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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: Silence in the Library (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.

Silence in the Library originally aired in 2008.

There’s the real world, and there’s the world of nightmares. That’s right, isn’t it? You understand that?

Yes, I know, Doctor Moon.

What I want you to remember is this, and I know it’s hard. The real world is a lie, and your nightmares are real.

– Cal and Doctor Moon get to the root of what makes Moffat scripts terrifying

Ah, Silence in the Library. The Steven Moffat story that isn’t, that doesn’t. The first Steven Moffat script that isn’t the strongest story in its season by a clear margin; the first Steven Moffat adventure that didn’t claim the Hugo for Doctor Who. The biggest problem with Silence in the Library and Forest of the Dead is that they can’t quite measure to The Empty Child, The Doctor Dances, The Girl in the Fireplace or Blink. That’s hardly an unforgivable sin, and there’s no shame in not being quite as good an episode of Doctor Who as Midnight was.

I’m quite fond of the two-parter, even though I’ll concede that it has its problems. The most obvious of which is the fact that – four years into the revival – the audience has had a chance to come to appreciate “Moffat-isms”, with many viewers able to recognise the writer’s preferred genre tricks and tropes. Silence in the Library is far from the most original script of the season, but it’s well written and well executed.

It’s just a little too familiar.

Going by the book on this one...

Going by the book on this one…

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