers enjoy and share them. I also hope readers will debate these matters, for I believe in a healthy debate. However, I find Mr. Berry's comments and thoughts quite well-thought out and worthy of a greater audience.
With that, I present Part Six of this series: 10 Things I Hate About New Who.
10 THINGS I HATE ABOUT NEW WHO
6) TRYING TO BE CLEVER
I'm going to let Russell T Davies off the hook this time as this complaint is primarily to do with the Moffat era of the show. I have never met Steven Moffat, nor do I have any desire to do but I would venture to suggest he has an ego problem. I really believe he thinks he is a genius, sci fi's answer to Dennis Potter or something like that. Probably a cumulative effect of all those awards, fan adulation and being surrounded by yes men. I have to say that I think he is deluded. In fact at times I have had cause to worry for his sanity.
Initially he seemed to be a competent writer who liked to push the boundaries of the show; this has now crossed the line into a writer whose episodes frequently come across as insane, defying all laws of drama, logic and narrative.
His four outings for the show under Russell T Davies, while not entirely successful, were something a bit different. Three of them played around a bit with the notion of time. Fans went gaga over these stories because they were a bit cerebral and seemed closer to the notion of real Doctor Who than some of the more superficial stuff around them. Blink was undoubtedly the best of the three and the plot was pretty clever and hung together fairly well.
Classic Who probably never fully exploited the possibilities of time travel. Characters meeting out of sequence and the Doctor's future effecting his present were aspects barely touched upon. The success of Blink I think well and truly went to Moffat's head, and when he took over as show runner he used the series as a vehicle to show off with this style of storytelling. Instead of stretching himself as a writer and trying different things he became a one trick pony, interweaving and linking every little detail for no readily good reason other than to say 'Look how clever I am'.
The Matt Smith era is just a mess of complicated story arcs and connecting dots which comes across as just plain silly most of the time. You will have to bear with me, as I have only seen half of Matt Smith's stories and even those I have only viewed once so my memories now are a bit vague; if I've missed any major detail that makes the whole thing gel then please forgive me but the general impression I had at the time was a confusing hodgepodge.
The Pandorica Opens/Big Bang story I remember being hugely convoluted. If I remember rightly the Doctor's future self let himself out the Pandorica with the sonic screwdriver, there was then all that nonsense of Rory being a Roman Auton (a bit odd considering the lack of plastic in Roman times) and something about an exploding TARDIS rebooting the universe. This may all have made perfect sense in Moffat's mind, but it made poor drama. I am not saying there is anything wrong with making an audience think a bit, but Moffat's brand of cerebral writing ventures into that area I touched on in my earlier post, it is too far fetched to be credible.
In the episode Lets Kill Hitler I believe we had a girl going to school with Amy and Rory who later ended up regenerating into River Song, who was in turn the same girl we had seen regenerating at the end of Day of the Moon. Again its just interlink overkill. Why does everything have to be connected in some way? It makes the universe a very small place.
Recently the Clara character has been at the epicentre of all this overcomplication, I've never known a Companion with such a convoluted introduction. It took three attempts before she was even introduced properly. First we had Dalek souffle Clara, then I think we had a governess or something before she finally appeared properly. Then there was then all that going into the Doctor's personal history not once but twice. It just bogged the character down from the word go.
I think the epitome of all this clever, clever showing off business was in the recent series finale when Moffat tried to convince us for all of a few minutes that Clara was now the Doctor, even putting her face in the titles.
Moffat also loves his tangents. He's frequently pulled the trick of just when you think the episode's going in one direction, switching and going in another. He may think that he is surprising the audience and eschewing predictability, but the effect is frequently jarring and takes you out of the story. The second part of his Library story felt like he had switched to another tale entirely, when you still wanted to be watching the previous one. This season the atmosphere he had built up over the first half of Listen was killed stone dead when we had the silly interlude of bubble-permed Pink Junior taking a wander around a restaurant in a spacesuit.
The truth is Moffat's plotting is not clever anymore. It is now just loopy. I am not adverse to the idea of a good story arc if it pays off, but ones in New Who never have and have most likely been made up as they went along. Can we believe for instance that River Song's introduction in Silence in the Library was ever intended to lead to the ridiculous saga that followed? I liked the idea of River Song at the time, the idea that the Doctor had met a Companion from his own future. Now I can't even bring myself to think of the character, it epitomised everything that was wrong with Moffat's Who.
Basically put, this showing off needs to stop and the series needs to go back to good straightforward stories. I am not saying they shouldn't show intelligence, but they shouldn't be a vehicle for the writer to try and prove to everyone that he's the genius he thinks he is.
NEXT TIME: 7) REWRITING THE MYTH
Steven Moffat confuses 'convoluted' for 'complex', plain and simple. There is no reason why all these stories need to tie in together because when one thinks on them, they don't.
Now, I know that television series today have to have some long story arc versus Classic Who's heyday when you had four to six-episode stories, then moved on to the next without really referencing what had come before. However, NuWho refuses to admit that when one looks at the sum total, it clearly doesn't hold together.
As Ethan White of Sixstanger00 has pointed out, the "Heaven" storyline that plagued Series Eight is illogical because the Clockwork Robots in Deep Breath and the robots from Robot of Sherwood were also looking for 'The Promised Land'. Ethan points out that robots don't have a concept of the afterlife, and even if they did, how would they be harvested into the Nethersphere of Missy's? That plotline was dropped pretty quickly or conveniently forgotten. Add to that the idea that with his big dramatic, tear-inducing Death in Heaven Part 2 (Death in Heaven), Steven Moffat, Emmy-winning writer, has invalidated his own writing. If Danny truly is dead, then all of Listen, the episode hailed as one of the Greatest Doctor Who Stories of All Time, now no longer happened (or couldn't happen).
Listen is predicated on the idea that Danny and Clara have children, one of whom has a descendant named Orson Pink. With Danny dead (apparently, since Moffat LOVES to bring back the dead, making Death in Heaven a masturbatory exercise gone mad for him), who then can knock Clara up to give her the future Pink? How can Orson Pink be both Clara and Danny's descendant? Granted, Clara can find someone else to be the Mama Drama, but what are the chances it will be another Pink?
Oh, we could argue that Clara's child or grandchild could have married or had a child by another person named Pink, but again we are relying on an extremely large number of coincidences that stretch the bounds of believability to make these disparate parts fit.
IF we accept Death in Heaven, then Danny is dead, and if Danny is dead, then Orson Pink no longer exists, and if Orson Pink no longer exists, then Clara and the Doctor couldn't have gone to the edge of the universe to meet Orson, and Clara could not have gone to Gallifrey to comfort/scare the Doctor as a child. Listen and Death in Heaven cannot exist in the same universe. In order to have one, the other must be eliminated.
Riddle me that!
As for The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang, well, maybe I felt generous that day or I didn't pay attention to all the craziness going on. However, the entire River Song storyline, if one thinks about it, is similarly plagued with nonsense. I kept arguing that it was impossible for the little girl who regenerated in Day of the Egg Part 2 (Day of the Egg) could have been Mels in River's Secret Part 2 (Let's Kill Hitler) because the little girl regenerated in 1969/1970, and Mels was the same age and had grown up with her 'parents' since childhood when Rory and Amy would have to have been born at least ten years after the events of Day of the Egg.
Complex story arcs are those that are intricate but that eventually tie in together and where the casual viewer could see that it holds together. Convoluted story arcs are those that when you put them together make no sense and collapse thoroughly.
Of course, Steven Moffat does the same with Sherlock, where if one examines them, they don't make sense.
Eventually, Steven Moffat will have to be called on how his stories, when brought together under one long story per season, don't make any sense and sometimes don't make sense within an episode itself, let alone for the season. Forget about tying Death in Heaven to anything pre-Rose.
Be warned: foul language abounds, and is very long but the thinking is brilliant.