Another season of Doctor Who has come to a close. If you haven’t watched the final episode yet, best to put this on hold for now, because there are spoilers, even if they are vague. You’ve been warned!
First of all, let me get this out of the way: I’m still enjoying Doctor Who. It’s still one of my favorite shows to watch, and even on its worst day I prefer the writing vastly to the first few new series. I’m still a Moffat fangirl. I still can’t wait for next season (which, I’ve heard, will be next fall, ugh). When I went to the Doctor Who Experience in July, I felt like a little kid at Disney World – and Moffat’s responsible for more than a good chunk of that.
That being said, I can love a show and still be critical of it. I may see the world in a very Vince Noir fashion, but even I take my rose-colored glasses off once in awhile.
What I’m willing to let slide
I’m not going to hammer about every little plot inconsistency. Yes, if you think too hard, your brain will hurt. We’ve already learned that when Moffat gets a little lazy, he tends to fudge up time, space and reality, and write them and re-write them to fit the situation. To a certain extent, Who has always done this.
Would it be more elegant if everything tied up nicely with a bow? Sure. But this is a TV show – things get changed on the fly, hints are made without having a fully fleshed-out plot to support it. Whedon didn’t have a clue how he was going to wrap up that Hands of Blue thing, and Six is holding Hera’s baby in the opera house because Hera was supposed to die. And we won’t get started on LOST. Even the best shows get sloppy, especially when they unexpectedly have years longer to tell their story than they thought. But that leads me to my next point…
Take a breath, or get more episodes
Moffat had some good ideas this season – the ganger issue, the Silence, developing the relationship between River Song and her parents, and more. The problem was, all that was crammed into one 13-episode season, when it easily could have taken twice as long. People complained that the Doctor “falling so far” didn’t seem to carry the weight that was implied; well, that’s because it was compacted into about ten minutes.
Unlike other shows, that get sloppy because they’re trying to stretch out without losing the main thread, Moffat got sloppy because he was trying to fit a massive, US-season-sized plot into something half that size. I’ve heard a lot of complaints this year that Who has been too complicated. Well, it’s not, but I imagine the pacing had something to do with it. Not that we’re slow and need half-speed, but it would allow all the timey-wimey stuff to settle a little more, especially for those new viewers BBCAmerica tried so hard to attract this year. I’ve also heard rumors that spare seconds were trimmed for the BBCA broadcasts, making it literally all the more rushed.
But personally, I would have liked more time because the actors seem deserving of it. Matt Smith has done an excellent job, especially during his darker moments – so why not let him really delve into it for longer than one episode per half-season? He’s given the Doctor extra depth already, but he could do more, I’d bet. Karen Gillan has managed to convert more than a handful of those who called her “shouty” last season. I could hardly stand the character of River Song last year, but I’m really appreciative of her now – Rory too. Now I’m wishing I just had more time with these characters.
Oh, and I know I said I wasn’t going to hammer on plot inconsistencies, but perhaps someone could explain to me how a child in the 70s regenerated into a toddler, then managed to find her way to Amy’s town, 20 years later? I’d be fine with an implied gap in time if they hadn’t all but said it was a straight line in the Confidential episode. I think the only reason that’s been allowed to slide is that River’s plot was filled in so quickly no one had time to think about it for too long.
More Earthly Adventure, Please
Some of my favorite Moffat episodes are those that almost feel they could be a stand-alone movie – “The Pandorica Opens,” “Day of the Moon,” and now “The Wedding of River Song.” They feel epic, and there’s been more than a hint of Indiana Jones in the past two season finales. I know the budget doesn’t allow for it, but I’d like more of this, please.
Interestingly, I like those sorts of episodes, and also the small, claustrophobic kind, like “Amy’s Choice” or “The Girl Who Waited.” It’s the ones in the middle of the two extremes that tend to fall flat for me.
I also find I’m liking the finales because I seem to prefer adventures in Earth’s history (that aren’t just 2000s England). The pyramids? Awesome (even if they didn’t exactly fall in the past). Stonehenge? Fantastic. If they ever come back to America I’d love to see an episode themed around the Salem Witch Trials. Perfect for a fall season!
Though there are a few loose ends – I’m rather disappointed that there was no ganger payoff, for instance – I’m excited about next season because it’s been opened to virtually anything. The stories of Amy, Rory, and River Song have all but been tied up, and while I would love to see more of them, I don’t have to.
There’s no obvious Big Bad for the next season, and if there will be one it will seemingly be far away from those of the last few seasons, that were more at war with the myth of the Doctor than the man himself. That means the next season of Who, with a low-key Doctor lacking in overblown speeches, will have to find a more personal reason to have a main enemy, if in fact one is needed at all. The possibilities are endless and exciting.
What about you? What did you think of the finale, and of the last season of Who in general?