Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Moffat Falls Short (Again)

 Moffat Falls Short (Again)
Warning: Spoiler Alert!

I held off writing a review of the last three episodes of Doctor Who in hope the season would end on a stronger note. Alas, this isn't the case. Peter Capaldi's last series as the Doctor ends on a whimper and not a bang. It's not surprising when you consider the last two episodes were written (and I use the term loosely) by Steven Moffat.

The third from last episode, The Eaters of Light, was about par for this season. We scratched out heads  wondering why aliens who ate light ran around in the darkness after human beings. Oh well... The Roman costuming was pretty good and the scenery of "Scotland" a nice change of pace. Definitely ranks with the mediocre episodes for the sheer amount of plot bunnies, but not totally a write-off with the good SFX. With some rewriting, it might have actually worked.

Then we come to the two-parter, The World Enough and Time, followed by the aptly named The Doctor Falls. Perhaps these two episodes should be collectively titled, Any Chance of A Coherent Storyline Falls Apart as the Doctor definitely "falls" into a big pile of steaming you-know-what.

The science part of the science fiction was missing in action throughout.  Bill winds up being shot and taken away  because the Doctor can't simply tell his companions to "Quick, run into the TARDIS and let's get out of here!"  (And why not take Bill into the TARDIS and take her someplace for surgery, huh?) Bill and the Doctor can't be together because there's too many floors in a space station between them, and time is happening faster at the back end than the front. This is a phenomenon noted by Einstein, but even a 500 story "building in space" wouldn't experience that much of a time dilation. It would have to be many light years in length for any noticeable effect. (Oops, that bothersome science of physics rears its ugly head again.) And finally, you take along your "prisoner" Missy out on a trip for what good reason, Doctor? Rehabilitation on the run?

Of course, if you live in a "building in space" you live in late 19th century houses and burn fossil fuels and blow things up all you like, never worrying about blowing a hole in the side of the space vessel thus allowing all the atmosphere to vent and be sucked into the nearby black hole. Yeah... My suspension of disbelief got so suspended that my eyes rolled into the back of my head and threatened never to roll back if I didn't watch something more intelligent within the next twenty minutes.

On the up side, the "Mondas Cybermen" were fun in their sock-puppet-with-a-lantern-0n-top way, and Nardole proved to be quite a hero and a gentleman. It was interesting to see John Simms channeling his inner Roger Delgado/Anthony Ainley as the Master again, complete with goatee beard, but the logic of how he came to be on the space station and why he'd help build Cybermen in the first place eluded us. (Didn't John Simms' Master end up being burned on a pyre after his Harold Saxon election-scheme fell through? It was confusing enough as to how he wound up as Missy, but logic doesn't seem to be necessary--or wanted--in a Moffat written script. Perhaps the Master faked his death then and went on to help Donald Trump's campaign?)

 The saddest thing character development-wise was how horribly the female companion was treated yet again. Correction: female companions. Both Bill Potts and Missy didn't exactly have ideal endings to their story arcs and both are made to suffer physically and emotionally first before they're dispatched. Moffat obviously wanted to do a "controversial kiss" scene in this last episode, and so he does with Bill and Heather, but it seemed tacked on and not very controversial. Bill's rescue scene is a bit of deus ex machina in implementation. We all saw that one coming, didn't we? 

It seems Moffat's idea of a happy ending for female companions is to 1.) Kill them and/or 2.) Regenerate them into an alien (or into a walking zombie in Clara's case). Either way, the girls never get to return home. Obviously, he feels women characters have to be punished by exile from Earth. Ow. He isn't making any brownie points with feminists once again.

The Doctor's "fall" isn't so much a classic Disney-death-by-falling as much as a fall-on-your-back-in-a-big-explosion (after doing terribly stupid and heroic hand-to-hand combat with Cybermen in a holographic meadow inside a space station, no less) fall. At least the Doctor is going out in a noble fashion, trying to save others by fighting the bad guys. But Moffat doesn't know when to stop there, and so we have a repeat of David Tennant's  Tenth Doctor's "I don't want to go!" whiny regeneration started. We'll have to wait until Christmas to see how whiny and clingy to Peter Capaldi's gorgeous body the Twelfth Doctor will be. Thank goodness it looks like it's going to be a "Two Doctors" special with a return of David Bradley as the First Doctor. 

Until Christmas, we'll be holding our breaths and crossing our fingers for a decent final send off for Peter. I'll be asking Santa that it be a story written by either Mark Gatiss or Jamie Mathieson. Please?

What do you think of these last episodes of the Peter's final year as the Doctor? Write your comments in below.

P.S. I'm looking forward to next month when my novel Loving Who will be released by Devine Destinies Books. (The female companion experiences a happily ever after ending, too!)


Anonymous said...

Yeah, so on your point with the Master, it was clearly covered. The Master was resurrected during the End of Time (A Davies story). At the end of the End of Time two-parter he went into the portal to Gallifrey after Rassilon. Capaldi even asks about it, but typical master just sort of shrugs it off.

The best I can tell without watching pre-2005 who, the Master's interest in Cybermen is new, but its something that he clearly continues forward with since he (she) latter goes onto build an entire Cyberman army for the Doctor as Missy.

As far as his treatment of companions end, literally the only companion to have a good end in the series was Martha. Rose got trapped, Donna lost her memory, and Martha is only ok because she realized she had to leave. Though, it could be argued that Amy and Rory had a happy ending together in the end. This isn't a moffat problem, its just the tragedy of companions who stay around to long. Humans are a lot more vulnerable than time lords.

Don't get me wrong, Moffat isn't perfect. But I find this review to be pretty unfair. Moffat overall has done a brilliant job of tying together threads from across the whole of the Doctor Who timeline.

Luther Arkwright said...

I have rarely read anything so utterly and totally wrong.

Finally after season after season of dross MOFFAT HAS REMEMBERED HOW TO WRITE!

The end of the Capaldi era has been excellent and the last 3 episodes a joy to watch.

Roll on Xmas - I will be sorry to see Capaldi go but at least it will be on a massive high.

A J said...

I liked Capaldi's last series up to a point. Those episodes I didn't like were entirely down to Moffatt's interference. The man cannot write, and doesn't like women. The last two episodes had plot holes large enough to drive an oil tanker through. As for Bill being turned into a Cyberman, with all of time and space to use, why could the Doctor not take her somewhere for complete healing? Having said that I've no real problem with the way Bill ended her run as Companion, and the appearance of the First Doctor promises good things to come.

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