As new series of Sherlock and Doctor Who approach, is showrunner Steven Moffat preparing to open his predictable old box of tricks again?
I’ve loved the over-the-top theatricality of the Eleventh Doctor, Matt Smith. I’ve loved the married-couple-travelling-in-the-TARDIS dynamic that is Amy and Rory’s relationship. I’ve loved the terrifying storylines such as “there’s a crack in my wall” and the stunning revelations that have been hinted all along (Amy has been replaced by a flesh avatar, her true self has been kidnapped and is nine months pregnant and is ready to pop with baby River Song). But I think I speak for a legion of Whovians when I say that showrunner Steven Moffat is all about the build-up, but he fails pretty badly at the pay-off. And as a massive fan of Sherlock, I am slightly worried that history is about to repeat itself.
I’m torn between affection for the characters Steven Moffat has created and dissatisfaction over the story threads he’s left dangling
I’m torn between great affection for the characters Moffat has created and dissatisfaction over the story threads he has left dangling. For example, why did the TARDIS explode? When does the Doctor tell River his name? Why will the Doctor’s name bring about the fall of the universe? Unless these threads are tied neatly with bows in the Christmas special, from which I will eat my words and my laptop in disgrace, questions raised since series five have been left either unanswered or warped until they are forced to make sense (a crime the anniversary episode was guilty of, even though it was awesome).
The episode left us with the promise of the ‘fall of the Eleventh’ at Trenzalore, even though Matt Smith’s Doctor is definitely the Twelfth, a question that will be asked even though no one seems to know the answer, and a Doctor who has run out of regenerations (so how is he managing to regenerate in Peter Capaldi at all?). Moffat will likely find a way for it to make sense, I’m just not sure how satisfied the fans are going to be if given another lukewarm explanation. I think I speak for everyone when I say a huge, blindingly brilliant revelation is in order to explain everything that has been teased. I want to feel like I did when it was revealed that Jack was the Face of Boe.
This brings me to Sherlock. At the end of season two, as fans know, Sherlock jumped off a four-storey building and supposedly died, leaving a dead body all bloody on the pavement and a mate very much in mourning. So my concerns are these: firstly, Moffat is going to give us (and when I say us, I mean the fans who have gone over the final episode with a fine tooth comb for clues as to how he faked his death) a less-than-satisfactory solution. Or something so simple that it is infuriating. But then there’s the line in the trailer that makes me very nervous. John Watson says to Sherlock: “I don’t care how you faked it. I want to know why.”
Watson tells Sherlock in the series three trailer: “I don’t care how you faked it. I want to know why.” Does this mean we never find out?
Is anyone else hugely concerned that this translates to: we NEVER find out? Surely Moffat wouldn’t do that to us – or would he? Doctor Who offered an infuriating solution to the Doctor’s death (as well as Rory’s deaths around six times, but let’s not go there). In series six, the gang witnessed the Doctor shot to death on a beach. We were told again and again that it is a fixed point in time and he was definitely dead, only to find out he was actually inside a robot version of himself, so he survived. In short, this was the naffest way out of a storyline ever. EVER.
Another storyline which started off promisingly then ended up being shite was the kidnap of Amy and Rory’s daughter. Baby Melody Pond was kidnapped, and the Doctor (and River) promised that he would find and take care of her. Except he didn’t actually find her, and it turned out that Melody found Amy and Rory when they were children and grew up with them. The line, I believe, was: “See? You got to raise me after all.” And just like that, the fact that Amy and Rory had their newborn daughter snatched from them and never to see them again was barely a problem. But what about human emotion, Moffat?
This brings me to my second concern for Sherlock. Since Watson is about to find out that his best friend, who he had to witness commit suicide (which surely left him with trauma as well as grief), is actually alive and well, surely his reaction needs to be unequivocal fury? Surely it’s not going to take five minutes before the two of them are solving crimes together once more? And yet it’s looking more and more likely that that is exactly what happens.
To sum up, Steven Moffat: For the Doctor Who Christmas Special, please give us fantastic, “of course!” solutions to our many, many questions. For Sherlock season three, please give us a fantastic juicy “why didn’t we think of that?!” solution to the fall. And please don’t downplay human emotion, because when you have ever-so-slightly-obsessed fans, you can’t keep getting away with these things. And for heaven’s sake, stop using the “they’re definitely dead…oh wait no they’re not because I rebooted the universe/was lying/landed in a rubbish lorry/was a large robot with a small version of myself inside/was living in a dream world.” It’s getting old.
All images: BBC