Thursday, 5 November 2015

Davies vs. Moffat

When you meet other Doctor Who fans, they always end up you asking the same question. Becky did. Jon C did. That stranger I befriended on the bus did...

Who do I prefer - Russell T. Davies or Steven Moffat?


For those of you not in the know, both Davies and Moffat are showrunner on Doctor Who. This means they write the majority of the episodes, and steer the vision of the programme. Davies ran the show between 2005 and 2009, and Moffat has ruled since.

"Why does it matter?" I hear you cry. Well Doctor Who fans are a curious bunch; and often very opinionated! They want to know what you think to see if it mashes with their interpretation of the programme.

What's my thoughts on the matter then? Ha, funny you should ask! It just so happens I discuss it below ;)

The chief difference between the two men is this: Davies favours character over story, but with Moffat that's the opposite way around.

Look at 2007's Gridlock. Written by Davies, in it the Doctor lies to his companion, who is then kidnapped. He struggles against all the odds to get her back... because he feels guilty about lying, and owes her the true. The fact that this is set in the year 5 Billion, and there's Cat People and killer crabs is irrevelant. They merely add to the story created, by being fun well-rounded characters.

With Moffat however, things are different. If we look at his 2011 series, in it the daughter of his companions is stolen. This serves one story, albeit one without resolution. The next week, a seperate kid is in jeopardy - and his companions don't react emotionally truthfully (ie, they can relate to the parent's horror). They just behave the same as always!

If Davies had wrote Moffat's story, then that whole 2011 would have been based around the theme of parenthood.

If Moffat had wrote Davies', then those subtle character moments Davies injected would have been lost - replaced by more mechanics to the plot.

Which is best? Well, I'm of the belief that it's better to build stronger characters than stories. That's because strong characters create their own dilemmas, and drama. I don't think the opposite way around works.

To throw a spanner into the works, however...

Moffat's Doctor Who looks bloody gorgeous, doesn't it? Compare it to Davies' era, wirh its standard definition/over lit scenes, and it's far superior. Moffat makes Who LOOK cinematic and modern. Davies' has started to look dated, and I'm sorry, but a little bit cheap.

So... a Moffat story (let's use the example of the Gangers two-parter from 2011) looks bloody amazing... but it's as dull as anything due to a poor set of characters (and story). Meanwhile, Davies' work (let's look at series 3's The Lazarus Experiment) doesn't particularly look all that impressive - but at least it's never boring, as the characters are fun to be around, and the story makes emotionally satisfying sense.

That means it depends on how you approach the show. Do you want great visuals, let down by character - or the flips ide of that?

The answer, in my opinion, is simple:

There is no winner.

Davies has his strengths, as does Moffat.

In an ideal work you would have the scripts of Davies mixed with the visuals and production values of Moffat's. Wouldn't that be perfect?

As it stands though, I can appreciate the work of both men. Just in different ways
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