Moffat-inspired thoughts – WARNING, COMMENTS CONTAIN SPOILERS FOR “COLD BLOOD”

Moffat, your prejudices are showing, I’m afraid.

On at least two occasions now, Amy’s fretted that someone who was deeply caring about her (quite why is a mystery to me) when she was in genuine peril, might think she’s clingy. Clearly, in the S5 universe, this is the worst thing a woman can be accused of and, even with her life on the line, any self-respecting female will have the fear of this happening uppermost in her mind.

And I’ve finally figured out the nature of my problem with River Song. River is the male fantasy of a perfect Great Love. She has no lawn to mow, no shelves that require putting up. She makes lots of intellectual demands, but few emotional ones. She keeps her partner in a perpetual state of delicious anticipation, seduction and mystery. She teases and calls him to the chase. She disappears from his life for long periods and makes it clear that she prefers it that way. If Donna was the Best Friend, Martha the Unrequited Admirer and Rose the Girl You Settle Down With, then River is the eternal, archetypal mistress.

And Amy and Rory? Together in memories, dreams and an anticipated future – just about everywhere except an ordinary life, day after day.

If this wasn’t a kids’ show, I think Moffat would be writing the story of the Doctor married to Rose and irresistably drawn towards an affair with River. Yet it’s the people like me, who believed in the potential future happiness of the Doctor and Rose, who tend to get labelled "adolescent and immature". In my case at least, probably by people closer in age to my kids than myself.

Another thought, for those who enjoy musical theatre. RTD is Rodgers and Hammerstein, Moffat is Stephen Sondheim. I was a huge Sondheim fan at one time, but I grew out of it. I got fed up with the way the characters talked and talked but nothing really seemed to happen.

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54 thoughts on “Moffat-inspired thoughts – WARNING, COMMENTS CONTAIN SPOILERS FOR “COLD BLOOD”

  1. River is the male fantasy of a perfect Great Love. She has no lawn to mow, no shelves that require putting up.
    Yep, agreed. I think I said somewhere that River wouldn’t want a mortgage, a house and doors as well. I’m pretty sure she’s not going to turn out to be the missus at this point – but when we first met her, it seemed that her relationship with the Doctor was pretty on/off in the sense that they both went off and did their own thing when they wanted to, and that it suited both of them for it to be that way.
    Amy this week… God, not only was the ‘clingy’ comment completely ridiculous in the circumstances, the delivery was appalling, too. I made a bitchy comment somewhere this morning on a thread at the DW comm that KG needs to do more than snarl her lines and pout at the camera. It’s a one-note character and a one-note performance IMO.
    Do Moffat and the writers think that kind of comment is a “snappy one-liner” that’s going to have us all falling about laughing or something? Because – hello? – it’s coming across as crass and callous. If we’d been told more about her – if we had reason to believe that it was all a front because of deep insecurities, as we know that Donna’s ‘lip’ was, then I could deal with it, but this? Um. No.
    And the part where she’s got her head down on the table while Nasreen is negotiating made me want to scream! It’s the classic pose of a kid in the classroom who moans about being bored when in fact there’s plenty to do – they just don’t want to do it.
    I’ve been doing that 30 Day TV meme recently, to which many of my answers have been The West Wing. Going back and reading some of the transcipts while trawling for quotes has reminded me what truly great writing really is. Snappy one-liners that work and fantastic characters all over the place. I know they’re completely different shows, but good writing is good writing, whatever the premise.
    /rant.
    Oh, and that’s another good musical analogy. It makes total sense that Rusty would be like a good showtune!

  2. And I’ve finally figured out the nature of my problem with River Song. River is the male fantasy of a perfect Great Love. She has no lawn to mow, no shelves that require putting up. She makes lots of intellectual demands, but few emotional ones. She keeps her partner in a perpetual state of delicious anticipation, seduction and mystery. She teases and calls him to the chase. She disappears from his life for long periods and makes it clear that she prefers it that way. If Donna was the Best Friend, Marther the Unrequited Admirer and Rose the Girl You Settle Down With, then River is the eternal, archetypal mistress.
    Yes, I think you’ve hit the nail on the head. It’s hard to say exactly how much of Moffat’s misogyny bleeds into his writing, but it’s certainly difficult not to bear his personal views in mind when evaluating his writing. Oddly enough, though, I at least find River somewhat *interesting* which is more than I can really say for Amy at the moment.

  3. Do Moffat and the writers think that kind of comment is a “snappy one-liner” that’s going to have us all falling about laughing or something? Because – hello? – it’s coming across as crass and callous.
    THIS.
    And then after Rory dies and gets erased from time, it was hard for me to really believe that Amy cared much because mostly all I remembered was her snapping at him for caring about her when she’s in danger. FIX YOUR EMOTIONAL PLOTS, MOFFAT. THEY ARE NOT WORKING.

  4. I like your analysis of River.
    And yeah, “clingy” does seem to be Steven Moffat’s worst nightmare.
    Hmmm, I wonder if I’d enjoy this season more if I didn’t KNOW Moffat was in charge. Before I found out all the stories about him, I had no problem with his episodes. I actually really enjoyed Girl in the Fireplace. and The Doctor Dances is one of my all time favorites. Blink was great too. It’s like, I don’t like HIM, but I like the episodes he wrote. So, if I didn’t know he was in charge, I would probably be a lot happier.

  5. PLEASE mark this post/comments spoilery!
    I don’t disagree with anything you say here – and may be back to add more later – but as someone who was spoiled last night for what happens to Rory in this latest episode I would like to recommend STRONGLY that you mark this post/comments as containing spoilers. If I’d read ‘s post last night before I was spoiled, I’d be furious. Even your own post references something in the episode, though it’s minor compared to the other spoiler. There are a lot of people who haven’t yet seen this episode – or who may be three episodes behind if they’re watching on the US schedule.

  6. I wonder if I’d enjoy this season more if I didn’t KNOW Moffat was in charge.
    You know, that’s a good point. When it was announced that RTD was handing over to Moffat, there were so many people jumping for joy because they disliked Rusty’s style (and his excesses) that there was a definite feeling among those of us who had enjoyed the episodes he’d produced that he was now being seen as the antichrist while Moff was the savour of Who. And saying that things might not work out that way wasn’t something one said in public! (Although I think I gathered up the courage to do so!)
    Moffat undoubtedly wrote some great episodes (although personally, I’d rate Midnight above Blink), but IMO The Beast Below was a Turkey, so he’s not perfect either.
    Which is a very roundabout way of saying that I wonder if there’s not a bit of “Emperor’s New Clothes” going on somewhere.

  7. The first time she talked about clinginess she was serious, but I heard last night’s line as an attempt to make a joke in the middle of something very serious – especially as the preface made it clear that *anyone* would be worried sick in those conditions.

  8. Re: PLEASE mark this post/comments spoilery!
    Fixed now, before I saw your response in fact. I think it’s best to stay off-line at times like this until you’re caught up. I know it’s difficult, though.

  9. I’d buy that, I think, if it hadn’t been for the word “clingy”. It’s a bit of a trademark – SM notoriously referred to the resolution to the Handy/Rose arc as “way to get rid of a clingy girl friend.” Then it turned up in Time of Angels, where the Doctor was showing a very appropriate concern for her, and it jarred there.
    I know RTD did editorial inserts all the time – I never much cared for Martha’s warning to Donna in the Sontaran episode that ‘when people get too close to the Doctor, they get burned.’ Even if the sentiments are reasonable, these inserts tend to feel a little forced. So yeah, I can see Amy trying to laugh it off, but to use that particular word both times just felt a little off to me.

  10. I wasn’t comfortable about the head-on-the-table bit either, though to be fair she was probably doing what the script demanded. Suggesting that negotiating a peace settlement is one big yawn, and therefore uncool for anyone under 40 to get involved in, doesn’t sit awfully well with the Doctor’s “no guns” policy.

  11. It also shows me that Amy, despite her claims to know all about the Doctor, has no idea of what or who he is, and how fortunate she is to be travelling with him! While it’s hard for any human to really understand and know the Doctor, Rose, Martha and Donna (especially Donna) seemed to have more of an idea of what they’d gotten into and had a suitable respect for it.

  12. I just thought that she was tired: that it was meant to show that the negotiations were (somewhat) dead-end, filled with lots of arguing in circles. The sticking point was that introducing the Silurians and in the same breath announcing them as humanity’s new flatmates was just not going to go down very well. The point at which the Silurian leader said that the Silurians would give humanity new technology was the first breakthrough they’d had (or so I gathered).
    So I just thought that she was tired. It wasn’t a very dignified move, and it could be construed as rude, but I didn’t see it as disrespectful of the process.

  13. This is a great analysis of both River Song and the cling-avoidance thing that increasingly bothers me about Amy. One can make some excuses for Amy: people she cared about have let her down by not being there (her parents, the Doctor), so she protects herself by trying not to hold on to anyone. This is a trait showing her emotional damage. It’s not likable and it’s not funny, and the problem is that S5 sort of seems to suggest that it should be.

  14. This is a trait showing her emotional damage.
    I agree that that’s what it’s supposed to be – but we’ve been given so little to go on, other than a brief mention of her not having parents and her annoyance at the Doctor’s 5 minutes turning into 12 years.
    For all the talk about this series of DW being more akin to how it was in the past, and back to being more of a children’s show (which I’d dispute), those little hints are far too subtle for most kids to pick up on – my daughters (aged 10 and 7) certainly haven’t.
    I don’t know whether it’s down to writing, performance or performER or what, but whereas I quickly saw and understood the reasons for Donna’s bolshy facade, I have no such empathy with Amy. I can tell myself that her selfishness and self-absorbtion are to do with her upbringing and abandonment issues, but that doesn’t help me to feel anything for her because she’s coming across – to me – as such an unlikeable character.

  15. Even if she was tired, surely she should have known – given the gravitiy of the situation – that to have slumped over the table would be a very disrespectful thing to do!
    I’m sorry; I get very down on Amy – possibly because the traits I see in her are ones I see on a daily basis (I’m a teacher) and a lack of social skills and concern for anyone else in the room is something I see all the time – so it bugs me when I see it in a show like this, where it just shouldn’t be. This is fantasy, not ‘real life’ – it’s Doctor Who, not Grange Hill!

  16. Gah, had a longish comment to this all ready to go and then LJ on the iPhone crashed…
    That’s a very astute analysis of River; I actually really like her, and I enjoyed the Doctor and River riffing off each other in the Angels episodes (though sadly the weakness of the writing/acting of Amy rather showed up in comparison), but that doesn’t negate anything you say about her.
    Re Moffat and emotional plots – I can’t decide whether he really can’t write them (because whenever I think that I remember GiTF, which (ssh!) I’m very fond of and always makes me choke up), or whether he just doesn’t think they’re that interesting and therefore can’t be arsed. Whereas of course with Rusty the emotional/character arc was all, and it was the technical plotting of individual episodes that he couldn’t always be arsed with.
    Maybe one of the reasons that GiTF worked was that the emotional plotline was complete in one episode, not requiring Moffat to sustain character development across a series. I can’t currently decide either whether all the dreaming/alternate futures/cracks-in-the-universe stuff is something Terribly Clever Complex And Moffaty which will reveal its utter brilliance by the end of the series, or a complete dog’s breakfast which doesn’t know where it’s going. Either way, I fear Moff and his co-conspirators either haven’t thought through or can’t get right the character arcs that ought to be going with it…
    Sigh. I was feeling really optimistic after the Venice episode, too. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still tremendous fun and I’m still watching, but fun is about all it is, which I’d never have said about RTD-Who.
    (Icon because I’m really missing Donna and Ten…)

  17. I agree with everything you’ve just written to such a degree I have honestly nothing to contribute.
    Especially about the Sondheim. You sum up exactly how I feel about him at the moment really succinctly. (I know this post isn’t about musicals, but…) Two of my housemates are in A Little Night Music at the moment and are raving about how intelligent it is. But it seems to be just a set of smug self-satisfied one-liners that hit you over the head with just how profound they are trying to be. The result being meaningless. And it’s not like the music is that great. (I genuinely like quite a bit of Sondheim; there’s just a lot that frustrates me, especially in ALNM.)

  18. I haven’t watched the show, except for the first episode. I just don’t feel enclined to. Maybe later, once the season is over. But I do read comments. And I read one about this last episode: about how the women (the human one and the alien one) were the worst of their respective species.
    Is it true? I mean, did it happen, was a boy disgusted by his own mother because she was willing to kill to save him? I’m a bit lost about this episode but surely, this can’t be true, the female of the two species can’t be told that they are the worst things in the world?

  19. Ah, ALNM…a beautiful set of variations on 3/4 time and gorgeous to look at. And yes, very witty and clever but it’s hard to care about any of the characters all that much, isn’t it? The more I think about the SM/SS comparison the more parallels I see – right down to some wonderful one-liners.
    There are certainly some potentially very emotional scenes in Sondheim – the plot of “Follies” alone could break your heart, but he always has the ability to stand outside his work and comment on it, whereas old Oscar H (who was Sondheim’s mentor/father figure, interestingly) just dived (dove?) right in.

  20. Well, I think there were a lot of characters basically put there to express one position or another, and the writing was none too subtle. For example, the mother was goaded into killing the alien woman and then bitterly regretted it, which was fine, but then she went off and cold-bloodedly arranged for the drilling to start and kill off the entire alien society straight afterwards. Not very consistent. And no, I didn’t see the little lad being disgusted by his mum at all.

  21. I think he was disappointed, rather than disgusted. The Doctor (whom the very bright little boy idolised from the get-go) had made it pretty clear that violence was Not The Way Forward. And the point about the killing is that killing the alien woman was the LAST way to keep her child safe, because her child was a hostage and so was the alien woman, and the Doctor and Rory had spelt this out in terms – Your Child’s Life Depends On This Woman’s Life. And then the alien woman – who wanted to die to provoke the war, the original extremist martyr position – successfully, as says, goaded the little boy’s mother into killing her.
    I was pretty disappointed myself, not because maternal love isn’t one of the most powerful forces in the world, but by the implication that maternal love makes you STUPID. Sigh.

  22. There are certainly some potentially very emotional scenes in Sondheim
    Agreed. And as we know, Moffat can do them too. But I’d still rather listen to “If I Loved You” than “Send in the Clowns”.

  23. Yes. I do find it believable the Doctor would have someone like River as companion if not “wife”; the fact that it is also a male wish fulfillment is well, I guess, the inverse of the female/gay romantic wish fulfillment of those who grasped Rose/Ten to their bosom ;but both seem /seemed at least plausible. Amy/Rory never did. I really really like the idea that in a non kid show the Dr would be married to Rose with River as his well perhaps not mistress – as i think that involves an emotional dishonesty the Dr would never go for – but secondary long distance relationship. I could right see that.

  24. I’ve been thinking about GItF (one of my favourite eps) and wondering actually if it does show Moffat can write emotion, or just that DT is a bloody good actor. Imagine Matt reading the letter from Reinette at the end; would he hae brought us to tears in the same way? I suspect not. Tennant there pulled off external emotional blankness but you KNEW underneath he was hurting like mad. That denial line “Me? I’m always all right” felt like genius emotional writing; but now i wonder if it was more genius acting,.

  25. But then the Doctor agreed to a plan that might kill several dozen of the Silurian warriors if they did not choose to felee back to hibernation! Not to mention the vampure episode where he did little or nothing to save an entire race. I felt all the moralising at the end was not only incredibly heavyhanded but made no sense at all. And yes, I’d ;like to see any race where a mother would not do anything in her power to save her child.

  26. You know, I’ve always felt a bit like the kid that doesn’t belong when it comes to GitF. When I did my S2-4 rewatch, pre-S5, I posted that I was about to commit heresy, because I just don’t get why that episode is so often on peoples’ top-ten lists. I can see it’s beautifully filmed and that the sets and set-dressing is gorgeous; the music is beautiful, the clockwork ‘monsters’ are beautiful, the story is great and it’s well written. I KNOW all those things… but I still don’t FEEL it.
    And then at the end, DT says NOT ONE WORD and brings a lump to my throat. He just stands there, expressionless and seemingly emotionless, yet somehow tells us that he’s exactly the opposite of that under the surface.
    (I’ll also give credit to Sophia Myles there, for her reading of the letter – but presumably that was added into the soundtrack afterwards, so it’s still likely to have been all him).
    It seems the majority of the people who like and more than like S5 are the ones who like to keep emotions the hell away from DW.

  27. Thinking it over, I felt that the Doctor’s hands-off attitude to the negotiations was irresponsible in the extreme. The two humans knew almost nothing of the history – he was very familiar with it. I know negotiations are hardly riveting to watch but he could still have got around the table as a non-aligned adviser.
    Are we supposed to be questioning the Doctor’s simplistic mantra that he loves humans, they’re wonderful, etc? I love my kids but I wouldn’t trust them to bargain for their lives with an enemy I knew well, just because I think they’re brilliant.

  28. I’ve been thinking about GItF (one of my favourite eps) and wondering actually if it does show Moffat can write emotion, or just that DT is a bloody good actor.
    Well, you won’t hear any counter-argument from me there. DT could read a shopping list and make me weep if he had a mind to.
    Seriously, you may have hit on something really quite significant here about match/mismatch between writers’ styles and actors’ abilities. Tennant has such a mobile, communicative, emotional face and acting style: RTD often wrote brilliantly for that but there were times when RTD heartstring-tugging plus the passion of Tennant’s acting could get a bit OTT. Whereas, as you point out, Tennant could take a Moff script with emotionally nothing-there-on-the-surface and invest it with huge depth. This at the time made me feel that Moffat was rather good at writing tightly restrained emotion. Maybe he’s not as good as I thought – or maybe Matt Smith just isn’t the actor to communicate it.
    I’m still finding it difficult to figure out whether my lack of investment in Who S5 is down to the acting, the writing, the direction… it may be all three, or that somehow the scripts and the actors just don’t quite mesh. Whereas a good RTD script with Tennant and Billie Piper, or Catherine Tate, just took wing, because – as RTD specifically says somewhere in Writer’s Tale, I think it’s where he’s talking about the filming of the scene where the Doctor and Donna are mouthing to each other through the window in the Adipose episode – they all raised each other’s game all the time…

  29. I felt that the Doctor’s hands-off attitude to the negotiations was irresponsible in the extreme.
    You know, I wondered about this as well. I remember when I read the RT synopsis, it said something about the Doctor not being able to “take sides”. At the time I thought “what? why not? He usually takes sides.” One of the reasons he wasn’t exactly the Time Lords’ favourite son was because he didn’t agree with their non-interventionist policies, wasn’t it? What was it about these particular negotiations that meant he couldn’t get involved? And even if he couldn’t “take sides” most negotiations have a mediator or arbitrator, which surely would have been the ideal role for him.
    Meh – I know it’s not real and I know there were glaring plot holes and omissions in Rusty’s day, but perhaps in the absense of things like character development to focus on, we’re more apt to notice other inconsistencies.

  30. Seriously, you may have hit on something really quite significant here about match/mismatch between writers’ styles and actors’ abilities. Tennant has such a mobile, communicative, emotional face and acting style: RTD often wrote brilliantly for that but there were times when RTD heartstring-tugging plus the passion of Tennant’s acting could get a bit OTT. Whereas, as you point out, Tennant could take a Moff script with emotionally nothing-there-on-the-surface and invest it with huge depth. This at the time made me feel that Moffat was rather good at writing tightly restrained emotion. Maybe he’s not as good as I thought – or maybe Matt Smith just isn’t the actor to communicate it.
    Oh, fascinating point!

  31. The clingy word, again! I’m glad you point this out; english is not my mother tongue (I’m an aregentinian), so I usually miss those details. You made me look it up the dictionary…Calling Rory clingy, or thinking of herself as clingy in the face of death (and therefore questioning the Doctor’s decision of caring for her; worrying he might think of herself as a clingy person)…I’m not sure Amy’s words can be taken as Moffat’s and assume Moffat thinks caring for somebody leads to be clingy. I think tardis_stowaway nailed it; it shows Amy can be very ruthless both with the people around her, and with herself. That doesn’t make her a bad character, that makes her a rude one, maybe even a nasty one. I’ve read in other blogs people saying they can’t hear her voice; but I think more and more she is finding one. It may not be the nicest one to hear (for the moment, as characters should evolve and learn, and become wiser), but that doesn’t make it any less of a voice.
    In fact, that kind of self-loathing really fit with Amy having an unhappy childhood, without any adults around to care for her, to show her how much loved she was. It’s very appropiate she grew up ruthless and reluctant to show care neither for herself, nor for the people around her, until it is too late.
    Though you mentioned before Moffat joked about Rose referring to her as a clingy girlfriend the Doctor wanted to dump; I’d like to check it out. That doesn’t seem like the most honorable way to talk about a beloved character such as Rose.
    Regarding River Song, I think you hit a nail there. River Song has obviously become a sort of a fantasy to the Doctor. I’m not sure “no lawns to mow” is the fantasy though; their exchanges sound very domestic most of the time. They argue about silly things like making or not making the TARDIS noise, the way old couples do after they have mowed their fair share of lawns. However, it’s very possible the doctor finds the possibility of settling down and living together with a woman a lifestyle as alien as any of us would find travelling through time and space at will. So she is a fantasy by teasing him, but teasing him with the fantasy of him, at some point in the future, being the kind of guy who settles down. He’s fascinated both by her and by what he assumes she managed to make of him, in the future. That makes him narcissist, but that’s nothing new 🙂
    I’m not sure about the idea of the Doctor married with Rose and having an affair with River Song, however. To me, Rose has evolved into more of a high school girlfriend. But it’s ok to want to share your life with your high school girlfriend, nothing adolescent about that. Some people even manage to make it true. But not every single love story has a happy ending. However, even though it may not be coming, we have to crave for that happy ending; otherwise it would be a very bad love story.
    And, guys, I think you are unfair when you say Moffat wrote scripts with emotionally nothing there on the surface and then Tennant came invested it with depth. He arguably wrote: 1) the only happy ending Nine ever had; 2) The first time Ten fell in love with somebody 3) The first time the Doctor met the woman who may very possible be his wife, only to see her die. Now David of course acted it beautifully, but I’m pretty sure there’s more emotion there than in Tooth and Claw, Midnight or Utopia (all very good episodes)

  32. I’d disagree that there is less emotion in Midnight than in GitF, the Library episodes or EC/DD – it’s just a different type of emotion – and it’s raw. Blink scares my kids – Midnight scares ME because it shows what humans are truly capable of when faced with something they don’t understand. Negative emotion is still emotion.

  33. I think it’s fairly obvious: he couldn’t take sides because he was on both sides. He couldn’t negotiate with the humans side because he knew silurians had a right to live in the surface; he couldn’t go with the silurians because of his longstanding friendship with humanity, and because humans also have right to live in the surface. But he could (maybe should) have taken part of the discussion as a mediator. However, I’m not sure neither this doctor nor the previous ones would have done it. I wouldn’t bet on it.
    I’m not sure the mother’s behavior does imply maternal loves makes you stupid. In fact, the Doctor does go out of his way trying to tell the silurians that they should not assume this is characteristic of humanity (though he’s being naive there, we’re capable of far worse things) It’s more of a character being just plain stupid.
    Then again, the Silurians in peril are those who wanted to make war; and the vampires in Venice had 1)Killed Isabella 2)Intended to sink Venice without any regard for the humans there 3)Intended to force human women into being converted to their species to mate with their males. The Doctor’s final solutions may have been morally questionable, but this is not the first time this character makes such choices. The Family of Blood also only wanted to survive, however they did receive the most merciless punishments seen in the series.

  34. You are right there. I meant “romance”, or something like that. But there’s a lot of emotion both in Midnight and Turn Left, both episodes very good at being nihilistic.

  35. he couldn’t take sides because he was on both sides.
    I don’t disagee with you, but my point was that he’s (almost) always taken sides before, so what was so different about this time? And look what he left in his place.

  36. Me too. A song like People will say we’re in love inspired me for about two years to heights of romantic absurdity when I was a teenager and still tells me something (as does If I Loved You, even if it is basically written on two chords. Send in the Clowns though. Meh. Interestingly the director of the production of ALNM I’m involved with hates that song and has consequently spent the most time thinking about what to do with it. It’ll be interesting to see his interpretation.
    Unfortuntely I saw a terrible student version of Follies (it really doesn’t work with students for obvious reasons) so it rather unmoved me though some performances were done well. I do like Into the Woods though – Agony is a brilliant song. And some of the music of ALNM is great (hence my now agreeing to play in the band) – lush orchestration and waltzes.
    But yes, give me R&H any day!

  37. Well, I suppose it was easier to take sides in the conflict with the vampires, considering they had murdered Isabella and were trying to take over a city that didn’t belong to them.
    I think none of the stories we’ve seen before has put the Doctor in front of such a dilemma.

  38. Had he been wiser, he would have taken part as a mediator.
    However, I’m not surprised he left Amy there to negotiate. He obviously has a lot of faith in her. He has been steadily encouraging her to learn, think, to find answers on her own, to use her own resources. And she did save the day on TBB and VOTD, so his trust is not totally undeserved.

  39. his trust is not totally undeserved.
    I think we’ll have to agree to disagree on this one, because I think the exact opposite. Amy “saving the day” in both those episodes made no sense dramatically and I still have no idea what it is the Doctor sees in her when all I see is a self-obsessed, self-opinionated young woman.

  40. I think you’re absolutely right. Any actor will tell you that there are some jobs where you’re surrounded by talented people sweating blood but the show just never takes flight. Same with music – you can sense that some albums just flow (and the weird thing is, they often happen when the band are at each other’s throats). There has to be security, honestly and familiarity for actors to give their best. A rehearsal room has to be a safe space where you can completely expose your inner life.
    There’s very little time for that on DW, so it made sense that the longer people worked together, the better it got. In addition, DT is well known for having the kind of charm that puts people instantly at their ease. We can’t really compare the first RTD series because it was a different Doctor and nobody had the pressure of living up to the biggest show on the BBC.
    So, this may just be one of those things that is nobody’s fault, except that the leads are less seasoned and there has been so much change, not least the loss of the lovely parental figures of Julie and Phil. Plus, the director is more responsible than anyone else for supporting the actors, and all the old hands have left, too.

  41. You’re right – for all his warmth and depth of characterisation, Rusty could be incredibly downbeat at times. And it hurt all the more because the stakes were higher – we cared desperately for his characters.
    I feel that, for all his claims that he was constantly challenging David Tennant, Rusty had a tendency to write to an actor’s strengths and keep them within their comfort zone. Moffat offers more of a blank slate, leaving the actor to do the work. The “Everybody lives!” of TEC meant so much because we’d seen, by that time, what all those deaths does to the Doctor. And Blink, though it’s remembered best for the plot and the monsters, owed a great deal to Carey Mulligan’s talent.
    I notice something about Matt Smith – he draws the most beautiful performances out of children. It’s as if he needs to feed on their lack of self-consciousness to find his own centre. And I’m sure that, in his mind, Amy is still a child and he is torn between the wish to keep her safe and the wish to see her grow. I hope we’ll return to little Amelia and something will be repaired, because what we’re seeing with Amy is someone who has hit the rocks between childhood and adult life, for very clear reasons.

  42. There’s very little time for that on DW, so it made sense that the longer people worked together, the better it got. In addition, DT is well known for having the kind of charm that puts people instantly at their ease.
    And DT and RTD had worked together before, remember, on Casanova, and were obviously already very comfortable with each other. And when David came on Billie Piper was also an old hand, and David’s often talked in interviews about how hugely supportive and welcoming and helpful she was.
    So yes, everything’s changed at once, and it’s not surprising if the show is taking a while to find its feet. I still really hope it does, because I’d like to love Matt Smith’s Doctor, and Amy Pond could conceivably irritate me a lot less if she just GREW UP a bit…

  43. Good point on Matt working beautifully with children, a point very obvious now that you mention it, but one I hadn’t thought about. I loved his scenes with young Amelia, and I do wish we will see them together again. (By the way, how many child characters were there while RTD was on charge? There must have been some, but I can’t think of any right now. Were they of any importance?)
    I like Amy and I don’t mind the way she is, even though she’s shown a very flawed personality so far. I think it’s appropiate for this series to have a companion that’s nothing like any of the companions we’ve seen before. But she is not nearly the most uplifting possible character. In fact, as you say, she hit rock-bottom. Not even Donna, at the height of her white-thrashness, looked like such a sorry mess.
    I’m intrigued by the fact that you mention you hope something will be repaired on Amy, and the coincidences there are with the words the Doctor uses at the end of Flesh and Stone, when he says the most important thing in the universe may be that he gets her sorted out. I think the Doctor has also been seeing there is something wrong with Amy, and he knows he is partially responsible for it. Trying to get her to realize she should marry Rory was his first attempt to fix her, but that didn’t work. What happens to Amy without Rory? And what will the Doctor now do, to sort her out?
    Regarding Tennant’s strenghts, to be honest, I can’t think of many things that are not a Tennant strength. He’s such an incredible actor, my favorite from his generation by a long distance. He nailed both comedy and drama, and he moved with an impossible elegance during action sequences (and yes, writing the Doctor running was also writing to a Tennant strenght; frankly I have never seen somebody run that gracefully) My god, what an actor. After losing someone as good as Christopher Eccleston, I’m still dazzled at how lucky the show was to find a gem like him. How did that happen?
    I’m with you in the fact that Moffat’s been leaving more room for the actor to add his/her own stamp on the script. Characterization time has been scarcer this season, so details like smiles and nods have become more important, and if the actor’s not aware of this, then the character may end up very flat and unidimensional.

  44. The last time he negotiated a deal with the Silurians, the Brigadier went behind his back and blew them all up anyway. Making the humans do their own deal may just have been his way of preventing that situation from recurring. (Though why he’d be naive enough to think that every nation on Earth would cheerfully accept terms worked out by two people with no diplomatic standing whatsoever I have no idea.)

  45. After losing someone as good as Christopher Eccleston, I’m still dazzled at how lucky the show was to find a gem like him. How did that happen?
    Well, he claims that it was watching Dr Who on TV as a child that made him want to be an actor – and that it was his “dream job”. And although he’d done a lot of excellent theatre work and some very good telly, he wasn’t a huge household name before Who, so he was quite get-able.
    (There’s a very funny story I heard him tell in an interview, about how when S1 with Eccleston was being filmed, but RTD already knew that CE was only staying for one series, DT kept badgering RTD and Julie Gardner for a little walk-on part – “Please please! It’s Doctor Who! I’ll play anything!” and getting really quite disappointed when they kept turning him down – because he was already on their shortlist to be the Tenth Doctor, but of course they couldn’t tell him that…)

  46. There were children in the RTD years – although I think the ones that were significant, like Nancy and Latimer were played by older actors who looked younger (especially Nancy, who turned out to be in her twenties!) I can’t remember any more offhand, but there may have been more.
    I thought Matt was wonderful with Amelia – hell, I loved Amelia immediately and I’m sad that grown-up Amy has been (for me) such a let-down.
    he moved with an impossible elegance during action sequences (and yes, writing the Doctor running was also writing to a Tennant strenght; frankly I have never seen somebody run that gracefully)
    Hee! Julie Gardiner is also a fan of the Tennant-running, especially in the coat! In the commentary to Partners in Crime she fangirls like the rest of us and describes him as the “Linford Christie of the acting world” (or words to that effect!)

  47. Christopher Eccleston expressed interest in the role when the revival was first mooted. He was already recognised as an actor with great presence and a particular flair for social realism. He’d worked with RTD in a drama called “The Second Coming” in which he played a modern Messiah figure. He’s always been very committed to his working-class roots and he wanted to challenge the idea that the Doctor’s always “posh” and upper-class.
    If you’re interested, there’s a book called “Triumph of a Time Lord” that discusses his performance and eventual frustrations
    in the role. There are differing stories about why he quit but the way the BBC announced it alienated him quite a lot and he’s flatly refused to have anything to do with the franchise since – a pity.

  48. RTD was very much a child himself and his main venture into writing about kids was the grim Torchwood five-parter “Children of Earth.”
    One issue with having a lot of gay people working on a show is that they are less likely than straight ones, on the whole (please don’t jump down my throat!) to have direct experience of family life. Thinking back, it’s noticable that most of the children in the show were written by other people. One of the biggest roles for a child was the scary, possessed little girl Chloe in “Fear Her.”
    I do think we’ve seen a move towards a more heterosexual show under Moffat and his comments suggest he’s keen to give children as characters a higher profile. I’m glad they aren’t just scary, as they tended to be in the RTD years, but we’ve already had several children (Amelia, Elliot, Mandy) who went beyond being mere plot devices. In fact I’d argue that Amelia’s the most interesting character he’s invented in S5 so far.

  49. Wasn’t Latimer a teenager? Early teens, but I assumed he was somewhere around 12-13, considering he was around Baines who definitely wasn’t a kid.
    I had forgotten The Sarah Jane Adventures, an RTD concept which stars teenagers but I think is aimed for kids (doesn’t it air in a kid-oriented channel in the UK?)
    The other thing I found intriguing is how little presence of fathers there used to be when mothers in the show and their relationship with their daughters have been very developed. And I find it especially strange
    after having read The Writer’s Tale and knowing how important was his father to RTD. I guess Geoff Noble would have been a very interesting character to see.
    Little Amelia is of the most charming characters in any of the series. Arguably, little Amelia is grownup Amy’s main redeeming factor, the only anchor through which one can empathize with her when she’s at her lowest.

  50. I saw the Second Coming soon after I finished seeing series 1. It could be heavy handed at some points, but it compensated more than enough by being extremely thought provoking. Before Doctor Who, I only knew Chris by his movie roles in Shallow Grave, 28 Days Later and Jude, which I think are his best known movies, aren’t they?. I didn’t know he was from the working class, and that he remains committed to it. That’s very praiseworthy.
    Regarding to the reasons he might have quit, the official story made sense to me, considering he seems to choose more serious roles when he works in England. But I think I read he wasn’t the only one that was upset about the BBC announcement.
    I’m also watching Queer as Folk, which I’ve enjoyed so far, though fatherhood doesn’t allow me to see it as often as I’d like.
    I do have the Triumph of a Time Lord book! And I keep it in the backpack I carry to the office every day, but I haven’t started it yet. I bought it right after I finished “Writer’s” and it arrived home a couple of weeks ago. Didn’t you recommend it in Amazon.co.uk? At the time I wanted to buy another in-depth look at the show and I think your recommendation was decisive in choosing it. Are there any other good books about Doctor Who?

  51. There is indeed a lot of talking and no real emotional development to this series now. And if this was Old School Who it wouldn’t matter to us. We would probably really like Amy, but mostly, that would be because we hadn’t ever experienced deeper levels of emotional development in Doctor Who. Moff is just trying to put the genie back in the bottle and go back to the days when the companion was a girl that wore short skirts and screamed a lot. Now, she’s ballsy and definitely not clingy. This is apparently his nod to the modern woman. But he has always had the urge to write the perfect mistress for the Doctor. All we need do is look at his other work…Girl in the Fireplace, Silence in the Library and The Empty Child all present us with this perfect sexually gratifying being in Reinette, River and Jack. Heck, even Sally represents that to her police detective…who gets to always keep her as a perfect pretty girl. He is never burdened with the reality of Sally…and neither is the Doctor.
    Rae

  52. There is indeed a lot of talking and no real emotional development to this series now. And if this was Old School Who it wouldn’t matter to us. We would probably really like Amy, but mostly, that would be because we hadn’t ever experienced deeper levels of emotional development in Doctor Who. Moff is just trying to put the genie back in the bottle
    WORD.
    I confess, I do get a bit annoyed when people say that that element “shouldn’t have been there in the first place”. Why not? Like it or not, television has changed– RTD knew that and fortunately for him, his writing style is naturally suited to those changes.
    And the fact remains that the emotional element WAS heightened and WAS a focus during Rusty’s era and those of us that liked it miss it and are saying so.

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