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Moffat’s Departure

Moffat’s Departure: 1/23/16

Yesterday it was announced that Steven Moffat would step down from being the showrunner/executive producer of Doctor Who after the 10th series. He’ll hand the reins over to Chris Chibnall.

This isn't surprising. Or even that disappointing (which may surprise some people because of how much of a Moffat advocate I am). Moffat's been hinting that his tenure was coming to end for a while. It's rare for a DW showrunner to stick around as long as he has. One of the great things about Doctor Who is that, along with the Doctor, nearly every aspect of the show eventually goes through a regeneration process. New Tardis interior. New sonic screwdrivers. New companions. New color palette. New logos. New music. New aesthetics. This allows for new and fresh actors, characters, and writers...a new take on a very old show. Change allows you to cherish the past episodes while embracing something new. Change also minimizes staleness that eventually occurs when the people in charge start running out of ideas.

That said, Steven Moffat is one of my all-time favorite writers, be it television, film or literature. I know he had a lot of haters within the Whovian fandom, which I never totally understood. It seems, to me, that most of the people that didn’t like Moffat were only parroting others who were parroting others who didn’t have any real reason. In my view, he is a master of striking a balance between making you laugh, making you cry, and making you think. For me, this is the holy trinity of a good narrative.

If it weren’t for Steven Moffat, I probably wouldn’t have this obsession. I don’t know whether to thank him or curse him for that. It all started with his two parter in the first series with the 9th Doctor. And as far as DW writers go, consider this - Moffat wrote two episodes for the 9th Doctor (The Empty Child, The Doctor Dances), a handful of extremely popular episodes for the 10th Doctor (The Girl in the Fireplace, Blink, Time Crash mini-episode, Silence in the Library, Forest of the Dead, final scene of The End of Time, Day of the Doctor), three series with the 11th Doctor, three series with the 12th Doctor (counting the upcoming 10th), a scene and an episode for the War Doctor (Day of the Doctor) and a mini-episode for the 8th Doctor (Night of the Doctor). And before he was the showrunner of Doctor Who, he wrote a short story for the 7th Doctor that was published in 1996. He also wrote a short scene for Tom Baker as the Curator. In 50 years, there have been 13 Doctors and he's crafted prose for six of them on screen (and seven if you count the short story).

His monsters have largely been considered the best in the Whoniverse. He created the Clockwork Droids, the weeping angels, the Vashta Nerada, the Silents, the Crack, the Smilers, Prisoner Zero, Sleeping Crabs, hand mines, the potentially nonexistant monster in Listen. He brought us to the Time War. He brought the Doctor back to Gallifrey.

No writer has had such an impact on the Whoniverse as Moffat. And I doubt anyone ever will.

As for Chris Chibnall, I'm excited for what he'll bring to the Doctor's ongoing narrative as the new showrunner for series 11. Not only has he written a handful of DW episodes (Dinosaurs on a Spaceship being my favorite), he was the showrunner for Broadchurch, so I expect he'll do a great job. The only thing that worries me a bit is that he was also the co-showrunner for Torchwood, which was, for me, a very uneven show. Sometimes quite good. Sometimes quite poor. Most often mediocre, though I suspect that most of the issues I had with Torchwood had to do with the directors.

However, if there are to be any tears shed with this announcement, it's that Series 10 (Moffat's final series before Chibnall takes over) won't air until Spring 2017, which means no new DW in 2016 except for a Christmas special. My sister wants to start a petition. She doesn’t want to tell her kids that there won’t be a season of DW in 2016. She says it will break their heart. And I believe it. But I think it’s probably for the best. I’d rather Moffat have extra time to craft his final series than to rush it on his way out the door.

Or whatever. I don’t care.