The Empty Child vs. The Veil [Doctor Who: Steven Moffat Monster Tournament – 2.4]

Doctor Who has generated lots of frightening monsters and creatures over its many years of existence. But out of all the writers who have ever contributed to the series, no one has invented quite so many such baddies as Steven Moffat…for the simple reason that nobody else has written as many stories (although to be fair, other writers have written more episodes).

(Daily Doctor Who #107)

We are now in Round 2 of this series, in which for no other reason but that it’s fun, we’re going to figure out which of Moffat’s many monstrous creations is the very best, according to a strict scientific process of having a few people vote on them.

The winner of each bout will be decided on a best of seven votes, according to whatever standard that they want (though in general, it’s a contest about which one is more popular or well liked, not which one would win in a fight). The judges, like last time will be Ben McClure (myself), Johanna McClure (my 16 year old daughter), Laurelle McClure (my 14 year old daughter), Joshua McDonald (my friend from college) and Jeremiah McDonald (Josh’s brother–see his website here).

You can read a bit more about each of us in the post for the first bout of this competition, here.

The last two votes will be drawn from a poll I will / have put upon Facebook. The monster which gets the most votes on that poll will be awarded two points.


The Steven Moffat Monstrous Creation Tournament – Round 2, Bout 4

(The way I am “seeding” this second round of the competition is listing all of the winners in the order of what percentage of the vote they took in their Facebook poll during round 1. If there was a tie, then I looked at who had the most actual votes. In the one case where there was still a tie I made a judgment call of which order they went in. Then I will put the top vote-getter against the lowest vote-getter, and so on. Because there were 15 winners from Round 1–an odd number–then the top winner gets a free pass this round. That would be the Vashta Narada, who got a whopping 97% of the vote.)

The contestants:

The Empty Child

(From The Empty Child, from Season One)

Percentage taken in the Facebook vote in Round 1: a 91% victory over The Testimony.

Technically, these are the Chula Nanogenes, or at least the creature that they created in their attempts to heal / resurrect the young boy Jamie, who had been killed in a London bombing in World War II. Young Jamie had been mistakenly created with a gas mask as part of his face, with no real consciousness except for a desire to identify his mummy. He was virtually unstoppable and would spread his physical and mental condition like a plague to anyone who touched him.

The Veil

(Introduced in Heaven Sent, from Season Nine)

A monster born from the Doctor’s own fears and memories which resembled a rotting corpse in funeral garb, which slowly but relentlessly pursued the Doctor across the contained environment that they were both in. The Veil was a personification of death–something you could run from but never gain any distance on, and which would eventually, inevitably catch up to you. It could only be stopped, and temporarily, by confessing a truth to it which had never before been revealed.

Percentage taken in the Facebook vote in Round 1: 79% victory over the Smilers from The Beast Below.

OK, Ready, Steady…go!

Jeremiah’s vote:

The Empty Child

Still the more interesting concept.

Ben’s vote:

The Empty Child

Comment: The Veil is a pretty cool idea with the way it symbolically represents death, but it’s hard to beat out the Empty Child–Moffat’s original contribution to the series. Little Jamie with his eternal question was instantly creepy and iconic, and his episode still holds up as one of the best the series has ever given (although to be fair, the Veil’s episode was also amazing).

Johanna’s vote

The Empty Child

Comments: So while the Veil was pretty cool and kind of creepy, it didn’t really “make” the episode. The Empty Child, on the other hand, it made the episode. It was really creepy and disturbing in some fascinating ways which I don’t really understand…some terrifying gas-mask child.

Josh’s vote:

The Empty Child

Comments: This might be the toughest one yet. Two very strong options from a couple of solid stories. But I think I have to go with the sentimental favorite here. The Empty Child was NewWho’s first truly great episode, the first point where I felt it was settling in and starting to realize what a new Doctor Who could become. And just for that, I’m going with the Empty Child.

Laurelle’s vote:

The Empty Child

Comments: I’d think I’d choose the Empty Child, but that episode with the Veil…I loved that episode. But I have to choose, so I’ll choose the Empty Child. It’s a thing that can stand by itself as an interesting villain, but with the Veil, if the episode it was in wasn’t so good, you wouldn’t really remember it.

The Facebook Poll:

The Empty Child (29 votes) over the Veil (4 votes)

Comments: One participant said that the Empty Child is not, by any definition, a monster. I replied, “Well, while I certainly appreciate that perspective, I’m still pretty comfortable calling it a monster from the point of view of the show’s formatting. It’s pretty clear that the story positions the Empty Child (and all the gas mask people) as that adventures’ ‘monster’ which the Doctor must ‘defeat’, just with the cool subversion that there is this well-intentioned, sad and even sympathetic explanation for it all.

The Winner

The Empty Child

Not a surprising outcome, but still I’m sad to lose the Veil.

Next up: The Snowmen vs. The Whisper Men

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