Today I read an article about Steven Moffat’s Doctor Who in the Arts and Books section of the Independent on Sunday. In this article, by Stephen Kelly, Moffat is criticised for his inability to write women, to complete his plots, to write the Doctor as a likeable and trustworthy figure, and to keep his audience entertained. Yet one line in this frankly scathing (and almost painfully truthful) review reads: ‘When on form, Steven Moffat is the best writer working in television today’.
Having read said article, and written rather a lot of Moffat critique myself, the statement baffled me. Kelly’s entire article is lamenting the current state of Doctor Who at the hands of this man, and yet Moffat is still gifted with glowing praise.
It’s a common theme. I see it often when people are asked to review Moffat’s work. It seems people are almost afraid of criticising him, seeing as he has been lauded one of Britain’s most brilliant television writers.
It’s like the Emperor’s New Clothes. The Myth of Moffat’s Scriptwriting ‘Genius’. It’s a lie we’ve all absorbed and now just assume to be true. Sherlock himself would be frankly appalled by the entire thing. We are seeing, but we apparently do not observe.
Fellow Sherlock watchers will know what I mean (although many will probably not agree) when I equate Moffat’s writing to the empty houses of Leinster Gardens. An empty façade. It looks great from the outside, but when you step closer, you realise it’s just a whopping great train station with some drugged up self-proclaimed sociopath lurking in it.
Let’s examine this case a little closer, shall we?