“Trust Me, I’m The Doctor.”

Hello my darlings!

Okay. Yesterday marked the start of a new series of Doctor Who with Peter Capaldi as the new Doctor. I have some feelings about it.

I don’t think I can oversell my enthusiasm for my various fandoms, Doctor Who being one of them. I prep for new episodes the way some people prep for sports events. Instead of a team jersey, I wear one of many fandom-y shirts. I have series appropriate snacks. (My kids couldn’t understand why Mommy kept shouting “FISH FINGERSSSSS!” at dinner last night.) I watch the pre-shows. I get INVOLVED.

And I’m pretty easy to please. I’m not the type who sits around analyzing the shit out of things I love to find fault with them. If I’m entertained, I love it. That’s it.

So imagine my surprise when I found myself genuinely annoyed about twenty minutes into the new episode.

If you haven’t seen Deep Breath yet, some light spoilers will follow.

I went into this episode soooooooo pumped, guys. And not in a “anything would be a letdown after that kind of excitement” way, but just as a fan who turns into a giddy little kid when it’s time to play.

For the first twenty minutes of the episode, I was distracted.

At first I thought I was just being overly sensitive. Then I thought maybe I was focusing on it all too much. Then I wondered if maybe I was somehow misinterpreting everything.

But no. By the 20 minute mark, I’d had enough, and shouted, “OH MY GAWD MOFFAT SHUT UP!”

I had sat down to watch my favorite show, and instead, I felt like I was watching a writer’s commentary through the mouths of my favorite characters.

A few minutes later, this was shouted: “JESUS YES WE GET IT MOFFAT HE IS OLD.”

There’s been some internet hullaballoo about the casting of Capaldi as the new Doctor. Because, ya see, he’s older. The last Doctor, Matt Smith, was the youngest ever to play the role. Capaldi is the second oldest actor to embody the role, if I have my facts right.

Some people didn’t like this casting announcement. Since the reboot of the show, we’ve been treated to some fairly dreamy fellas playing our favorite Time Lord, and there’s some bitterness rolling around that women watching the series currently are only doing so for the flirting and charming boys and wildly impressive hair.

Tennant and Smith did have some top-notch hair. Sorry, Eccleston.

There’s always going to be the fandom purists who insist they are the only ones who know the REAL reasons to be a fan of something. And they know the exact criteria others must meet to be considered a REAL fan.

These people are pricks.

Absolute douchewagons. These are the fucksticks at ComicCon who stomp up to women and accuse them of being “fake geeks” and call them whores for doing cosplay or whatever insults fall from their ridiculous, gaping mouth-holes.

Why am I bringing this up?

Because last night when I was watching Capaldi flail across the screen, I couldn’t focus on the flailing because it was like Moffat was working the actor like a ventriloquist dummy. All I could see was Moffat, cackling onscreen, daring us all to miss how clever he was.

It felt like being at a Who convention and an angry Scotsman comes running up to all the women watching the show, jabbing them with his Sonic Screwdriver and shouting, “WHO IS YOUR FAVORITE DOCTOR? WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE EPISODE? I BET YOU AREN’T A REAL FAN! WHAT HAPPENED AT THE FOUR MINUTE MARK IN TOM BAKER’S SEVENTH EPISODE? OH YOU DON’T KNOW? FAKE GIRL GEEEEEEEEEEEEK!”

I’ve seen some people commenting since last night that they loved the episode, but didn’t understand why Clara, the Doctor’s companion, was having her character called into question.

I didn’t take it as Clara was being called into question, really.

I took it as all the female fans were being called right the fuck out.

Seriously, the whole first half of the episode is Moffat mansplaining to all the chicks watching why they are wrong and here it is spoken multiple times as to how they are wrong and why they should feel really bad about being so goddamn wrong.

To me, Clara was being used as a representation of the “questionable” female followers of Doctor Who. The ones who come for the flirting but stay for the hair. Before we even had time to see Capaldi in action, we were being beaten over the head with a surprisingly long scene of preaching, of HOW DARE YOU NOT LIKE THE DOCTOR BECAUSE HE IS OLD.

But here’s the thing: We weren’t given a chance to.

I went into this episode jazzed to my core to see the new Doctor, but also a little nervous as always. There’s always that fear that you might not take to the new Doctor after a regeneration. I always do, but that fear is part of the thrill.

But the point is I went in with hope and excitement.

What I got was scolded.

I wasn’t shown Capaldi being a badass mofo, which he absolutely becomes by the end of the episode. I wasn’t even really introduced to him before I was chastised for being shallow and vapid and vain for not liking him.

To me it didn’t feel like Doctor Who. It felt like a Steven Moffat wet dream.

Here’s the thing about Steven Moffat and me: I love his shows, but everything I’ve read or seen about the man has me convinced he’s a dick. That’s fine. I don’t have to like the artist to like the art, generally speaking.

I mean, Sherlock is one of my most absolute favorite things ever and it’s essentially a vanity project for Moffat and Co. I sort of expect that to happen on Baker Street.

I don’t expect it on Doctor Who nearly as much. This isn’t a show Moffat created and has spawned all of it’s infinite glory. No, this show has been around for over 50 years, and while I love the personal touches of each show-runner, I think last night was out of hand.

Seriously, Moffat. We get it. He’s Scottish. He’s angry. He’s OLD. SO VERY DAMN OLD JEEZ. AND CLARA IS A BEEYOTCH BECAUSE SHE MISSES ELEVEN THE WHORE.

I’m aware that his oldness will likely play heavily into the storyline this series, by the by. I just was done being banged over the head with it every other minute.

(Side note: Did anyone else have a moment where they were like, “Oh my god, Madam Vastra and Jenny are married lizard/human lesbians WE FUCKING GET IT.” I love the hell out of those characters but why was it seriously said out loud every few minutes?)

Yes, Capaldi was ushered in with some chatter about his age. But Moffat cast him, and Moffat wrote for him. He obviously felt strongly enough to make those choices. But the whole beginning of Deep Breath felt like he didn’t have a lick of resolution in those decisions. That he was so unconfident he felt the need to cut everyone off at the pass and defend himself.

On the other hand, it also felt like the show we all love so dearly didn’t trust the viewers who are forever loyal to it. That we were deemed shallow and unworthy and had to be talked down to and made to feel guilty for feelings we’d never had a chance to feel. A Whovian Gatekeeper.

Writing is hard. You never know if you’re getting it right. You know there isn’t a chance to please everyone all of the time. It’s a scary job.

But seriously, there’s no reason to be a big jerk about it. Dude. Have a little faith you’ve written something worth viewing, and give the viewers some credit they will pick up what you’re putting down.

Moffat is a hyper-talented monster who rips my feelings out consistently on shows that I can’t imagine not having in my life. It’d be swell if he could save his emotional villainy for story arcs that are rooted in the show, not rooted in his need to be the cleverest in all the land.

I’ll be bouncing around like a little kid next week when the new episode airs, and I will be giddy as hell to see Capaldi have his second go. I’m truly hoping the Moffat tantrum ended after those 20 minutes yesterday and we can stick with our new Doctor. I’m ready for adventures, good sir.

I hope you all are well!

Until next time,

Peace, Love, and Allons-y!

10 Comments

  1. yes, you put into words what I was feeling but couldn’t describe. Madame Vastra’s whole reaction to Clara’s problem with the Doctor changing just struck me as wrong and disconcerting on all sides. First off, Clara knows better than anyone that the Doctor has had many faces. She’s met them all. So if she’s disconcerted by the new guy, it’s not just because 11 is gone or the new guy is old, it’s because it’s literally a version of the Doctor she’s never seen, and she’s basically out traveling with this stranger, and she has every right to be nervous about that. And I felt it was very extremely out of place for Madame Vastra to judge Clara so harshly.

    But overall I liked the episode. Once we got past the mansplaining and weird judgeyness.

    • Yessssss. Clara, of all the companions, had the chance to see all the previous Doctors, so it’s not like she should have been shocked by him being older. That felt like cheap writing used to make a point that didn’t fit the characters at all.

      And every other companion mourns the loss of their Doctor, just as the audience does.

      I was disappointed in how that was handled, but thrilled with the episode once the Doctor and Clara were off together at the restaurant. I think he’ll be a brilliant Doctor.

  2. So agreed! I really hope that Moffat steps down at some point, the sooner, the better. It’s like he thinks he can write Mary Sue companions with rare moments of “Time to turn on kick ass mode” to go “See, I don’t write weak women.”

    And not just you on Vastra/Jenny. I half expected them to have sex on screen just so there would be no confusion, at the rate it was going. All said, though, I hope Capaldi can wrangle something more out of Moffat’s ham handed writing.

  3. I’ll agree with you. I thought Clara’s adjustment was a bit much. Vastra’s interrogation of her was weird… And I was really happy to go back to an older man playing the role! The whole Doctor as a sexy guy bothered me a bit… anyway… Once the show got rolling, I loved it! I really think Capaldi will do a great job and Missy at the end sent my mind spinning with the evil possibilities.

  4. Agreed. The place to address viewer concerns is NOT in the plot of the episodes of the show. It’s by making a show so good it speaks for itself.

    Moffat in charge of Doctor Who reminds me of George Lucas. When they have INPUT it’s magical. When they run things, we end up with Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and Jar Jar fucking Binx.

  5. I’m basically just posting here to say +1, like, star, whatever. This post is SO TRUE. I was really confused by that whole scene with Vastra: “You only liked him because he was pretty and STOP LOOKING AT ME LIKE I’M A LIZARD!” Clara did exactly nothing to justify that reaction.

  6. While I definitely see your point I´m not sure I agree. And I certainly didn´t feel annoyed while watching the episode. I was on the edge of my seat practically the entire time. In the previous season I wasn´t much of a fan of Clara, she seemed a bit…bland. But with this episode that changed. We finally saw her get angry, have a fit, take charge and defend herself. I loved the scene where she defended herself against Vastra and also the scene where she negotiated with the droid. It was refreshing. That being said I didn´t understand why the Doctor had to say that he was Claras boyfriend and her not understanding how he could be “new” and still “old” was dull and unneccesary. Overall though I´m excited about this new series.

  7. I definitely see what you are saying. Especially since within the story, Clara was the one of ALL the Doctor’s companions who had literally seen and interacted with ALL his faces. She had an adventure with three of them in the flesh for heaven’s sake! She knew he could be old (John Hurt, anyone?). and she may have made mention of his grey hair or wrinkles but what was really bothering him was that he didn’t / wasn’t ACTING like the Doctor and barely seemed to know her. Rose went through that and wasn’t called out for it. Hell, even the Doctor when he looked in the mirror said, “I didn’t worry the lines on this face.”

    I did feel like Vastra was being a bit scolding there. I still liked the episode but felt that the scene (if it HAD to happen) should have been more earned by Clara. If we had seen her get to know him and STILL reject him, then it might have been earned.

    OTOH, Moffet can’t help himself. Remember in “Eleventh Hour” when 11 shows Amy the apple and says something like “just trust me for 20 minutes?” Well, that comes at the moment where there are 20 (or however many) minutes left in the show. Moffet is speaking right to the audience saying, “It’s not who you’re used to, but it IS the Doctor – give us 20 minutes and we will prove it. Just trust us for 20 minutes.”

    Still, loved Capaldi and cannot wait for next week.

  8. YES! Yes, yes, yes to everything you’ve said. Once the episode got rolling, I really like Capaldi’s take on the new Doctor. But Moffat’s writing is wearing more on me with each passing season. I won’t deny the man is an extremely talented writer, but he’s not as talented as he believes himself to be (probably because he seems to think he’s the most talented EVAR!). I don’t enjoy moments of author insertion in books, and the first third to half of the episode might as well have had Moffat on-screen with a bullhorn informing us mere viewers exactly what we should be seeing, thinking, and feeling at every pass (and I completely agree that most of that was mansplaining aimed directly at female viewers). That Capaldi and Coleman were able to create an entertaining episode in spite of Moffat’s self-insertion speaks to the talent of both actors.

    I thought the whole handling of Clara’s grief at losing 11 was extremely unfair. The last companion to be present at a regeneration was Rose, and she spent the majority of the next episode crying, hurt, and angry. Pretty reasonable emotions. Capaldi’s Doctor is not nearly as out of it after the regeneration as Tennant’s was, and yet all the bullying Clara received in regards to accepting him and how she should be ashamed for experiencing emotions served to make Capaldi seem weaker, somehow, not reinforce his role as Doctor. Tennant spent almost all of his first episode as the Doctor asleep or dying, swooping in at the last moment to save the day. Capaldi was out of it, but still mobile and running around being the Doctor. To have Clara chastised at every turn for doubting the Doctor had the effect of making the Doctor doubtable, in my mind.

    I’m still looking forward to the next episode, and I hope it’s fun and thrilling and lacking the sermon.

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