After spending half a day working on an article accusing Steven Moffat of lacking a sense of social responsibility, I realized I had to take a look at the good he’s done too. I’m not saying I’m retracting my statements! I stand behind what I said, but I cannot deny his positive influence on Doctor Who because his era did give us some truly defining moments. Whether from his pen or some of the writers that came during his era, social responsibility did come and I cannot deny the merit of those moments. It’s when we can see the magic come through the screen and into the real world. Sometimes it’s just the right words; maybe an important speech, but that’s all it takes to make a difference. I’m talking about those speeches that define the character not just those epic ones like at The Rings of Akhaten or the trap speech of The Time of the Angels or the victory at the Pandorica in The Pandorica Opens. I mean those lines, maybe spoken in a single sentence or a paragraph, that sum up why the Doctor is our hero. We already know why he’s a hero in fiction; we’ve had 55 years of the show to demonstrate that. But sometimes heroes come through the fiction they inhabit and can exist in the real world…
The Doctor explains to Amy that even though bad things happen, good can always triumph. (I think this can also explain why we watch Doctor Who):
The way I see it, every life is a pile of good things and bad things. Hey. The good things don’t always soften the bad things, but vice versa, the bad things don’t necessarily spoil the good things or make them unimportant. And we definitely added to his pile of good things. (Vincent and the Doctor)
During one of Moffat’s early stories, he introduced River Song, who understood what the Doctor was all about: the hero that never gives up.
Everybody knows that everybody dies and nobody knows it like the Doctor. But I do think that all the skies of all the worlds might just turn dark if he ever for one moment, accepts it. (Forest of the Dead)
He is a hero who appreciates everyone he meets:
In 900 years of time and space, I’ve never met anyone who wasn’t important. (A Christmas Carol)
And recognizes what people are worth:
Human progress isn’t measured by industry, it’s measured by the value you place on a life. An unimportant life. A life without privilege. The boy who died on the river, that boy’s value is your value. That’s what defines an age. That’s what defines a species. (Thin Ice)
And he knows how to make his friends feel special:
In amongst seven billion, there’s someone like you. That’s why I put up with the rest of them. (The Lie of the Land)
A hero who is worth following:
I am and always will be the optimist. The hoper of far-flung hopes and the dreamer of improbable dreams. (The Rebel Flesh/The Almost People)
A hero who wants to experience the awe and wonder of the universe:
Because it goes so fast. I’m not running away from things, I am running to them. Before they flare and fade forever. (The Power of Three)
A hero who knows that miracles are real:
The universe is big. It’s vast and complicated and ridiculous. And sometimes, very rarely, impossible things just happen and we call them miracles. (The Pandorica Opens)
He knows what love is…
Because love is not an emotion: love is a promise. (Death in Heaven)
And what forgiveness is:
Do you think I care for you so little that betraying me would make any difference? (Dark Water)
A hero that fights for peace:
When you fire that first shot, no matter how right you feel, you have no idea who’s going to die! You don’t know whose children are going to scream and burn. How many hearts will be broken? How many lives shattered? How much blood will spill until everybody does what they were always going to have do from the very beginning. Sit down and talk!
And a hero who knows that to do what’s right is rarely ever easy:
I’m not trying to win. I’m not doing this because I want to beat someone, because I hate someone, or because I want to blame someone. It’s not because it’s fun. God knows it’s not because it’s easy. It’s not even because it works because it hardly ever does. I do what I do because it’s right! Because it’s decent! And above all, it’s kind! It’s just that… Just kind. If I run away today, good people will die. If I stand and fight, some of them might live. Maybe not many, maybe not for long. Hey, you know, maybe there’s no point to any of this at all. But it’s the best I can do. So I’m going to do it. And I’m going to stand here doing it until it kills me. … Who I am is where I stand. Where I stand is where I fall. (The Doctor Falls)
And a hero who gives some damned good advice, even to himself. (Repeated from yesterday because it’s worth it…):
Never be cruel, never be cowardly, and never, ever eat pears! Remember, hate is always foolish. And love is always wise. Always try to be nice, but never fail to be kind. Oh, and you mustn’t tell anyone your name. No one would understand it, anyway. Except…except children. Children can hear it sometimes. If their hearts are in the right place, and the stars are too, children can hear your name. But nobody else. Nobody else, ever. Laugh hard, run fast, be kind. (Twice Upon a Time).
I don’t think Moffat was a bad writer. I think he lost sight of the importance of keeping the hero in the Doctor in an attempt to seem “edgy”. But sometimes the important stuff gets through anyway despite those mistakes. Writing responsibly can lead to some truly epic moments like these. When we see what makes the Doctor heroic, we can all learn a thing or two. They are lessons for fans and non-fans. Maybe only the die-hard Doctor Who fans will come here and read these quotes, but maybe they’ll say them to a non-fan and that person will spread it. Or maybe someone will say one of those quotes and create a domino effect of people tuning into the Doctor’s adventures because what they heard mattered to them. And friends and nephews and cousins and coworkers that don’t even watch the show… maybe they’ll suddenly jump on board because they realize we know something that they don’t. We have a proper hero.
That’s why we watch Doctor Who. That’s who the Doctor is. And that’s who we are. ML