Dear Steven Moffat: Knock Knock

Dear Steven,

As a man brought up by his Mother, a single parent, nursing a lifelong close identification with his old dear, I can imagine I’d do almost anything to keep her going. All mother’s boys feel this of course, and they dread their infant teat merchant becoming decrepit. No one wants to be the responsible one and nobody, and I mean, nobody, wants to wake up one dreary morning, likely a Sunday, and realise that unconditional love is a thing of the past, along with the all the good stuff that comes with it; comforts of childhood like your walking womb’s homemade cheesecake (actually bought from Tesco Express), and idiot advice like, ‘a walk a day cleanses the mind’.

Consequently, millions of manchildren watched Mike Bartlett’s “Knock Knock” and empathised with creepy Hercule Suchet, who’d accidentally gifted his materfamilias a parasitic alien woodlouse that cured her terminal 1930’s aliment (fascism?) by turning her into a humanoid tree. Poirot, grateful to the extra-terrestrial bugs for saving him from the orphanage, intuited that the invigorating isopods would need sustenance to keep them and Mumsy healthy.

He also learned, though it wasn’t clear how, that every 20 years they required a glutinous blowout. His solution was to rent out the eerie family house to students who, in a wry comment on exploitative landlords, found problems with the place coming out of the woodwork.

Sure, this seemed like a risk, as one would think that disappearing students, with concerned parents lurking in the background, would have their absence noticed quickly, and the fact that each and every one of them were last seen at the same address, and that cohorts of missing kids kept registering it just prior to vanishing without trace, might arouse suspicion. But fortunately, David Marple’s character must have chosen young men and women nobody gave a fuck about, as he’d been getting away with it for 80 years.

This apparent plothole was somewhat mitigated by having Bill and her feckless, one dimensional University friends (has she enrolled now, I thought she worked in the canteen) be the latest batch of victims. One had to suspend one’s disbelief that the Landlord from hell, who like a mother lovin’ Fred West, liked his tenants in the walls, would be unlucky enough to dole out a tenancy agreement to the Doctor’s companion. But with stock characters this boorish, (one actually says, ‘I’m a celebrity get me out of here’), there was no doubting their expendability.

A lesser man would make jokes about wooden performances but I’m not going there. I only say once again that with an episodic rather than serial format, where supporting casts change by the week, it takes writing of wit and economy to get characters in quick and make us care about them. Frequently, your team fail to do this. I can’t even be sure they’ve thought about it.

There was something sad, perhaps touching, about Poirot’s devotion to his Ma – an obsession that had left him alone and housebound, and her senile, unable to remember who he was. But watching the denouement, with Eliza convincing her pensionable boy that they’d had their woodchips and should do the decent thing and be eaten, I couldn’t help but think that your writers have been briefed not to worry about internal plot logic provided they can deliver strong emotional beats.

Like last week’s “Thin Ice”, “Knock Knock” – thought to be so good by you it was named twice, made little sense once end credits had rolled. Why was Pavel’s absence ignored for so long? Because Bartlett read the part of the series bible that demands you foreshadow the threat by engineering a kill, pre-titles. It was odd that no one looked for him, given they were still moving in, but what can you do? You can’t unkill him. Except you can, and Bartlett did – inexplicably wussing out on loading the story with consequences by pressing the reset button and having the lice mysteriously restore the lost characters. If they could do that, why was it necessary for them to be absorbed in the first place? And couldn’t Eliza have had them restore her, ending her wooden torment? Why was she special?

But as Mike Bartlett didn’t give a shit about any of this, why should we? Still, having scribes that actually thought through plot complications and made the horrors of the Whoniverse matter by producing real corpses, would really tickle my balls. What do you think, Steven – maybe have a word? Oh yes, the series is in the can. Nevermind.

Yours in time and cyberspace,

Ed

P.S: When Bill, in her latest annoying Q&A session, prompted the Doctor to talk about regeneration, there was a moment of uncomfortable silence. We know the old man’s time is nearly up but here was the first suggestion that maybe he too has access to the Internet.

P.P.S: Bill dared to mock the Time Lords. For me this is conclusive evidence that she should not be in the TARDIS.

P.P.P.S: Another week, another nod to Bill’s dead Mother (here represented by a wall mounted picture). Given the overarching theme of the episode, this made sense, but why in fuck’s name has this so-called inquisitive character, who apparently never misses a trick, not yet asked the Doctor to use his time machine and reunite them? Is she afraid to ask or just worried about coming out to her ‘80s parent? Could Bill’s mother be a Tory?

P.P.P.P.S: Bill’s a fan of Little Mix, huh? Well colour me surprised.

P.P.P.P.P.S: I liked the Doctor’s Quincy Jones anecdote. More anecdotes from Peter Capaldi please. Yes, I know it’s too late to ask this now.

The Old Man’s Last Stand

Christmas 2016:

Christmas 2015:

The Old Man and the C: 

The Clara Oswald Show:

Smith – The Dark Suit Jacket Years: 

Smith in his Pomp:

Deep Time:

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