Apparently Steven Moffat can’t do anything right, even when he blatantly is.
There is no accounting for taste. Sometimes we just like what we like, and preferring one era of Doctor Who over another is not only all well and good, but completely expected and accepted. It would actually be strange if Doctor Who fans didn’t have preferences. In fact, Doctor Who has been on the air for so long, it would be a little strange if long-term fans didn’t have eras they actively disliked. I myself have a couple eras that I find extremely problematic. However, it would be nice if, when we engage in our complaining, we ranted about stuff that actually had some bearing on what’s appearing on screen.
Some of the complaints about current Doctor Who show-runner Steven Moffat that I’ve encountered come in the form of griping about how he doesn’t reference past episodes enough. Some feel that Moffat needs to be referencing Classic Who more often. Others are hungry for more references to the first three series of New Who, when Russell T. Davies (RTD) was the show-runner.
These types of complaints are misguided on the face of it, because they ignore one of the best and most consistent traits of Doctor Who, which is that Doctor Who is a show that constantly changes. Complaining that Moffat’s Who isn’t loaded with nods, references, and connections to the past is kind of like complaining that the Fourth Doctor era doesn’t mention Susan, Ian, and Barbara enough, or that it doesn’t have episodes about the Tribe of Gum, the Sensorites, and the Zarbi. Well, of course it doesn’t. Those are stories and characters from the First Doctor.
But even worse is that Moffat’s Who is, in actuality, loaded with references to past episodes.
I guess Moffat could squeeze even more references in, if he wanted the show to be nothing but a self-referential exploration of Doctor Who nostalgia, but that would be short-sighted. Besides, that’s what the episode The Name of the Doctor was already all about.
And I suppose when some fans say they want more references to RTD Who, what some of them are actually saying is that they still want the show to be about how Rose was the Doctor’s one true love, or that they want Martha or Donna or Jack to return, but that would also be short-sighted. Fans rabidly clinging to a handful of companions year after year, when their stories have already finished and gone, is anathema to a show like Doctor Who.
And finally, I imagine that one strong disagreement with my assertion that Moffat’s Who is full of references to the past is that many of the references are obscure and not direct, to which I would respond by repeating that this has almost always been the case with Doctor Who.
What follows is a simplified, probably short list of references to Classic and RTD Who that are contained in Steven Moffat’s three series and specials. Much of this is pulled from the TARDIS Data Core (http://tardis.wikia.com/wiki/Doctor_Who_Wiki), a very helpful and informative site. I highly recommend exploring the Data Core if you want to dig further into these many points of continuity.
I certainly don’t expect anyone to actually read this entire list, but it should give us an idea of how thoroughly Moffat’s Who is entrenched in the program’s greater continuity. Steven Moffat is so obviously and unabashedly a Doctor Who fan.
The Eleventh Hour
“Do I have a face that no one listens to? Again?” is an obvious reference to the entirety of both Classic and RTD Who and how his companions typically don’t listen to him.
The opening scene with the crashing TARDIS is a continuation of the final scene in RTD’s The End of Time.
“Wibbly-Wobbly, Timey-Wimey” is a catch phrase coined by the Tenth Doctor.
“What? What? What?!?!” is one of the Tenth Doctor’s catch phrases.
Opening the TARDIS with a snap of his fingers was originally done by the Tenth Doctor.
The Shadow Proclamation is a nod to RTD Who
We see images of all the previous Doctors and of creatures from both Classic and RTD Who.
The Eleventh Doctor’s lingering, glowing regeneration energy was a precedent established in RTD Who.
The Doctor being late to return for Amelia is making use of a trope firmly established in Classic and RTD Who. It’s comically common how often the Doctor never arrives where or when he wants to.
“You are not of this world.”
“No, but I’ve put a lot of work into it.”
This is an obvious reference to every time the Doctor has saved the Earth in Classic and RTD Who.
The Doctor telling the Atraxi to “run” is a nod to the Tenth Doctor telling Harriet Jones “I should have told [the Sycorax] to run.”
The Doctor’s immediate and virulent dismissal of carrots is a nod to companion Mel trying to get the Sixth Doctor to drink carrot juice.
The Doctor calling Earth a Level 5 planet is an RTD concept.
The Beast Below
The Doctor again refers to himself as “the last of the Time Lords,” an RTD invention.
A “Magpie Electricals” sign, first seen in RTD Who, makes an appearance.
The Earth being abandoned due to solar flares is a plot point established in Classic Who.
A Dalek makes a brief appearance at the very end.
Liz Ten mentions the royal family’s relationship with the Doctor as established in RTD Who.
A quick exchange between Amy and the Doctor establishes that the Doctor had family/children, but doesn’t talk much about them, a theme that has popped up in both Classic and RTD Who.
Victory of the Daleks
Threatening the Daleks with a Jammie Dodger is similar to the Fourth Doctor making the same kind of threat with a Jelly Baby.
When the Doctor threatens to send the Daleks back to “the void,” he’s referencing a plot point and concept from RTD Who.
Dalek Saucers have been seen in Classic and RTD Who.
The Doctor identifies the TARDIS as a Type 40 TARDIS, another nod to Classic Who.
The Daleks escaping through a Time Corridor is another nod to Classic Who.
The entire story is essentially a retelling of the Classic Who story The Power of the Daleks.
The Time of Angels
The Weeping Angels first appeared in RTD Who.
River Song also made her first appearance in RTD Who.
The crash of the Byzantium was first referenced during RTD Who.
The mention of “High Gallifreyan” is a nod to Classic Who.
There is a mention of perception filters, a concept from RTD Who.
The Doctor having his ego bruised by River Song being a better TARDIS pilot parallels the Fourth Doctor being annoyed when Romana claims that she is a better pilot.
The Doctor saying that he’s not a taxi service echoes dialogue from the Fifth Doctor.
The Doctor can speed read, which has also been seen in Classic and RTD Who.
Flesh and Stone
Events from RTD Who (the CyberKing, the Dalek invasion) are used to establish a plot point about history disappearing.
The Doctor kissing Amy on the forehead before leaving her in a dangerous situation echoes similar moments with Zoe and Jo Grant in Classic Who.
Vampires in Venice
The Doctor’s library card has an image of the First Doctor, the address of the junkyard where the TARDIS was located in the first Classic Who episode, and the name Dr. J. Smith, the alias that the Doctor has used throughout Classic and RTD Who.
Amy talks about all the running they do, a trope established by RTD Who.
Perception filter again, from RTD Who.
The Tenth Doctor’s relationship to Elizabeth I is given a mention.
The Dreamlord’s comment about the Doctor loving redheads is a clear nod to Donna Noble from RTD Who.
The Doctor is called “the last of the Time Lords” and “the Oncoming Storm,” both monikers from RTD Who.
The possibility that the TARDIS “jumped a time track” is a nod to Classic Who.
The Doctor derides the TARDIS Instruction Manual, a joke that references Classic Who.
The Hungry Earth
The return of the Silurians, a Classic Who monster.
The Doctor ends up taking Amy to the wrong place after promising to take her to the beach. This has also happened with Martha Jones and Donna Noble (RTD Who) and Sarah Jane Smith (Classic Who).
The Doctor mentions the fate of the first Silurians he encountered in Classic Who.
The Doctor asks for celery, a nod to the Fifth Doctor.
Fixed points in time are mentioned, which have previously been used as integral plot points in RTD Who.
The entire story strongly parallels the Classic Who story The Silurians.
Vincent and the Doctor
We see images of the First and Second Doctors.
The Doctor rifles through a chest full of junk and conveniently helpful devices to find what he needs. This has been seen in both Classic and RTD Who.
The flirting between Vincent and Amy echoes the flirting between Shakespeare and Martha.
Flashes of Classic and RTD Who Doctors and monsters.
Brief glimpse of Rose Tyler.
The song the Doctor sings in the shower is a song that has been sung by the Third Doctor.
“The Oncoming Storm.”
Craig’s “What? What? What?!?!” echoes the Tenth Doctor.
We see all the Doctor’s previous incarnations again.
The Doctor telling Craig “don’t spend it all on sweets” echoes the Ninth Doctor saying the same to Adam in RTD Who.
The Pandorica Opens
Silurians, Judoon, Sycorax, Sontarans, Autons, Cybermen, Daleks… All creatures who have appeared in Classic or RTD Who, or both.
“I… am… talking!” has been uttered by both the Ninth and Tenth Doctors.
The Big Bang
The Seventh Doctor also once wore a fez.
A Christmas Carol
The Doctor is unable to perform a card trick, much like the Ninth Doctor.
The Doctor has a photo of himself and Einstein, lending credence to the idea that the two are friends, as originally mentioned in Classic Who.
The Doctor wears a scarf that is similar to that worn by the Fourth Doctor.
This is not the first time the Doctor has seen flying fish, as the First Doctor mentioned having seen flying fish.
The psychic paper fails, as it did twice during RTD Who.
The Impossible Astronaut
References to River Song’s first episodes, which belong to the era of RTD Who.
“Brave heart, Canton,” is a reference to the Fifth Doctor’s “Brave heart, Tegan.”
Day of the Moon
“Magpie Electricals” makes another appearance.
The Doctor tastes something to get more information from it, a habit established by the Tenth Doctor.
Dwarf star alloy has been mentioned in both Classic and RTD Who.
The Curse of the Black Spot
Captain Avery was mentioned in Classic Who.
Two objects occupying the same space is a concept that has been used in Classic Who.
The Doctor’s Wife
The Time War.
The Doctor mentions having rebuilt the TARDIS before, which he has done in Classic Who.
Mentions using rift energy to refuel the TARDIS, an idea which originated with RTD Who.
A canonical reason is given for the long-running “unreliability” of the TARDIS.
Mentions the existence of older control rooms.
The Cloister Bell, a Classic Who invention, sounds.
The Ood, an RTD Who creature.
The Doctor mentions the Sixth Doctor’s umbrella.
Sending messages by Hypercube is from Classic Who.
The Tenth Doctor’s console room makes a return.
The first instance of the TARDIS trying to communicate psychically happened during the first series of Classic Who.
Deleting rooms to create energy was established as an ability of the TARDIS in Classic Who.
The Eye of Orion is a Classic Who reference.
The TARDIS says she likes being called “old girl,” which is a reference to all the times previous Doctors actually called her “old girl.”
Reference is made to the Classic Who idea that the Doctor stole the TARDIS.
The Third Doctor once travelled by TARDIS console alone.
The Rebel Flesh/The Almost People
“One day, we will get back. Yes, one day.” –The First Doctor
“Reverse the polarity of the neutron flow.” –The Third Doctor
“Would you like a jelly baby?” – The Fourth Doctor
“Hello, I’m the Doctor.” – The Tenth Doctor
A Good Man Goes to War
Another mention of the Doctor having family, a running theme that pops up occasionally since the early days of Classic Who.
Cybermen, Judoon, a Silurian, and a Sontaran.
“I am so sorry” echoes one of the Tenth Doctor’s catchphrases.
Nods to River Song’s first appearance during RTD Who.
The Untempered Schism from RTD Who is mentioned.
Let’s Kill Hitler
A repeat of the RTD Who banana gag.
We see holograms of past RTD Who companions, Donna, Martha, and Rose.
The TARDIS being in a state of Temporal Grace is a concept from Classic Who.
River surviving being shot during the few hours after her regeneration is similar to the Tenth Doctor being able to regenerate his hand because his regeneration was still fresh.
Sontarans and Daleks get a mention.
Perception filters, again.
The Girl Who Waited
Ejecting parts of the TARDIS for extra power is mentioned again.
Rory’s “I am so, so sorry” echoes one of the Tenth Doctor’s catchphrases.
The God Complex
The Minotaur is related to the Nimon, a Classic Who creature.
We see photos of a Sontaran, a Silurian, a Tritovore, a Hoix, a Catkind, and a Judoon, creatures who originated with Classic or RTD Who.
The Doctor calling the Minotaur beautiful echoes the Tenth Doctor’s sentiments upon encountering some alien creatures.
“I don’t like it!” is from the Second Doctor.
The Doctor goes on a farewell tour before his impending death, just like the Tenth Doctor.
Being able to fight and reject the Cybermen conversion process was established in RTD Who.
The Doctor mentions that he sometimes forgets who he is, which has actually happened a few times in Classic Who.
“Not a rat, a Cybermat!” is a line from Classic Who.
The Wedding of River Song
Classic Who’s Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart gets a lovely and sad mention.
RTD Who’s Charles Dickens makes an appearance.
Rose Tyler and Jack Harkness get a mention.
Drawings of Weeping Angels, Daleks, Cybermen, and Silurians.
Elizabeth I gets another mention.
The question “Doctor who?” was asked in the very first Classic Who story.
The Doctor the Widow and the Wardrobe
The Doctor mentions Jabe, the tree creature from the Forest of Cheeb from RTD Who.
Classic Who established that the Doctor can briefly survive in the vacuum of space.
Asylum of the Daleks
The Oncoming Storm moniker is used again.
Skaro, the home planet of the Daleks since the first series of Classic Who.
The Asylum is similar in style to the Dalek city where the Doctor originally met the Daleks.
Different Daleks from the entire history of Doctor Who make an appearance.
Several encounters between the Doctor and the Daleks in Classic Who are mentioned.
The Doctor’s knack for manipulating and using teleporters has been seen and mentioned in RTD Who.
The Doctor mentions that he is familiar with Dalek prison camps, which he is, from Classic Who.
The Daleks have converted humans to Daleks before, in both Classic and RTD Who.
Dinosaurs on a Spaceship
The Doctor again claims that the TARDIS is not a taxi service, a nod to Classic Who dialogue.
Psychic paper, an RTD Who invention.
A Town Called Mercy
The characterization of the Doctor relies on his history of committing terrible acts. In other words, the Time War, an RTD Who invention.
The Doctor mentions the Master.
This is another episode about how the Doctor needs companions to keep him grounded, a conceit firmly established by RTD Who.
The Power of Three
U.N.I.T. is a Classic Who invention.
Kate Stewart is the Brigadier’s daughter, so she is a direct connection to Classic Who.
The Doctor mentions K-9 again.
The U.N.I.T. base under the Tower of London was originally seen in RTD Who.
The Doctor telling Brian about his past companions is a broad reference to all Classic and RTD Who companions.
The Angels Take Manhattan
The Doctor using regeneration energy to heal River’s hand is continuing a trend of regeneration energy being used for purposes other than regenerations, an idea that was originally used in RTD Who.
River says that the Doctor doesn’t like to see his companions age, which was a character trait established in RTD Who.
Silurian and Sontaran.
Clara’s observation that the TARDIS is “smaller on the outside” only works as a joke because it relies on decades worth of characters observing that it’s “bigger on the inside.”
Strax’s inability to differentiate male from female is similar to the Sontaran Linx from Classic Who having the same confusion.
The Great Intelligence is an enemy that the Second Doctor faced during two different adventures.
The Fourth Doctor once dressed as Sherlock Holmes.
The Bells of Saint John
The Great Intelligence again.
The Doctor says that travelling short distances in the TARDIS is difficult, which has previously been stated several times in Classic Who.
The Anti-Gravity Olympics were also mentioned to Rose Tyler.
The Rings of Akhaten
The Doctor mentions his granddaughter, who we can only assume must be Susan, the first Classic Who companion.
The Time War.
The Doctor’s speech refers to events that he experienced during Classic Who.
The return of the Ice Warriors, a Classic Who creature.
The Doctor activates the HADS, which was previously used by the Second Doctor.
The Doctor has a doll with blond hair, which might be an obscure reference to Rose Tyler.
The entire story is a nod to the Second Doctor’s style of “base under siege” stories.
The Ghostbusters references echoes a similar reference from RTD Who.
The Doctor says he used to have a place for umbrellas, referencing that some of the Classic Who console rooms had umbrella racks.
The Eye of Harmony from Classic Who is mentioned.
The Cloister Bell sounds.
Fixed points in time are mentioned again.
The Doctor poses as someone from Health and Safety, which he once did during RTD Who.
The Doctor mentions Metebelis III, a planet visited by the Third Doctor.
The Doctor visits a pocket universe, which he has done a few times in Classic Who.
The Doctor wears a red spacesuit which looks like the one worn by the Tenth Doctor.
Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS
The Time War.
The Great Intelligence is mentioned.
Dialogue from several old companions and Doctors can be heard.
We see the Seventh Doctor’s umbrella.
The Eye of Harmony.
The TARDIS changes its interiors, something it has been able to do since Classic Who.
The Doctor derides the fashion sense of the Time Lords, something they have had a problem with since the days of Classic Who.
The Crimson Horror
The Doctor referring to a “gobby Australian” was a reference to Classic Who companion Tegan Jovanka.
“Brave heart…” was another Tegan reference.
Silurian and Sontaran.
Nightmare in Silver
The possessed Doctor imitates past Classic and RTD Who Doctors.
We see images of all the Doctor’s past regenerations.
The Doctor takes advantage of the Cybermen’s weakness to gold, which has not been seen since Classic Who.
Cybermats are mentioned.
The Name of the Doctor
The Great Intelligence.
Silurian and Sontaran.
The Valeyard, an evil incarnation of the Doctor from Classic Who, is mentioned.
The Sycorax (RTD Who), the Daleks, and the Cybermen are mentioned.
The Doctor’s deeds being undone and the stars going out echoes what happened when the Tenth Doctor was killed prematurely.
We hear dialogue from several past Classic and RTD Who Doctors.
We see the TARDIS being stolen by the First Doctor.
We see a glimpse of Susan.
We see footage of or flashes of every single past Doctor.
Hate Steven Moffat all you want, but let’s stop pretending that he’s not a fan of Doctor Who and that he’s ignoring Doctor Who continuity. The truth is, one of the reasons his version of Doctor Who is the way it is, is because he enjoys Doctor Who very much, and because he understands Doctor Who very, very well.