I keep meaning to write about Doctor Who. I’d intended to start reviewing this season’s episodes, but the month just kind of got away from me. So here we are, four episodes in, and I’m finally getting around to talking about the Doctor, his companions, and Steven Moffat, who has written most of the episodes since 2010.
Like many Doctor Who fans, I was super-excited to hear that Steven Moffat was taking over as showrunner in 2010. He’d written some of the most-loved episodes for the ninth and tenth Doctors – “The Empty Child / The Doctor Dances,” “The Silence in the Library / Forest of the Dead,” and, of course, “Blink.” These episodes combined incredibly creepy elements that were brilliant in their simplicity – the phrases “are you my mummy” or “don’t blink” are enough to bring shivers down even the most casual fan’s spine.
While, at the time, I was watching more as a fan and less as a feminist (hey, it’s possible), I think that part of my excitement at the announcement that Moffat would be taking over came from the female characters that he created in those episodes.
Nancy is flawed and resilient, and able to admit to her mistakes in order to potentially save the day, even though she’s justifiably terrified. River Song, in those two episodes, is irreverent and intelligent, although from a feminist perspective her character goes straight downhill from there.
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Sally Sparrow is brave and clever, and also gave me one of my favorite quotes ever – when asked “what’s good about sad?” she replies “it’s happy for deep people”. And of course, an honorable mention goes to Madame de Pompadour, the curious and composed “woman in the fireplace”.
As we’ve moved into the Moffat era, however, it’s become more and more clear that while he’s obviously capable of writing interesting, compelling female characters, he doesn’t actually know what to do with them.