Doctor Who: Why Steven Moffat Wrote His Best Episodes in the Davis Era


Russell T. Davis and Steven Moffat were two of the most influential showrunners of Doctor Who. When the series was relaunched in 2005, Russell T. Davis oversaw the development of seasons 1-4 of Doctor Who, and Steven Moffat directed seasons 5-10. Chris Chibnall became the showrunner of Doctor Who after the departure of Steven Moffat. The difference between Moffat and Davis as showrunners and screenwriters is important to understand, because although Moffat controlled Doctor Who for several years, he wrote his best episodes, and Russell T. Davis was the showrunner.

Steven Moffat wrote a total of six episodes during the Russell T Davies era of Doctor Who. He began by writing the first season of Doctor Who, episodes 9 and 10, The Empty Child and The Doctor Dances. For the 4th episode of the 2nd season of Doctor Who, he wrote the romantic episode “Empty Fireplace” and introduced dangerous Crying Angels in the terrifying but brilliant episode of the 10th episode of the 3rd season of Doctor Who, “Blinking”. He concluded his episodes in the Davis era with a two-part story in Doctor Who season 4, episodes 8 and 9, “Silence in the Library” and “Forest of the Dead”, which featured the Doctor’s wife, River Song. With the exception of “Silence in the Library” and “Forest of the Dead,” all of Moffat’s episodes written during the Davis era won the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Production: Short Form and gained a reputation as one of the best and most influential episodes. in all of Doctor Who.

After Steven Moffat was promoted to showrunner, his storylines became much larger and more complex as he focused on the conspiracies around the Doctor, which often took several seasons to uncover. Moffat’s best episodes were simple, independent and entertaining. They demonstrated what made Russell T. Davis such a successful showrunner. Davis could allow writers like Moffat to express themselves, while ensuring that stories were accessible to both new and returning audiences. Davis’ restrictions on Moffat made his work good. While Moffat’s legacy as the “Doctor Who” showrunner was to create the best and worst of “Doctor Who,” as a screenwriter under Davis, he created only high-quality episodes.

What the future of “Doctor Who” looks like with the return of Davis

Moffat’s most famous episodes were written when Davis was the showrunner of Doctor Who, because they were complete, self-contained stories that were easy to follow and that reached a satisfactory conclusion by the end of the episode. For example, “Blink” follows Sally Sparrow and her fun with Crying Angels in only one episode, because her story has come to a natural end. Moffat’s earlier episodes show that Davis, as a showrunner, is well versed in managing the overarching Doctor Who stories, giving the writers the opportunity to tell their individual stories. A more extended form of Moffat’s narrative can be seen in how Moffat, over the course of several seasons, uncovers the mysteries surrounding characters such as River Song or Missy in the role of the Master.

The return of Russell T Davies as the showrunner of Doctor Who in 2023 is good news for the series because it can give its writers the space and support they need to tell their own unique stories, as demonstrated by Steven Moffat’s most brilliant episodes. Davis can also help re-introduce Doctor Who to a whole new audience thanks to the way he balances individual episodes in combination with the overall storylines of the season. Moffat’s stand-alone episodes prove that with the right guidance, each episode of Doctor Who can be an opportunity to be creative and tell a complete story that both viewers and critics like. It’s because of this balance that Doctor Who needs Russell T. Davis now more than ever.

Of course, every Doctor Who showrunner brings something unique to the show. Some viewers may prefer longer story arcs during Moffat’s time as a showrunner rather than one-off adventures. However, the brilliance of Moffat’s early episodes in the Davis era cannot be denied, as the few awards they have received can prove. Remembering Moffat’s best episodes in Doctor Who, viewers should be thrilled with what brilliant stand-alone stories will appear under the direction of Russell T Davies when he returns as showrunner in 2023.


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