Dear Steven Moffat: The Girl Who Waited

Dear Steven,

The day is coming when a parcel will arrive at your office. Inside, you’ll find my Doctor Who script; forty five perfect pages of mystery, intrigue, gut wrenching emotion, suspense, heartbreak, soaring imagination, wit, wonder and family friendly eroticism. The working title, Mungo’s Mongos, will initially make you uneasy but curiosity will consume you like Koch’s disease, and you’ll read on. When you reach the foot of the final page you’ll snap back to reality, as though waking from a dream, to find your long abandoned cigarette no more than a worm of ash hanging from a filter and your mug hooked on your  limp hand, the contents now a drying stain on the rug.

Yes, you’ll love that script Steven, and you’ll declare there and then, to the Gods of Television, that not so much as a letter will be changed. What you’re holding, you’ll realise, is a BAFTA, an EMMY, a future piece of Television history. To mark it would be tantamount to cultural vandalism.

Your respect for my work will of course be appropriate and show great taste on your part, but your reluctance to interfere with submissions from young writers should not extend to everybody. I’m a special case. Instead, let’s consider the work of Tom MacRae, the wordsmith responsible for tonight’s Pond-a-thon, The Girl Who Waited.

MacRae included much in his script that a young buck might think of as fun, and may be to younger viewers, but was, to my eyes and ears, poison – an irritant that caused spluttering and fits of uncontrollable rage. First and foremost you should know that serious Whovians associate pop culture references with kitsch and consider it to be a symptom of laziness; the sort of idiotic grab for the attention of young viewers that both instantly dates episodes and punctures the unreality bubble of this sensational fairytale with unwanted reminders of the world we hoped to leave behind.

The episode was barely a couple of minutes old when The Doctor put his foot in it, making a reference to Twitter – a nod that MacRae will have included in an act of cynical calculation to make those tweeting during transmission very excited but only succeeded in making me let out a loud groan, a sound similar to an grizzly bear’s orgasm.

He followed that up with a declaration that the TARDIS contains a set of DVDs. This seemed to me nonsensical for two reasons. If The Doctor were into films and box sets of old TV programmes, surely the man who can visit any point in history would enjoy a format more advanced that one that’s already obsolete in the present day? He’d have a fully immersive four dimensional neuro-plug in, no? If the DVDs are Amy’s and Rory’s, then are we to infer he wasted hours transferring the contents of their shelves to the TARDIS’s film library? Why would you take a couple who, offered the chance to explore any point in time and space, insist on taking The Complete House Season 6 with them? Y’know, maybe this trip of a lifetime thing isn’t for them. I once went on holiday with a girl who insisted on staying in her chalet all day, reading. The sort of people who go away to do what they do at home, only in different surroundings, aren’t the sort of people we need in the TARDIS. They’re idiots.

MacRae followed up these unwanted intruders from real life with The Doctor making a Sat Nav analogy and the revelation that Clom has a Disneyland. Steven, please, I’m begging you, use your red pencil and start putting a line through this shit. Insist your writers take their science fiction seriously, else what’s the point, huh? If I want kitsch I’ll fire up my copy of Rocky Horror, knowhattamean?

So, that aside, let’s talk about the meat of the episode. Two things disturbed me. The site of Rory wandering around Apalapucia with the Time Glass, a lens so large that he looked like a borrower trying to handle Sherlock Holmes’ magnifying glass, and those irritating hand bots that repeated the now well worn device of being intimidating by repeating a simple statement with underlying menace. Could you veto this too please? It’s beginning to get on my Rorys.

This was, despite some lapses in presentation, an engaging story. I was confounded by the science-babble and immediately suspected that even Tom MacRae wasn’t sure how the temporal physics of the waiting room worked, but Amy spending decades in isolation, imagining herself to be abandoned, was a solid idea, and one greatly enhanced by Karen Gillan’s convincing performance as the embittered middle aged version. Her body may have looked the same but her facial prosthetics were credible and I liked the way she modulated her voice to sound older, making a good fist of portraying a much more senior individual.

The episode also brought out the best in Rory, who irritatingly, grows on me week by week. We don’t see Amy develop much these days, she seems content to hang around her husband and exchange quips but Arthur Darvill, perhaps sensing a gap opening up in the companion market, is maturing nicely. His character is deepening before our very eyes. One day I may even stop wishing him dead but Rory, we’re not there yet.

Rory’s concern for his wife felt sincere, as did Amy’s love for her man, but one thing that MacRae forgot about was the couple’s missing baby, Melody. Last week she went unmentioned but as that episode was shown out of sequence, that was hardly a surprise. In The Girl Who Waited it was an odd omission, not least because Amy spent 36 years, or one late nineties Oasis Album, in solitude, contemplating her wasted life. You’d think that in addition to Rory and The Doctor, she might have thought about missing out on motherhood and the child she’d never see again but no, she didn’t consider Melody once, not even in her final moments. The Doctor can, it seems, call off the search – Mummy couldn’t give a Sontaran’s dick.

Still, there were touching moments and there would have been many more had Amy spent 36 years trapped with me. The sentiment at the close was fine, if a little obvious, but Amy talking about how Rory grew on her and that lovely little scene in which the couple shared a joke, Amy’s first for four decades, was welcome. A little more of that might have made it a very moving episode. As it stood, it flirted with being moving, occasionally reminding you of what that might feel like.

One thing I did wonder about was the show’s ongoing vendetta against alternate Amys. You’ll recall that her ganger was brutally murdered back in The Almost People, because The Doctor, despite wittering on about their sentient nature and right to life, saw the duplicate as a problem. Tonight, true to form, he killed another one, ostensibly because the TARDIS couldn’t manage the paradox, but actually because The Doctor HATES Amy duplicates of whatever stripe. I knew he’d shut the door on her Steven, I could see it in his sunken eyes. Is he just attached to the original for sentimental reasons or, as I strongly suspect, and the nation is beginning to suspect, he’s determined to kill Rory’s chances of that sensational threesome out of sheer unbridled jealously?

I await your confirmation on that last point.

Yours in time and cyberspace,


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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. It’s becoming increasingly conspicuous that they’ve dropped the loss of their daughter from the series, isn’t it? It’s a little tricky judging that story before it’s resolved, but it’s becoming jarring in it’s absence.

    • Last week, fair enough – we all know that one was a holdover from the first half of the series, but it was downright peculiar in this one. The premise, you’d have thought, would give Amy ample opportunity for reflection, especially on recent events. This being the first Amy-centric episode since Let’s Put Hitler in the Cupboard, it was an obvious theme to pick up. Still, I suspect it was written long before Moffat shared his twist with his team and maybe, just maybe, visiting scribes are told to eschew arc references in stand alone episodes to give Moffat maximum wriggle room. This may be why Moffat’s are conspicious amongst their bretheren for being the only ones that develop his themes. The ganger two parter was different I suppose, in that it relied on foreknowledge of the master plan to work properly, but even there I suspected that Moffat had got the script first, saw the opportunity to use an element of it as a plot device to compliment his story, and then had it engineered to fit, rather than the other way around. A by-product of the way the show is produced then, rather than writer error, maybe, but it annoys me. If you’re going to have an arc, allow it to bleed into non-arc episodes, else there’s a danger they become disposable. I don’t want it to be a space soap you understand, I just want to feel as though each episode advances things a little, if only in a line or a single scene. I don’t really like stand alone episodes anyway. They’re too quick for my taste. I’d prefer a season comprised of several two or three part stories. Doctor Who was always better as a serial.

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