Sherlock: A Study in Pink by Steven Moffat; dir. Paul McGuigan (BBC One, 2010) The 90-minute version is consciously more murky than the unbroadcast 60-minute pilot. It is also more complex, affectedly stylish, and scored to give an impression of big budget. This doesn’t actually make it better, but it’s the Sherlock people came to love.
Sherlock: A Study in Pink (Original Pilot) by Steven Moffat; dir. Coky Giedroyc (Unbroadcast, 2009) The original 60-minute Sherlock pilot supposedly was considered a ‘potential disaster’. In fact it serves perfectly well to introduce Moffat’s new Holmes interpretation. It’s easy to imagine a parallel universe where Sherlock thrived in this shorter, more straightforward (though still innovative) format.
Doctor Who: The Night of the Doctor by Steven Moffat; dir. John Hayes (BBC, 2013) Prior to ‘The Day of the Doctor’, fans were given 6 minutes 49 seconds in which to celebrate Paul McGann and to lament his not being given a full special (or indeed an entire series) or being cast as the War Doctor.
Doctor Who: The Name of the Doctor by Steven Moffat; dir. Saul Metzstein (BBC, 2013) This season finale exhibits some very cool ideas, stitched together with plenty of good humour. Matt Smith carries the pathos well, yet there’s a bit too much plot crammed in and the episode is scored to within an inch of its life.
Doctor Who: A Christmas Carol by Steven Moffat; dir. Toby Haynes (BBC, 2010) A successful transplanting of Dickens’s novella into the Doctor Who universe, using science fiction to clever effect and adding a twist to the tale. Moffat captures both the Doctor’s exuberant childlike aspect and the seriousness beneath. Matt Smith is in top form.
The Day of the Doctor by Steven Moffat; dir. Nick Hurran (BBC, 2013) Like many of Moffat’s ‘big’ scripts, this has a rushed, scattershot feel—not from poor conceptualisation but from trying to cram too much into too little space. That said, there are plenty of nice moments. The interaction amongst Doctors is perfectly pitched.
Doctor Who: Twice Upon a Time by Steven Moffat; dir. Rachel Talalay (BBC, 2017) The Christmas special has some touching performances (Mark Gatiss) and ends on a high with Jodie Whittaker’s first scene, yet for the most part spends too much time prepping the audience for the handover and trying—quite shamelessly—to manipulate our emotions.
Doctor Who: The Husbands of River Song by Steven Moffat; dir. Douglas Mackinnon (BBC, 2015) The 2015 Christmas Special takes a lighter approach than its predecessor, and not since Blackadder II has a severed head been played for such laughs. Peter Capaldi captures something of each of the first four Doctors while Alex Kingston nails her swansong.
Sherlock, Series 4 by Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat (BBC, 2017) The upping of stakes from series to series has led Sherlock into some very grim territory. The characteristic humour remains, but edges closer and closer to the gallows… before making its peace and dovetailing in the perfectly balanced ending: ‘The Final Problem’.
Doctor Who: The Return of Doctor Mysterio by Steven Moffat (BBC, 2016) The New Series Christmas invasion takes a new twist when the Doctor, through rather comic happenstance, creates a bona fide superhero. Peter Capaldi revels in the light-hearted humour while the Superman homage dovetails nicely with the longstanding dynamic between Doctor and companion.