I’ve only known about Doctor Who for about three years. I was flipping through the channels one day, and Doctor Who was on. I asked aloud, “What the fuck is this shit…?” but ended up leaving it, because I was doing something on my laptop anyway (this is obviously back when I had a laptop) (don’t buy a laptop unless you’re 100% certain you’ll be using it while traveling), so I didn’t really care what was on television. But it kept drawing my attention, as it seemed really interesting. Within 20 minutes, I sat down on the couch and just watched the show, leaving my laptop abandoned on the coffee table.
The episode was The Time of Angels, and it was freaking awesome. From that moment on, I was hooked. Thanks to BBC America’s insistence on playing the show seventy-four times a day, it didn’t take long before I had seen every episode of the reboot, and I quickly made these conclusions: Matt Smith was the best Doctor ever, and at least one of the writers was a bumbling, idiotic boob who didn’t need to be anywhere near a show that called itself Science Fiction. It turned out that this was Steven Moffat, the terrible writer, and that I’d simply stumbled upon one of this good episodes when I first found the show.
Nightmare In Silver was the moment I realized that the show, no matter how in love I was with Clara, simply was not going to deliver the quality in writing that I demanded. This intensified with the abomination that was Hide, which was so bad that I was inspired to write a Ten Things Wrong With Last Night’s Episode of Doctor Who article. Before I explain my main criticism, I should point out that the show involves time travel. K, so at one point, they hear a knocking on the house. They later come to the conclusion that the knocking they heard in the past was caused by someone banging on something that didn’t exist until the future. The entire episode hinged on the idea that there was a parallel universe there, and that time flowed there much slower than in our own universe, and billions of years in our universe equated to only a second or two there. This was critical to the plot, until it was forgotten entirely, as the Doctor entered that universe, spent several minutes there, and returned to our universe with only a few minutes having passed, even though entire solar systems should have been birthed and died in his absence. It was the kind of sloppy, inconsistent writing that I’ve come to expect from Moffat, and that has no place in a Sci-Fi show.
If someone explained to Moffat that he has to stick to the rules he creates within a given work of fiction, then he’d probably make a good Fantasy writer, but as it is… he’s just terrible all around. During the episode Nightmare in Silver, the plot was that the moon’s mass was increasing, which was fucking up the Earth’s tides. It later was learned that the mass of the moon, isolated in space, was increasing because it was an egg and the creature within the egg was growing. They then spent the next half hour debating whether to blow up the egg and destroy the moon (which would have destroyed the moon) or to let the egg hatch and creature be born (which would have destroyed the moon).
Where do I even begin? Do I begin with the obvious fact that eggs don’t work that way, and that an egg growing in space wouldn’t experience any change in mass as the creature within developed? All that mass is already there–it is literally impossible for the egg to get heavier unless mass is added to it somehow. Moreover, the entire episode is obviously pointless, isn’t it? If they blow up the moon, then there will just be some creature’s corpse and shattered egg fragments orbiting the Earth. If they don’t blow it up, then there will just be some shattered egg fragments orbiting the Earth. It literally doesn’t matter what they do–the Earth is doomed.
Correction: Nightmare in Silver, which also took place on the moon, was about the moon being an amusement park. It also had its own problems, like the Doctor being able to hold his own in a game of chess against the Cybermen (aka, the Borg). I don’t recall the episode’s title that had the moon be an egg.
Their efforts were futile anyway. As the egg hatches, the creature somehow lays an egg in its place that is an identical copy of itself–magically doubling its mass, clearly, or it almost literally would have pooped itself inside out. Obviously, that’s a problem, because, you know… If you’re 50 pounds, then you can’t lay a 50 pound egg without, as I said, almost quite literally pooping yourself inside out. If the egg has to be 50 pounds, then you better be at least 51 pounds to lay it, and then you’re just 99.9% egg at that point. So it’s stupid, I’m sure you can agree, but that’s not even the biggest problem.
The biggest problem is that everyone on Earth is dead anyway, because gravity doesn’t work that way. If we accept that the moon somehow gained mass, then it would have crashed to the Earth unless its acceleration increased:
Plug in the mass of the moon for m and remember that m is increasing (so it will involve calculus and derivatives–it would actually be relatively easy [no pun intended] to calculate, but I honestly can’t be bothered). For each gram added to m, velocity v must increase by a proportional amount, or the moon will fall to the Earth–and the Earth will fall to the moon. An increase in velocity is never mentioned, so the moon’s gravitational attraction to the Earth would have increased exponentially, and it would have been like Majora’s Mask. Moon falls, everyone dies.
I can forgive Moffat for not keeping up with the last 20 years of scientific knowledge, which would have spared us the embarrassing scene of Clara and the Doctor standing near the star that is the heart of the TARDIS. But can a sci-fi writer really not know about solar winds? I’m sure even laypeople have heard of solar winds.
Of course, the moon episode also gets the age of the moon wrong. On more than one occasion through the episode, the Doctor describes the moon as “a hundred million years old.”
This writer for a science fiction show… couldn’t even be bothered… while writing an episode about the moon… to research how old the moon is.
The moon is nearly as old as the Earth itself, according to the latest scientific theory, and is at least 4 billion years old. This means that Moffat was off by a factor of forty.
All of this isn’t even my problem with Moffat, though. I take umbrage to his actual writing skills, not just his inability to write science fiction.
I saw an episode called Day of the Moon (“Day of” and “the moon” get used quite a lot, so it was only a matter of time before there was an episode called “Day of the Moon”). It started out awesome. It showed the main characters running for their lives, their skin colored in tally marks made from Sharpie markers, being gunned down by an agent of the Secret Service. It was epic. At this point, I knew only that it was the second part of a two-part episode, but I hadn’t seen the first part. I thought “Holy shit! The previous episode must be incredible!”
It was a few months before I watched the first part of that episode.
The first episode was boring beyond belief.
During the second episode, instead of seeing all those adventures and running from the authorities while they learn about the Silence, we are treated with a horrendously dull trip to an orphanage to find out where a child that is missing originated. It breaks the most fundamental rule of writing: Is this the most interesting period I could be writing about? If not, why aren’t I writing about that? Let’s recap. Instead of seeing these awesome, thrilling adventures where the main characters cross America searching for clues regarding the Silence while being pursued by the Secret Service, instead of finding out how the Secret Service in the 60s got bricks made from a dwarf star (lolwut–and it’s not crashing through the Earth? Gravity, Moffat. Google it. Please. You’re embarrassing yourself), and instead of finding out how the Doctor was captured and imprisoned, we’re treated with a trip to an orphanage.
Later, Amy gets kidnapped because of course she did, and says into what is basically a one-way walkie-talkie, “My life was so boring until you dropped out of the sky…” which her boyfriend happened to hear. This is a problem, because Rory (her boyfriend) suspects that she is in love with the Doctor, and it’s one of the plot points of the show. Of course, it’s later learned that she really was talking about Rory all along, and she says, “It’s just a figure of speech, you moron!”
No, Amy. No, it’s not just a figure of speech when this guy who I think you’re in love with did literally drop out of the sky into your life and change your life drastically. Because of the abuses I witnessed as a child, I abhor violence against women, but if ever a woman deserved to be slapped, it was Amy right then and there, and Rory should have slapped her. “You fucking bitch! This dude literally dropped out of the sky and into your life, and you ran away with him, the night before our wedding, and disappeared with him for god knows how long, and then kissed him. And you know that I suspect you have feelings for him. So no. ‘You dropped out of the sky’ is not likely to be something about me. It’s probably about the guy who, you know, did drop out of the sky and change your life.”
But if Amy hadn’t said it like that, then we, the audience, wouldn’t have gotten the the emotional rollercoaster ride of thinking she meant the Doctor (because obviously, anyone with a brain would have thought she did, since, as pointed out, the Doctor literally did exactly what she said, and Rory had been in her life since they were kids, so… Rory never came to Amy’s life out of nowhere and changed it), only to have the heartwarming moment later when it’s revealed that–Ta-da! She meant Rory all along!
Moffat wrote that line of dialogue fixated on the audience, and that’s a terrible way to write. The whole thing came off as contrived, insulting, and as just overall bad writing. That would be Rule Two of writing: Characters should say things for the benefit of other characters, not to toy with the audience. If you can’t maneuver circumstances so that characters can speak to each other for each other’s benefit and toy with the audience simultaneously, then revisit your career. Contrived uses of pronouns is not acceptable, and Moffat loves that.
If Moffat could fix these problems, he could be a good writer. The man has good ideas, but he’s terrible at conveying them.
Addendum: Matt Smith hasn’t been my favorite Doctor for a long time. David Tennant has that title, followed by Christopher… Ecclestone? He had a weird, complex last name. But he only got one season, and I hate that. He was really cool. I actually would say I like Christopher, David, and Matt equally, but Peter Cipaldi can go away. He’s old and not very entertaining. Clara is great, but I haven’t watched the past two years or so, so she might not be around any longer. Clara was more than great, though. <3