I have up and down feelings about Doctor Who. More so, especially with Series 5 of the new series, I’ve been mostly feeling as if the show is becoming tired. It’s got nothing to do with David Tennant and Russell T. Davies (RTD) leaving, but more of Matt Smith and Steven Moffat appearing unsure with what to do with the series.
When Moffat was announced as the next executive producer of the series, I was at first excited. Right next to Paul Cornell and Gareth Roberts, Moffat wrote some of the best episodes of the show (Girl In The Fireplace, Blink). If Russell T. Davies often seemed bi-polar about how he handled being the showrunner of Doctor Who, Moffat’s output seems to suggest the same problem.
One of the issues that bothers me about Moffat’s Doctor Who is how murky the episodes look. To Russell’s credit, every scene and every moment (for better or worse) was bright and interesting. Take the scene with Timothy Dalton in “The End Of Time, Part One” where he exclaims “Gallifrey Rises!”. It’s not only a great cliffhanger to the second part, but it’s also set-up in such a manner that decreases the camp that would have deflated the drama of the scene.
There’s just something about proper lighting even when the start of a scene is meant to be in complete shadow.
Another problem, one that even was an issue with RTD’s era (and perhaps before that) and continues onward into Moffat’s era is that of companion management. Back in the classic series in it’s inital years in the 1960s, Doctor Who had three companions. This was brought down to at least two by the end of the 1960s, and then one by the early 1970s.
Although there were brief attempts to return the show to it’s ’60s structure by adding more companions to the mix, the show largely stayed with one companion. I always felt, no matter how good the actor/actress was as the respective companion, that there had to be room in the story for them to be actively involved. Adding one more, especially in the current series format, might weigh a story down. Adding three can mean that not everyone carries a useful purpose.
RTD’s era showcased the problem with this style with Series 4′s “The Doctor’s Daughter”. In Moffat’s era, it would be Series 5′s “The Vampires Of Venice” and the two-parter “The Hungry Earth”/”Cold Blood”. Although the intention of the upcoming sixth series so far is to have Matt Smith’s 11th Doctor carry two passengers, I feel eventually it will occur to Moffat to have one companion.
Another, perhaps final issue that I have is how stiff Murray Gold’s compositions feel under Moffat’s reign. I don’t know if that has anything to do with Moffat himself, but I feel that Gold doesn’t feel as inspired to write the epic sounding scores he did in RTD’s era. As uneven as they were at times during seasons past, nothing like “Vale Decem” has really been heard in Moffat’s era.
One showcase of change that Gold did give was during a final scene in “The End Of Time” where David Tennant’s 10th Doctor struggles to reach the TARDIS after being poisoned by radiation while saving Wilf (Bernard Cribbins). The music, before what would be known as “Vale Decem”, had a strange electronic sound that harkened back to the days of the classic series. Although I enjoyed Gold’s John Williams-like take on Doctor Who, mixing up the sounds would keep it from sounding the same every season.
There are other criticisms that I could level at the series, but these seem to be the least obvious (with the exception of the companion complaint). Perhaps Mr. Moffat won’t listen, but I like to think some of these concerns are on his mind. Doctor Who always needs fixing, if it didn’t, I wouldn’t have any reason to write this.