Steven Moffat Says Doctor Who is More Episodic than Serial

Considering the number of major story arcs that have been a large part of Doctor Who over the years, one would think that they are a focal point of the show. Well, Steven Moffat wants you to think again.

One of the ongoing themes during Doctor Who, particularly in the revival, has been the overarching storyline. Sometimes, these stories take a full season, or longer, to reach their conclusion. Nonetheless, little clues are brought in during most of the episodes, tidbits that fade into the background while the rest of the story takes place.

Considering Steven Moffat’s penchant for those longer tales, one would think that he considers them vital to the show. Instead, he feels the opposite, that Doctor Who should not devote large amounts of time to those extended stories.

“Within the run of the series, we always have something going on [in terms of a longer arc],” Moffat said. “But if you actually count the number of minutes devoted to it before it goes off in the finale, it’s not very large. Somehow, just magnetically, the story of the week always takes hold on Doctor Who – it’s always about the individual story.”

Really now? Considering that the Silence, or the cracks in time, or even the Bad Wolf themes all took quite a bit of time to unravel, that statement seems a little bizarre. However, there is some truth in it in that the overall time spent on that overarching story during each episode is minimal.

That does not mean that the time spent to establish and maintain these arcs is as limited as Moffat would have one believe. It is not an easy thing to quantify, but we are willing to bet that it is substantial. In keeping track of the little bits of information, and the overall direction that secondary story is taking, quite a bit of effort would need to be expended. Likewise, creating that story in the first place, and finding a way to keep it going over the course of a season or two, is not exactly an easy process.

But, you know, it is Steven Moffat. Perhaps, with these statements, he is telling us something else. It could be that, in Series Ten, we will not have that extended story going on in the background, leading to a more episodic season than has been the norm lately. Considering the changes that are upcoming, that may be a smart decision.

Maybe Doctor Who does not need overarching storylines, but that does not diminish their historic significance on the show. It seems strange to downplay the amount of time that is devoted to them.