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Steven Moffat (#110 of 52)

Doctor Who Recap Season 10, Episode 12, “The Doctor Falls”

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Doctor Who Recap: Season 10, Episode 12, “The Doctor Falls”

BBC America

Doctor Who Recap: Season 10, Episode 12, “The Doctor Falls”

With “The Doctor Falls,” showrunner Steven Moffat caps off not one, but two story arcs which have run through the entirety of Doctor Who’s 10th season. One of these arcs has been so hidden in the background that its rising to the surface and resolution comes as a great surprise, while the other has been gradually developed throughout the 12 episodes. It all began as the mystery of what the Doctor (Peter Capaldi) and Nardole (Matt Lucas) were guarding in their secret vault in the basement of the university where they met Bill (Pearl Mackie). After we learned that the vault contained Missy (Michelle Gomez), the focus shifted to the Doctor’s attempts to rehabilitate her and resume their old friendship. The result of that effort was still in the balance when, in last week’s episode, they landed on a 400-mile-long spaceship containing both Cybermen (who captured and converted Bill into one of them) and Missy’s own prior incarnation, the Master (John Simm).

Doctor Who Recap Season 10, Episode 11, “World Enough and Time”

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Doctor Who Recap: Season 10, Episode 11, “World Enough and Time”

Simon Ridgway

Doctor Who Recap: Season 10, Episode 11, “World Enough and Time”

After a run of well-made, entertaining, but hardly top-tier Doctor Who episodes, this week’s “World Enough and Time” sees showrunner Steven Moffat return to form, beginning the wind-up of his last season with a bang. What must surely be the shortest teaser ever for a Doctor Who episode delivers a jolt of adrenaline immediately as we see the TARDIS land in an unknown snow-covered location and the Doctor (Peter Capaldi) stumble out, surrounded by the glow of regeneration energy but holding the process back by force of will. Rather than provide a conventional pre-titles prologue to the story of this particular episode, Moffat instead opts to insert a flash-forward to Capaldi’s imminent departure from the series, leaving an aura of impending doom hanging over the Doctor from the outset.

Doctor Who Recap Season 10, Episode 7, “The Pyramid at the End of the World”

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Doctor Who Recap: Season 10, Episode 7, “The Pyramid at the End of the World”

Simon Ridgway

Doctor Who Recap: Season 10, Episode 7, “The Pyramid at the End of the World”

In last week’s episode of Doctor Who, “Extremis,” the Doctor (Peter Capaldi) discovered that a group of macabre, monk-like aliens had been running a simulation of all human history to gather information and find the best point at which to launch an invasion of Earth. And in tonight’s episode, “The Pyramid at the End of the World,” we learn more about the threat as the Doctor, Bill (Pearl Mackie), and Nardole (Matt Lucas), along with the UNIT military organization, encounter the creatures at their base: a giant stone pyramid, which is five thousand years old but (impossibly) has only just appeared, in the fictional Middle Eastern country of Turmezistan.

Doctor Who Recap Season 10, Episode 6, "Extremis"

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Doctor Who Recap: Season 10, Episode 6, “Extremis”

BBC America

Doctor Who Recap: Season 10, Episode 6, “Extremis”

Tonight’s Doctor Who is a turning point for the season. After a run of standalone adventures for the Doctor (Peter Capaldi) and Bill (Pearl Mackie), by the end of “Extremis” we’re suddenly in the middle of a big multi-part tale. It feels quite similar to the way 2011’s mid-season finale, “A Good Man Goes to War,” finally resolved the long-running mystery of River Song’s identity, only for that resolution to send the season’s plot arc off in a whole new direction. Ever since “The Pilot,” we’ve been teased with the riddle of who or what is in the secret vault that the Doctor and Nardole (Matt Lucas) have been guarding, and why the Doctor took up this duty. “Extremis” fills in the answers to those questions, but it’s clearly only the prologue to a much larger story.

Doctor Who Recap Season 10, Episode 2, "Smile"

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Doctor Who Recap: Season 10, Episode 2, “Smile”

BBC America

Doctor Who Recap: Season 10, Episode 2, “Smile”

“Smile” is the second Doctor Who episode from screenwriter and novelist Frank Cottrell-Boyce. It’s a distinct improvement over the misfire of 2014’s “In the Forest of the Night,” which made the mistake of reducing the Doctor (Peter Capaldi) to a passive bystander, with no role to play in the resolution of that episode’s crisis. Here, the Doctor and Bill (Pearl Mackie) are at the center of the action throughout, and there’s a feeling of accomplishment for them at the end that was missing from “In the Forest of the Night.” Even so, there are points where the logic of the plot is rather strained, with a final ethical quandary that comes out of nowhere.

Doctor Who Recap 2016 Christmas Special, “The Return of Doctor Mysterio”

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Doctor Who Recap: 2016 Christmas Special, “The Return of Doctor Mysterio”

BBC America

Doctor Who Recap: 2016 Christmas Special, “The Return of Doctor Mysterio”

When the classic Doctor Who was first sold to Mexico in the 1960s, the show was retitled, with a stentorian voice declaiming “El doctor misterio!” at the opening of each Spanish-dubbed episode. According to Steven Moffat, showrunner of the present-day Doctor Who, this title—which the series still uses in Mexico—was the spark that served as the initial inspiration for this Christmas special, in which he creates a very enjoyable mash-up of Doctor Who and the superhero genre.

Doctor Who Recap 2015 Christmas Special, "The Husbands of River Song"

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Doctor Who Recap: 2015 Christmas Special, “The Husbands of River Song”

BBC America

Doctor Who Recap: 2015 Christmas Special, “The Husbands of River Song”

For this year’s Doctor Who Christmas special, showrunner Steven Moffat serves up a frothy combination of romantic comedy and broad farce, which gradually transforms into a poignant tying up of a long-running plot thread introduced as far back as 2008. In contrast to “Last Christmas,” the actual festive content of “The Husbands of River Song” is minimal. The opening sequence is set on Christmas Day in a far-future human colony (which, from its appearance, might as well be present-day Earth) where a simple case of mistaken identity causes the Doctor (Peter Capaldi) to be drawn into a scheme being run by his occasional wife, River Song (Alex Kingston). He’s disconcerted to find that, not only does she not recognize him, but her plan involves killing her husband, King Hydroflax (Greg Davies), with the help of yet another husband, Ramone (Phillip Rhys).

Doctor Who Recap Season 9, Episode 12, "Hell Bent"

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Doctor Who Recap: Season 9, Episode 12, “Hell Bent”

BBC America

Doctor Who Recap: Season 9, Episode 12, “Hell Bent”

As is Steven Moffat’s usual practice with the second half of a two-part story, the season finale of Doctor Who, “Hell Bent,” opens with a moment of maximum disorientation for the viewer. Last week, we saw the Doctor (Peter Capaldi) survive a torment that lasted for billions of years as he refused to provide information about the mysterious “Hybrid” creature prophesied to threaten the whole universe, breaking through at last to arrive on his homeworld, Gallifrey. Now, suddenly he’s a lonely drifter wandering into a Nevada diner and finding Clara (Jenna Coleman) behind the counter, neither of them apparently recognizing the other. He picks out Murray Gold’s “Clara” theme on his guitar and begins telling the story of how he came to be here.

Doctor Who Recap Season 9, Episode 11, "Heaven Sent"

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Doctor Who Recap: Season 9, Episode 11, “Heaven Sent”

BBC America

Doctor Who Recap: Season 9, Episode 11, “Heaven Sent”

In an interview given before this season began, Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat described “Heaven Sent” as the most difficult script of his entire career to write. In the light of that statement, perhaps the greatest achievement of this amazing episode is how effortless the unfolding of its narrative seems. Right from the opening, it feels completely natural that we’re watching only the Doctor (Peter Capaldi)—completely isolated, stuck in a place designed to be his own personal hell, and working his painful way out entirely by himself. All aspects of the production—writing, direction, design, music—come together in a tour de force of storytelling.

Doctor Who Recap Season 9, Episode 8, "The Zygon Inversion"

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Doctor Who Recap: Season 9, Episode 8, “The Zygon Inversion”

BBC America

Doctor Who Recap: Season 9, Episode 8, “The Zygon Inversion”

“The Zygon Inversion,” the best episode of this season of Doctor Who thus far, is a powerful conclusion to the story started last week. Writer Peter Harness places the Doctor (Peter Capaldi) and Clara (Jenna Coleman)—or, rather, Bonnie, Clara’s Zygon duplicate—on opposite sides of a confrontation that has even more blazing intensity than he provided at the climax of last season’s “Kill the Moon.” Showrunner and co-writer Steven Moffat’s handiwork is visible in the way the episode conforms to his usual practice with the second half of a two-parter: After a sprawling first half, the story’s focus is now confined almost exclusively to the regulars. There are practically no other on-screen characters (and only one other speaking part) besides the Doctor, Clara and Bonnie, UNIT leader Kate Stewart (Jemma Redgrave), who represents humanity in this conflict with the shape-shifting aliens, and scientist Osgood (Ingrid Oliver), who gets to be the Doctor’s companion while Clara is held captive.