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Moffat Strikes Back - dorsetgirl
February 15th, 2011
04:21 pm
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Moffat Strikes Back
The Moff has used his Production Notes column in the new Doctor Who Magazine to have a go right back at Jimmy McGovern. (So I'm a week late, sue me.) He makes a lot of very good points and I was nodding along noddily, but this is the point at which I sat up and started to chortle:

"And how about Richard Curtis’ soaring Vincent and the Doctor? A life-affirming heartbreaking tale of depression, suicide and art; it is both hilarious and haunting, yet sits quite happily on Saturday evening at six o’clock.

"Now any old fool can do a ‘searing drama’ about mental illness late at night, with lots of shouting and crying, and blaming the government (and posh people in general) but to make a gorgeous, thrilling entertainment out of it, and to explain the seemingly unexplainable in a way that the youngest child can understand, takes Richard Curtis. And, damn it, it takes Doctor Who.


"Writing for an audience that goes from eight to eighty doesn’t mean you have to write simply or stupidly - the fact that you have to keep whole families in mind, and keep it clear for the kids, and not upset the grannies, doesn't mean you have to be weak or bland or vacuous.

"It just means you have to write better. Just that. Just better."

I have to say I much prefer the emotional sweep of Russell's series to the clever plottiness of Steven's, but at this point I literally cheered out loud. On this I am with Steven all the way. Some of the things McGovern said were completely unacceptable insofar as he seemed to be setting himself up as the sole arbiter of what makes a good drama, and his own work the only definition.

I don't watch much TV and have never yet seen a McGovern programme, so I have no idea what I'm missing. But I don't actually care. That attitude of his put me right off forever.

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(6 comments | Leave a comment)

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Date:February 15th, 2011 09:27 pm (UTC)
Your post actually made me realise, properly, what it is that I'm missing about the SM era and Eleven's stories so far - the emotional sweep of the RTD era, absolutely. OK so RTD may not always have been so tidy (leaving the odd plot hole or unexplained anomaly here and there - but they're great for fanfic writers, right?!!) or make as much sense as the Moff's stories... but for sheer blub-in-your-hankyness you cannot beat an RTD story, can you!

As far as Jimmy McGovern stuff goes, actually he is brilliant at hard-hitting, gritty dramas ('The Lakes' (starring John Simm, John's first big TV break - John also appeared in an episode of 'Moving On' late last year, another JM production which was very good), check him out on Wikipedia if you want to know more (though I imagine you probably don't - but his opinions don't change the fact that he does produce some damn good drama IMO...) But yeah, didn't he just upset rather a lot of people with his attack on what he saw as 'less important' drama?!?! Much as Trevor Eve has also done in another similar rant more recently. A shame because I liked him, and in fact love 'Waking The Dead', but that was rather disappointing really. And I won't say any more 'cos I'd be preaching to the converted here, but I agree with what SM said and thanks for referring to it here.
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Date:February 15th, 2011 09:49 pm (UTC)
You've just reminded me, I did watch part of the Lakes. I watched the first episode up to John Simm's bum on the mountaintop, then got bored soon afterwards and never went back.

We recently rewatched The Impossible Planet and The Satan Pit, and even though I never really fell for Ten like I did Nine, there is just so much emotion going on there. Ten not knowing what to say to Rose before he lets go - "Tell her...oh, she'll know"; Claire Rushworth's character "I don't want to die alone,", and that brilliant scene about religions "...the things men do" / "same thing in the end". Just so deep, all of it. And I've never dared watch Father's Day in company again, since I just could not stop the tears rolling down my face the first time!

I actually read a review on Amazon today which said Series Five "feels more like Classic Who". To me, that is not a recommendation!
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Date:February 15th, 2011 11:53 pm (UTC)
You saw John Simm's bum and got BORED?!? *faints* LOL. He's got the cutest bum too... *ahem*

Oh yes... and when Rose is trapped on Pete's World and Ten is on the other side of the wall... and in 'Gridlock' with the hymn (every time I hear that one now I think of Ten and that episode)...

Yes, definitely RTD's stories are more emotionally rounded/connected. Don't get me wrong, I do enjoy SM's stories (Blink for instance is brilliant and does have some emotional intensity - the old ex-policeman dying for instance- but the feel of his era is more like boys own adventures. The Doctor is not vulnerable enough IMO. I mean, I LOVE angry Doctor (and apparently he is going to be VERY angry at one particular point during series 6 - I'm hoping its SimmMaster who upsets him, frankly!) but I'm afraid I get bored if the lead character is too perfect and all powerful. All good heroes need their shortcomings and their areas of vulnerability, especially if as a producer you want to appeal to the (considerable) female audience. I think that's the one area where SM falls a little short (only a little - he still writes one zillion times better than I can ever hope to!) - I feel that he tends to write for himself and other grown up boys, whereas RTD (dare I say it) seemed to be more in touch with his femanine side - or put another way, he knows what women want in a drama. RTD is solely responsible IMO (okay so dishy David T might have had a hand in it too) for bringing the show not just to a whole new generation of children but he made it cool for girls to love the show too. And as someone who watched and loved the show in the seventies when it wasn't cool for a girl to like it, at least not in the playground, I will forever love him for that....
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Date:February 16th, 2011 03:06 pm (UTC)
I'm constantly amazed at how much we have similar thoughts. JM's comments put me right off watching anything of his. And I did prefer RTD and the emotional reach to SM, who I feel is trying to be too clever. Which is interesting because I really liked the SM episodes when RTD was in charge, maybe they were different because the emphasis was still RTD's.

As a John Simm fan, I've seen The Lakes, but wasn't impressed by it, partly perhaps because I had no empathy with any of the characters. In Moving On, which I have enjoyed some of the episodes, I think JM was more executive producer and therefore more at a distance. Equally of course this was broadcast in the afternoon and therefore had to be much less raw and gritty.

But anyone who tells me that I should be watching his work, because essentially I need to be educated about real life and shouldn't be watching television to be entertained, has made a big mistake.
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Date:March 7th, 2011 01:21 pm (UTC)
Hi, sorry I didn't comment on this at the time - I seem to have had quite a long period where I didn't do much LJ'ing, but now I'm trying to get back into the habit.

There was an interesting interview with Mark Gatiss in Doctor Who Magazine where he said that five years ago - ie when he started writing for Doctor Who - he was quite unhappy about the way Rusty insisted on "polishing", aka rewriting, every script, but that now he has more experience of exec producing, he understands and accepts it. As the "owner" of a show, he now realises that you're not going to let anything go out that you personally are not happy with, that doesn't fit your own template for the show.

It should be noted that Rusty always said that Steven Moffat was practically the only exception to the Rustification rule, ie that his scripts were not "polished". This presumably means that Moffat demonstrated in his episodes for the Ninth and Tenth Doctors that he has - obviously - the skills to follow the emotional lead set by the show-runner. This also means that the lack of emotional warmth in Series Five was entirely his own decision, so sadly I'm not expecting any improvement on that any time soon.

I have thought on more than one occasion while watching, that if this series had gone out first, the show would not have gained the family audience it has, but would have remained a [mainly male] geeks' show. And that would have been very unfair on Matt, who is every bit as good as Chris and David albeit with too much cardboardiness about his Doctor's emotional landscape.
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Date:March 8th, 2011 08:50 pm (UTC)
No worries about not replying.

Thank you for telling me the comments Mark Gatiss made about writing for Doctor Who. I can understand Rusty being protective of his ideas of what his Doctor would be like.

It is indeed a shame that Moffat's Doctor lacks the emotional warmth that Rusty's Doctor had. I must to admit having stopped watching DW because to me it has lost something and it is now just an adventure story.
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