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Wibbly Wobbly Timey Wimey Stuff

Steven Moffat Adds To Our Doctor Who Companion Confusion


With Doctor Who Season 7B premiering this weekend on BBC America, a new chapter to the mystery novel that is Companion Clara will be revealed. We sat in on a press conference call with Steven Moffat this week where we tried to sort out a few things. Turns out, we still have no idea what’s going on. 

Not too long ago we ran a story in which Moffat said “I defy anybody to guess” the mystery behind the new Companion. We took the bait.

It’s not so much that I want to spoil this season’s mystery for myself, or anyone else, but I wanted to clarify some things that already happened to help me going forward. To wit, Oswin Oswald’s part of the story. While doing press for the first half of Season 7, it was stated having actress Jenna-Louise Coleman play Oswin was a last minute idea from Moffat.

At the New York premiere of “Asylum of the Daleks,” Executive Producer Caroline Skinner told Chris Hardwick and the audience, “I probably am the only person who was there when Steven Moffat, middle of casting the new Companions from Christmas onwards, came up with the idea to also make her Oswin. And Matt [Smith] and I turned around as you were watching it and I think that the same gleeful look that was in his eye at that moment when he said to me, ‘Caro I think I’ve just come up with something that’s really, really cool,’ was in everyones’ faces as you saw who she was.”

So seeing as he had this idea later on, it got me thinking, which character had a different story arc before he decided to use Coleman for both roles? Was it Oswin or Clara? Here’s what Moffat told us.

The slightly dull answer, is that all never happened, it’s been misreported. It was the plan, from a while back, to do this “impossible girl” intro to the new companion intro for Clara. It was confusing, of course, for the actresses auditioning, because we had to check they had to play all three parts, and we didn’t want to spoil the Asylum reveal – so we, erm, lied, and I wrote up sample scenes for Oswin, governess, and modern Clara, all of whom are subtly different. And Jenna knocked it out of the park, as you’ve seen.

Huh. Ok, we’re confused. Especially when you consider this interview Coleman did with Entertainment Weekly late last year:

It’s interesting actually — I think I can tell you this — that that was never the initial plan either, to have me be Oswin. That was part of a genius plan that Steven came up with half way through the audition process. That was already written but not written for what was to be the new companion. I was auditioning for the companion and then I got all these sides and I was like, “Who’s Oswin? They clearly don’t know what they want, they obviously don’t know what they’re looking for. They just want people to show them different things and see.” This is what I assumed when I was auditioning, not realizing that it’s basically Steven’s mad genius again.

Thoughts? Theories?

Previously in Doctor Who

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  • http://home.comcast.net/~alanbly/ Adam McCormick

    Two words: “All Three”

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=3429243 Alana Beltzer

    I still maintain that she’s a “fob-watched” Time Lady…perhaps even Romana.

  • http://www.thenerdybird.com/ Jill Pantozzi

    What do you mean by that?

  • http://twitter.com/EmberDione Kim Pittman

    They are retconning their own story because they are trying to appear clever.

  • http://home.comcast.net/~alanbly/ Adam McCormick

    Read what Moffat said.

  • http://revolvingdoorcommune.wordpress.com Teresa Jusino

    Why is it so hard to believe that they all lied to protect the story? :) Just because Coleman said that in an interview doesn’t mean it’s true. It’s amazing what producers and publicists can put out into the world.

    That said, I’m firmly in the camp of “It’s Not A Writer’s Job to Defend When/How They Got the Idea.” It’s a pretty recent phenomenon that TV fans expect stories to have been planned out for years and if one thing falls out of place, or it was “discovered” that the writer didn’t have a plan, that’s suddenly the Most Horrible Thing Ever. Whatever happened to a writer following a story to see where it goes? If a newer, cooler idea crops up in the middle of writing, a writer should feel free to follow it without worrying about fans being all “Yeah, but that’s TOTALLY bad writing, because you can SO tell that they didn’t have that idea from the beginning and they’re just making it up as they go along.”

    That’s not “bad” writing. That’s writing. That’s storytelling. Especially on television, an ever-evolving medium where you don’t know how long your show is going to last and that’s constantly being acted upon by a million factors not in anyone’s control. You don’t write a TV show the way you write a book, or a film.

    Was this Moffat’s plan all along? Is Moffat making things up as he goes along? The question is, why do we care? I know we’re all nerds and whatnot, and so we NEED TO KNOW…but for goodness’ sake, how about just sitting back and letting the story happen and judging it as a whole when it’s finished and you actually KNOW how it all ties together?

  • http://www.thenerdybird.com/ Jill Pantozzi

    No, I get that, I meant, how does that answer anything about my initial question?

  • http://www.thenerdybird.com/ Jill Pantozzi

    I don’t think it’s a bad thing if the idea came later, I was just curious to know if Oswin’s arc was originally meant to end in that episode or if Clara had an entirely different arc before he came up with the idea.

  • Anonymous

    I’m not sure I understand. We already know there are three: Oswin from “Asylum of the Daleks”, Clara the governess from the Christmas special (which is where Doc realized ‘wait, something’s not right…’), and now modern-Clara coming up. Three.

  • Anonymous

    Long shot theory? She’s Jenny, but because she was a clone, the regeneration doesn’t totally change her up (though the logic is a bit wibbly-wobbly on that, since she would’ve had to change between the version of Jenny played by Georgia Moffet). Either that or she’s somehow River (because EVERYTHING goes back to River these past few years).

  • http://twitter.com/marionlawless Mr Lawless

    Not Jenny, because they’ve said that the Doctor is smitten with her (and they’ve snogged).

  • http://mordicai.livejournal.com Mordicai

    Moffat lies; I don’t even mean maliciously, but just as a matter of course. Whether to actors or (perhaps more likely) to interviewers. Nothing new here; speculation seems almost beside the point?

  • http://revolvingdoorcommune.wordpress.com Teresa Jusino

    And if he did, it WOULD be interesting to know what that “original” arc might have been and what we’re not getting. :) Definitely. I was just speaking in general – not about you asking the question and wondering about it, but about how whatever the answer is can be a “deal-breaker” for so many sci-fi/fantasy fans as far as whether or not they will enjoy a writer’s work. Now, I’m a huge fan of Moffat’s work, but I also have plenty of problems with it (I think he gets too wrapped up in his own puzzleboxes and wish he would just trust that he can tell a good story without needing to WOW us all the time). Still, one of those problems would never be with finding out there was no “5 year plan.” (see my feelings about Lost and BSG) :)

  • http://revolvingdoorcommune.wordpress.com Teresa Jusino

    That’s probably not the case, but I really enjoy that idea! :) I’ve been wanting Jenny to return for a while now. And if she’s a Time Lord clone, I don’t think her appearance changing is too far a stretch.

  • Anonymous

    LOTS of great ideas come up as the creation process proceeds. DC’s 52 had one story, and then Grant Morrison asked in a conference call “What if Skeets were evil?” and it was such a good idea they literally chucked everything they had planned and wrote that story. Stan Lee loves telling the story that they had no idea who the Green Goblin was going to be when they created. It’s one of my favorite questions of a creator, if they had plot point ABC planned from square one, or did they just find a detail to hang it on and go with it in the middle? (For the record, I’ve NEVER gotten a straight answer about it from anyone)
    So I see no issue with them choosing to obfuscate things to make it seem like it was planned from moment one. It does, as others have suggested, make them seem more clever. But the weight of evidence (from their own lips) shows it was an idea that came along in the process, and that’s cool. As he’s said elsewhere, often the actor makes you change the character, and it’s very possible that’s what happened here.
    I recall the first leaked script pages from the auditions were clearly of a modern Clara, centering around the line “I don’t believe in ghosts”. We heard her say that in Snowmen, and odds are we’ll hear it come up again.
    And that may Mean Something.

  • http://home.comcast.net/~alanbly/ Adam McCormick

    The point is that if she’s only three characters then we already know them all. So that shoots down about a hundred theories (“She’ll die every episode!” “She’s a time lord!” “She’s the Doctor!” etc…) right there. We know that neither Clara the governess nor Oswin the Dalek survived their first encounter with the doctor. So that means that we’re left with one woman: Clara the child from the “Bells of Saint John” preview. So we know she’s human because she was a child. We know that something that will happen (a Bad-Wolf-type moment probably) to make her show up in the Doctor’s past. Those two words, in my view, are the biggest bombshell Moffat has let drop since the Asylum of the Daleks Aired.

  • http://home.comcast.net/~alanbly/ Adam McCormick

    Until reading that, how did you know there weren’t more than three?

  • http://revolvingdoorcommune.wordpress.com Teresa Jusino

    Luke kissed Leia. Just sayin’… :) In sci-fi/fantasy, anything is possible.

  • Anonymous

    I shall toss out a Clever Theory myself.
    Go look up Scaroth of the Jagaroth.

  • http://www.thenerdybird.com/ Jill Pantozzi

    Oh I see what you mean, but our lines our crossed. My main question wasn’t about the overall mystery and what her deal actually is but what it might have been versus what Oswin’s arc might have been before the decision to combine them.

  • http://www.facebook.com/michael.boon.754 Michael Boon

    Give a rest. Your Moffat hate is getting tedious.

  • http://www.thenerdybird.com/ Jill Pantozzi

    Wow, didn’t know having a question about something equaled hate. Now I know, thanks!

  • Rebecca Pahle

    Something tells me Doctor Who won’t go the accidental incest route, though.

  • Anonymous

    Not half as tedious as your attempts at press-shaming, sunshine.

  • Anonymous

    In the liner notes for the Season 5 DVD, Moffat says, “lying is our golf.” And here I thought he was joking at the time.

  • http://mordicai.livejournal.com Mordicai

    Par for the course, Art!

  • http://www.facebook.com/winter.crawley Dara Crawley

    I’ll tell you what happened.
    People know Moffat sucks at creating over arching plot and he’s trying to cover his bum. As lead writer he should do more plot oversight and that has NEVER been his thing, go back and watch Coupling and you’ll see that I am right on this. Great with humor, character, and emotional drama…but he is not good at story plotting/planning in the long run hence his story archs on Doctor Who being…kind of…an exersize in plot holes and character problems (Amy Pond was honestly unlikable at times for how badly she treated Rory, and the River story arch was ruined repeatedly and her character stopped making sense).

  • http://twitter.com/Totz_the_Plaid Totz_the_Plaid

    I don’t even care. I am a huge Doctor Who fan. I have something like 70 DVD releases from the series, classic and new, and am still collecting, but it’s bullshit like this that makes me not even want to watch the current run.

    All I want are good stories, not nonsensical mysteries entirely made up of plot holes and inconsistent characterization with cheesy sub-daytime soap opera melodrama filling in the cracks.

  • http://www.facebook.com/winter.crawley Dara Crawley

    It’s not bad writing because it was a later idea. It becomes bad writing when he does not create a coherent plot, which has been the case. He isn’t awful, but personally almost all of the Amy Pond saga was only enjoyable on the first watch with it being significantly less so on the second. The fact is new who, and the story archs he has lead have been built on…well archyness. We are given emotional points without build up, very recent history is ignored, character’s have dramatic moments yet many of them remain two note to three note characters, the enemies have no motivations or explanation there of, many of the enemies are basically Weeping Angels….etc. etc.

    He just doesn’t string things together well and doesn’t guide his writers to string things together well

  • Anonymous

    They need to stop defending themselves. It makes the mad/brilliant ideas sound less so.

  • http://www.facebook.com/tmorrise Timothy Glenn Morrise

    I think there is a virtue in that, but for any narrative involving ridiculous amounts of time travel shenanigans, forethought and planning has to be present or the show risks contradicting itself and coming off as flimsy or inauthentic. If the show can do that as it goes then great, it’s just thus far Who hasn’t been keeping all of it’s ducks in a row timey-wimey wise.