"Doctor Who" or: How I Learned to Stop Thinking and Watch the Mess
When the current run of Doctor Who stories treats time as this magical force -- with nonsensical rules that are made up on the fly -- it's not even good fantasy writing, because proper fantasy stories respect magic and treat it as something consistent that never gives you an easy "out." This sort of story degrades the integrity of the Doctor as a hero, and of the universe he lives in.
Moffat is still very clever, there's no question about that. His run of the show has given us numerous intriguing and perplexing plotlines. But too many times now, the way out relies upon an unexplained paradox, a universe implosion, a universe explosion, a pocket universe, or some form of purported timeline correction which, as Anders puts it, is more magic than science and an easy out. There no longer seems to be any rules, any form of internal logic.
This isn't a new thing for Moffat. Even in his first season, he basically threw out the rule that the Doctor isn't supposed to cross his own timeline, because it was a convenient (and yes, cleverly fun) solution for "The Big Bang." Rules be damned. And that was fine once. And then he took River Song and the fantastic angle of two time travelers living out of sync with each into more inconsistency and almost, at times, incoherency, culminating in a pile of things in least season's wrap-up which crumble upon closer inspection.
And then this past weekend we got yet another episode where the Doctor is crossing his own timeline and making up multi-universe mumbo jumbo in a way that lacks exterior logic or internal consistency. As the episode built up, I knew there was a cop-out coming. I didn't even hope that I was wrong, because I lost the ability to have such hope. And that's how I know our relationship has changed.
There are still enough things I enjoy about the show that I'm not quitting it. Nor am I even decrying it as a "bad" show. But it's been a while since I've felt it was a brilliant show, or even a great show. And that saddens me. And yes, I'm well aware that Russell Davies broke the rules too, and that he started to have his own ridiculous crutches that he went back to too often. Davies' setups weren't about being clever or complex as much as they were about making things bigger and apparently more dire, but he similarly frequently had to use a logic-busting escape hatch to reset things back to normal. And when this happened too often, he started getting called out more and more for it. The frustration mounted and, while many a tear was shed over Tenant's departure, I think very few were shed for Davies. "Thank you for reviving the Doctor, Russell, but please move over because we're excited for Steven to take over."
And so it's come to this. I never thought I'd complain about Steven Moffat's cleverness -- and the man is bloody clever -- but I would not mind a nice simple season, where the Doctor and his companion just get in some trouble, have some fun, and get out of some trouble. Without having to rely upon other universes or timey-wimey. "Thank you for everything you've done for the Doctor, Steven, but please move over because I'm excited to see some new blood take over."