It’s Not Small Stuff

SFX magazine’s week long interview with Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat concluded on Thursday, with the man behind the Matt Smith era discussing how the new series should sit with kids.

Steven Moffat, the boss of Doctor WhoWith scares aplenty there is one thing that The Grand Moff hits upon – that for any 10 year old, Doctor Who has been around for over half their life. The Eleventh Hour is apparently designed to cater for both these short-trousered veterans of nuWho and to act as a new way into the show, courtesy of a strange new man, a young girl and a monstrous threat that is likely to destroy everything.

“There’s always a massive amount at stake when the Doctor is battling. It’s not small stuff.

“It’s always innocent people being mangled up and he’s got to go and do something about it. In a way he’s not really setting out to have an adventure, he’s setting out to do something else, and on the way, because he’s such a moral man, such an emotional and passionate and principled man, if he sees people in trouble then he must go and help them. So in that sense he’s motivated by trying to prevent people dying.”

Of course, it wasn’t always like that, was it?

An interesting counterpoint to the SFX interview is this piece in The Times (still free) from Andrew Billen, who contends that high stakes week-on-week has a negative effect on the ongoing narrative of Doctor Who.

The stakes on Doctor Who have been raised so high, so regularly, that they no longer have any meaning even, or, especially, for children. They have become absurd.

Billen himself questioned Moffat on this very point recently:

He replied that within every cataclysm there will be details that are “small, and intimate and personal”. “But,” he said, “I question your tactics if you’re saying we should have a Doctor Who season finale with the words ‘Now Smaller Than Ever’. Would you be piling into the next James Bond film if they said, ‘This week he solves a minor espionage problem in Belgrade’?”

It’s probably fair to point out that Doctor Who isn’t James Bond. Equally, there is a case for both sides – even insofar as Billen does several relatively recent stories such as Planet of the Ood, The Unicorn and the Wasp and Midnight a huge disservice.

But does he have a point?


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