I absolutely love how Moffat creates foils in people who have big roles on the show. People like Rory, and now like Danny as well, are so important. Because while the Doctor is wonderful and beautiful and fun and admirable, there are many downsides to traveling with him. There are many downsides to being his friend. The good outweighs the bad (otherwise we wouldn’t want to tune in), but when you take a step back, there are clearly a lot of things wrong with the Doctor taking young, naive human companions on adventures that often put them in harms way. Even the Doctor acknowledges this sometimes. But his companions usually don’t see it; they’re too close to the situation to notice. They don’t mind the danger, they excuse his flaws, and even when they call him out for his nonsense, they still love him all the same at the end of the day. Even if they come close to death, they happily march on to the next adventure. So I love that there are characters grounded in reality who can see the situation for everything it is - the good, the bad and the ugly - and point it out when necessary.
So the lovely moffatappreciationlife recently posted an excellent guide for people who want to give Moffat Who a fair go but can’t get it to work for them for some reason, and I thought… why not do the same kind of thing for people who want to get more out of RTD Who? So here’s a guide to RTD Who for Moffat fans, with the same intention as the other guide - so that even if the RTD era still isn’t your favourite, you’ll have a better idea of why people get something out of it.
Final farewell to the Eleventh Doctor’s Era: Countdown of My 25 Favorite Episodes. Number 9 - Asylum of the Daleks
For Amy and Rory, this episode drops us back into their lives for their first real adventure after the Doctor had left them home yet lost at the end of The God Complex, but their return to the real world hasn’t been going so well for them.
Amy is much more mature than she was two series ago when she ran away on the night before her wedding, but her story isn’t finished. She’s given up being the Girl Who Waited for the Doctor to swoop in and save her, but she is still running away - this time from the effects of Demon’s Run which left her unable to have children and truly start living a “real” life.
Even before Amy ran away, she was living in a world she constructed around the Doctor returning to save her from the real world she didn’t fit into. Living in reality and facing her problems have never been what she was good at, so when she came upon another obstacle, her inability to have children, she ran again, but this time she didn’t have a time machine to jump into while she sorted out her problems. This time she ran into the world, left Rory, and got a job as a model in a move that is reminiscent of the confused girl who was working as a kissogram all those years ago as she once again put herself into a profession that highlighted her outward appearance while hiding her inner turmoil.
The realism of Amy’s reaction to not being able to have children is heartbreaking. I think it’s hard for those of us who have never had children or never had a problem having children to understand what women go through when they feel like their own bodies betray them and change their entire plans for the future. And those of us on the outside can say, “Well, you can just adopt” or “Don’t base your worth on having children”… but that’s cold and rational when what she is feeling is personal and emotional. Everything Amy is going through, from feeling like a failure, blaming herself, and being unable to communicate with Rory, are exactly the emotions many women struggle with when realizing they cannot have children.
While Amy and Rory’s lives have been turned upside down, the Doctor has also been running from his inner demons. After the events of series 6 in which the Doctor had gotten continuously darker and made more mistakes, he had planned to disappear into a fake death without telling anyone other than a select few like River and Dorium that he had survived. Amy and Rory were home, safe, and as far as he knew, living happily while he was off attempting to live a (somewhat) quieter life filling River’s nights, and going on low key adventures like helping kids on Christmas. He wanted to step back into the shadows and stop being the man the universe feared.
But this episode is going to prove his goals to be impossible as long as the name “Doctor” haunts his every move and shapes the way the universe views him. The Doctor was brought to the Dalek Asylum because he was the most feared being they knew of.
In a fantastic scene in which Oswin realizes that she’s created a dream world rather than face her own reality of having been turned into a Dalek, she tells the Doctor that the Daleks have grown stronger in fear of him and he tells her how he tried to stop being that man. The mix of sadness, failure, and regret written on his face is perfect. This moment brings us back to the moment in A Good Man goes to war where River tells him he’s gone too far. The Doctor’s fear of himself is one of the most fascinating things about him ans something that makes me love the Eleventh Doctor so much.
At the end of this episode, Amy and Rory reunite and Oswin deletes the Doctor’s name from the Daleks’ memory. While I discuss the Doctor’s journey more in another post, how Amy and Rory continue to deal with real life in the episodes leading up to The Angels Take Manhattan won’t be on this list.
What Doctor Who gave us in series 7 were the final glimpses into Amy and Rory’s lives after they had stopped traveling with the Doctor full time. Their time as companions really ended in series 6 with The God Complex and these final five episodes in series 7 are very much like the epilogue after the main story ends as we run through the important moments in their future detailing some of their final adventures and how they move on from the Doctor - something a character like Sarah Jane never got after The Doctor left her until she came back to the show many years later.
Amy was similarly left behind, but she was lucky enough to get that closure without having to wait many years for him to come back and ultimately was able to make the decision to stop travelling with him.
I feel like this series is delivering what series 7 part 1 promised and never quite lived up to - stories which are bigger on the inside, movies, universes explored in 45-minute-long events. Never missing a beat, perfectly structured, and yet full of emotional resonance, rich in characterisation, offering a wealth of parallels, themes and meta potential. It’s been more than impressive, every single episode at the very least good, but more often than not spectacular.
I wondered what happened to you - glad to know that it’s still happening!
This is one of my favourite Clara scenes for this exact reason. We see her being good so many times, almost unbelievably conscious of what’s the right thing to do. But this? This is Clara under pressure, and pressure always reveals the real Clara. Sometimes it’s that she’s scared, but sometimes, like this, it shows that she’s got the sort of dark ruthlessness inside of her that the Doctor shares.
She’s not perfect, she’s not even always nice, and that’s what I love about her.
When did Doctor Who go off the rails? It probably happened when you turned seventeen or so. Suddenly the world was about dating and drinking and independence, and this magically coincided with the show you loved as a kid descending into nonsense.
Maybe it wasn’t precisely seventeen, but for most Doctor Who fans, there generally comes a point at which the show they love simply stops being the show they love. “Back in my day, it never did that!” we exclaim.
What’s strange is that absolutely every era has provoked this reaction. For some, it happened when Steven Moffat took over, and for others the new series was a write-off from the get-go. For some, the 1996 telemovie ruined the whole thing, and for others it was the Seventh Doctor’s era. One person I know says they fell out of love with it when Patrick Troughton took over. Troughton. The Second Doctor. 1966. The show’s just never recovered since then, apparently.
Consequently, I am firmly of the belief that there is someone out there who thinks Doctor Who is fundamentally a show about two teachers hanging out in a junk yard, and that it all fell apart when they introduced that time travel guff.
“This junk yard sure is great, Barbara.” “Call me a purist, but I preferred the classroom from scene one.”
Forget the ever-changing tone and the subjective perceptions of undulating quality: for a lot of fans, Doctor Who fails when it messes with what’s been established. Steven Moffat has been accused of doing this a lot — of screwing around with the show’s history — but isn’t that what Doctor Who has always done?
The mistake fans so often make is in viewing the Classic Series as a uniform whole. Remember, his is a show that ran for 26 years from 1963 to 1989, had dozens of producers, numerous script writers, and absolutely no series bible. Seriously. There was no document ever produced for writers to refer to. That’s why they featured the origins of the Loch Ness Monster on two separate occasions, and why they explained the destruction of Atlantis no fewer than three times. They simply made it up as they went along, often contradicting much of the stuff that came beforehand.
When we, with the benefit of hindsight and familiarity, homogenise all of that into the “Classic Series”, it implies a consistent overview that the show simply never had.
So if you’re freaking out about Listen, the most recent episode by showrunner Steven Moffat, and think that Moffat has taken an outrageous liberty with the show’s text, take a moment to think about how it must have felt when they suddenly introduced the idea that the Doctor could change his appearance. (It took them two more goes before they called it “regeneration”, and made it a proper thing in 1974.) Or how about when the Second Doctor revealed he was a Time Lord, and was put on trial for stealing the TARDIS? That nugget was revealed at the end of the show’s sixth season. We think of it as something that’s always been — but imagine if Buffy had suddenly revealed at the end of season six that she was from the planet Slayos, or if Lost’s final season had suddenly introduced time travel elements that had nothing to do with what had come befo— oh.
TARDIS surfing is very dangerous, and should not be emulated.
Barely a season of Doctor Who has gone by without the show’s head writer drastically reinventing some major piece of canon. Once you tally up all the liberties the show has taken, the idea of Clara meeting the Doctor as a child on a pre-exploded Gallifrey really isn’t much at all.
And this is the fundamental truth of the show: it is only ever Doctor Who when it evolves. The times in its history when it’s consciously tried to be “classic” are the times when it’s stagnated and failed. Only when it stops trying to be Doctor Who does it truly become Doctor Who. That’s some zen-like shit right there — much like that brief period in the early 1970s, in which many of the plots suddenly had a Buddhist undercurrent. See?
It’s odd that Listen should inspire such discussion about canon (he says, as if someone is forcing him to write about it under threat of a mind probe), because it’s Steven Moffat’s first real standalone work since he took over. As showrunner, he writes the season openers, the season finales, the Christmas specials, the anniversary extravaganzas. It’s like writing for an orchestra all the time, he says, and doing this episode was a chance to flex his writing muscles and write a chamber piece. Something smaller, more self-contained.
Teaching children and adults alike about the importance of buying action figures.
It’s a good instinct given his most notorious insta-classic Blink was the very definition of a standalone chamber piece. Or maybe it’s that both episodes focused on something deeper and more relatable: Blink introduced monsters that can only be defeated when you look at them, and Listen has creatures that are always hiding, listening to you when you think you’re talking only to yourself.
Reducing the threat down to a key sense makes these stories so much more empathetic and terrifying. He’s clearly on to a winning formula, which logically leads me to the following viewing suggestions: Touch, in which the asexual Doctor must overcome his fears and defeat the fearsome Buxomians by repeatedly groping their hindquarters; Taste, in which the Doctor is challenged to tongue-to-tongue combat with the slime monsters of the planet Halitosis 8; and Smelly, in which the Doctor battles farting aliens in… oh, hang on, that was 2005’s World War Three. Okay, forget that last one. Cheque please, Mr Moffat.
“Fear makes companions of us all,” says the First Doctor in the very first story, 1963’s An Unearthly Child – word-for-word what Clara says to the young Doctor in this episode. Maybe Moffat’s being truer to the show’s roots than he’s getting credit for."
I have nothing further to say.
i loved this scene, like absolutely adored it, because maybe there was something, maybe there wasn’t, i haven’t made up my mind and i don’t want to, because that’s not really important, what’s important is how you deal with fear, how it makes you act and whether it paralyses you or gives you superpowers, i love that this episode in so many superficial ways in similar to blink, but it’s so much more than that, it’s about why blink scares us and what we do about it, it’s about who we choose to be and how we choose to act, it’s about how no matter what happens, we have control over our actions, and also responsibility, i’d dare to say it’s one of moffat’s definitive works, because it’s about how no matter what the universe throws at us,a real monster or a perceived monster or a tricky date or a bad childhood, we can choose what to do with it, and that, is so freaking empowering, i love it, via abossycontrolfreak