Monday, 28 September 2015

FIXING CONTINUITY GLITCHES:

WHO IS THE VALEYARD?
EPISODE TWO: NEW SERIES STUFF...

So we make it through another three seasons of the Classic Series and that crazy Valeyard is never seen or heard from again. As massive of a villain as he might be and even though it's been totally teased out that he can make a return appearance - he never comes back to haunt the Doctor further.

The production team behind Seasons 24, 25 and 26 just doesn't want to deal with him.
As New Who starts playing out on our screens, we see the return of many old foes from the original run: Daleks, Cybermen, the Master, Sontarons, Silurians - even the Macra! But no sign of that wretched Valeyard. Until, at last, he gets a namecheck in Name of the Doctor.

"Yay!", my inner fanboy exclaims with a punch to the air, "Someone still wants to acknowledge the Valeyard is out there, somewhere!"

Of course, the fact that it's the Great Intelligence mentioning him creates some interesting implications. Our Yeti-controlling madman mentions the Valeyard while speaking of horrible atrocities the Doctor has started committing in his later years. Could this mean there are untelevised adventures in which the Valeyard created more problems?

Adam Gobeski, our first (and, so far, only) guest contributor, has postulated that the Valeyard may have been an "inside man" for enemies of the Time Lords during the Time Wars. It's an interesting theory, when you think about it. The last time we saw him, he had fused himself with the Keeper of the Matrix - a somewhat high-ranking position in Time Lord society. In his position of power, he could've sabotaged Gallifrey's war effort in all sorts of ways. Could it even be possible that it was the Valeyard that created breaches in the Sky Trenches that enabled the Daleks to attack Arcadia?

Surely, exploits such as these may have reached the ears of the Great Intelligence. Perhaps there were still other crimes against the Universe that the Valeyard has performed that have also earned him the namecheck. We don't know for sure. A brief mention by an old foe doesn't offer much. It's just as possible that the Valeyard only ever featured in the Doctor's trial during the Ravalox Strategem and was never heard from again (for all we know, Gallifreyan guards saw through his ruse seconds after his sinister laugh at the end of Trial of a Time Lord and shot him dead). If the Valeyard never made it out of the courtroom, the Great Intelligence still may have done some heavy research into his enemy's personal life and knew that mentioning him would bother the Doctor.

In truth, there's very little to go on, here. But my heart(s) still skip a beat every time the Valeyard gets mentioned in Name of the Doctor. It's just good to see he hasn't been totally forgotten/dismissed.


PART THREE: THE DREAM LORD

While Name of the Doctor is the only true moment in the New Series where the Valeyard gets any proper acknowledgement, that's not to say there aren't other moments where he's alluded to. The Dream Lord is, perhaps, the most direct of these indirect references.

That moment where it's explained in Amy's Choice that the Dream Lord is a manifestation of everything that is evil in the Doctor certainly set fandom abuzz with speculation. Up until that moment, the Valeyard had been a largely-forgotten villain. But, suddenly, theories are popping up all over the internet. Is the Dream Lord, somehow, connected to the origins of the Valeyard?

It helps, of course, that Amy's Choice ends in a similar fashion to Ultimate Foe. We're given a very definite impression, as the Doctor briefly sees a different reflection on the surface of the TARDIS console, that the Dream Lord is still alive and kickin'. So does he, somehow, go off and become the Valeyard in some way? Does that corrupt High Council from the Sixth Doctor's Era manage to find that psychic pollen floating around in space and give it some sort of corporeal existence and then strike a sinister bargain with it?

I could dismiss such an idea as just a silly fan theory, of course. At no point does the actual production team make any claim to a connection between the Dream Lord and the Valeyard. But if I were to take this attitude - I would then have to dismiss my own first part of this essay. After all, at no point did we hear Eric Saward, JNT or Robert Holmes claim that the Valeyard was a Shayde fused with the same sort of manifestation that Omega created in The Three Doctors. That's just some silliness I drew together on my own. So, I'll take this idea seriously for a bit, too. But I won't explore it further, for now. Instead, I'll look at the other popular New Who Valeyard Theory...


PART FOUR: THE META-CRISIS DOCTOR

While the Dream Lord still remains the most popular fan theory regarding New Who and the Valeyard, some corners of fandom have something to say about this "extra Doctor" that gets created in Journey's End. Could the Meta-Crisis Doctor (as he is commonly referred to), somehow, take a turn for the worst somewhere further down the road? Perhaps he loses Rose in the most horrible of ways (accidentally kills her or something equally terrible) and this turns him into the darkest, most bitter of beings.

Meta-Crisis Doctor then, somehow, finds his way back into our Universe and wants to alter his own timeline so that Rose's Horrible End never occurs. By this point, he's aged a bit. In his later years, he looks like Michael Jayston. Knowing, already, who he's meant to be and what he's meant to do - Meta-Crisis Doctor goes back through his own timeline and strikes a deal with the corrupt High Council that knocked Earth out of its orbit and re-named it Ravalox. If they give him the Doctor's remaining lives - he can change the course of destiny and ensure that he creates a reality where Rose still lives.

Given that we see this particular version of the Doctor attempt Godhood in Waters of Mars, it's not so far-fetched of an idea. Meta-Crisis Doctor seems like an angrier, more impulsive version of him. So, maybe, under the right circumstances, he would assume the mantle of the Valeyard to achieve such ends.

FUSION:

I won't dismiss these theories outright, of course. As I have already stated, they hold just as much water as anything I presented in my first installment of this pretentious essay. But if it is to be revealed in some future episode that the Valeyard was formed by these factors presented in the New Series, then I think the concept works better if both of these ideas are fused together.

Meta-Crisis Doctor does have some bad experience in the parallel reality that makes him a darker person and he comes back to our Universe. Somehow, he comes into contact with the specks of psychic pollen from Amy's Choice (or, perhaps, just any old sample of psychic pollen) and he faces another dreamscape where a challenge is put towards him. He fails that challenge due to his own personal shortcomings brought on by his bitterness. In that failing, a transformation of some sort takes place. He becomes the Valeyard.

In much the same way as I claim the Valeyard is a fusion of the two core ideas I presented from the Classic Series, I believe the New Series concepts work best if they are combined too.


FINAL CONCLUSION:

Ultimately, I'm still more inclined to believe that the Valeyard's origins lie In Classic Series lore rather than anything we've seen in the New Series. But what we have seen in New Who that fans are tieing in with the Valeyard does adhere to a very important stipulation.

If you'll recall, the Master states that the Valeyard was created between the Doctor's twelfth and thirteenth incarnation. I tend to believe that he's being literal about it. That the Valeyard was a Shayde extracted from that final regeneration. However, that particular quote can have a much looser interpretation.

The Valeyard could've somehow sprung into existence during events that transpired somewhere in the span of time when the Doctor's twelfth and thirteenth incarnations existed. Time of the Doctor validated that the Matt Smith Doctor is meant to be the thirteenth body. The War Doctor and the Doctor healing himself from Dalek firepower in Journey's End constitute as incarnations onto themselves'.  So, anything that happens between Doctor Ten, Version 2.0 (not to be confused with the Meta-Crisis Doctor) and the Eleventh Doctor falls into that window of opportunity when the Valeyard could've been created. The Meta-Crisis Doctor (not to be confused with Doctor Ten, Version 2.0) and the tale of Amy's Choice both, more or less, occur within that timeframe (we could argue that the Amy's Choice adventure, under certain definitions, doesn't - but it's fairly subjective since the Master is pretty damned vague about the whole thing). Because both concepts suit the timeline, I don't disqualify them.

However, that same quote does help support my ideas in relation to something else we see in the New Series. With the different incarnations now being firmly defined, we know that the Doctor's final regeneration of his first cycle would be in End of Time, Part 2. In my Weird Regenerations essay, I stipulate that the first and final regeneration in a Time Lord's cycle involve a lot of excess regeneration energy. As Doctor One changes to Doctor Two, he's able to harness the spare energy effectively and use it to create a new costume for himself. But in the final regeneration, the energy runs wild and does some considerable damage to the TARDIS Console Room.

Could it be possible that this occurred because, as the Doctor was regenerating, the Valeyard was also being called into existence and brought back to the Trial of a Time Lord era? Such an outside interference could cause some serious turbulence in the regeneration process and cause things to get out of control the way they did. In this remote and tenuous manner, my personal theories are ever-so-slightly affirmed.


FINAL, FINAL CONCLUSION (THIS TIME, WE MEAN IT):

All right, if we go with my theories about where the Valeyard comes from, one pertinent question still remains: How, exactly, was he created? Under what conditions is such a being capable of being called into existence?

Chances are, a simple Time Scoop (or similar device) with special modifications made to it was used to harness the Shayde from between the twelfth and final incarnation. How was the Shayde fused with the Doctor's Dark Side? Well, again, The Three Doctors can give us an answer...

Omega created his Dark Side because he was controlling a sort of virtual reality. Where would this corrupt High Council get their hands on something similar? Something that might have extensive data on the Doctor because he had been in that virtual reality, himself, on a few occasions. Are we figuring it out, yet, kids?

The Matrix, of course.

This would also explain why the Valeyard has such good control of Matrix reality while he and the Doctor are battling each other in The Ultimate Foe. Surely a being that was created in the Matrix would be the best at mastering its dreamscape.

So, there you go, the best I can conjure up to explain the Valeyard's origins by referencing established continuity. Of course, it's entirely possible that how he was created doesn't tie in at all with anything we've seen in either New or Classic Who. For all we know, the Valeyard was constructed out of Gallifreyan Legos... 





Sunday, 20 September 2015

FIXING CONTINUITY GLITCHES

WHO IS THE VALEYARD?!

It's 1986.  Fans have been following the last twelve episodes of Trial of a Time Lord. Some have even been enjoying it. Most have been complaining (as fans do when a new season comes out - but even moreso than usual!). But, suddenly, in the first few minutes of Episode 13 - the ultimate revelation gets made during the Master's surprise appearance:

"There is some evil in all of us, Doctor. Even you. The Valeyard is an amalgamation of the darker sides of your nature. Somewhere between your twelfth and final incarnation. And I have to say you do not improve with age!"

Oh look! A clip to watch! I'm getting more tech savvy and have figured out how to create links! Watch it and see just how bad I've paraphrased the dialogue!

https://youtu.be/Y2INBe_qZFo

Whether or not you were enjoying Trial of a Time Lord back then, one has to admit that was a pretty big jaw-dropping moment. The direct anti-thesis of the Doctor has been called into existence and wants to steal his remaining lives. The title often assigned to these particular episodes is The Ultimate Foe and it's very apt. As far as arch-nemesises (arch-nemesie? how does one pluralize that?!) go, it doesn't get more personal than this!

Since that fateful scene was transmitted, the origins of the Valeyard have been vigorously debated. How does he exist? Is he an actual incarnation of the Doctor from the future? Does he not realize how ridiculous he looks in that skullcap?

There have been some complaints among fandom that the Valeyard just can't exist. That there's no logic to him. How can you create a being like that? It just doesn't make sense.

For the next few paragraphs, I'm going to try to disprove that. I'm going to show that there have been various allusions made about the nature of Time Lords throughout the Classic Series that show a basic idea of who the Valeyard might be. I'll even try to demonstrate that New Who has made a compensation or two for him.

Before we proceed any further, let's get the most important fact across first: the Valeyard is not a future incarnation of the Doctor. John Nathan-Turner, himself, wanted this to be emphasized. He is a seperate entity of his own that was somehow created from the Doctor in his far-flung future. He is a part of the Doctor, in some way. But he is not the actual Doctor. The Doctor won't become him, someday. This is why the offer of the Doctor's remaining lives is so appealing to the Valeyard. He's probably not even a proper Time Lord in his current form. So he's, more than likely, longing quite strongly for the ability to regenerate.

All right, that's out of the way. Let's try to examine what the Valeyard could be.

CLASSIC SERIES STUFF:

PART ONE: SHAYDES

There's two stories from the Classic Series that, I think, point most strongly to his origins: Planet of Spiders and Logopolis. In these adventures, we see beings that I like to call the Shaydes of Time Lords. These are strange entities that seem to exist between incarnations and are individuals in their own right. We're not sure, exactly, how they're created and what their true natures are - but we've definitely seen examples of them.

Our first encounter with a Shayde, of course, is in the story Planet of Spiders. As we get to know K'anpo Ripoche, we learn that he is an old mentor of the Doctor's who used to live beyond the Citadel in the mountains of Gallifrey. Now posing as a monk on Earth, he reveals that Cho-je - the other monk he is working with - isn't quite who he seems, either. He is, in fact, the same Time Lord. K'anpo (or, perhaps, we should refer to him simply as the Mentor) describes Cho-je as a "projection of my future self."

(Yes, I could add another clip, here. But I hate when people make their blogs more about clips than they do about text. Our A.D.D. isn't that bad, folks. And, even if it is, we should learn to exercise some self-restraint.)

The Mentor's description of Cho-je are important words. He doesn't say: "He is my future self". This is not different incarnations crossing each others' time streams like we've seen in stories like The Five Doctors or Time Crash - this is something quite different. And this isn't just a point of dialogue - we see a visual re-inforcement of this idea when the K'anpo incarnation of the Mentor dies. Had this just been two incarnations in the same place, K'anpo should've just turned into Cho-je and there would have been two of them there, at once. A Present Day Cho-je and a Future Cho-je. But Cho-je disappears and K'anpo, then, turns into him. So, until the regeneration happens, the Cho-je we've been seeing walking around twirling that weird spinny thing by the door and quoting paradoxical proverbs to Sarah Jane Smith has had a special existence of his own. He comes from the Mentor but is not truly a future incarnation of him. He is something unique that the Mentor has, somehow, managed to project from himself.

The second Shayde that we see in Logopolis is a better visual representation of this idea. Unlike Cho-je, the Watcher does not resemble the Fifth Doctor in the slightest. So it's easier to see him as being an entity onto himself. A strange being who seems to be in an interim state between the two incarnations. It helps that his appearance, in general, almost looks cocoon-like. It makes him seem like the chrysalis stage of a future incarnation. But he is still his own man. He follows the Doctor around, waiting for the regeneration to happen. But he also seems to make individual choices. Such as going off to pick up Nyssa to bring her to the planet Logopolis to join the rest of the TARDIS crew.

Finally, as the moment of regeneration occurs, he steps forward and merges with the Fourth Doctor to produce the Fifth. We see a series of transitional images as Doctor Four shifts to the appearance of the Watcher. And then the Watcher gradually shifts to Doctor Five. Again, the visuals give an indication that the Watcher was a separate creature that existed between the two incarnations. Once the regeneration process starts, the Shayde returns to the host body and his existence ends. The next incarnation emerges in his wake.

How do these Shaydes exist, exactly? We can't be sure. We have a vague idea of how they can be created, though.

The Mentor is, quite obviously, a transcendentalist of sorts. He meditates quite deeply and quite frequently. Perhaps there is some sort of meditative process where a Time Lord can reach deep into his own subconsciousness and bring forward a Shayde. That a Shayde can be summoned through sheer, concentrated willpower. But only through an intensely well-disciplined mind.

The Fourth Doctor seemed to get very adept at going into self-induced trances (Terror of the Zygons, The Invisible Enemy, Nightmare of Eden are just a few stories that immediately spring to mind where he seems to induce a trance-like state almost instantly). He mentions to Sarah Jane that he's been learning some helpful meditation techniques from a budhist monk. Perhaps he spent a considerable time in meditation in untelevised moments and eventually learnt the same technique the Mentor used to create his Shayde. That scene in Logopolis where he is staring off distantly as he sits in the Cloisters could be him trying it. Adric interrupts him so he's not sure if he's completed the process properly. Perhaps that is why the Watcher looks the way he does. Instead of bearing the appearance of the next incarnation as the Mentor's Shayde did in Planet of Spiders. The Watcher only got to his cocoon-like image because the full mediation technique could not be employed.

It seems to me that the Valeyard is also a Shayde. When the Master says he is from "somewhere between your twelfth and final incarnation" he's being completely literal about it. He is like the Watcher - a special being that can be summoned into existence between incarnations. He can probably only last for a very limited period of time before he must re-join the host body and induce the next regeneration.  According to what we've seen onscreen, at least, this seems the most sensible explanation.

It also gets the ending of Trial of a Time Lord to make more sense. A Shayde must re-join its host body. But, in desperate situations, any Time Lord body will do. So, as the Valeyard is caught in the Matrix after the Doctor induces the Ray Phase Shift, the Keeper of the Matrix comes along and finds him there (there is a visual cue in an earlier scene that shows the Keeper exiting the courtroom - presumably to go into the Matrix and effect repairs). Rather than return to the Doctor, the Valeyard hijacks the Keeper's form and assumes his identity. This also induces a regeneration, of course. This is why no one seems to care that the Keeper resembles the Valeyard in that last scene of Trial. Time Lords rely more on telepathic recognition than visual. So, to all intents and purposes, that is the Keeper standing in the courtroom giving a sinister laugh. At least, in the minds of the Time Lords, it is. We know differently, of course.


PART TWO: THE DARK SIDE OF A TIME LORD'S MIND

There is one more story from the Classic Series that helps to support the idea of the Valeyard. At the end of Episode Three of The Three Doctors, Omega becomes so enraged with Doctors Two and Three that he forces the third incarnation to face "the dark side of his mind". A strange, surreal encounter ensues with a weird creature that vaguely resembles an Alzarian Marshman fighting Terry Walsh in his Jon Pertwee wig in a dark studio.

Given that Omega has complete control over reality in this story - a sequence like this isn't too bizarre.  If he wants a dark studio with a fleshy-headed mutant to represent his dark side he can wish that up into existence in a second. But what if this sequence is indicative of a how a Time Lord's personality works?

Here you have these beings that live for extended periods of time under what seems to be extremely self-repressive conditions (listen to that graphic description that the Doctor gives of Time Lords in The Doctor's Daughter). Surely, centuries upon centuries of burying their most evil impulses can build up some legitimate psychic momentum. Admittedly, the psyche of a Time Lord sounds like a serious case of shizoid disassociation. To live for that long under such a condition - that dark side that they never let out has to become a legitimate force to be reckoned with.

Omega, existing in a Singularity Point that he controls, was able to manifest his dark side physically for a moment and use it to beat the pulp out of the Third Doctor. But what if this is just one of many ways to draw out a Time Lord's evil alter-ego? Surely, the High Council would know any other methods that might exist to accomplish such a task.

And that weird being that Omega created seemed pretty unbeatable. Which indicates that the dark side of a Time Lord's mind is definitely a powerful thing. Could it be so powerful that, under the right circumstances, it can manifest itself as a legitimate physical being? 



CONCLUSION (FOR NOW):

By looking into Classic Series lore, I get the impression that the Valeyard is a hybrid of sorts. He is a Shayde extracted from between the 12th and 13th incarnation of the Doctor. He was pulled from that final regeneration and brought back into the past (a major violation of Gallifreyan Mean Time, when you think about it. This High Council really was corrupt!). Once they had the Shayde, the Time Lords were able to access the Doctor's Dark Side and infuse the Shayde with it.

And thus, the Valeyard was born.





Okay, this all the Classic Who evidence that supports the probability of the Valeyard. There's some nice stuff in the New Series that helps continue this idea and also creates some new theories we have yet to explore. But this essay has rambled on long enough. Since Moffat is giving us a bunch of two-parters in Series 9, I thought I would do the same. Stay tuned for a second installment of WHO IS THE VALEYARD? - NEW SERIES STUFF...

I'm sure you're all bristling with anticipation.












Saturday, 5 September 2015

BOOK OF LISTS:

5 PIECES OF ESTABLISHED FAN OPINION THAT I JUST CAN'T WRAP MY HEAD AROUND

Another Opinion Piece that may make a return appearance now and again. Particularly when I feel a good rant coming on. Certain schools of thought are running through the general opinions of fans. Some, of course, are more popular than others but many of them are quite silly. I just thought I'd address a few of them.  

5. ONE VERSION OF WHO IS BETTER THAN THE OTHER.
Some who have only discovered the show "apres 2005" swear that Classic Who is just too damned slow and cannot be appreciated by modern standards. Others, who were there "back in the Old Days" say the New Series does not show proper respect to its roots and should not even be considered canon.

The truth is, both of these groups are ridiculous.

There is much to be said for the intensity and the presence that the Classic Series has. And the New Series is pacey and breath-taking. In the end, though, neither version of Who is perfect. But neither is bad, either. I think the nay-sayers just need a bit of patience.

Classic Who Purists: maybe New Who didn't meet your initial expectations but the show has done some serious maturing. Try it again and stick with it a bit more. But also understand that the format of the Classic Series is now outdated and would never work in modern-day television.

And for the New Who Lovers: Classic Who can be an acquired taste and, sometimes, needs to be viewed contextually. But even going back to Unearthly Child, you will see flashes of brilliance all over the place. Hang in there and keep watching.

But quit sounding like a tired old crank or a superficial young upstart as you complain about the version of Who that you hate. Fact of the matter is, 26 years can't be all that bad. Nor can a decade.



4. THE SHOW WENT DOWNHILL IN THE 80s

No. The show didn't get the budget it needed to keep up with what was going on with Sci-Fi TV in other parts of the world and it just started looking too silly. Or the ratings system back then sucked and a lot more folks were watching the show on their VCRs and weren't being included in the audience count. Or the BBC was just getting really stupid because they desperately wanted to kill the show and were doing all they could to make it unpopular.

But there was no drop in quality. We had many Classics in 80s Who and many Duds. Just like any other era of the show. But, for some reason, fandom becomes ultra hyper-critical in the 80s. Jon Pertwee can get chased by 20 Ogrons in a slow-moving three-wheeler for 5 minutes and we let it slide. But Sylvester McCoy better not hang by that brolley at the end of Dragonfire. Both situations are pretty cringeworthy. But they're okay if they happen in the 70s.

In some future essay, I shall finally reveal my Top Ten Favorite Stories Of All Time. Take note of how many of them are 80s stories.


3. ROGER DELGADO: BEST. MASTER. EVER.

I hate to speak ill of the dead, so I won't. Delgado did a great job of being the first to bring the character to life. But, like any actor, he had his off days and some of them got caught on film.

Ainley was the first to truly let the Master's insanity really start rising to the surface. I loved that. Pratt and Beevers really let the sense of evil run wild. And that could really give me the chills. Simm took that madness to a whole new level and gave us some great OTT moments. Jacobi did so much in the little time that he was given as the actual Master. Gomez is so good that she made it possible for us to accept the gender change.

Hell, even Eric Roberts was pretty damned watchable and we all need to stop picking on him so much!

I know it's tough to not want to pay extra reverence to Delgado since he had such a tragic ending. But he was just one of many and his Master had stronpoints and weakpoints. Just like any other incarnation. I can get that it's a matter of preference for some. In the same way that we all have favorite incarnations of the Doctor. But there seems to be this underlying attitude with some Delgado fans that he was great and all the other Masters have been rubbish compared to him. The only rubbish I see is an opinion like that.


2. COLIN BAKER'S DOCTOR WAS GREAT - BUT HIS STORIES WERE CRAP

The way I see it, both Vengeance On Varos and Revelation of the Daleks are actually Classics. Ultimate Foe is pretty amazing, too. Which is even more impressive when you consider the behind-the-scenes nightmare that went on to write it. Three really strong stories in a season-and-a-half (let's remember, Trial of a Time Lord was half the length of Season 22) is pretty good odds, right there.

On the other end of the spectrum - yes, we do have Twin Dilemma and Timelash. Both stories that get far worse of a rep than they deserve. They're not, necessarily, amazing either. But I wouldn't place them as low as they are in The Mighty 200. Personally, I think they got that rank because of the inaccuracy of this whole ideology about Colin's era.

In between those two stories are some pretty strong middle-of-the-road stuff that has weaknesses and strengths. Attack of the Cybermen has some of the best action sequences I've seen in the history of the series (hard not to punch the air every time I watch Stratton and Bates escape). Mark of the Rani introduces such a good villainess that we're still hoping she returns in the New Series. Mindwarp receives high praise for being so unique and different from the standard Who story. At the same time, we can also note how Attack resorts to just slaughtering the main cast to create an ending. Mindwarp can be a bit slow, in places. And Mark of the Rani has: "The tree won't hurt you."

I've made this point in a few other sections but I'll say it again: every era of Who has moments of triumph and moments of failure. I'm amazed how certain eras, however, are only remembered for their failures. Colin's period as the Doctor gets this sort of treatment worse than any other period.

I'm starting to hear the term "serious re-evaluation required" being applied to him more and more. But the inaccurate stygma his stories receive is still too strong. I'm so glad to hear fans of the New Series are going back to look at his stuff and saying: "What's the problem, here?" Just wish the fans that were around when those stories actually came out could wipe the prejudice from their eyes and try to watch the episodes with a clean slate. They'd be surprised.

They might even start thinking crazy things like, quite possibly, the Colin Baker era has better stories in it than a lot of other eras do.



1. STEVEN MOFFAT IS KILLING THE SHOW

I saved this one for last because it's the one I think that is the most unfounded.
On a superficial level, he can't be killing the show if it's as successful as it is. And Doctor Who has never been more successful - internationally and domestically. It's so well-established that it's actually become cool to be a Doctor Who fan. Travel back in time to meet the Teenaged Me of the 80s and tell him that and he would never have believed you!

Some will try to claim that he is riding on the coat-tails of the foundation RTD built and that the success is going to collapse in upon itself at any given moment. To this, I can only say: "It's been over five years since RTD left his post. If that was going to happen, it would have, by now."

In terms of artistic merit, I think this is some of the best stuff the show has ever done. Do I blindly agree with all the choices Moff makes? Of course not. But I am far more in love with all the amazing things he has done to be all that upset with a few minor errors of judgement.

Not that I want to pick on RTD too much - there's quite a bit that he did that I enjoy, too. But, since people are harping on Moff for riding on his success, I'll point out one of the many things that I feel he's doing way better:

Season-long story arcs seem to be the big rage, now. So often, I felt RTD did some very awkward shoe-horning to get some of the story arcs to work (Really? You're going to randomly say "Medusa Cascade" while an alien imatates you? No, you've inserted this dialogue because the Medusa Cascade hasn't been mentioned for a few episodes!).

The arcs work so much better with Moff at the helm. They're so much less intrusive. Occasionally having a dead minor character suddenly meet Missy in the afterlife, for instance, was such a smooth way to remind us that her storyline is going to reach some sort of fruition by the end of season.

Let's not just praise Moff, though. Let's also defend him by addressing one of the common complaints leveled against him:

A lot of people like to bring up certain tropes that Moff has been known to repeat from time-to-time. Yes, he's created two different creatures that do nasty things when you turn away. Oh my God! How horrible! Other great writers for Who never did that! Moff is sooo bad!

To which I must now direct your attention to a fellow named Robert Holmes. Any Classic Who fan will swear to the Four Ends of the Earth that he is the greatest writer to ever grace the show (and I won't argue with them). They'll also harp on endlessly about how Caves of Androzani was the best story he ever wrote (that one, I might argue with). Will even swear that it was the best Who story ever written (certainly, fan polls frequently re-enforce that point).

Want to get a sneak preview of Caves of Androzani? Watch Power of Kroll and Talons of Weng Chiang - there's a tonne of elements from both those stories that pop up again in the plot of Caves of Androzani. There is also a fair amount of re-tread from The Krotons that is seen in Mysterious Planet. And wouldn't the very fact that we have the term "Holmesian Double Act" indicate that there's a certain style of characterization that the author re-uses somewhat frequently?

Is Robert Holmes a terrible writer? Of course not. The truth of the matter is: writers (particularly TV writers) will re-use ideas from time to time.

But this does bring up a second dead horse that I love to beat when I'm talking about Established Fan Opinion. Why is it okay for something to be done in one era of the show but not okay if another era also does it? How can we say: "It's horrible that such-and-such did this?!" but actually praise a different artist that did the exact same thing?  Sometimes, there is no logic to the prevalent opinions of fandom!

While on the subject of the Great Mister Holmes, let me go out on this note: I genuinely feel that the Hinchcliff/Holmes era that we all love to go on about is being matched by the current output we've been getting with Moff at the Helm. These really are the Golden Years Returned. In my book, at least.

How's that for strong words?!


Well, that's off my chest. Think I'll get back to working out a plausible history for the Cybermen...