Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Many, Many Doctor Who Fans Just Punched the Air

The BBC press office reports:
Steven Moffat will succeed Russell T Davies as Lead Writer and Executive Producer of the fifth series of Doctor Who, which will broadcast on BBC One in 2010.
While this is obviously good news, I think it's a good idea not to let expectations run too high.  Though the plotting of all of Moffat's episodes thus far has been strong, I still haven't forgotten the spectacular implosion of Jekyll in its second half, in which Moffat's strong characters stood around spouting his incredibly clever and funny dialogue while nonsense of Torchwood levels happened to and around them.  It's also worth remembering that it's one thing to write a standout episode in a season, and quite another to oversee the entire season.  Though I'm sure that this is a step in the right direction for Who, we shouldn't expect the result to be thirteen weeks of "Blink."

And at any rate, there's the latter half of season four (in which I have been enjoying the Doctor-companion relationship almost as much as I did the one between Rose and Eccleston's Doctor, and all but ignoring the plots), and four Davies-penned specials to go.  It seems rather unkind to Davies--who is not a bad writer when he puts his mind to it, and who is ultimately responsible for bringing Who back to life--to make this announcement now.  As though it wasn't bad enough that so many fans have been actively wishing for Moffat to take his place for years, now he has to be a lame duck showrunner for another year, catering to a fandom which will, for the most part, be counting down the days until his term is over.


Brendan Moody said...

we shouldn't expect the result to be thirteen weeks of "Blink."

Yes, exactly. Moffat's vision of the show will undoubtedly be different, and probably more pleasing to people who like his writing and don't enjoy Davies'. But it's not going to be thirteen weeks of "Blink" any more than the present show is thirteen weeks of "Love & Monsters" (or "Last of the Time Lords," or [your least favorite Davies script here]). It'll still be geared toward providing a wide variety of styles in order to catch the biggest mainstream audience possible. There's already a lot of irrational exuberance from people who genuinely seem to believe that Moffat will reverse everything they personally don't like about the show, even the stuff he himself has done and praised in Davies' work, and that's just a recipe for backlash, especially since he's so loved now.

Honestly, the fanboy pessimist in me has already developed a worst-case scenario of one brilliant, off-beat Davies script a year and half a season's worth of sub-standard Moffat, though I don't really think it'll be that bad.

There's good PR logic for making this announcement now, though. It'll provide a publicity boost for the series after the Eurovision break, and it's no coincidence that the very next episode after Steven Moffat's promotion was announced is written by... Steven Moffat. The casual audience won't have another chance to preview his approach to the show before series five begins. I'm sure Davies is aware of all this, and he's never given a sign of caring what fandom thinks of him anyway. He'll be as cheerfully indifferent to "lame duck" as he's been to "albatross." Most of the people for whom he's making the show probably don't know he exists anyway.

Nick Smale said...

The timing of the announcement of DW's 2009 hiatus was tied to the RSC's publicity schedule - as once it was announced that Tennant would be appearing as Hamlet in Stratford, it would be hard to pretend that he was going to be filming Who in Cardiff at the same time. I'd guess that this announcement has got to happen now for similar reasons, which will become apparent very soon. Maybe RTD has put his Cardiff flat up for sale!

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