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X-Over: The X-Files & Steven Moffat’s Doctor Who

It goes without saying that The X-Files was a massively influential television show. As early as its second season, the show had launched all manner of imitations and copycats, both inside and outside the Fox Network. It seems quite likely that Fox invested two-and-a-half million dollars in the failed Doctor Who relaunch of 1996 in the hopes of spinning off another cult/mainstream science-fiction hit like The X-Files. It was launched as a two-hour television movie, failing to earn the rating necessary to spin it off into a weekly series.

However, although the 1996 telemovie provides an obvious point of intersection between The X-Files and Doctor Who, the influence of The X-Files can perhaps be most keenly felt in Steven Moffat’s work on the relaunched television series. Moffat is credited as the producer who helped the show to “break” America during his second year as showrunner, and he did so in a number of ways. Perhaps the most interesting is that he leaned rather heavily on The X-Files as a point of cultural intersection.

Shades of greys...

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Doctor Who: Forest of the Dead (Review)

To celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the longest-running science-fiction show in the world, I’ll be taking weekly looks at some of my own personal favourite stories and arcs, from the old and new series, with a view to encapsulating the sublime, the clever and the fiendishly odd of the BBC’s Doctor Who.

Forest of the Dead originally aired in 2008.

Everybody knows that everybody dies. But not every day. Not today. Some days are special. Some days are so, so blessed. Some days, nobody dies at all. Now and then, every once in a very long while, every day in a million days, when the wind stands fair, and the Doctor comes to call, everybody lives.

– River brings Moffat’s contributions to the Davies era a full circle

There’s actually quite a lot to like about Forest of the Dead. Like Silence in the Library, it doesn’t really push Moffat’s work on Doctor Who that much further. A lot of its big ideas can be found in Moffat’s earlier Doctor Who work. Still, it is quite clever and quite well-written, and a pretty well-constructed episode. This is, after all, the last episode of the Davies era that is not credited to Davies himself. Given it’s written by the showrunner elect, that celebratory feel is justified.

At the same time, however, there are some very uncomfortable gender roles at work in Forest of the Dead for female characters like Donna or River. Moffat would come under a lot of fire during his tenure producing Doctor Who for the way that he wrote female characters, but I’d actually argue that the problems with Forest of the Dead are more in keeping with wider Davies-era trends towards the way that female characters are written.

It just clicked...

It just clicked…

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Doctor Who: A Good Man Goes to War (Review)

To celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the longest-running science-fiction show in the world, I’ll be taking weekly looks at some of my own personal favourite stories and arcs, from the old and new series, with a view to encapsulating the sublime, the clever and the fiendishly odd of the BBC’s Doctor Who.

A Good Man Goes to War originally aired in 2011.

Demons run when a good man goes to war.

Night will fall and drown the sun, when a good man goes to war.

Friendship dies and true love lies,

Night will fall and the dark will rise,

When a good man goes to war.

Demons run but count the cost.

The battle’s won, but the child is lost.

A Good Man Goes to War is pretty much the epitome of Moffat’s “let’s cram as much as possible into forty-five minutes” approach to Doctor Who. This is the episode directly following Matt Smith’s last proper two-part adventure, and it firmly sets the status quo for the rest of the Eleventh Doctor’s tenure. Moffat doesn’t opt for two-parters after this point, and you can see the roots of the “blockbuster” approach he adopted for the show’s fiftieth season.

A Good Man Goes to War has enough crammed into it to sustain a bombastic Russell T. Davies season finalé. There’s character arcs, betrayal, redemption, heroism, continuity, twists and radical game-changers – all bursting at the seams of this episode. There’s a staggering amount of ambition powering A Good Man Goes to War, and even attempting to do all this in the course of a single episode earns Moffat a significant amount of respect.

What’s even more impressive is that A Good Man Goes to War manages to carry it all off.

The Doctor goes with the flow…

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