How are you? We don’t know each other but I wanted to write you a wee note after watching the Finale of Series 8 of the rebooted Doctor Who last night.
Firstly I’m not here to have a go at you because I think you are a great writer and have enjoyed many shows you’ve written over the last twenty or so years – especially Coupling which was very funny. Within the eight series of Doctor Who you have written some of the stand out episodes with Blink, Girl in the Fireplace, The Empty Child and Silence in the Library being amongst my favourites. Great monsters, great pace and storytelling and most of all great Doctor Who episodes.
But – and we knew it was coming – the overall running of the show is not your forte. Matt Smith was never going to have it easy following David Tennant but he did an okay job, where he and now Peter Capaldi have been let down is in the story arcs that have run through each of the seasons.
Series 5 – Doctor, Rory & Amy and the Pandorica: Here was a someone who had an idea but couldn’t make it work in 45/60 minutes but went ahead anyway. We have a dead boyfriend who has survived for 2000 years but hasn’t aged but is still human. Through the whole run he was dead, then alive, then dead again. Was this South Park or Doctor Who? You struggled to empathise with Amy as a character and that for me is key to a successful series like this. It’s unfair to compare your time with RTD’s but if you consider Rose, Martha and Donna they were all characters you cared for; Amy never really reaches that because she was too bolshy and spiky a companion.
Series 6 – Doctor, Rory, Amy & River Song: Again this was trying to tie everything together as if you were Agatha Christie with a genius whodunnit, but fell short. Short is an important word because you were trying to get the serial feel of the old series back but only had 45 minute episodes to pull off a narrative that would have been better served as a two parter covering 90 minutes – the same as a three-part serial of the original show. You seemed to ignore the idea of two-part episodes for most of your tenure which is a great shame as the cliffhanger endings were great. This series we saw the Doctor die in the first episode and then spent the rest of the series showing us how he cheated death.
Series 7 – Bye Rory & Amy and Hello Clara the Impossible Girl: I wasn’t sad to see A&R go although the last few stories they did were very good – mostly because they were stand alone wee TV movies. And just when we thought we were over the companion-centred narrative arc you throw in Clara who over the next series and a half repeats most of the Amy storyline. It’s a real shame as Jenna Coleman is very good and more likeable (despite you making her annoying at times with her sulking constantly).
Series 8 – Capaldi and Hope: A spiky, sarcastic but underneath it all big-hearted (both of them) Doctor who takes us in a new direction. But the writing and arcing is still the same. Boyfriend trouble, dead boyfriend, not dead boyfriend, is she pregnant? Don’t actually care I’m afraid. Capaldi is excellent but he is being woefully underused with Coleman front and centre too often. While the companions role is to link us the audience with the alien Doctor, we do need time to connect with him ourselves.
And then there’s the complete lack of subtlety. Missy is the Master – why? Could she not have been The Rani or Romana just to mix it up a bit. I thought it was too obvious to be the Master and dismissed it – so it wasn’t a twist unless you count a double bluff as one. “Dark Water” and “Death in Heaven” were as subtle as a breeze-block and cheery as genocide. I’m all for the show having darker moments and tackling big philosophical subjects but the dead rising, issues around cremation and leaving your body to science and the implications for the pain of those dead people is not a clever or suitable thing for a kids/family TV show on Saturday Night Primetime TV. I thought it was in bad taste. We’re left in the end with no real closure, no hope for either Clara or the Doctor and really only have empathy for the latter as he discovers Missy lied about the location of Gallifrey.
The point I’m trying to make is that maybe it’s time you stepped aside and let someone else take the reins. Please still write the occasional episode – I wish RTD would come back and write one once in a while – but give up the tired repetition and go and write another great comedy series. Please your depressing us – we need cheering up!