It’s been a few weeks since we had a proper Doctor Who compilation video from the BBC’s official channel. This time, it’s “The Best of Series 7” part one. It covers Steven Moffat‘s third season as showrunner and the half of Matt Smith‘s final run as the Eleventh Doctor. It also marks Karen Gillen and Arthur Darvill‘s time on the show as Amy and Rory Pond. And… it’s a mess.
You could say this season was when Doctor Who entered its decadent stage. It was starting to feel tired. Moffat’s tropes were starting to feel repetitive. Perhaps he was feeling the strain of burning out and trying to come up with new ideas all the time. There was the surprise introduction of Jenna Coleman who would be taking over as the companion in the second half of the season (and probably featuring more prominently in part 2 of the “Best of Series 7” video). There was “Dinosaurs on a Spaceship”, which was a better script that Chris Chibnall wrote for the show than all of “Flux”. “A Town Called Malice” is probably the least convincing episode of the show in the modern era, where nobody in it acted like anyone ever did in the Old West but were clearly just cosplaying a Western, though it was still more entertaining than anything in Chibnall’s entire run.
It’s weird to look at this season of Moffat’s run of Doctor Who in the context of his current work on The Time Traveler’s Wife. Many of the themes and motifs he used in Doctor Who are repeated in the latter, and even more creepy and iffy than before. The recurring trope of the smart, dynamic woman who pines and waits for the hero was originally done with Amy Pond and repeated a lot more creepily with Clare in the HBO show. Amy and Rory choosing an act of love-suicide to save the day was an incredibly wrongheaded choice for a family show.
The Time Traveler’s Wife has Moffat revisiting many of his greatest hits from Doctor Who and his past shows like Coupling. Its many flaws have put Moffat’s Doctor Who run in a new light, with the filters of the adventure genre removed to show how problematic many of his recurring themes can get.
Doctor Who Series 7 is streaming on HBO Max in the US.