Ambassadors of Death

Doctor Who: The Ambassadors of Death (1970) [DVD]

Posted on Updated on

There’s a point midway through this seven-part Classic Who serial from 1970 where you realise: this must have been the season that current Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat saw when he was six or seven years old. It’s at that age that an experience most thoroughly impresses itself into one’s psyche and stays there well into adulthood, and there’s plenty of evidence of just how much of series 7 is still alive and well in Moffat’s creative imagination.

The specific scene in “The Ambassador of Death” that reveals this to be Moffat’s most impressionable age is the moment when the eerie, wordless figure in the NASA spacesuit is walking toward the camera, his face hidden by the blank visor of the helmet he’s wearing. It’s just as unnerving and terror-inducing as it is when Moffat himself uses the same visual imagery in his 2008 two-parter “The Silence in the Library”/”Forest of the Dead”. And it pops up again throughout his second season in charge of the show, from “The Impossible Astronaut” onwards.

Mere coincidence and not strong enough proof for you that the classic series 7 is really that pivotal to a young Moffat’s development? Then consider that another story from the season – “Inferno” – introduces a key character wearing an eyepatch (employed in much the same way that Star Trek’s use of a goatee designates an evil parallel universe version of a familiar character in “Mirror, Mirror”) resurfaces in Moffat’s New Who series as sported first by Madame Kovarian and then by the entire cast in the parallel universe-set season finale “The Wedding of River Song.” Or how about the fact that it was under Moffat’s management that the Silurians – who originally debuted in classic series 7 – were revived and reused in New Who? The only remaining monsters from that classic season not reintroduced by Moffat were the Autons, and that’s only because Russell T Davies had already done it in the very first 2005 episode “Rose”. Even so, Moffat brought the Autons back for his first season in charge in a pivotal manner in “The Pandorica Opens”, so that rather completes the representation of series 7 under Moffat and gives strong credence to the theory.

In which case: Moffat has excellent taste. Read the rest of this entry »