For a series about time-travel, it has taken Steven Moffat’s two and a half-years at the helm to finally make Doctor Who about the passage of time.
Consider just a few of the things he’s done during his time as the showrunner:
- Aged the Doctor himself over two hundred years
- Established that Amy Pond and Rory Williams’ time as companions covered ten years in real-time for them. (Discounting the three universe reboots and 2000-year Pandorica incident which may or may not have ever happened.)
- Bounced through vast chunks of time with River Song, the “wife” of the Doctor and daughter of Amy and Rory, who intersects with her family at various non-chronological points in her life.
- Shown the actress fated to play the next companion for the Eleventh Doctor first as a human turned Dalek in the 31st century, then blown her up, and will show her to us next in Victorian-era London.
Moffat has written for the series since its return in 2005, under original showrunner Russell T. Daives, and gave us his first important contributions to the mythology then - the Weeping Angels and River Song. In doing so, Moffat created his own paradox in making those creations so vitally connected to his other two greatest creations, Amy Pond and Rory Williams. Most impressive in this feat is that when he introduced River – Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead - he did not know he was going to be the next architect of this Who mythology. In fact, the mystery of who River Song was, and how she was so connected to the Doctor, seemed to come to a screeching halt when she was killed off at the end of the two-parter. The Weeping Angels were introduced in an episode – Blink – where then star David Tennant only in the flesh in one scene – otherwise on a TV screen – leaving all the adventure’s heavy-lifting to guest-star (and future Oscar nominee) Carey Mulligan. Neither of these stories in any way telegraphed the vast importance they’d have when Moffat got the call to take over. But, obviously, he had a more detailed plan in mind.
And though Moffat’s plans involved great whimsy, emotion, and a complex family story, there’s a significant difference between Moffat’s universe of Doctor Who and that of his predecessor, Russell T. Davies. That difference? The application of an overriding logic to the fantastical events taking place before our eyes. Davies used it, and Moffat, focused more on the paradoxical nature of a time travel sci fi show and emotion, just doesn’t seem to. At least on first glance. What I’ve found is that if you go over and over these episodes, especially with cliff-notes style help from the internet, smarter people that one’s self have done more exploring.
But with this final adventure featuring Karen Gillen (Amy) and Arthur Darvill (Rory), Moffat may have gone so far past the edge, that it’ll take years for even the most determined chronally-focused architect to uncover all its secrets. I’m more than a tad convinced this is all being front-loaded towards the actual fiftieth anniversary-themed episodes in 2013. Perhaps the other time-travelling folk of the Whoniverse – Song and Capt. Jack Harkness – can provide The Doctor with what he needs to undo some of the harsh “finalities” he’s faced during his most recently chronicled adventures.
In the near term, let’s wait for the Christmas special, await the arrival of a new companion, keep hopeful for a fiftieth anniversary blowout that features the return of so many characters we hold dear (maybe other Doctoral incarnations, even?), and enjoy Matt Smith’s wonderful turn as our Doctor.