The Radio Times has just broken the story that Steven Moffat is leaving Doctor Who and will be replaced by Chris Chibnall, the lead writer on Broadchurch. If you want to take a look at that article, here it is:
I was asked to write this opinion piece because I have been a Doctor Who fan (or a Whovian) since I was born. There is literally a picture of me in my father’s arms, on May 17th, 1978 in England, and Doctor Who is on the television. For several years now I have been calling for Moffat to move on from being head writer/showrunner.
So I should be over the moon, right?
Well, I am…and I’m not.
You see, for the first time in Moffat’s tenure as showrunner, last season left me wanting more. Each week I’d be waiting for the next week’s episode. I’ve been clamoring for a season of 2-part episodes since the RTD era, and when it was given to me, it was everything I hoped for; better paced stories, more character moments, and solid stories. Well, apart from that one about the eye boogers, but I can forgive that in such a great season.
In reality, I have to break this announcement into 2 parts to explain if I am happy.
- Am I happy that Moffat is leaving? Yes. Overall, it’s a yes.
- Am I happy Chris Chibnall is taking over? HELL NO.
Now I am FULLY aware of Chibnall’s work on Broadchurch, but it is his Who-niverse work that makes this a nice tall glass of “NOPE” for me. This is not a new feeling for me. My friends and I had nicknamed him Chinballs…so that kinda sets the idea for how not okay I am with this call.
Lets look at his work on the main show:
42 – Widely regarded as one of the worst episodes of Who since the 2005 return. A lot of people blame its issues on trying to be done in a real-time format (the show is 42 minutes of screentime and the issue takes 42 minutes to resolve), but the wishy-washy characters that change motivation more often than the show changes camera angles sink the ship more. And it’s just that most people don’t see it.
The Hungry Earth/Cold Blood – While it was fantastic to have the Silurians back on our screens (and this in turn leads to Madame Vastra’s creation so we have to thank it for that), it was the same old Silurian story we have seen so many times before. The Silurians appear. They threaten to take back their planet.The Doctor steps in to try and resolve it peacefully. It was the same thing we had seen so many times before. No risks taken, nothing new.
Dinosaurs on a Spaceship/Power of Three – Yes I know these were not a 2-parter. Yes I know I’m clumping them together. But there is a reason for that; they felt like filler. They did nothing other than show Amy, Rory, and 11 having adventures together, which we’d already seen. This was all just filler in so that the mid-season point could be Amy and Rory’s departure. Which most people agree, made kind of a mess out of the season.
So that sums up Chibnall’s work on Who; four episodes that did nothing to stand out, and one pile of awfulness. At least when Moffat took over he had great episodes like The Girl in the Fireplace and The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances under his belt (this might invalidate my opinion for many Whovians, but I was never a huge fan of Blink). But that’s not the most damning evidence in the box against Chris Chibnall.
That can be summed up in one word: Torchwood.
You see, Torchwood was this amazing concept, an adult targeted show in the Whoniverse. What could possibly go wrong? Well if you have watched the first two seasons of the show you know EXACTLY what could go wrong; because it did. From a Captain Jack who was NOTHING like the Captain Jack we had fallen in love with, to a cast of characters who were flat out unlikeable 90% of the time, unless they were called Ianto. Now let me ask you this: Who was the head writer on those first 2 seasons? That’s right!
He is the one that gave us a “main” character in Gwen who basically had an affair, got caught, mind wiped her husband, and we were expected to still like her.
He is the one that oversaw the “Sex Alien” storyline.
He is the one that saw Tosh follow Owen around like a love sick computer literate puppy and that was her ONLY DEFINING MOMENT.
The Half converted “Cyberbabe” as many have called it.
There is so much more wrong with the first 2 seasons of Torchwood and it all happened under Chibnall’s watch.
So yes, while Chibnall might have a good pedigree with Broadchurch, he has proven time and again that he has NO CLUE how to write in the Whoniverse as a whole. He has proven that even with established writers to hold his hand in the world of the Doctor, he continues to fall flat on his face and now he is the one who is going to be shepherding others through this world. I can’t actually help but feel like we might be taking a step BACKWARDS by putting the show in Chibnall’s care.
The main thing I am worried about is Peter Capaldi. There is a history of Doctors leaving when the Main showrunner switches over, I’m hoping that Peter bucks this trend. He is rapidly catapulting himself up my favorite doctors list and is vying with Sylvester McCoy for the top spot. I hope that even if he does stay, the new team maintains Capaldi’s tone and voice across the seasons.
Now, that being said, there is even more to decry as it points out we will have NO NEW WHO in 2016 as Moffat’s final season will air in Spring 2017 and Chibnall will take over in 2018. Let’s hope this is some form of clerical error as after how good last season was, it’s gonna suck to wait for 12 more months.
It’s hard to know what to write to wrap up this piece, other than to say I do truly love the good doctor, and yes I am overall happy about Moffat moving on. I really wished they had passed the reigns over to someone other than Chibnall and I hope they change their minds on the 2017 date.
So what do you think? What are your thoughts on the departure of the Moff?
How about the installation of Chibnall?
Put your opinions in the comments and let us know!