Mic Wright’s Remotely Festively Furious: Doctor Who Raised By Moffat, Caitlin Moran Raised By Wolves
WRITING a convincing family unit for television is a tricky one. There are only a few series that manage it over a significant time period. Sgt Wilson, Private Pike and his mother in Dad’s Army are perfectly dysfunctional, the Gallagher family in Shameless was brilliant for at least three series and the Trotters are the gold-standard for sitcom families. Go back further and you get the delicious cocktail of hate and love embodied by the Steptoes and the constructed screwed-up family of the Hancock’s Half Hour.
Caitlin and Caz Moran have done a pretty decent job of translating their unusual family dynamic – lots of kids, home schooled, pseudo-bohemian outlook – to the screen in Raised By Wolves, their new comedy for Channel 4. But there are problems. Just as Shameless over-romanticised the gutter-rat ethics of the Chatsworth estate, the Morans reimagine lower-middle class/upper-working class life as just a bit bruised and rough around the edges rather than pretty goddamn miserable. The mother may repeatedly exclaim “fu*king David Cameron” but there’s no real sense in the first episode that benefits cuts, education cuts and the general pitfalls of poverty are bothering the family. And the absent father? Seemingly not a problem. That’s fine but it would be good to have some sense of where the hell he might be.
The other big issue is that of the Kidult Effect. The Morans, and the dread hand of the overly-nostalgic, saccarine prone older sister Caitlin is evident, cannot help but make their child characters speak like super-smart mannequins. The biggest offender is Germaine, a clear analogue for Caitlin Moran who even looks like a shrunken version of the Times columnist and speaks in lines ripped straight from her books, columns and, most egregiously, Twitter feed. Germaine is funny, frank and a little bit brilliant, just like her real life inspiration. Unfortunately, like Caitlin Moran, she’s also irritating, self-absorbed and far too convinced of her own brilliance. Raised By Wolves deserves a full series and has a good set of characters to play with, I just hope they get to have their own stories and not just a polished version of Moran’s pretend working class existence.
Jumping up the excitement scale we come to Doctor Who and the last hurrah for Matt Smith’s Fez-loving, alien fighting, companion patronising Doctor. Of the Nu-Who doctors, 12 has been my favourite. Smith has always looked very alien as the character and given note perfect performances even when Stephen Moffat and his writing team have failed to give him scripts of sufficient quality to best use his talents.
The final episode, The Time of The Doctor was a great Christmas special. It was fast-paced, at times silly, at times scary and packed with every monster and threat you could hope for. There were lots of downsides: Moffat’s sexual politics remain lead-footed and frankly insulting at times, the ageing makeup applied to Matt Smith was pretty shoddy despite a nice little nod to the aesthetics of William Hartnell’s original Doctor and there were the usual appeals to the deus ex machina to get Moffat out of plot dead-ends.
But to those on Twitter, Facebook and in my own bloody living room who ganched on about the plot not making sense or slagged off Moffat relentlessly, I can say only this: IT WAS FUN. Doctor Who is meant to be silly and fantastical. It is not, nor will it ever be perfect and were the producers to suddenly turn over script writing to Moffat’s biggest critics the show would be plodding, tedious and overly didactic. And as for Peter Capaldi, well, I’m calling it now: BEST DOCTOR SINCE TOM BAKER.
Happy New Year twunts.