Saturday, January 17, 2015

Doctor Who: The Inheritors of Moffat

Hello, Whovians!  

Production has begun on Doctor Who Series 9 with Peter Capaldi & Jenna Coleman back on the set shooting a two parter written by Toby Whithouse. Its good to see another 2 parter on the horizon. The down side of a two parter is sometimes there just isn't enough story for 2 hours. But stories contained to one episode can feel a bit rushed sometimes. And besides, a 2 parter allows for that old school Doctor Who staple, the cliffhanger.

I'm glad to see the re-appearance of Toby Whithouse as a writer on Doctor Who. His is one of those names that comes up whenever talks comes around to the subject of Steven Moffat's eventual departure from Doctor Who as producer and head writer. I know there are those who would greet the news of Steven stepping down with glee after years of internet trolling telling everyone how Moffat is destroying Doctor Who. Others may think the show would be doomed without the evil genius of Moffat at the helm.

I like Steven Moffat and his almost gonzo willingness to throw anything at the TARDIS and see what sticks. Under the Moff, Doctor Who has expanded beyond just the domain of space and time travel into fantasy. Sometimes it doesn't work (ex: "In the Forest of the Night") and sometimes it does (ex: "Robin of Sherwood"). Moffat doesn't think, "We can't do that on Doctor Who." No, he thinks, "How can we make that work on Doctor Who?"

There have been criticisms of the complexity of stories written or overseen by Steven Moffat. Guys, let me put it this way: if you truly are confused by any Doctor Who story, then maybe Doctor Who just isn't for you. Sorry, sounds snobbish, I know, but there is no homogenous sci-fi/fantasy foundation. Doctor Who offers something different from Star Trek which is different from Star Wars which may not appeal fans of Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings/Hobbit films. All in all, I don't find Doctor Who any more complex than other genre shows and movies. It just has to be your thing.

Personally, I would hate to see Steven Moffat leave Doctor Who. But the realities are this is a stressful job, overseeing the BBC's cash cow with 12 to 13 episodes a year, plus Christmas specials plus occasional online bonus stuff. The only other thing that Moffat does outside of Doctor Who is Sherlock and that's three movie-like episodes every 2 years. Sooner or later, the Moff is going to think, "I still love Doctor Who. I better leave while I still love it and before I get too burned out."

So the question is, who would replace him? This is not as easy when Russell T Davies tapped Steven Moffat to replace him. Well, DUH! Who else? But the options for succession, the inheritors of Moffat are a bit harder to nail down. Who are our like suspects?

Toby Whithouse
In my opinion, Whithouse has been a fairly strong writer for Doctor WhoSome of my favorite episodes have been written by Whithouse: "School Reunion", "Vampires of Venice", "The God Complex" and "A Town Called Mercy". Whithouse is the brains behind Being Human which I also enjoyed. Toby's experience as a producer, particularly of a genre TV show, coupled with his record of strong episodes of Doctor Who would make him a viable candidate. Toby's star might be particularly bright coming off the spy series The Game

Chris Chibnall
Chibnall is no stranger to Who with contributions such as "42" "The Hungry Earth/Cold Blood" 2 parter and "Dinosaurs on a Spaceship". He was also the writer of "The Power of Three" which just plain fell apart; it started off so well then....well, not so good. Chibnall is also no stranger to producing TV shows including Doctor Who spinoff Torchwood (which some fans may still consider as a strike against Chibnall.) There may be a simple availability issue for Chris since his Broadchurch series is having a 2nd go around.  There's no reason to think there won't be a third if the current series matches the success of the first one.

Mark Gatiss
Mark has delivered some fine episodes including the first one NOT written by Russell Davies, "The Unquiet Dead". I think Mark's one-two punch for Series 7, "Cold War" and "The Crimson Horror" were both well done and I enjoyed the hell out of "Robin of Sherwood". But also delivered "Night Terrors" so file that under "nobody's perfect". Mark has a strong passion for Doctor Who and that was best demonstrated in his script for "Adventures In Time and Space", the story of the early days of Doctor Who. But Mark is still pretty much an actor and I think a gig like being producer of Doctor Who would put a kibosh on that.

Russell T Davies
No, I don't think so. Loved the RTD era of Doctor Who. But no, that's not happening. 

Those are just names I've plucked off the top of head. Of course these are people with existing associations with Doctor Who. Would the BBC bring in someone totally fresh from the outside of Who? What say does Moffat have in whoever should replace him? Maybe the Moff has no intention of leaving. "I've got Doctor Who in my grasp," Moffat cackles wildly, his eyes flaring with the spark of an evil genius. "And I shall never let it go! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!"  

No, Moffat has been coy about his future Doctor Who plans but he has said, "I'm closer to the end than I am to the beginning." 

Which means the clock is ticking. So the topic of who will be the inheritor of Moffat is not just idle speculation. Sooner or later, it's going to be a real thing. 

And Doctor Who will do what it always does: venture once more into unknown territory. 

Be good to one another. 


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