Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Matt Smith Autopsy

I lost count of Who I Am,
but focus on the fez.

Steven Moffat never had a 'Master Plan' for Doctor Who.

A 'master plan' suggest that something will be long, but that it's been worked out, step by step, and that at its conclusion you can follow the clues to the same conclusion presented.

That isn't Doctor Who.

Moffat's three years as showrunner on Doctor Who show that he doesn't just make things up as he goes along.  He just makes things up.

If there were a 'master plan', there would be cohesion, continuity, and consistency in Doctor Who.  There just isn't, no matter how hard the Moffia (his fans, those who think every word he writes either for Doctor Who or Sherlock is holy writ) insists.

A fool will always find
a greater fool to admire him...

Weeping Angels die if they look upon each other (Blink).
Weeping Angels DON'T die if they look upon each other (The Time of Angels).
Weeping Angels die AGAIN if they look upon each other (The Time of The Doctor).

Little Amelia is left waiting for The Doctor all night, and he doesn't come back until many years later (The Eleventh Hour).

Little Amelia is left waiting for The Doctor all night, but he does come back in the morning to tell her of all the adventures she will have (The Angels Take Manhattan).

And I won't even get into the Many Deaths of Rory What's-His-Name (Williams?  Pond?  Pond-Williams?  Williams-Pond?).

When you can't even keep a character's last name straight, you can't claim a 'master plan'. 

It isn't just that Doctor Who under Moffat has had no sense of continuity within the three seasons he's been in charge.  However, that isn't to say that isn't one of the major problems Doctor Who has.  Story threads that are given are never answered.  It's been two episodes since The Name of The Doctor and I'm STILL waiting to find out exactly HOW the Doctor and Clara got out of his timestream in Trenzalore and get back to Merry Olde England in The Day of The Doctor.   I have a sense that such questions will never be answered, because all Moffat Era stories (not just ones penned by him, but by his minions) rush through things without seeing a need to answer points of logic.

Take the end of The Crimson Horror.  Here, we see the two annoying children present Clara with evidence of her past adventures as perhaps the Doctor's first part-time Companion (has she ever really travelled in the TARDIS in two consecutive stories, I wonder).  Among the bits she is shown is a photograph of herself aboard the Soviet submarine from Cold War.  When I saw that, all I could ask was, 'who was taking pictures inside what I thought was a secret submarine?'  I don't think stories are meant to provoke such questions.

The photograph thing is also something I wondered about while watching The Day of The Doctor.  Just how did UNIT get pictures of people they neither worked with or who were technically both not yet born and already dead by the time the Zygons were making their play for Earth?

If that is perhaps being nitpicky, let us briefly look over how Doctor Who casually either ignores or flat-out erases Canon from both the Classic and even NuWho Eras.  In The Trial of a Time Lord season, we were introduced to the villain of The Valeyard, the amalgamation of the Doctor's dark side that comes between his twelfth and final regeneration.  That being the case, the Valeyard should have been somewhere in the last season once The Time of The Doctor established that Smith is technically the Thirteenth Doctor.  However, that did not happen. 

I'm sure a convoluted answer can be provided how something introduced in Canon in 1986 was ignored in 2013.  However, the easiest answer is almost always the best, so here it is: NuWho fans who know nothing of anything that came before Rose simply hadn't heard of the Valeyard so it was easy to ignore and dismiss pre-Rose Canon for their benefit.

Kind of a drag...
In regards to NuWho, it is amazing how things change from one producer to another.  When David Tennant's Tenth Doctor had an abortive regeneration in Journey's End Parts I & II (The Stolen Earth/Journey's End), we were told by Russell T Davies that it was not, repeat, NOT an actual regeneration.  Now, with Davies' successor Steven Moffat, we are told that it WAS an actual regeneration.  Even worse, with the introduction of John Hurt's 'War Doctor', the entire numbering that had been pretty much undisturbed since 1966 was thrown completely out of whack.  Still, despite what really is an exercise in nonsense is dismissed by the Moffia.  When we were told Ninth was still Ninth, Tenth still Tenth, and Eleventh still Eleventh the Moffia went through all sorts of contortions to show how Hurt's 'War Doctor' was not an actual regeneration (despite all evidence to the contrary). 

Now that Moffat has reversed course, enshrining it in The Time of The Doctor, the Moffia now say that Matt Smith is somehow bizarrely still The Eleventh Doctor but the Thirteenth Form of the Doctor (as The Nerdist put it). 

As a side note, The Nerdist is basically a whore for Moffat.  Chris Hardwick has metaphorically rimmed Moffat so often he ought to have 'Moffat's Bitch' tattooed on his forehead.  The Nerdist, which insists is the repository of all things nerd/geek-related, knows which side of its bread is buttered, and it will never contradict any proclamations 'The Moff' makes regardless of how contradictory or illogical it may be. 

Yet I digress.  Doctor Who now, if we go step by step, story by story, is a collection of illogical bombast where every episode sets fans crying.  I truly am amazed how much time NuWhovians spend crying over Doctor Who episodes.  It's getting to where a single Doctor Who story causes more tears than Schindler's List, Casablanca, and It's A Wonderful Life combined.  Honestly, the only time I remember coming close to crying at a Doctor Who story was at the final episode of Planet of the Spiders, but at least then we had two things that are missing from NuWho: genuine acting and stillness to which to appreciate it.  No sappy/loud Murray Gold music needed to play for Elisabeth Sladen and Jon Pertwee, just solid acting and great dialogue.  It must be the quietest regeneration in all of Doctor Who, and I think still the best precisely because it was so still, so soft. 

You know, Jon Pertwee always HATED
silly costumes, feeling they diminished the Doctor's authority.
Then again, what would Jon Pertwee know about being The Doctor?

As I look at the Matt Smith Era, I am filled with such a sense of disappointment.  I started out liking Smith as the Eleventh Doctor, but by The Vampires of Venice my enthusiasm began to waver.  Once we got into Doctor Who as River Song & Friends with Special Guest The Doctor, things started sliding downhill.  Now, with his tenure as the Eleventh/Thirteenth Doctor at an end, I find that the stories have been abysmal.  Part of the problem is the writing.  Moffat is blessed with having the Moffia.

Moffat never needs to provide answers.  He knows that the Moffia will either never ask questions or will repeat like robots any answer 'The Moff' gives, no matter how illogical or ridiculous.  If confronted The Moff and his Minions will dismiss it all with a 'they are too stupid to understand the intricacies of it all' rather than actually answer the objections. 

The stories, particularly this last season, have been lousy.  The average score for the Eleventh/Thirteenth Doctor has been a dismal 3.  By comparison, only three Classic Who stories so far (The Gunfighters, The Web Planet, and The Dominators) have scored lower.  The fact that only three Classic Who stories earned a lower score than an average Eleventh/Thirteenth Doctor story says something about where the series is at.

I'm sorry.  I'm so sorry.

A part of the problem in the Smith Era has also been Smith himself.  His interpretation has been described as 'child-like'.  I take objection to that description.  The Eleventh/Thirteenth Doctor is actually an idiot.  His era has been built on little catchphrases ("XYZ are cool", "Geronimo!") and randomly bizarre behavior.  He appears nude for no reason.  He uses his handy-dandy sonic screwdriver to where it becomes a virtual magic wand.  He waves his hands more than he does his handy-dandy sonic screwdriver and does some really nutty things, like insist Santa Claus is real and named 'Geoff'. 

Smith has become highly popular, especially in America, but that popularity I think stems from the fact that he has turned the Doctor from a heroic figure people of all ages can rely on to save the day to a gibbering nutjob who hops up and down screaming about his 'Golden Ticket'.  A successful lead character has to have a sense of authority.  This is why Benedict Cumberbatch's Sherlock Holmes or Patrick Stewart's Jean-Luc Picard have been successful.  They can be odd, goofy, even comic, but they still have a sense of gravity to them.  Smith quickly threw that out the window with his take on the Doctor as this bumbling half-wit who did the worst thing possible...defer to other characters.

Take River Song.  When she 'landed' the TARDIS without the familiar whooshing sound, she remarked that the TARDIS wasn't suppose to do that, that he 'left the parking brake on'.  Never mind that all other TARDISes we've seen in the show's history (the Meddling Monk, the Master, the Rani) all made that whooshing sound.  Never mind that people who could operate the TARDIS better than the Doctor (his granddaughter Susan Foreman or the Time Lord Companion Romana, whom I discovered some 'Whovians have never heard of) kept that whooshing sound.  By this little bit of dialogue, Moffat and Smith diminish the Doctor.  Worse, the Doctor, rather than reply that River is wrong, merely says that he likes that sound, showing that River is right and the Doctor, the lead character, is wrong.

It isn't just with River that he cedes power.  The new main character has been the same-sex bestiality of Silurian Madame Vastra and Jenny Flint.  Since when do others rescue the Doctor? 

For myself, I am so glad Matt Smith is going.  He was in no way my favorite Doctor.  I truly don't have a favorite Doctor.  My view has always been that of the Brigadier, "Wonderful fellow.  All of them".

All of them...except Matt Smith.

Finally, if Peter Capaldi (the Twelfth/Fourteenth/First Doctor of a New Regeneration Cycle) is not allowed to make the Doctor the daring and dashing wise man, if he is made to basically do Matt Smith's Doctor, Doctor Who may please NuWhovians/the Moffia who are easily pleased, but both Classic Whovians and average run-of-the-mill viewers will reject the show and it may continue to make money but the quality, the intelligence of some truly great stories from the past, will be forever gone. 

Doctor Who will appeal only to those like the person I sat next to at the Day of The Doctor screening, who said, "It's not suppose to make sense.  It's British!"


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