The following was originally posted to my Dreamwidth account on January 26, 2010.
Writing the forest, not the trees
Yeesh, and aaarrggghhh, and O! come on! were but a few of the noises I made as the clock ground (ever-so-slowly) down on the penultime entry to Steven Moffat's first first series as boss-man of Doctor Who.
And yes, I was checking that clock quite a lot during the program.
As you've probably gathered, I was not too pleased with the Moffat's finale, and I hasten to add that, as of this typing, I've viewed it only the once, was interrupted a few times while doing so and was feeling under the weather to boot. It's conceivable that I will do a one-eighty upon further reflection and a re-viewing.
But as things stand ...
Moffat's first season as show-runner ranks as one of the programme's worst, though not for the normal reasons. Indeed, to my mind, Moffat's great sin was that he was so concerned with the intricate and confusing big story, the season-long, 13-episode story arc, that he mostly forgot about the need to make sure the individual episodes were entertaining.
What seems to have been quite a lot of fun for many dedicated Whovians, such as a significant portion of the folks inhabiting places like the Livejournal community doctorwho, was the very clever (or at least I think it was clever) mystery of the Crack in Time (or was in the Crack in Space? Whatever. Onwards), and whether the Doctor was travelling back on his own timeline in various episodes. There were easter eggs galore and if you like time-paradoxes and just plain old puzzles, you'll quite possibly have enjoyed this season.
If, on the other hand, you want the individual episodes to make internal sense; if you want secondary characters to care about — hell, if you want primary characters to care about! — if you want a light-hearted romp following an intense deep-space adventure ... in short, if you want a series of 13 tele-visual entertainments which, y'know, entertain more often than not, than I'm sad to report the 2010 edition of Doctor Who was mostly a pretty big let-down.
It wasn't the actors' faults, either. Matt Smith's Eleventh Doctor was just fine and I think he will be even better next year. He is by no means my favourite Doctor, but he acquits himself quite well. Karen Gillan's Amy Pond also comes across as reasonably believable — but that word, reasonably, kind of points to my problem with most of the episodes this year: Steven Moffat's Grand Story Arc.
It seems to me that he was so busy with the big picture, he forgot about the small. He forgot about the little things you need to do to make a character a Character, and not just an automaton working through the steps of the large-scale plot.
I fear I begin to repeat myself and, as I said, I want to take another look.
At this point, though, I feel as if I've just watched a rather clever and extremely elaborate performance by an artist who forgot to show me why I should care about any of it.
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