Steven Moffat explains why he brought those particular monsters back to be Capaldi's first Who foes

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Aug 25, 2014, 9:02 PM EDT (Updated)

If you saw Doctor Who's season-eight premiere this past Saturday, then you know that showrunner Steven Moffat linked it to one of the best Who episodes of the modern era.

The episode we're talking about is the excellent, fan-fave “The Girl in the Fireplace,” which Moffat wrote for David Tennant’s Doctor back in season two.

In the season-eight premiere, "Deep Breath," the clockwork droid villains were said to have traveled to Earth in the S.S. Marie Antoinette, an obvious reference to its sister ship the S.S. Madame de Pompadour. Turns out the droids from "Deep Breath" were akin to the same ticking repair droids seen in “The Girl in the Fireplace,” though their outward appearance slightly differed.

The droids aren't exactly a major Who nemesis (certainly not on par with Daleks, Cybermen or even Moffat's own Weeping Angels), so why did Moffat choose them to be the villains for Peter Capaldi’s first run in the TARDIS as the Doctor?

Here’s what Moffat told The Mary Sue:

"I wanted a quite simple menace for the first episode. I didn’t want it to be wildly complicated as it were because obviously the grandstanding at the center of it is a new Doctor and a new relationship with a companion, so you really just want the villains to be lurching around offing people now and then with quite a simple backstory. But I also just quite liked the idea. I think I actually stole this joke from Columbo that the Doctor’s completely forgotten a previous adventure. Because you would. You just would. I remember there’s a lovely moment in one of the Columbos where somebody—one of the later ones where somebody is recounting one of his previous cases, and Columbo just says, “I’m sorry, I’ve got absolutely no idea what you’re talking about.” [laughter] Because you would! He’s 2000 years old, he’s forgotten the whole thing. Just that, just that. He forgot one of my episodes so I’m very cross with him!"

The discussion seems to have wandered off a bit until another journalist asked the Who showrunner about the themes of transformation and appearances that were sprinkled through the episode. Then Moffat was back to droid talk, and he revealed a deeper meaning to why he picked these particular creatures.

"I suppose that’s why I chose those monsters, because they’ve replaced themselves continually and the Doctor is faced with the fact that he has to and he doesn’t even know where he got his face from. You could just back-date that [Editor's Note: to our previous question]. [laughter] That’s much cleverer. Thank you! So can I now talk intelligently about that idea I forgot in my head. [laughter] Just that really—I know it seems preposterous in a way that you’re obliged to sit in a room and think seriously, what would it be like if you were Matt Smith one moment and Peter Capaldi the next, what would that be like? It’s not a general life experience. It’s not something that’s ever happened to me, for instance. But you have to take it seriously and you have to sort of think, it must be frightening. And it must be frightening when you look at your best friend in the whole world, because that’s where I put that line in about seeing. You look at your best friend in the whole world, the person on whom you are anchored, and they don’t see you. They literally look at you and look right through you and they see something else. And you still feel the same. You’re looking this way. You feel a bit different. But if someone’s looking back and not seeing you, how frightening that must be. Not to have your only basic irremovable right, the right to be yourself. The Doctor periodically has that removed from him."

What do you guys think about Moffat’s motivations for choosing the same villains he used in “The Girl in the Fireplace"? Did he nail the themes he was going for? Do you guys think it was the perfect start for Capaldi's new Doctor?

(via The Mary Sue)