“Moffservations”, or We Should Have Seen This Coming

I’ve been re-watching the Russell T. Davies era of Doctor Who. I’m doing this because I want to remember why I fell in love with this show in the first place, and also because I do this every year. This time around, I’m noticing things in the Steven Moffat-penned episodes that I didn’t really notice before.

“The Empty Child”/”The Doctor Dances”, “The Girl in the Fireplace”, “Blink”, and “Silence in the Library”: these episodes are hailed by many as some of the best episodes of the RTD era. No doubt, they’re all very good; Steven Moffat has a knack for mystery and suspense, I’ll give him that. But now I’m noticing elements in these episodes that trouble me as a viewer and a woman. The way Moffat treats his female characters is horrendous, and I’m really surprised I didn’t see his pattern with River and Amy from a mile away.

The Time Traveler’s Wife
One of the first things I caught is Moffat’s obsession with the idea of the Doctor imprinting on the ladies in his life from their very young age, so that every move they make is influenced by their obsession with the Doctor and his presence in their lives. He has obviously done it with Amy and River; Reinette, first encountering the Doctor through a “time window” as a child; and to an extent Sally Sparrow. He even did it to that one girl at the end of series 6!

With Sally Sparrow, the Doctor’s influence isn’t as blatant. In “Blink”, from letters to DVDs, he left her messages and created a conversation that was predestined to happen. In creating these paradoxical time loops, he deprived Sally of free will. The “Time Traveler’s Wife” trope robs many women in the Doctor’s life of choice, making their lives and paths predetermined for them by his presence. Even though we keep hearing that “time can be re-written”, for these women it cannot be, and that’s a problem.

Trapped
Another recurring theme in Moffat’s episodes is that he really likes to trap his women: River in the computer, Reinette on the “slow path”, Amy in the past. Sure, they get to live out the rest of their lives (or their consciousness, as is River’s case), but they are forever gone, and have no way of ever coming back. They will never see the Doctor again, and the way that these women have expressed themselves, it seems like a fate worse than death.

It feels almost like he’s putting them in their place. River ends up no longer able to explore; Reinette can no longer be comforted by her childhood friend; and Amy is sent to a time and place where she can no longer be the strong, independent woman Moffat so desperately tried to tell us she was.

The Pesky Companion
Last, but not least, of Moffat’s tropes is the sense I got that he must have hated Davies’ choices of companions. Moffat chose a buxom bombshell and a willowy ingenue to be the women in the Doctor’s life. On the other hand, Rose is a sassy, working class young woman; Martha is a Black doctor; and Donna is an older every-woman. And look at how Moffat has treated them.

In Rose’s run, Moffat kept her around, but as a second fiddle. In “The Empty Child”/”The Doctor Dances”, he gave her a side story that mostly consisted of her making eyes at Captain Jack, portraying her as a flighty flirt who really couldn’t care less about the mission at hand. That’s just not our clever Rose. In “The Girl in the Fireplace”, Rose and Mickey are left to be “tin dogs” together, wandering around the space ship, getting into trouble and needing to be saved. Once again, Moffat showed blatant disregard for Rose’s actual characterization and personality, not to mention Mickey’s.

During Martha’s time with the Doctor, in “Blink” he trapped Martha and the Doctor in the 1960s – a period of heavy racial duress, which put Martha into a lot of danger – and focused the whole story on Sally Sparrow. Carey Mulligan may be more of Moffat’s “type”, but we all know what an amazing HBIC Martha Jones is, and she just didn’t deserve to be left out like that.

Lastly, and I think most egregiously, we have “Silence in the Library”. In “Silence in the Library”, Donna ends up trapped in a computer, with very little screen time and a shallow subplot.

We just don’t see this kind of thing happening with Amy, though, as she gets the Doctor’s full attention. I believe it’s because Moffat wrote his “perfect woman” into Amy Pond, whereas Rose, Martha, and Donna didn’t fit the bill. In the end, it shows total disrespect for the characters, as well as for Davies, who created and nurtured them.

I know that by now you all know how much I dislike Steven Moffat, but I thought this is a good account of exactly why I feel that dislike is justified. And yes, I’ll continue to watch Doctor Who, but I am anxiously awaiting the day that Moffat finally leaves the helm to more capable hands.

This entry was posted in television and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

55 Responses to “Moffservations”, or We Should Have Seen This Coming

  1. Messica says:

    “Timey-wimey can be re-written! Oh, you identify as female, eh? I’m so sorry, this is eating me up, but I have to let these weird monsters trap you forever. Rules are rules.”

  2. Hilary says:

    I feel like part of it comes back to this creepy thing many male content creators do, where they decide that the only way the audience is going to care about a woman is if she’s in danger or dead, so we’ll either want to protect or avenge her. It’s the same thing that came up in the criticism of the new Tomb Raider game, where Lara was described as someone you will want to protect, rather than someone you want to become.

    I also feel like people mistake Moffat’s female characters as feminist characters because many are strong-willed, saucy, unabashedly flirtatious and take little to no shit. But none of that matters if at the end of the day she is saved yet again, or killed, or trapped, waiting for The Doctor to come and get her.

    • Alice Marie says:

      It’s really sad that he’d probably say his female characters identify as Feminists, when their written quite to the contrary.

  3. amberguessa says:

    The Girl in the Fireplace is probably my least favorite new!Who episode.
    The Doctor completely drops the woman to whom he, in the episode directly before, promised not to abandon because a richer, sexier lady came around. Also, Rose is shrill and a nag in that episode, contrasted with Reinette who is understands his pain and other assorted bullshit.

    • Alice Marie says:

      Ugh, Amber, I hadn’t even thought about that. EEEW. Gross.

    • Amber says:

      It was my understanding that the writers didn’t really get to know what was being written in the episode before or after them. So whatever happened in the episode before not matching up with what Moffat wrote is Russell’s fault not Moffat’s. He’s the show runner. He’s supposed to keep all that straight. Had it happened before the episode before it, it would have been find as he hadn’t made that promise to Rose yet. Therefore, your issue should be with Russell not Steven. Not licking Russell’s boots and hold him responsible for te things he is responsible. He’s the one who didn’t allow his writers to communicate in the first place and the one who didn’t review the scripts closely enough to make sure things weren’t way off like that. Stop. Just stop.

      • Ginger says:

        Yeah it totally makes sense. Why to blame someone who WROTE this highly offensive episode?! Yeah I know, poor Moffat. It’s sad everyone blames him for things he does and no one blames the others..
        But guess what! He’s the showrunner now and he’s also the writer. Serious question: Who’s to blame now?

    • Avico says:

      I agree with your general dislike of GitF, but the one thing I actually liked in that episode was that Rose actually seemed to notice for once how badly the Tenth Doctor was treating her (mocking her in class-related situations; making subtle slights against her level of education and intelligence; generally paying her little to no attention as soon as another woman captures his interest) and was acting accordingly, if only in the form of annoyed glances at his back. She also criticised his appalling behaviour in a justified way, like she’d been doing with the Ninth Doctor so often, instead of only arguing with the Doctor about ultimately selfish issues. And she wasn’t written as ridiculously jealous of Reinette as she was when meeting Sarah Jane. I wouldn’t call any of that “shrill” or being a “nag”. In a way, while Rose and Mickey were written out-of-character with regards to the end of the previous episode (and that certainly is a problem – but one the script editor should have caught, not really the fault of the writer who probably didn’t get more than a rough summary of the other writer’s WIP scripts), Rose seemed more in-character with the young woman we’d met in the first series than she had been since the Doctor woke up in The Christmas Invasion.

      The episode also contained the first time the Tenth Doctor encouraged Rose in any way, even if it was just a feeble “good question”, coming before a number of instances where he used a tone of voice like what she just had said was spectacularly stupid. Still, at that point in the second series, I thought it would never happen again, and I was getting seriously creeped by their relationship. (I still kind of am, but at least Moffat made a token effort to make it look healthy, or at least aware of and conflicted over its unhealthiness. It’s more than RTD or the other writers did.)

  4. Alice Marie says:

    I want to mention something that I hadn’t thought about when I wrote this article. Probably the most fucked up thing Moffat ever did, actually. *TW SUICIDE*

    River, in “Silence in the Library”, learns that this is the first time the Doctor’s ever met her. She knows that this means it’s the last time she’ll ever see him. So what does she do? She kills herself. Let that sink in a minute.

    I’m never going to see the Doctor again. So I’m going to kill myself now. WOW.

    • Maddie says:

      There are some things Moffat has done in the show that I think were terrible, but this isn’t one of them.

      River didn’t kill herself BECAUSE it was the last time she was going to see the Doctor. She killed herself and knew that she was never going to see the Doctor again. It’s two separate things.

      She loved the Doctor. We found that out a while later, and it was almost certainly planned by that point. She loved the Doctor, and was willing to kill herself to save him. Why? She knew how important he was. Not just to her, but to everyone. Everyone he’s ever met or would ever meet. She didn’t kill herself out of depression because she’d never see him again. She willingly sacrificed herself.

      Sure, you could definitely say she was sad that this would be the last time they met, but to say that she was written as some clingy, ‘I need the Doctor’ type is insulting to her as a character.

      • Alice Marie says:

        Yes, just as insulting as the way Moffat treated her in “The Wedding of River Song”.. don’t you think? I don’t have any faith in that man anymore.

  5. Omnipollent says:

    I think these are all excellent points.
    Although, I might disagree with you as to whether or not we don’t see the third theme play out with Amy. In “The Girl Who Waited”, Amy seems to be afflicted with all three of these troublesome tropes at simultaneously. Yet I believe that would just further reinforce what you have written, considering the circumstances of that episode?

  6. Faradn says:

    These are really good points, which I hadn’t thought about before. Except the shaping women when they are seven–I’d been thinking about that recently and God that’s creepy.

    In my mind, though, the brilliance of Moffat’s storytelling overshadows the problematic parts. Also I disagree that where River ends up invalidates her entire run as a strong character.

    • Faradn says:

      On reflection I probably presumed too much about what your thoughts are regarding River.

      • Alice Marie says:

        Yeah, I never said it invalidated her as a character. I still think River IS awesome. God, I loved River Song. I wanted so much more for her. I think some of Moff’s writing stole agency from her, certainly, but come on – she’s Space Indiana Jones with Boobs (Han Solo With Boobs?) How could I not love that?

  7. Mr_Parfitt says:

    You will have also noticed:

    The Brigadier, forever waiting for the Doctor to return for one last drink; Nurse Strax waiting to be released from his penance; Maldovar trapped forever in a box; the policeman from Blink waiting until the day he dies to pass on his message to Sally Sparrow; Captain Jack waiting hundreds of years and running across the city to spend time with the Doctor; The Face of Boe, waiting hundreds of years to pass on a final message to the Doctor – waiting is a theme, but not restricted to females.

    Sarah-Jane Smith unable to commit to a relationship, as none compare to her one true love; Jo Grant in Death of the Doctor, admits to always longing for his return; Queen Victoria laying plans a hundred years in advance to eventually capture the Doctor; Queen Elizabeth I waiting decades to finally punish the Doctor; Rose waiting to be with her one true love, and the having a relationship with his clone (which is a little odd); Martha waiting for the Doctor to finally notice her. – none of these plots had anything to do with Moffat.

    Waiting and being trapped is a theme in Doctor Who, for sure, but you can prove anything by selecting only the evidence that proves your point.

    • Rick Rick says:

      There’s a difference between an adult waiting to see a good friend and/or lusting for adventures again/yearning for freedom and a child who is imprinted and grows up with and infatuation/obsession with a man who will return at at later date and for whom she feels romantic love.

      I get that some of these people wait for the Doctor, while missing and forever loving him. (And I think an argument could be made that Sarah Jane is also a victim of imprinting.)

      But when it’s a child, and it’s romantic love, it’s creepy. There is a squick factor to Amy, Renette and River that is not present in, say, Jack’s pining for the Doctor.

  8. Camille says:

    I barely started reading this and:

    “One of the first things I caught is Moffat’s obsession with the idea of the Doctor imprinting on the ladies in his life from their very young age, so that every move they make is influenced by their obsession with the Doctor and his presence in their lives. He has obviously done it with Amy and River; Reinette, first encountering the Doctor through a ‘time window’ as a child; and to an extent Sally Sparrow. He even did it to that one girl at the end of series 6!

    With Sally Sparrow, the Doctor’s influence isn’t as blatant. In ‘Blink’, from letters to DVDs, he left her messages and created a conversation that was predestined to happen. In creating these paradoxical time loops, he deprived Sally of free will. The ‘Time Traveler’s Wife’ trope robs many women in the Doctor’s life of choice, making their lives and paths predetermined for them by his presence. Even though we keep hearing that ‘time can be re-written’, for these women it cannot be, and that’s a problem.”

    Talk about double standards! If you want to make this argument, then you also have to include Rose Tyler as someone that The Doctor imprinted on, even moreso than Sally Sparrow considering she was only 19-years-old. Not to mention the whole Bad Wolf thing – and I quote – “making their lives and paths predetermined[.]”

    I have a feeling this is an ugly indication of how the remainder of this blog entry is going to read.

    • Camille says:

      Sadly, I was right:

      “Trapped
      Another recurring theme in Moffat’s episodes is that he really likes to trap his women: River in the computer, Reinette on the ‘slow path’, Amy in the past. Sure, they get to live out the rest of their lives (or their consciousness, as is River’s case), but they are forever gone, and have no way of ever coming back. They will never see the Doctor again, and the way that these women have expressed themselves, it seems like a fate worse than death.”

      And Rose gets trapped in a parallel universe and Donna’s mind gets raped so she can never see him or even know about him ever again, “like a fate worse than death.” But I don’t see you complaining about either of those examples.

      So The Doctor honors River by uploading her to a computer in a tradition mirroring that of dead Time Lords getting put into The Matrix on Gallifrey, but River is allegedly “trapped.”

      Reinette somehow living out her life as she did historically is also being “trapped.”

      And Amy and Rory…yes, they did get trapped in the past and were never able to see The Doctor again. But it was no worse than Rose getting trapped in the parallel universe TWICE, the second time with her very own meta crisis. And, in fact, their fate is a much happier one than Donna’s, who Wilf basically admits to The Doctor is settling (and is so very sad but doesn’t know why), so she gets married to Shaun who is nice enough because she can’t remember anything better.

      • Camille says:

        “They will never see the Doctor again, and the way that these women have expressed themselves, it seems like a fate worse than death.”

        And of all the examples stated, only Rose and Donna are the ones who said they planned to travel with The Doctor forever.

        Meanwhile, Amy, Rory, and River all made lives outside of The Doctor. River told him point blank that there would be boundaries with their traveling together, despite being married. So, more double standards for you.

        • Alice Marie says:

          Camille, I never said that RTD was perfect, did I? No. Diana is correct – Rose even says “I made myself” in her Bad Wolf monologue. As for being trapped in the alternate dimension, she 1) went on to save both universes and 2) worked her ass off to get back to the Doctor. She didn’t just accept it. Then, when all was said and done, she got her own Doctor. One that she could grow old with. Is this problematic that that was her end game? Yes. But even in the time that she was separated from the Doctor, she developed her own life and dedicated herself to a cause.

          Amy and Rory HAD TO make a life outside of the Doctor because they were frequently being left behind. But when the choice came for them, they picked the Doctor. River may have her own life, but it was always in pursuit of crossing paths with Doctor again, and that doesn’t sound like really having one’s own life, does it?

    • Diana says:

      Eh… Bad Wolf was done by Rose herself, not by the Doctor. She conditioned herself in a way, told herself to become the Bad Wolf in order to save the universe from the Daleks.

      • Camille says:

        After being conditioned by him in “Rose” and the time loops he created in “Father’s Day” and “The End of Time: Part 2.” So, Bad Wolf was still a consequence of The Doctor imprinting on her.

        • Alice Marie says:

          Imprinting is being used incorrectly here. When I said “imprinting” in the article this was specifically used to identify the way the Doctor inserted himself into the lives of children – Amelia, Reinette, and young River (who was actually imprinted by Madame Kovarian, but still, it’s Moff’s creation). He made an IMPRESSION on Rose, sure. But she was an adult who made the decision to follow him. Amelia, Reinette, and Melody were not.

          • Amber says:

            I don’t know if you can use Reinette and River as examples. He technically first met River as an adult in her life. He meets her later as a young woman when she attempts to kill him but in his timeline he knew her as an adult first. As for Reinette he met her twice as a child. Once for less than a couple of minutes and the other time for probably less than 10 minutes. He didn’t imprint anything on her either time as he didn’t tell her anything about himself, her timeline, or ask to take her anywhere. He did what the Doctor always does when he perceives a threat. He gets involved and yes sometimes it involves children. Unless you are prepared to say he imprints on every child he comes in contact with I suggest you take another course of argument. This one is purely bunk.

            • Faradn says:

              The way Reinette reacts to the doctor when she first sees him in her (late?) teens suggests he made a remarkable impression on her when she was a child. She kissed him with little preamble, not only because she had a lot of libido and he looks like David Tenant, but because he was her “imaginary friend” made flesh.

      • Miss Dee says:

        Wrong, she made herself the Bad Wolf because she was super in love with the Doctor and wanted to get back to him after he sent her away to save her life. Most of Rose’s motivation was about being in love with the Doctor so arguing that she’s a strong independant woman compared to Amy or River is pretty redundant, she’s the eptimony of what you say Moffat is polluting Who with.

        Adressing Alice, you’re arguing that Rose had a cause and her own life in the other universe? Not meaning to be rude but lul wut? Her cause was getting back to the Doctor because she couldn’t possibly exist without him (she only teamed up with Torchwood and UNIT as a means to an end) but that’s a good example of a life not defined by the Doctor and fine in your book because..? Amy and Rory made the decision to be left behind, they were the ones that told the Doctor to take them home when they wanted to give the travelling a bit of a break, they realised they had two lives and that they had to choose, a normal everyday life or a life of adventure and time travel, of course they chose the latter! You would, I would, anybody would! Problem is that lives of adventure often include danger. Do you think that maybe, just maybe the things that happened to them in Manhatten might have made them reconsider that choice at all? You know, seeing old!Rory’s death, killing themselves to save the universe, that sort of thing? It would make me a little less gungho and YAY! time travel. After all that, they did get a happily ever after, it’s the Doctor that got shafted in this situation, they don’t need him, they have each other (something that was explored a lot through who was more important to Amy. And you’ll notice it was always Rory.) and made a good life for themselves, yes it’s sad they can’t have space time adventures with the Doctor anymore but that doesn’t mean no more adventures together and don’t forget River can visit them still with her vortex manipulator. Amy wasn’t trapped, Rory was, she chose to let herself be sent back in time, knowing full well if would mean not seeing the Doctor again, knowing she might not end up in the same time as Rory, she did it because it was the best chance to be with him. You applaud that sort of thing in Rose but not in Amy? Why? What’s the difference in your view? Genuinely curious about that.

        And as for River, part of her life was searching for the Doctor, when she was young(ish) and thought she was free from Madame Eyepatch, pretty sure she also has awesome solo adventures offscreen nowadays. And she doesn’t have to search anymore she can click her fingers (or rather write a summons on things she knows he’ll see) and he’ll come running. ;)

        I don’t understand why people think companions having lives focused on the Doctor is ‘problematic’, the Doctor is the main character so from a writing point of view that immediately sets the tone, this is not an ensemble show, it’s Doctor Who, the companions will always be secondary, if they were still being treated the way they were in old Who maybe I’d see it but we’ve moved on from that thankfully. On top of that he’s a fantastic alien with a time machine, of course people get blown away and a bit obsessed when they meet him. To me this complaint is on par with someone saying that Frodo should have had a life of his own life outside of Gandalf, the Fellowship and the One Ring.

        And can we please, please, just take a moment to realise that characters are supposed to have flaws and not be perfect? They also don’t have to be a champion for any cause, they can be average people with average thoughts and feelings and not push the boundaries of accepted trends. My personal favourite moment of the most recent episodes is Rory’s dad sat on the doorstep of the TARDIS just looking down on earth with his flask of tea and his sandwich. You know why? Because he was so everyday nice guy and ordinary but it doesn’t stop him experiencing that awe and wonder in his own way, it’s a really beautiful and importantly relatable moment.

  9. Alice Marie says:

    Man, what’s with all these boners for Moffat? Seriously.

    • Jen R. L. Disarray says:

      I just died laughing.

      • Alice Marie says:

        It’s just like.. he’s not a good dude! You know? I mean, RTD, he’s got his faults, but at least he TRIED to be sensitive in terms of intersectionality. He brought in a realistic-looking cast with realistic population demographics – from championing Black women in Victorian England to diverse spaceship crews that would make Gene Roddenberry cry a single manly tear of joy. He made sure that all of the companions had complex and realistic backstories, and he handled all LGBTQ characters with a grace and sensitivity that you just don’t see with Moffat (“it was only a phase!” – gag me.).

        Davies didn’t just try, he succeeded in creating a diverse and inclusive show that drew so many to it. He respected the Doctor’s history instead of erasing it. Don’t forget – it was Davies that revived the show you love so much, and something in what he did is what drew you to it.

        He may not be a saint, but at least he made an effort to do the decent human thing, as opposed to constantly and openly objectifiying women, erasing the experiences of the LGBT community, and almost NEVER casting a POC in a lead role (I think Liz X, Rita, and Nasreen were the only ones in Moff’s run so far).

        I know that this is polarizing, but man, I’m just stating facts over here, so…

        • Amber says:

          Russell T. Davies created the first woman blowjob machine I’ve read about. In books, movies, or television. Steven Moffat could spend decades writing women you perceive to have problems and it wouldn’t ever offend me more than the one episode Russell did that turned me off to his writing forever. He was no champion of women and all the boners for him are purely crap.

  10. Daniel says:

    Accurate, except that Sally wasn’t ever robbed of Free Will:

    If you accept that there are time loops in the first place, then you have to also accept that there is no free will to be robbed of. No one has free will, not men, not women, not The Doctor; there’s simply no free will inside of a stable time loop.

    If Sally did have any free will to begin with, then she wasn’t trapped in a time loop at all, we just watched the version of events where things played out nicely instead of one of the many alternate realities where things played out in some way differently.

    So yes, there’s a version of events where she couldn’t choose her actions, but nor could anyone else.

  11. Nevena Vasovic says:

    One of the things that really made me dislike the character of Amy Pond, and River Song in Moffat’s era is that he seems to always write the characteristics of a character as a whole personality of said character. Both River and Amy are portrayed as sassy, fiery, flirty women who appear in the beginning to be independent and capable. But, being sassy and flirty is a characteristic of a person, it does contribute to their personality, however it is not their whole identity. I never really think of Amy Pond and River Song as real and believable characters. No matter how impossible the plot is, how fictional the storyline seems to be, the characters need to be believable and real. That means that the character is faulty, at times wrong, selfish, scared, insecure and plain human. Having all those traits does not make you weak. It makes you human. But what does make you strong is knowing that you are wrong, recognizing that you are selfish, admitting that you are scared, showing that you can be insecure and STILL doing the right thing despite all that. The whole point is to overcome those faults by doing the things that have to be done no matter what the cost of those choices is to you. That’s the baseline for a hero, and a strong character.
    River Song almost destroyed the Universe because she couldn’t do what had to be done. I would think that if a person could learn just one thing from the Doctor, it would be that one has do what’s right, and that responsibility should not be secondary to personal feelings. I don’t think I have seem Amy apply herself much unless it was directly affecting her or in a way, related to Rory. When Donna cries and vows to save “only one person” in Fires of Pompeii, Amy “forgets” that the giant space whale is being tortured. Rose, Martha and Donna had their problematic moments, but they were real and I believed in them as characters. Rose was the Big Bad Wolf, Martha went on a what must have seemed like an impossible journey by herself while her family was being tortured and held hostage, Donna said “screw you all, I will help to save the whole Universe”, and how inspirational is that? Because all those things amount to being bigger than all of yourself, being more important than just them, and they all did it themselves.
    Amy and River were written by Moffat with the idea of having this understanding of the Doctor, and that’s why they were special companions. But I don’t really think they understand the point of what the Doctor has been doing for so long. Amy in the God Complex (not written by Moffat, I know) “sees” the Doctor for whom he really is. Well I kind of want to slap her because she really doesn’t. Because at the end, who said that a mad man with a box isn’t a hero? Again, heros are allowed to be selfish, flawed, angry, vengeful, scared, wrong and so on. It’s what makes them real and believable.

  12. Michael says:

    During Martha’s time with the Doctor, in “Blink” he trapped Martha and the Doctor in the 1960s – a period of heavy racial duress, which put Martha into a lot of danger – and focused the whole story on Sally Sparrow. Carey Mulligan may be more of Moffat’s “type”, but we all know what an amazing HBIC Martha Jones is, and she just didn’t deserve to be left out like that.”

    The episode wasn’t about Martha or The Doctor. It was a Doctor-lite episode about time travel and the weeping angels. Why would Martha be the focus?

  13. Alice Marie says:

    I have one last thing to say to all the Moffat stans:

    Don’t ever forget, Steven Moffat based one of the most sexist, vile, horrific characters in the history of television on himself. Patrick, from Coupling. Patrick, who kept a cupboard full of sex tapes that he made WITHOUT THE KNOWLEDGE OR CONSENT OF THE WOMEN INVOLVED.

    So to hell with that dude. Seriously.

    • Miss Dee says:

      Elements of Patrick may be based on him but Steve (surprise) is his self insert character, Susan is based on his wife Sue (also surprise). I’ve never ever heard that Patrick was supposed to be Moffat, do you have a link to where it was said?

      And I think you should be fair, Coupling acknowledges what a louse Patrick is, he’s not supposed to be a stellar example of how men should behave.

  14. MaskedManchild says:

    I can see people having problems with Moffat’s writing here and there, but many of the times you’re just taking events out of context. Here’s such a point:

    “During Martha’s time with the Doctor, in “Blink” he trapped Martha and the Doctor in the 1960s – a period of heavy racial duress, which put Martha into a lot of danger – and focused the whole story on Sally Sparrow. Carey Mulligan may be more of Moffat’s “type”, but we all know what an amazing HBIC Martha Jones is, and she just didn’t deserve to be left out like that.”

    You completely ignore that Blink was a double-banked episode, meaning two episodes were filmed at once so the use of the main actors was intentionally limited to allow this (like Love & Monsters the year before).

  15. MaskedManchild says:

    I wrote my comment kind of fast, so please excuse the awkward wording and the fact that I bring up a point someone else brought up.

    I’d also like to point out that Reinette wasn’t “trapped,” but simply separated from the Doctor and appeared to live a full life in that time.

  16. Tanya says:

    Just a friendly reminder that, per our commenting policy, if your comment is specifically addressing another individual in a condescending or insulting manner, it won’t get approved. (Obviously, if your comment is already up, then we likely don’t have a problem.)

  17. Avico says:

    I’m not agreeing with all the details of this article, but with the general gist.

    For example, I don’t think Rose comes across as not caring about the plot in TEC – she was trying to save a child, and then she was trying to find out what Jack was up to – but she *is* acting so out-of-character and unrealistic for a young street-wise woman in that supposedly “romantic”, but really quite date-rapey flirt scene with Jack, that I can only conclude she was drunk, or, since nobody gets drunk from a glass of champagne in the space of a few minutes and then is perfectly clear-headed minutes later when they catch up with the Doctor, Jack either dosed her with a short-term, 51st century roofie equivalent to facilitate his con, or she was playing him from start to finish. None of that is in the script, of course. Neither is the hint of unease that Billie Piper acts out as Jack ties Rose’s hands together, or the tone of exasperation John Barrowman adopts when Jack notices just how affected Rose is by whatever he gave her (indicating that Jack didn’t mean for her to loose that much control over her higher reasoning powers). In the script, it’s all “…but he’s terribly handsome” and “this is now impossibly romantic” from Rose’s POV, and “wolfish” smiles from Jack. Shows you how Moffat thinks women think, and just how obliviously helpless he thinks they are at the hands of dangerous men.

    What you also didn’t mention is that little “red bicycle when you were twelve” comment in TDD. It doesn’t seem like Rose actually met the Doctor when she was twelve, as she doesn’t remember this gift being from him, but it’s still slightly iffy and stalker-y.
    This seems to be a vestigal scene left over from a plan that RTD originally had, in which it apparently would have turned out that Rose had been groomed since childhood by the Doctor to be his perfect companion. There’s no information if the narrative would have condoned this, or if it was supposed to show just how messed up the Doctor is after the Time War. In any case, obviously somebody made RTD realise what a bad idea this was (my money is on either Julie Gardner, or Christopher Eccleston), especially after they found out how much on screen chemistry Eccleston and Billie Piper had and decided to turn it into a love story. (Rose was also aged up a few years because of this, which is why her age doesn’t add up with the 6-months-old baby in 1987.)

    Even if the original idea was RTD’s, I find it quite telling that Moffat was the only writer who didn’t take the reference to this subplot out of his script.

    By the way, if you need more ammo for this general argument: No, Sally Sparrow didn’t meet the Doctor as a child. But in the short story written by Moffat that the script is based on, she is a prepubescent child. And in the end it turns out that the Doctor only became involved in her life because he met her adult self first (a “beautiful”, “amazing” “sort of spy” who saved him during a sword fight with Sontarans in Istanbul – basically, a River prototype) and she gave him her school essay on their adventure, which she apparently had kept on her person just in case she would meet him that day. Make of that what you will.

  18. Faradn says:

    I like this thread, because although I am still a Moffat fan I feel like I have a better handle on some things that always bothered me in his writing of the show.

    The Doctor/Amy/Rory bleagh always irritated me so I would tend to just focus on the Doctor and the story. The things this post points out have solidified some of that feeling for me. My friends think Amy is a strong sharacter but I never really saw it–to me she seems weirdly shallow, like Moffat only gave her lines so the Doctor would have something to play off of. She gets worse through the series, her peak being in The Beast Below.

    This correlates well with how Moffat writes the Doctor. Most showrunners before him were content to have the Doctor be an eccentric alien having adventures in space and time. To Moffat, nothing short of godhood would do for the Doctor. This weird writerly obsession of Moffat’s has tended to leave supporting characters at the shallow end of the pool, forever as focused on Doctor Who’s eponymous cocky immortal as Moffat himself is. When he has Amy choose Rory, I don’t believe it, and I don’t think Moffat does either.

    All that said, I REALLY like his stories. Characters are secondary for me.

  19. Pingback: Link Roundup | Feminist Fiction

  20. Jace says:

    I respectfully disagree. I think Moffat builds strong female characters that, as a t young teenage girl, I look up to. Donna, Amy, and River are women I admire to the grave.I’m looking forward to Clara and the rest of the Doctor’s companion.

  21. Anna says:

    I’d just like to point out that the fact that Martha didn’t have much of a role in ‘Blink’ was because it was commissioned, if you like, to be an episode in which the Doctor and companion didn’t have a lot of on screen involvement. RTD gave it to Moffat and it wasn’t expected to be a ‘big’ episode, but due to Moffat’s invention of the weeping angels, it had a lot of success.

  22. Katie says:

    I completely agree! What I dont like about Moffat’s characters, Amy especially, is that they are portrayed as perfect. Amy travels with him and always does the right thing, makes the right choices and is pretty much the perfect companion, always willing to save the Doctor and never doing anything shes not supposed to. RTD’s characters had so much depth especially with Rose. She was a nineteen year old girl and so Davies wrote her as one. She had moments of complete selfishness, like when she put the world at risk to save Pete, she was only thinking of her own personal gain and disregarded the rules of time travel and for a short time the Doctor, and this is completely natural!. That is what a young teenager would do if she was given the opportunity! She wasnt perfect, she made plenty of mistakes, even in Doomsday after growing up more she chose the Doctor over Jackie, making a completely dangerous and selfish act that could have resulted in her death. But this is why it works so well and makes it so believable. She wasnt afraid to stand up for herself, she made mistakes throughout her time in the TARDIS but always pushed to help the Doctor and be the best person she could.

  23. Kata says:

    To be strictly fair (not because I disagree with your analysis at all) in the case of ‘Blink’ I believe the episode was pre-determined as the season’s ‘Doctor-light’ episode. I.e. for time reasons, every season has an episode which is light on the two leads and focuses on others (or sometimes one for each of them, see ‘Midnight’/’Turn Left’ which are Donna-light/Doctor-light respectively).

    So the choice to put the focus outside both the Doctor and Martha in ‘Blink’ probably didn’t originate with Moffat.

    Mind you, since his eagerness to pull focus on Davies brand of heroine and shift it to his own identikit cute/sassy/flirty/dull heroine is a pattern established elsewhere, maybe this was a happy coincidence for him…

  24. Jasmine says:

    Yes. Yes. Yes.
    This is awesome. I agree with everything. Of course I could go into other things I dislike about Moffat, but it would take too much time and I am on my kindle and I hate typing on it.

    But I applaud you.

  25. Pingback: Episode 104 – Between Now and Now – Traveling the Vortex

  26. Daithy says:

    Look. I respect your opinion. And, as a male raised in feminist surroundings who considers himself an honorary feminist, I can say that, while Moffat does have trouble writing female characters, a lot of the time points are just spitting venom at him. I like Moffat. I think he’s doing a great job. Insult me all you want, say I’m wrong and that I should be ashamed. I don’t care.

    Because, in the end, this is all opinion. Not fact that I nor anyone else has to take as a holy gospel.

Comments are closed.