Doctor Who – Summing up the Moffat Era, or ‘The Tale of Two Moffats’

What is the scariest thing ever imaginable to a Doctor Who fan? A Dalek? A Weeping Angel? The possibility of a second 15-year-long hiatus? Perhaps any or all of these could be considered, but the undoubted victor is the thought that, if one Moffat wasn’t enough, there might actually be two Moffats, and when one of the Moffat’s tenure as showrunner comes to an end, the second Moffat moves in to take his place. Those who reacted to that statement with the appropriate cold dread need not worry, however, as this process has already occurred, we just didn’t realise it at the time…

As Summer 2018 begins to show itself, it really does seem as though a new era is dawning for Doctor Who fans, who recently witnessed the departure of one of the longest running (and most controversial) showrunners in the history of the series. Steven Moffat, the man who at the time of his announcement as showrunner seemed to be the perfect choice to take on the responsibility, has now proven after 8 years at the helm of one of the most well-known and beloved franchises in history that regardless of raw talent, budget, direction or sociopolitical context, the ultimate key to maintaining a reputation is consistency. Most of the British public first heard of Steven Moffat following his string of fantastic episodes throughout the Russell T. Davies era, namely The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances, The Girl in the Fireplace, Blink and Silence in the Library/The Forest of the Dead, and it was because of the consistent quality, scare-factor and thought-provoking premises of his episodes that Steven Moffat earned the reputation for one of the greatest writers that the show had seen, and perhaps even of all time. But what happened during his tenure as showrunner that seems to have split a fanbase, that already had lasting divides, into the camps of ‘pro-Moffat’ and ‘anti-Moffat’?

The answer is, of course, not exactly clear. From a basic perspective, the tone of Moffat’s era differed drastically from that of Russell’s, in that whilst Russell focused on grand epic battles, emotional drama and the impact of the Time War on the Doctor, Moffat shifted the focus dramatically onto a much smaller-scale side to the Doctor’s life – the domestic life that he elects to pursue with Amy, Rory and River Song, whilst also changing the way the show itself presented the Doctor – rather than having the idea of the Doctor as a wanderer who amassed power through influence that Russel went with, Moffat instead constructed the idea of the ‘fairy-tale’ Doctor, a mad magician who saves the day in the most whimsical way possible. This encapsulates the earliest divide in the NuWho fanbase, as many fans who were used to Russell’s incarnation of the show lost interest as Matt Smith’s era reached its sixth or seventh series because the show simply wasn’t the same anymore. From a modern point of view, this split is easily spun to signify the ‘death of Doctor Who’ – naysayers at the time predicted that the show would never reach its fiftieth anniversary – but as most Doctor Who fans know by now, Russell’s era was just an era. It was a popular era, no doubts there, but as with all the best eras of Doctor Who, it had to end eventually. Unfortunately, many fans who were dissatisfied with Moffat and had only watched NuWho up until this point decided that Doctor Who would never be the same again, and so jumped ship.

However, this only explains how the ‘anti-Moffat’ camp first came to be, and there is certainly a lot more to the school of Moffat criticism than just preferring Russell’s era. It must also be pointed out that, amongst a sea of Moffat critics in the early 2010s, there were a vocal minority who believed that the show was better off without Russell and that although Moffat hadn’t exactly delivered a batch of 13 episodes that could all rival something like The Girl in the Fireplace in quality, Series 5 was still a very strong series. Even today, Series 5 is highly regarded as one of the best outings of NuWho, which is made all the more interesting when one factors in the idea that Series 5 is one of the few NuWho series that does not rely on any pre-existing marketable material – aside from one episode with the Daleks and a cameo of some old monsters in the finale, Series 5’s series arc revolved around something entirely original, something that Russell had never even attempted. In a similar manner to the change in focus, Moffat also seemed to change how the show treated its recurring elements – rather than relying on the Daleks for finale-filler like Russell did, Moffat instead put faith in his own ideas. Things like River Song and The Silence became much more prominent in the early years of Moffat’s era whereas races like the Daleks and the Cybermen barely got a look in. This would seemingly mark the next step in evolution for ‘pro’ and ‘anti’ Moffat factions – the idea that the show needs to rely on the Daleks and Cybermen is ultimately self destructive, and yet fanboys like myself simply cannot bear to see a series of Doctor Who without them, and thanks to a series of lacklustre cameos and the abysmal Asylum of the Daleks many Dalek fans opinion of Moffat turned sour.

Of course, there are many more reasons why the fanbase split on Moffat, and even more explanations as to why his writing quality appeared to decline between Series 6 and 7 – blame is often put on the attention dedicated to Sherlock, the poor characterisation of new companion Clara Oswald as well as a general lack of direction in the Silence/River Song story arc. But following the success of the 50th Anniversary Special and the regeneration of Matt Smith into Peter Capaldi in 2013, hindsight tells us that the old Moffat must have given up and walked out, with the fresh second Moffat ready and waiting to take over the show and make it his own, because when Doctor Who came back in 2014 it was totally different from anything NuWho had seen before, and the changes wouldn’t stop there. Capaldi’s first series was still very much a Moffat creation – it contains his narrative mannerisms, his method of misdirection when it comes to revealing crucial plot points, and his… ‘unique’ way of writing dialogue between men and women. But the focus of the show shifted again, and for many it seemed to be shifting back to the same things that Russell had focused on. Whilst Matt Smith’s era practically ignored the Daleks, Capaldi faced them in his second episode that drew heavy inspiration from the first Dalek episode of Russell’s era. Cybermen appeared in the finale of Series 8, this time as a worldwide and present threat rather than as a babysitter to James Corden’s baby or as a fairground attraction as they had been in Matt Smith’s era. And not only that, but Capaldi’s era saw the return of two essential classic series villains who had featured in Russell’s era – the Master, this time in the form of Missy, and Davros. Capaldi’s era still had lingering elements of the ‘fairytale’ interpretation of the Doctor from Matt Smith’s era, but the universe it presented dropped any pretence of the whimsical feel of Moffat’s tenure that we had seen so far and instead seemed to ‘reboot’ the modern Doctor Who universe, bringing it more in line with what Russell constructed throughout his tenure and allowing fans who disliked Matt Smith or his era to make a ‘clean break’ and pick the show back up.

Ultimately, this is where the notion of the ‘two Moffats’ comes from – on the one hand you have Matt Smith Moffat, whose era is seemingly self-contained, has little impact from either the classic series or Russell’s NuWho, aside from a handful of obvious examples, such as the cameo appearance of an Ood and the Russell era control room in The Doctor’s Wife, a mention of the battle to save reality from Journey’s End in Victory of the Daleks and the appearance of an Ice Warrior in Cold War, to name a few. Generally, however, Matt Smith’s era relied on its own internal logic, its own original villains and its own original characters to get by, almost like a show within a show. On the other hand, Peter Capaldi Moffat came along after Smith’s era was done and decided that Doctor Who needed to wake up and resume many of the ongoing plot threads that had been on hold during the Smith era – namely, the Doctor’s relationship with the Daleks and Davros, the Doctor/Master friendship/rivalry, the impact of the return of Rassilon and the fate of Gallifrey. Capaldi’s era also sees many reappearances from races or characters in the show’s history that serve as more than just cameos – the Mondasian Cybermen and John Simm’s Master in the Series 10 finale being the most significant. But what can be gleaned from all of this? It is hard to compare the two Moffats, since both have caused their fair share of controversy within the show’s fanbase, and ultimately the decision comes down to personal preference between Matt Smith’s era and Peter Capaldi’s. But next time the inevitable debate over ‘who is better: Russell T. Davies or Steven Moffat’ pops up, remember that the actual debate should be ‘who is better: Steven Moffat (2010-2013) or Steven Moffat (2014-2017)’

And that concludes the terrifying tale of the Two Moffats. I hope you enjoyed, if you did be sure to leave a like and you can follow us either here or on Facebook for more content like this. Be sure to check out the ‘Read More’ section below, and thanks for reading!

 

 

Doctor Who Theories – Top 3 Dalek Theories

For those who read my previous Doctor Who Theories – What Became of the Paradigm Daleks?, this list is essentially a ‘spiritual successor’, in that that list article and this one were originally combined, but I felt that I had so much to say about the Paradigm Daleks alone that they deserved their own separate article. But since Daleks have become someone of a recurring theme on this blog, it seems only fitting that I continue with my original concept and group together some wild and outlandish fan theories that I have regarding my favourite sci-fi monsters.

For those like me who love the Daleks, their timeline and history become an immediate point of interest – like most of the lore surrounding Doctor Who, it is disorganised, inconsistent, and lacks any real direction. Even when their real-world creator, Terry Nation, was still alive, the Daleks lacked a consistent timeline and the temporal meddling that takes place within the canon of Doctor Who has rendered any attempt to explore or explain Dalek History totally futile. This is great news for Doctor Who fans, however, as it opens the door for endless speculation and essentially opens the concept of the Daleks up for an ‘anything goes’ policy when it comes to theories, stories and ideas, especially considering the wacky concepts that have been used on the show itself. So it is with great pride that I present my Top 3 Dalek Fan Theories, since none of them can compare to the level of nonsense we saw in Asylum of the Daleks

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Theory 1 – The Cult of Skaro appeared in Series 9 alongside Peter Capaldi

NuWho fans who have been with the revival since at least 2006 will remember the Cult of Skaro, a secret order of Daleks that were given individual names and tasked with using creativity and out-of-the-box thinking to outwit their opponents. Led by the razor-witted Dalek Sec, the Cult unleashed all hell on planet Earth in the Series 2 finale Doomsday, which saw the departure of fan-favourite Rose Tyler as London played host to the first on-screen conflict between the Daleks and the Cybermen. Despite laying waste to the city and annihilating the Cybermen to such an extent that it took them until Series 7 to regain their fear-factor, the Cult were eventually defeated and their army was destroyed, although they managed to escape to 1930s New York where they began experimenting on themselves in order to keep the Dalek race alive – at least, that it what Russel T. Davies originally planned.

Oddly, despite being killed as a result of the said experiments, Dalek Sec appears in the two-part opener to Series 9,  The Magician’s Apprentice/The Witch’s Familiar – in reality this is explained as a result of the production team for that episode hiring several home-made Dalek props to bolster the ranks seen on screen, and one of those was a screen-accurate recreation of the Dalek Sec prop, complete with his unique identification code. The presence of this code on this particular Black Dalek, however, means that in-universe this Dalek can be none other than the Dalek Sec, which seems odd as he is now both a Human-Dalek hybrid and also quite dead. However, could it be possible that Sec and the other members of the Cult were somehow in the Dalek city, at some point in time before they were destroyed?

In the episode Evolution of the Daleks, in which Dalek Sec (as the Human-Dalek Hybrid) explains to the Doctor that he and his Cult used an ‘Emergency Temporal Shift’ to escape the battle in Doomsday, referring to it as a ‘slaughter’. However, at this point he could just as easily be referring to the fact that the Doctor destroys the Dalek city in The Witch’s Familiar, and in many ways it might actually justify the Cult leader’s reasoning for his actions in Evolution of the Daleks – after all, if my theory is correct, he will have just witnessed an entire city of Daleks consumed by regenerated mutants free of their casings and fused with non-Dalek DNA, namely, the Doctor’s regeneration energy. Could this be what gets him thinking about whether or not the Daleks are better off inside their casings or not?

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Theory 2 – The Daleks in Destiny of the Daleks are a Renegade Splinter Group

In an ideal world, Destiny of the Daleks should have been fantastic. It was written by Terry Nation, the original creator of the Daleks, and even had legendary science fiction author Douglas Adams, author of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series, as a script editor. But despite some classic comedic scenes involving Tom Baker’s Doctor and the newly-regenerated Romana, now played by Lalla Ward, Destiny just doesn’t shape up to the masterpiece that it Genesis of the Daleks, the previous Dalek story. Among the many missteps of this episode, both the Doctor and Davros refer to the Daleks as robotic – rather than the cyborg life forms that they had been consistently established as. It even becomes a crucial plot point in the episode that the Daleks require the assistance of their creator to break the stalemate that has rendered them unable to destroy their current adversary, the Movellans. If this sounds like nonsense, that’s because it is – for one, the Daleks are definitely not robots, and as we saw in the 2017 episode The Pilot, proper Daleks have no trouble simpy boarding Movellan ships and slaughtering them all. So the question remains – what on Skaro was going on in Destiny of the Daleks?

Many theories have emerged to attempt to explain away this glaring inconsistency – some claim that at some point in the Dalek evolutionary timeline, they completely did away with their biological components and were actually robotic for a time, before the revival of Davros turned them away from this path and returned them to their Kaled roots. Others say that the Daleks were attempting an elaborate trick, and even the Doctor bought into it, even though this makes no sense. My personal explanation for all of this is the idea that the specific group of Daleks that we see in Destiny of the Daleks are a splinter group, that may or may not be aligned with the Dalek Empire but were originally a ‘subspecies’ of entirely robotic Daleks that were assigned to guard what remained of Skaro, and were later reprogrammed to run the work camps designed to uncover the Kaled bunker that contained Davros. At some point these Daleks either forgot their robotic origins or were programmed to believe that they were real Daleks, and this explains why Davros is able to sway them into suicide bombing so easily – he simply reprogrammed them, immediately seeing through the ruse but saying nothing about it.

This explanation does not account for the wider Movellan War, however, which seems to imply that the entire Dalek race is robotic – but this could simply be a result of the Daleks becoming overly reliant on their robotic counterparts to do fighting for them, as we later discover in Resurrection of the Daleks that the Movellans used biological and chemical weapons against the Daleks to eventually win the war. Ultimately, it could be possible that the robotic Daleks are actually a Renegade faction, who believe that they are the true Daleks, and the Movellans simply exploit this conflict to inflict maximum damage on the pure Daleks. Ultimately, since both Nation and Adams are sadly no longer with us, we may never know what the actual point of this strange arc was in the first place, but we can speculate as Doctor Who fans are known to do.

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 Theory 3 – Daleks are actually descended from Humans

This is a theory that has been around for quite some time now, and it even played in to a potential origin story for the Daleks written by Terry Nation in 1973, in which the Daleks are revealed to be humans from the far future who underwent accelerated evolution in a similar manner to the future humans in the 2007 episode Utopia, who are altered to become the Toclafane by the Master. Clearly this story, despite being written by Terry Nation, contradicts what we see in Genesis of the Daleks and so must be considered non-canon. However, the idea that it presents is an interesting one – could the Kaleds and Thals actually be humans from the future?

There are two major points that could discredit this theory – firstly, the Kaleds and Thals are proven to be biologically different from 20th=century humans in Genesis when a Kaled scanner registers Sarah Jane and Harry as ‘aliens’. This would suggest that Kaled biology is distinctly separate from that of humans, making it unlikely that they are the same race. Secondly, the war between the Kaleds and the Thals takes place in the past, relative to Human evolution – despite their more advanced technology. However, both of these points can be explained away with time travel – after all, Kaleds could be different to 20th century humans because they have thousands, perhaps millions, of years of evolution between them, and this combined with the highly irradiated planet on which they live could account for their biological differences. Likewise, if humans from the far future went back in time and were stranded on Skaro, this would explain why they have been there for over 1,000 years by the time Genesis comes around.

This theory has profound implications for the rest of the Doctor Who universe, however. For one, it finally explains why the Daleks are so focused on the human race, and why Earth seems to be both the planet they want to conquer the most and also the planet they have the least luck in conquering – perhaps the Daleks have a latent innate idea that Earth is somehow valuable to them, but no real understanding as to why. If the more popular fan theory that Time Lords are also humans from the future is true, this creates a ‘triumvirate’ of species that are all interlinked – Humans, Daleks and Time Lords, all the same species just with vastly different evolutionary histories.

So there’s my list, if you enjoyed then by all means leave a like or comment telling me what you thought, and if you want to see more content like this then be sure to like us on Facebook or Follow us here on WordPress. Thanks for reading!

 

 

Doctor Who Theories – What Became of the Paradigm Daleks?

As I already alluded to in my Paradigm Daleks Custom Showcase, the Paradigm Daleks don’t really rank very highly on my list of best Dalek designs. They’re clunky, the colours don’t work and they look like oversized action figures. Originally introduced as a means of ‘rebooting’ the Daleks, the Paradigm were supposed to be a new elite class of Dalek that was to replace the 2005-2009 Time War ‘bronze’ design seen from Dalek to Journey’s End. However, these new Daleks didn’t go down very well with the fanbase, and were ridiculed mercilessly after their reveal. The writing team of Doctor Who at the time clearly realised this, because after their initial appearance in Victory of the Daleks, the Paradigm rarely appeared again, and they were seemingly erased from the canon by the time Peter Capaldi came along. So the question remains – what happened to the Paradigm Daleks? I’ve come up with a few theories over the years as to what became of them, and so in no particular order, I’ll be listing them right here. To begin:

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They Did Their Job and Disappeared

To start with, here is what is arguably the most boring theory in this list – that the Paradigm Daleks fulfilled their task of restoring the Dalek race, and then were simply re-absorbed into the ranks of the Daleks and phased out over time. This theory is backed up by several points of evidence – firstly, the Paradigm Daleks in Asylum of the Daleks are seen working alongside the Time-War era Daleks, implying that the ‘restoration of the Daleks’ that they speak of in Victory was completed by then, and that the Dalek Empire was back to the height of its power. Also, the Paradigm Daleks are not seen again after this episode, implying that once their task was completed, they were no longer required. This seems to be the most likely cause of their disappearance, since we are never shown anything on-screen that suggests otherwise, but again, this is a rather boring explanation.

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Another Dalek Civil War Occurred

This was always my favourite theory when I was a kid, the idea that the Paradigm Daleks were eventually overthrown and destroyed by the Bronze Daleks. In-canon, however, it doesn’t make a lot of sense – the New Dalek Paradigm is supposed to be made up of Daleks with totally pure DNA, and so they should represent the epitome of the Dalek race – in the episode Victory of the Daleks, the bronze Daleks willingly allow the Paradigm to obliterate them on the grounds that they are impure, and the Paradigm are supreme – however, these Daleks were created under unusual circumstances (grown from Davros’ cells, to be precise) and chances are they were so hell-bent on restoring the Daleks that they were willing to do anything to get the Daleks back on track. Interestingly, the Doctor Who Experience had a setup that suggested that this is what actually happened off-screen, with the Paradigm coming under attack from the ‘children of Davros’ who claim that they are the pure ones.

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Political Shifts Render Them Obsolete

This theory is sort of a ‘blend’ of the previous two, and postulates that originally the Paradigm ruled as the ‘pure’ class of Daleks, but eventually something happens to the progenitor that means that the supply of Paradigm Daleks begins to run short. This would explain why in Doctor Who Expanded Media that was released following Victory, the Paradigm Daleks make up the entire Dalek race, but by the time of Asylum, they take the role of an ‘officer class’ (to use Steven Moffat’s exact words). This could also explain why Davros and several other types of Dalek are present in The Magicians Apprentice/The Witch’s Familiar, as the power vacuum left by the significantly reduced number of Paradigm Daleks require an alternate means of Dalek ‘production’. This may also explain the presence of a Dalek ‘parliament’, since several factions of Daleks would have to negotiate a truce and accept their differences in order to survive, if one could picture such a thing. Overall, I’m not a big fan of this theory, but it does seem to explain a lot.

 

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They Were Erased From History

Whilst a lot of people would happily erase all memory of the Paradigm Daleks from history, alongside other narrative missteps like Jar Jar Binks, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and the more recent Jaws movies, they are unfortunately ingrained in the Doctor Who mythos forevermore. However, it is possible that some ‘timey-wimey’ mishaps may have erased them from Doctor Who’s internal timeline. After all, within the context of the show the events of certain episodes have been overwritten, such as Name of the Doctor being overwritten (thank goodness) by the events of Time of the Doctor, the alternate universes created in both The Big Bang and The Wedding of River Song ceasing to exist after history was alteredand the fact that in the finale of The Day of the Doctor the entire Time War conclusion was altered. In fact, this seems to be a plot device that Moffat is particularly fond of, and so it is remotely possible that the Paradigm may have suffered the same fate. After all, we are given no explanation at all as to why the Bronze Daleks seem to be in control again from Into the Dalek onward, and even the Doctor doesn’t seem to notice.

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The Paradigm Has Always Existed

This theory is a bit far-fetched. But again, there is at least some evidence to suggest that it could at least be remotely plausible, and when you think about it, there might actually be some grounds to it, and it might just solve several long-standing inconsistencies in the Dalek design. To begin this theory, we need to go all the way back to Genesis of the Daleks. This episode essentially lays out the Dalek origin story, and explains how Davros manipulated his race into creating what would become the most ruthless killing machine in the universe. However, as may people have pointed out, the Daleks seen in Genesis do not resemble the Daleks seen in their first episode, The Daleks, and instead take the form of the gunmetal grey, independently-mobile, battle-ready Daleks seen in Planet of the Daleks, Destiny of the Daleks and Resurrection of the Daleks. The original Daleks were silver and blue, with no slats on the midsection of their casing, and lacked an independent power supply. So why is this?

The true explanation is the use of props – due to budget reasons, the BBC couldn’t create a convincing number of original Dalek props for Genesis and had to settle for the version seen in Planet, even though this creates a narrative inconsistency. In-universe, this can be explained as the Daleks initially looking one way, then slowly adapting to the sedentary lifestyle of their city, before re-adapting their more war-orientated appearance when they realise that they are not alone in the universe.

However, I have a better theory, and it’s to do with the Paradigm. In Victory of the Daleks, the Supreme Dalek states that the Paradigm will ‘return to their own time and begin again’, suggesting the Paradigm intended to go back in time, to Skaro, and rebuild the Dalek Empire there. When next we see Skaro, it has been inexplicably rebuilt following the events of Remembrance of the Daleks, and it is now populated with Daleks of all different designs, most notably, the silver and blue classic Daleks from The Daleks. Could it be that the Paradigm somehow manipulated the timelines to re-boot the Daleks, independently of Davros’ Genesis design? Imagine the Dalek history as being two timelines working in parallel – the Genesis Daleks are created, escape Skaro, build an Empire, and the events of Planet of the Daleks through to Remembrance play out as normal, then we have the Time War, then the post-Time War era, and then the Paradigm – who then go back in time to a different point on Skaro, build the city, and then ‘begin again’ as the Supreme states, eventually leading through to The Magician’s Apprentice, at which point the two timelines converge, hence the appearance of multiple Daleks at once.

This theory is pretty wild, and it all but devastates the pre-existing Dalek timeline – but if you think about it, it isn’t really much of a timeline at all. And after all, the Paradigm actually share some similarities with the Dalek Invasion of Earth design from the 60s, notably the larger, bulkier bases, the sleeker and less tank-like design, and the longer appendages. This would also explain why the Daleks from 60s Who seem to have much more advanced technology than the Daleks from 80s Who, such as the TARDIS-like time machine that the Daleks have in The Chase, compared with the plasma ball ‘time controller’ that the Daleks are stuck with in Remembrance. The Paradigm could exist as a sort of ‘secret society’ of Daleks, the Dalek Illuminati perhaps, who only show themselves in times of crisis and are otherwise hidden in the shadows. After all, there is a Dalek in the Paradigm specifically called ‘The Eternal’, a rank that is never explained. Could this Daleks’ job be to ensure that the two conflicting timelines never cancel each other out, thereby ensuring the Daleks exist forever in a sort of self-fulfilling Ouroboros?

Probably not. But it was worth a try. If you enjoyed this list, be sure to leave a Like and Follow us either here or on Facebook for more content like this. You can also check out my older articles down below, and feel free to browse my collection of Dalek Customs if, like me, the Daleks are particularly fascinating to you. Thanks for reading!

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