We need to talk about Steven.
Been a while since I’ve made a Doctor Who post, but it’s about that time. Season 7 of the reboot is about to wrap up, and the 50th Anniversary is upon us. In related news, the next episode is entitled “The Name of the Doctor”, and recently a “spoiler” was leaked about John Hurt’s mystery role in the anniversary special.
And the fandom is losing its mind.
(Here is your fair warning before you continue: I’m about to discuss the anniversary special and the supposed spoilers.)
“How can he reveal the Doctor’s name?” “How can he shoehorn in another incarnation of the Doctor?” “Moffat’s gone mad with power!” Our cries echo across the internet. We fear that the show we love is being twisted into something unrecognizable – even ruined – by a man who sees the canon as his own personal playground and the characters as meaningless dolls to do with as he likes. Damn the fifty years of history and damn the fans; Moffat’s in charge now and it’s full steam ahead whether we like it or not.
Here’s where I’m coming at all this from, just so you understand my perspective: officially, I got into Who at the beginning of Season 5, right at the start of Moffat’s run, though I had already seen That Episode (you know the one I mean) and had a basic understanding of what the show was about. I consider Eleven to be My Doctor because he’s the first one I truly fell in love with (I can even pinpoint the exact moment I did). However, I also adore Tennant, I appreciate Eccleston, I’ve seen enough pre-2005 Who to hold my own in a conversation about it, and I happen to be involved in this little project.
I also recognize that there are a lot of issues with Moffat. In a world where the internet has brought down many of the barriers between celebrities and fans, he has not painted a flattering portrait of himself. His female characters (one might argue all his characters) tend to be archetypal collections of quippy tropes rather than well-rounded humans. As someone who has generally enjoyed the creative work he puts out (because despite the shortcomings I am attracted to the themes he chooses to address, as well as their execution), I’ve had to agree to my own wary truce where Moffat is concerned: I will be able to continue to enjoy his work as long as I pay no attention to what he thinks he’s actually saying with it. That way, I won’t have to agree that Sherlock Holmes isn’t asexual because that wouldn’t be interesting.
And I think we all need to take a deep breath and chill out about what’s coming.
This is, after all, the man who told us that the Doctor was really dead – really, really for real – and then, of course, he wasn’t. The man who promised us The Doctor’s Wife and gave us the TARDIS in human form instead (well, technically Neil Gaiman did that, but you can bet Moffat signed off on it). The man who penned this little number:
Even forgetting Moffat for a moment, this is the show that teased us with the idea that the Doctor would run into his next reincarnation… only that’s not actually what happened.
Why does anyone think we’re going to learn the Doctor’s name next week? The bait-and-switch is old fez by now. Personally, I’ll be tuning in to see what the real twist is going to be, but your mileage may vary. As I said before, I happen to like the current style, even as I recognize the criticisms against it.
The John Hurt “spoiler,” I will admit, is a bit more troubling. Yet I feel compelled to put it inside quotation marks every time I mention it. I refer you once again to “The Next Doctor”. Just because Hurt is the Ninth Doctor doesn’t mean that he’s really the Ninth Doctor, or that he isn’t from some other dimension (highly possible, I mean think about who else is returning), or whatever fantastic technobabble trickery the show is planning to pull. One of the things I still love about Who is that literally anything is possible.
There’s plenty to complain about where Moffat is concerned, but we really need to stop being fooled by these red herrings and gotcha-twists. I am convinced by this point that they’re no more than hooks to keep us watching, and I’m going to reserve judgment on whether Moffat’s really gone power-mad until the episodes in question are in front of my face.