Is he a schemer: Yes. Does he enjoy manipulation: Yes. Is a showman: Yes. Is he one of the best writers of the last decade: that's debatable. Is Steven Moffat "out to watch the world burn?" Well, it depends on who you ask? Travelling in the circles that I do, I rub elbows with a lot of fans of Sherlock and Doctor Who, and more than a few of them are outspoken fans. (Aren't we all though?) Due to Steven Moffat pulling the puppet strings behind both series, devout fans will often discuss his role in these show's success, and more often that not, the opinion is divided. Today, I'd like to take a closer look at Steven Moffat - perhaps the world's most formidable evil genius.
I will preface this post with one disclaimer: I do like Moffat's work. Do I think that every word the man has ever entered into a Word processor has been pure gold: um...no. Like any writer, Steven Moffat has had his ups and downs, but in my opinion he's had more ups than downs, which has put me at odds with a number of other fans. So, in short, if what follows seems biased in anyway, it is probably because I am inclined to think that Moffat is a good writer, and surely one of the finest in television history.
A good story needs a good plot - that's pretty self-evident isn't it? The two go hand in hand and a clever, well-thought-out plot usually spawns a good story. I need to look no further than Doctor Who Series 5 to give evidence of Moffat's excellent plotting abilities. Series 5 was Moffat's first season as showrunner, having taken over after Russell T. Davies. Moffat managed to reinvent the show in a number of ways. He restored an air of seriousness to the proceedings. While there's nothing wrong with breezy entertaining viewing, Moffat's era added complexities unseen during the RTD years. Along with a dramatic tonal shift, Moffat tackled story-arcs head-on, and the arc in Series 5 is I think breath-taking in its complexities, the groundwork laid out in episode one and not resolved until the series finale. Watching Doctor Who became a game of "spot the clues" and piece them together, making the science fiction program an engaging experience. On a side note, the Series 5 finale, The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang is, in this writer's opinion, one of the finest television stories ever penned.
|Doctor Who Series 6 Promotional Material|
But what about Sherlock - this is a Sherlock Holmes-blog after all. Well, similarly Moffat's work on Sherlock has been fantastic, and his three contributions are among my favourite episodes of the show. A Scandal in Belgravia is one of the finest 90-minutes in television history, marked by some fine performances from Benedict Cumberbatch and Laura Pulver and extremely clever references to Conan Doyle's canon. A Scandal in Belgravia is my favourite episode of Sherlock. Moffat's other Sherlockian offerings are of equal quality: A Study in Pink showcases Moffat's predilection towards tight plots and His Last Vow, being the most serious episode so far, defined the characters extraordinarily well (and had that awe-inspiring surreal sequence in which Sherlock is shot).
|Mark Gatiss in character|
|Steven Moffat and comrade|