The word is out. Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat is stepping down at the end of the 10th season of NuWho, to be replaced by veteran writer Chris Chibnall – and it’s likely the whole show will get a facelift as a result.
If you remember, when Russell T Davies stepped down from Doctor Who in 2010, the entire series was relaunched; with a new intro, theme tune and – most notably of all – a brand-new Doctor in the shape of Matt Smith. Word on the street is that the same will apply this time around as well; making Season 10 likely to be Peter Capaldi’s last tour in the Tardis.
It’s a bit of a bittersweet moment – as Steven Moffatt’s tenue has seen both the highest highs and the lowest lows for Doctor Who.
Steven Moffatt’s first season as the head of Doctor Who was magnificent. Matt Smith burst onto our screens as an instantly captivating new Who. Amy Pond was the perfect companion. The season had a stunning development arc that led to the perfect climax in Roman-era Stonehenge; and saw the triumphant return of River Song.
Matt Smith was pitch-perfect in every way from the moment he appeared onscreen.
It was the best Doctor Who season ever – absolutely flawless in every regard.
But then things slowly started to slip…
Season 6 was broken up into two parts, and suffered from a rushed attempt to tell River Song’s entire story (which somewhat diluted her bad-assness) but finished strong with the Wedding of River Song. For those of us who ship Eleven and River until the cows come home, it was exactly the sort of fan-service we’d been eagerly waiting for.
The cracks were already appearing in Season 6
Season 7 was when it started to get messy. Again, the season was broken into two parts, and this time a bunch of episodes were filmed and broadcast out of sequence. As a result, it seriously hurt the narrative flow, and made the departure of Amy Pond and Rory Williams even more illogical and dissatisfying.
Yes, even I cried about how awful the writing of Rory and Amy’s departure was.
And things just got worse.
Jenna Coleman was brought in as the chipper northerner Clara Oswold, who was definitely eye-candy for the dads, but a totally bland and boring companion for most of the series. A few highlights – including the fantastic 50th anniversary episode – kept our interest despite the stories getting dumber and the plot holes getting bigger.
Gorgeous girl. Useless role. At first.
When Matt Smith left, the BBC shoved newcomer Peter Capaldi in our face so hard, it turned a lot of us off. “He’s the best Doctor Who ever!” they were announcing, before a single episode had even been broadcast; and you couldn’t turn on the TV without seeing him posing and preening in his sleek navy jacket.
“New kidneys! I don’t like the color.”
Peter Capaldi’s first season as Doctor Who was surprising. For a start, it saw Clara Oswold go from boring eye-candy to the only interesting character on the show. Moffatt and the other writers really sunk their teeth into her character and she actually become interesting, spunky and valuable.
Clara really came into her own in Season 8
For the first season, it was obvious that Peter Capaldi was just winging it. His Doctor had no clear personality of his own, and that hurt his effectiveness behind the sonic screwdriver. The Robin Hood episode, especially, would have been a cracker with Matt Smith in the role; but Peter Capaldi was far too old and grumpy to be bickering and showing off like he was.
I’m not going to lie – by the time Season 8 ended, I’d pretty much stopped watching.
Season 9, though, made a recovery of sorts. Peter Capaldi really started to develop his ‘own’ Doctor. The way he’d use prompting cards to help him converse ‘humanly’ with people was a cute touch, and his frostiness and irascible temprament finally became his own; instead of a pastiche of William Hartnall and John Pertwee.
It’s hard not to look cool when you make your Season entrance playing the guitar, riding a tank.
That came to a head, perhaps, with the Christmas special – the Husbands of River Song. Now anything with River Song in it is going to be good; but this was a return to form for Doctor Who. I wrote about it here.
And so that leaves us with the hotly-anticipated Season 10.
What can we expect?
Well, just like with Russell T. Davies’ departure, I think the season will be hurt by the fact that both Moffatt and Capaldi have already checked out of the show. The absence of Clara Oswold will also suck – especially since I think they’ll aim to introduce a new companion at the same time they bring in a new Doctor.
Rumors are abound that Catherine Tate, as fan-favorite companion Donna Noble, might even be drafted in for the season to help push it along.
But worst of all – we won’t be seeing any of this potential shit-show until 2017!
At his best Moffatt is one of the BBC’s most talented creative geniuses. Just look at Sherlock for proof of that. But at his worst, he’s slapdash, half-assed and lazy. I’m worried about which Moffatt we’ll get to see when Season 10 finally hits the airwaves!
What are you thoughts on the future of Doctor Who?