All right, so, the first image is of Donna from “The Fires of Pompeii,” trying to talk Ten out of just TARDISing off right in front of Caecilius and his family and leaving them to burn. The second is of Clara talking Eleven out of blowing up Gallifrey. Both are crying, and both are performing the companion’s designated role as She Who Humanizes the Doctor (Davies and Moffat are in agreement on that point).
But it also seems to me there are some interesting differences that kind of tell you the story of what happens when Moffat takes the reins. First of all, under Davies, the directors are not hung up on keeping Donna pretty. In the “Fires of Pompeii” image we have puffy-eyed streaming-face ugly crying, as is completely appropriate for a character who’s been through what gets her to this point. Clara, meanwhile, drops a single tear from one eye, looking pained but still model-pretty as she sadly gazes upon the ethical ruin of the man she adores.
Second, and you can perhaps sort of see this in the images, but the emotions are different. Before we get to this point in “Fires of Pompeii,” Donna—who, in a moment that I am prepared to say Moffat stole outright for this scene in “Day of the Doctor,” decides to push the button (only in FOP it’s a lever) along with Ten so he doesn’t have to be solely responsible for killing 20,000 people in order to save the planet—has tried everything she can think of to mitigate the damage. Earlier in the episode she tried talking the Doctor into organizing an evacuation. He nixed that idea. After they push the lever, Donna’s out in the street trying to tell people not to go to the beach; that of course doesn’t work. She tries to save one child; his mother, naturally, takes him away from the crazy lady. When they get back to Caecilius’s house, she’s loudly appalled by his determination to jet to safety and leave them to their fate, and keeps shouting at him that he can’t do this. Finally she resigns herself to going back into the TARDIS, but she’s still arguing with him. She even brings up his destruction of Gallifrey, at which point—in another scene totally scooped out and tossed away by the “Day of the Doctor” retrofit—he snaps and starts raving about how he can’t go back, he would save them if he could but he can never go back. So at this point, yes, Donna’s very sad about what’s about to happen to Pompeii; but she’s also crying because she’s angry and frustrated. She’s upset not just because he’s doing the wrong thing but because it’s now clear that she herself can’t do anything about it. He can go ahead and do this, because it’s his TARDIS and he’s the Time Lord, and she can’t do anything about it. She’s crying because she’s fought and lost; but she’s also crying because she’s realizing how little what she wants or believes really matters to him. If he goes ahead and does this, then what they’ve got is not a friendship any more. And he recognizes that; and he agrees to the compromise instead. In the Davies universe, this is what it takes to save one family.
With Clara and Eleven, it’s simpler and, despite the raised stakes and the grander scale, a lot less dark. Clara doesn’t have to fight with Eleven or shout at him to get his attention; all she has to do is look sad, and as soon as he catches sight of her mournful face he needs to know what’s wrong. She’s not angry; she doesn’t have to be. He’s never going to do this if she’s not OK with it; he clearly needs her approval and her good opinion of him, and that’s what gives her the confidence to tell him, softly and calmly, to go ahead and be a Doctor. And in Moffat’s universe, that’s all it takes to save a planet.
Doctor Who is, depending on who you ask, either science fiction or fantasy or some combination of both. But emotionally speaking, and in terms of characterization, the Davies era *feels* much closer to realism than the Moffat era, which has gone all fairyland and archetypal. That fight between Ten and Donna about Pompeii feels like two adults arguing over something important—which is quite painful—whereas Clara’s exchange with Eleven plays like the climactic scene of a Christmas special. And, you know, I enjoy a good Christmas special; but there’s a lot you get from the Davies approach that just isn’t there in 5-7.
And you know what’s funny about Clara’s scene? It’s the fact that she is trying to hold in her emotions. The Doctor even asks her what’s wrong and she says nothings wrong. It isn’t about making her look pretty and model like; its the fact that she is trying not to fucking cry.
These two scenes, however, speaks loads about the Doctors different relationships with his companions. I’ll probably get hate for this but y’know —- the tenth doctor was an utter dick to his companions. I love him, but he was horrible and insulting and rude. He doesn’t listen to them. Be it Donna or Martha or Jackie or even Rose. Naturally Donna is going to be shouting and sobbing trying to get attention, to get him listen to her.
The Eleventh Doctor — despite all his glorious problems and mistakes —- was far kinder and listened to his companions far more. Clara isn’t trying to shout for attention because she knows its going to happen. She’s heard the stories and knows what he did to stop the Time War. If it happens then it bloody happens. But what’s the harm in trying to push him in the right direction to save his home?
So no —- not about looking pretty. Is everyone forgetting The Name of the Doctor? Clara’s hardly got one single perfect tear with her face still looking nice and pretty.
And when it comes down to it as well, it’s all about acting. Not the writers. Also mention that we’ve seen Rose cry both of those ways, we’ve seen Martha cry both ways. Donna, Amy. These are two completely different scenes that only have the similar trait of the companion asking the Doctor to save someone instead of killing them.
Everyone needs to stop finding ways to hate on Moffat. Honestly we’re one step away from hating on him because a fucking butterfly was the wrong colour.