It's no secret that the writing quality for Doctor Who has declined in recent years. It wasn't exactly on masterful level to begin with, but now the average episode quality is barely above average if you ask me.
While series 5, Steven Moffat's first season, was consistently strong with many great TV episodes, series 6 was a mixed bag and series 7 was, lets be honest, rather mediocre.
It seems that the inevitable effect of the fanbase lowering their expectations out of desperation for satisfaction has occurred as well. It occurs to me that Who fans are accepting mediocrity as if its great. Recent episodes Cold War and Hide for Doctor Who series 7 are perfect examples of this. While they are both decent, solid episodes, the praise for them when they first came out were overwhelmingly generous. People were acting as if they were some of the best Dr Who stories ever.
Guys, really? They are good stories but that's all. They were not some of the best stories in the show's history. Overall, I wouldn't consider any stories from series 7 to be of a truly brilliant quality. Hardly any of them were above average/fairly good to be honest. Some episodes, such as Asylum of the Daleks (seriously overrated) and the Angels take Manhattan were mildly entertaining but lacked any sort of narrative sense. Stories such as Hide (to some extent) and Journey to the Centre of the Tardis were just uninteresting for the most part with a few moments of genuine excitement here and there. Meanwhile, stories such as Nightmare in Silver, while not bad, were nevertheless disappointing and could have been so much better.
Now I can understand that Steven Moffat and his fellow writers have a lot on their plates and I really can sympathise, or at least I could if it wasn't for the fact that it is clear Moffat and his buddies are not even trying that hard to create good television.
That seems harsh, but let me justify my point. Steven Moffat is the lead writer of 2 popular British TV shows, and for one of them, even though it doesn't have that many episodes to it, Moffat and his friends Stephen Thompson and Mark Gatiss pour their hearts and souls into the script writing for it. They supply one of the shows with intricate, interesting and dramatic narratives and complex, interesting, multi dimensional main characters, as well as well constructed plot twists and great dialogue. I bet you can guess which one of Moffat's shows I am referring to at this time...
Yes, Sherlock. The brilliantly written TV series written by Moffat, Mark and Stephen Thompson. Yet, despite all 3 of them providing great writing and thus great television in the form of Sherlock, every year they keep lowering their game when it comes to Dr Who. So these 3 guys, who year after year have written intricate, intelligent, masterful stories for Sherlock, have constantly dropped the ball when it came to the awesome Sci-Fi series with a 50 year legacy and a HUGE fanbase which loves the franchise to bits. WTF?!
Why is it that these guys can only make the effort to provide qualitative output for one of their two shows? Why is it that Whovians have to suffer because Moffat and his friends cannot bother to put half the effort into writing Dr Who that they do when writing for Sherlock?
And the problem hasn't even started with Moffat. In 2009, Russell T Davies, the previous showrunner, was guilty of doing exactly the same thing. In 2009, he gave us Torchwood, Children of Earth, one of the finest Sci-fi drama series ever put on TV. That same year he gave us 3 Dr Who specials. Two of them were average at best, and only one of them was great. (which was the Waters of Mars, which wasn't even entirely Davies' work as it was co written as opposed to the other specials)
So both show runners of the revived series, as well as many other writers for the show, are all guilty of treating the immensely popular Dr Who as a second rate product with a low priority of success. Seriously, why is it that the writers do so much better with every other project they work on that isn't Dr Who? Now I know the series is hard to write for multiple reasons, but even still, it can be done. Steven Moffat for instance has proven that many times with stories such as The Empty Child, Blink and The Big Bang under his belt. Its not like these guys are incapable of giving us masterfully developed Dr Who stories... so why are they constantly dropping the ball these days?
What about recently, such as when Mark Gatiss wrote An Adventure in Space and Time? That documentary was a brilliant piece of work the man delivered, I can't deny that. Yet at the same time, it annoys me to no end that this is the best piece of Dr Who related media Mark has ever written. That's right, one little documentary which served as a subsidiary product to the 50th anniversary special was given more effort, focus and dedication from one of Dr Who's most prominent writers than any of his actual Dr Who stories have been given in the last 8 years. Why is it that Mark did better with a nostalgic documentary than he did with any of his actual Dr Who episodes?
Dr Who documentaries should not be of a higher priority than Dr Who itself, no matter how great they might be. While I think all these other works of Moffat, Gatiss and the other writers are generally really great pieces of TV, I cannot fully appreciate them due to the fact that I know these things are compromising Moffat's dedication to Dr Who, one of my all time favourite TV shows. While I loved Children of Earth and Sherlock, I don't see why their existence should prevent Dr Who from being equally as awesome.
So what is the best solution? The writers should at least try if not succeed to deliver a quality of Dr Who episodes that are just as good as Children of Earth, or an episode of Sherlock, or any Dr Who based documentary. If that really is too much work for them, which I can understand, then I strongly suggest Moffat and pals make a decision over what they want to do. Solely focus on Dr Who or focus on other projects and allow someone else a little more dedicated to take over?
I don't want to go on a long rant against Steven Moffat as I really like some of his previous works, and even some of his current ones. But regardless, it needs to be said that something needs to be done regarding the currently declining quality of Dr Who. The show cannot continue to keep getting worse like this. The show and its fans (as whiney as some of them can be) deserve better, especially with the long waits the showrunner is making them go through for new episodes. (Seriously series 8 doesn't begin until late 2014. Well Steven, you can at least make this long wait worth while by using the extra time you have given yourself into upgrading the quality of Dr Who, because that is an essential task right now)
What do you think? Do you think the writing is getting worse and does it need to be improved? Do you have any solutions for the current dilemma? Let me know your thoughts...