Death to The Doctor: Why The 11th Doctor’s Run Must End (And Bring Steven Moffat With Him)


There; I said it.  The 11th Doctor, played by the mostly untalented Matt Smith, needs to head for the big blue police box in the sky.  In the opinion of this author (and huge Doctor Who fan from waaaayyyy back), I’ve never been impressed with the 11th Doctor, his companions, or the general direction of the show since Russell Davies left after the 2009 season.  The series has been flat, the stories weak, and the tone of the episodes highly sophomoric since Moffat took the helm.  I know many of you fans love Smith’s portrayal of our favorite roving Gallifreyan, but before you leap to his defense, close your eyes and admit something to yourself; one of the best (and longest running) science-fiction shows of all time (and space) is now a middling knock-off of itself, and that has to stop.

From the first episode, “The Eleventh Hour,” it was already clear that the tone of the show had changed.  It was shot darker, and everything about it, from the voiceovers, to the characters, to the clothes, to the aliens, were more cartoonish than in years past (at least since the show’s return).  That season, for the first time, I didn’t feel like I wanted to get into the T.A.R.D.I.S., and go on an adventure.  For the first time, I didn’t feel safe with The Doctor.

And in discussing the series over the last few seasons, The Doctor is a good place to start.  Matt Smith himself can look the part, but he’s never shown an ability to play the part.  Nothing about the way that he plays The Doctor says that he is, in fact, the great savior, the great warrior, the great thinker that the universe needs him to be.  He plays it the way Jerry Lewis would play the part; all The Nutty Professor, no Buck Rogers.  The Doctor HAS to be a little of both.  With Chris Eccleston, the mix leaned much more heavily toward gallant, space-warrior genius.  It eased back a little with David Tennant, letting him play it a little goofy, while at the same time, always letting the audience know The Doctor was in.

But with Matt Smith, all that we ever get to see is the mumbling, bumbling doofus who drops in, screws up, and then sonics his way out of said paper-bag situation.  In the few episodes where he has to dig in and show himself as “The Oncoming Storm,” he becomes even more laughable, like a child doing a Rambo imitation for his grandparents.

The companions haven’t helped the series either.  Now, I’m a red-blooded American man, and a sci-fi geek, so of course, I have no aesthetic problems with Karen Gillan as the mind-bendingly hot and strong Amy Pond.  Only one problem; I can’t give two flying shits about her or her problems.  As inquisitive as she was in the first few episodes, by “Amy’s Choice,” she, somehow, was magically more able and perceptive than The Doctor at every turn.  Always brow-beating both The Doctor and Rory, she comes off less like a companion out to see the universe, and more like an over-done sitcom wife, always getting the best of Ray Romano or Tim Allen.  It’s lame at best, and gratingly un-fun at worst.

Rory still has a bit of that awe in his eyes, but is used more for the goofy comic relief than the great reveal (which is what the companions are there for in the first place).  Did Rose and Martha become functionally able and smart companions?  Yes.  Were they ever all knowing, or more able to deal with a situation than The Doctor (other than the “Bad Wolf” storyline)?  No.  They remained, as they always have, tourists, learning about time and space from the great traveler, not surpassing him.

The story lines have also gone sideways.  Some fans prefer the focus of a season (or series, for the U.K. readers) to be an overarching storyline, in which every episode follows one long epic adventure.  Other fans, particularly older fans, usually prefer the “drop-in” stories, where The Doctor and companions show up somewhere, have an adventure, and leave.  One episode, one adventure; the old one-and-done.  I believe that there is room to do both, but Moffat’s run on the series doesn’t seem to be able to do that.

My biggest problem with the show over the last 3 seasons has been the way that the cannon of the show has been cast off to the side.  We fans all accept that, sometimes, things just happen – it’s Doctor Who magic.  You have to cast away science and rationality and just let it happen.  But with 49 years worth of legend and lore, you can’t just break the rules that you yourself have established for the universe.

All the wibbly-wobbly-timey-wimey stuff allows for some great screwing around with what was and what is, but unbreakable rules are established, for the purpose of being UNBREAKABLE.  Facts have to exist, and the stories have to work within the rules for the universe.  If fire always beats ice, and suddenly, one day, ice can now freeze fire, it makes the whole of everything silly, cancelling out everything that came before, and breaking the rules of the fictional world we are following.  There are dozens of examples of this in Moffat’s run, and they all work to unmake everything that fans have loved about the series.  Here’s a taste of what I mean, just from the last season.

What do we know about the Weeping Angles?  In “Blink,” we learn that they kill by sending people back in time, they feed off of temporal energy, and they are an ancient species who have evolved to be made of inorganic stone, and cannot move if they are watched.  The second time we encounter them, in the two-parter “The Time of Angels/Flesh and Stone,” they feed off radiation, and they just straight up kill you, while only assuming you’re looking at them, as Amy’s pretending showed, as well as being able to hide in your eye, and make you into one of them.  In their last appearance, “The Angles Take Manhattan,” they’re back to the time teleportation and living off of time energy, but now, they can have babies, and the Statue of Liberty (which is made of bronze) is one of them.

Moffat, as far as I can tell from this example and dozens of others, just doesn’t care about keeping the universe organized.  He likes to make the 11th Doctor use the sonic screwdriver as a magic wand, a Deus Ex Machina for all seasons, whenever he paints himself into a corner and doesn’t have the ability to get out.  I’m tired of it, and I know a lot of long time fans feel the same way.

Why the change in the first place?  Well, it’s no secret Moffat wanted to greatly expand viewership.  I feel like the move to cast Smith and drive the show in this direction was a push to get the Twihards, those detestable little scamps who loved Twilight and Twilightesque sci-fi, mostly made up of either 14 year-old girls, or others who are, for all intents and purposes, exactly like 14 year-old girls.  I’m all for bringing in new fans (14 year-old girls or not), but I’m opposed to doing it by watering down one of the greatest sci-fi series ever made; get them to love the greatness it’s spent 49 years being.  So, I send out this heartfelt plea; please kill off the 11th Doctor, and replace him with someone who will commit to the part out of love for the character, and while you’re at it, tell Steven Moffat to take a walk, and focus on Sherlock, which is a great series, that doesn’t have to do with time-travel or aliens.

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Mark Viola
Author: Mark Viola View all posts by
Mark Viola is a writer, stand-up comedian, and humorist, as well as a geek who was so busy analyzing the differences between Deadpool and Deathstroke, he didn't get any in high school. You can follow his silly exploits on his facebook page, www.facebook.com/MarkViolaComedy, or harass him with boisterous, mind-numbingly silly e-mails at MarkViolaComedy@gmail.com and Twitter @MarkViolaComedy.

19 Comments on "Death to The Doctor: Why The 11th Doctor’s Run Must End (And Bring Steven Moffat With Him)"

  1. Shane November 6, 2012 at 9:59 am - Reply

    Great article!! I warmed up to Smith, but you’ve almost brought me back to disliking him!!

    • Mark Viola November 15, 2012 at 12:00 pm - Reply

      Glad that you liked it!

  2. Michael A Myers November 10, 2012 at 9:46 pm - Reply

    I cannot disagree with this article…for the most part.

    • Mark Viola November 15, 2012 at 12:01 pm - Reply

      Well, I agree with your comment…for the most part. Thanks!

  3. Kelsey Shannon Arnold November 17, 2012 at 6:32 pm - Reply

    I liked the Eleventh Hour and the rest of that season. Smith’s second season was… decent. Everything since then has made me feel like I’m watching the show out of loyalty more than love. I’ve never been much invested in Amy and Rory’s relationship (the first two episodes made it abundantly clear that Amy is not sure about Rory as a mate, “Amy’s Choice” pissed me off) so all of the wishy-washy “Should we get divorced? Naaaah. Should we stay with the Doctor or live normal lives?” just irritated me.

    • Mark Viola November 18, 2012 at 4:05 pm - Reply

      Glad you liked the article Kelsey!

  4. Mark Baumgarten November 25, 2012 at 11:54 am - Reply

    After I read your article I almost thought I had written it myself. I like Steven Moffat’s work – Coupling, Jeckyll, and Sherlock come to mind right away. But I’ve never loved Matt Smith’s portrayal of the Doctor. Don’t get me wrong, I still love Doctor Who or the markwho42’s WHOniverse podcast would never have materialized. But the show IS now aimed at the Twilight crowd.
    I must admit, the show is more tightly knit than ever before with season storylines instead of arcs like RTD had (and yes, there is a difference). The Weeping Angels are a great monster when the writer gets the rules right (yes Steven, this means you).
    I think the best of all possible worlds is if Smith bows out at the end of the 50th Anniversary special.
    And may Rasillon have mercy on my soul…

    • Mark Viola November 28, 2012 at 8:19 am - Reply

      Mark, glad you liked the article man. Welcome to FloridaGeekScene; I saw your intro post about the podcast, and meant to welcome you then, but I’ve been on the road the last couple weeks. Keep it up, and, at some point, I’ll be throwing down my next Dr. Who article, entitled “How Doctor Who became Doctor Whom…The 7th series Arc So Far.”

  5. River A. Bain January 11, 2013 at 1:45 pm - Reply

    I believe every actor to play the Doctor brings a different energy than the one prior to him. No incarnation is better than another, because while they’re the same man, they are unique, if that makes sense. Quite often I see holes in Moffat’s writing. Parts of ‘Asylum of the Daleks’ didn’t make sense, like how Oswin’s human voice played out of the speakers when she was, indeed, a Dalek to name one. Russell Davies’ writing flowed and wasn’t trying to cram an entire series into one hour. It made you feel, but it also taught you a bit of a lesson. I agree with you for the most part on the subject of Moffat’s writing (I prefer Davies’ over his), but Eleven is fine as is. You brought up some valid points about the audience. My gran who has been watching the show since it began, says it’s almost like a poorly written, young-adult, supernatural romance novel. She appreciates Smith’s Doctor and how unique he is, but is uneasy about the writing and the future of the show if Moffat continues.

  6. Gwyn Jeffers January 14, 2013 at 9:07 pm - Reply

    No. I have to *strongly* disagree. As someone who has been watching Doctor since Davison was *THE* Doctor, thats a pretty long time too, I cannot believe the rudeness people go towards Steven Moffat and Matt Smith. To tell you the truth, Matt’s Doctor has the panicky personality of Patrick Troughton’s Doctor, and he shows the age of the Doctor in his face. RTD’s writing was the most rubbish I have ever seen on Doctor Who- almost to the point of poor Colin Baker’s era, who was stuck with horrendous writers.Mind you, I respect him for “reviving” the show, but thats it. As a “long-time fan” I grew tired of the comedic garbage of the RTD era- I gave up watching the show I grew up on because it had become a joke with Tennant as the Doctor.. I mean come on a tenth Doctor clone to fall in love with Rose? You can’t tell me that was not any worse than what Steven has done. He is at least bringing back darker stories.. okay the Weeping Angels being used over and over again is tiring. But overall, I’d say the 11th Doctor is a much better improvement then the previous two Doctors, and Matt is certainly a great actor. What I wish they would do is go back to the old format like classic Doctor who so the stories aren’t rushed. If the stories aren’t rushed, they would be much better. Maybe Steven will consider that in the future….

    • Ricky Felix April 5, 2013 at 12:49 pm - Reply

      Your wrong on so many things it’s hard to think.

  7. Robb Smith March 28, 2013 at 8:23 pm - Reply

    We all know that the 8th Doctor is the one that locked the Time War, rendering himself the only Time Lord outside of said Time War. The way that I look at it, Eccleston’s Doctor was angry. He was pissed and he was sad that he was the only one left and questioning himself every day if he made the right move. Move on to Tennant’s Doctor. He’s now accepted that what he did had to be done, so he’s a bit less stressed. However, he now is atoning for his actions. He’s proving to himself and the universe that he DESERVES to be the last Time Lord left. And then we have Smith’s Doctor. He’s accepted what he has done, he’s finished atoning after the events in “The End of Time,” and now he’s back to his curious and a bit whimsical self. Of course, the events of the past are not forgotten, and that shows up every now and again, but he’s made peace with everything that he’s done. Well, right up until “The Angels Take Manhatten,” that is….

    Oh, and you said that no one has been more able to deal with a situation, aside from Bad Wolf, or surpass him like Amy has. What about Doctor Donna? Granted, it was short, but she *did* start telling the Doctor how to fix the chameleon circuit in the T.A.R.D.I.S…..

    (I do completely agree with you on the Statue of Liberty)

    • Ricky Felix April 5, 2013 at 12:51 pm - Reply

      He knows how to fix the chameleon circuit, he just doesn’t want to. He’s mentioned that before.

  8. Ricky Felix April 5, 2013 at 12:49 pm - Reply

    I literally couldn’t agree more and good on you for saying it. I’ve been saying it since Smith’s first season ended. He has some good moments (not in that season) but they are few and far between. The problem I have is that Steven Moffat likes to beat things the death. His ridiculous catch phrases that he’s given the Doctor i.e. “Bow ties are cool”. It’s in practically every episode and I’m tired of hearing it. Honestly I place no blame on Smith. In my opinion the downfall of Doctor Who thus far is all on Moffat. He got a big head with the success of his episodes during RTD’s run and doesn’t see the problem with what he’s done. He’s turned a 60+ year old sci-fi epic into a mockery of itself. A Sontaran nurse? A Statue of Liberty Weeping Angel? If we don’t find a way to get Steven Moffat to f#@k off eventually Doctor Who won’t have any true fans left.

  9. Tony Stark December 13, 2013 at 5:15 am - Reply

    Mark Viola, you are a minority. You are the WHOLE minority.

  10. Anonymous December 19, 2013 at 10:28 am - Reply

    And a year and a month later, Moffat has written a perfect 50th Anniversary special featuring all of the doctors, sent the doctor on his way to save Gallifrey (thus warming the hearts of fans around the globe), and Matt Smith, a BRILLIANT doctor, is on his way out to herald in a new era. Let’s make this clear: I wasn’t terribly fond of Amy or Rory or the 11th doctor in the beginning, and I held a long grudge against Moffat after he came in and started changing everything- but look where we are now. Three strong fan bases. UK, US, and Australia. Other countries are starting to catch on as well. Did you see the Chinese trailer for the 50th Anniversary Special? It was impressive to say the least. Moffat, though frustrating as a writer at times with his one part episodes that wrap up too quickly and his forever plot arcs that never seem to end, is the perfect show runner. He knows exactly what to do to keep the ball rolling. And Matt Smith made a contribution to this strong fan base as well. He brought in people who would watch the show solely to see him, only for them to fall in love with the show, find their own favorite doctor (Smith or no), and stay for good. These new fans, regardless of their original intention in watching the show, are for the most part hooked and sticking around for Capaldi. Just something I thought I might add.

  11. fuck mark Viola May 1, 2014 at 2:41 am - Reply

    You suck.

  12. Ivonne August 9, 2014 at 10:36 am - Reply

    Strongly disagree. You’re so wrong.
    I love Matt Smith and Steven Moffat’s work. They are really great people.

  13. Caroline Clark January 11, 2016 at 7:26 pm - Reply

    In all honesty I love the show either way, the companions I really don’t care for. I honestly enjoy Matt, I thought he brought life to the Doctor. Did you notice in the Day of The Doctor that 11 is the man who forgets? He’s simply avoiding the dark and grim things. In all honesty I don’t think Matt Smith isn’t talented. Everyone has a damn talent. Also, just to quote 11 : “Nobody important? Blimey, that’s amazing. Do you know, in nine hundred years of time and space I’ve never met anyone who wasn’t important before.” Meaning yes, he is in fact important and a great actor. Everyone has different methods of acting, also each Doctor is different in their own unique way.

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