Given the overwhelming excitement that heralded the new era of Who, some sort of backlash was inevitable. And certainly, some of you on this blog are unhappy. So now we're at the halfway point in the series, this might be a good time to work out what is, and maybe isn't, working about Moffat's tenure.
As the series started to air, Moffat said that the key to success was "to make good Doctor Who, which is a different thing to making the same Doctor Who". And this series has been full of the things that Moffat does best: sly comedy, intricate plotting, married-couple sniping, a healthy dose of smut and big scares. - Moffat delivers a great humour/drama balance in his episodes. He truly is magnificent. It's been generally funnier, appears to have rewritten the rule that said Doctor Who had to out-epic itself every year, and the latest run has a picture-book, fairytale quality quite at odds with RTD's instinct to ground the show in urban realism. - That is, at least, noticeable. I am glad Steven isn't trying to be RTD, but Doctor Who was more... reachable and 'more real' when RTD wrote most of the episodes. I guess Doctor Who isn't just about that 'I can feel the Doctor's real' kind of idea, but I truly liked it... And made me fall in love with it, but as the years go by, you realise that there is more to the show than just that wish to glimpse the TARDIS in the corner of your street. It needs to be 'fairytaley' at times, doesn't it? I enjoy both types of episodes, but the ones that really linger in my mind are the ones that make me think that that could happen to me. To a certain extent, of course, let's be reasonable!
The Eleventh Hour was hailed as a brilliant season-opener, breathlessly introducing a whole world of regulars and a new Doctor/ companion dynamic. - In my opinion, one of the best season openers to date, along with 'Partners in Crime' and maybe 'Smith and Jones'. But only a week later the knives were out for The Beast Below, for reasons I can't quite understand: it was as broad, fun and colourful a story as the companion's first adventure should be. - Sometimes it is hard to figure out how all the pieces link together, and why the plot develops the way it does when the main focus is on the companion. 'The Beast Below' wasn't one of Steven's stellar episodes, I'm afraid. I didn't enjoy it that much but, as I've said, it was all about Amy.
In retrospect, Victory Of The Daleks does seem something of a wasted opportunity, apparently serving only to introduce the controversial iDaleks. - Or the Rainbow Daleks, as I prefer to call 'em. And while not everyone agreed that The Time Of Angels two-parter was good enough to stand alongside the rest of the series' history, it still had more scale, scope and style than anything else on British television. - The two-parter episode 'The Time of Angels/Flesh and Stone' was amazing. The depth Steven allows his characters to exude is amazing. River Song is as enigmatic as ever. You actually felt sorry for Father Octavian. You felt the Doctor's confusion. Well... sort of. I didn't actually 'feel' it that much, but you could tell. Last week the lush Vampires Of Venice proved itself a lot more than a cool alliterative device in search of a story.