Conversations Through Space and Time: The Others
When we began our conversation about the Doctor’s companions, we realized we could go on for years unless we set some ground rules. So we created the “secondary” and “tertiary” categories for companions – secondary being those who were IN the TARDIS, and tertiary for those that weren’t (or at least weren’t for a long time). The actual series list is exhaustive, but we picked out our favorites…submitted for your perusal:
Megan: Look. Wilf was the perfect non-companion/kindred spirit for Ten. And, to me, they got just the right amount of time together. His ability to draw out both the child and the parent in the Doctor has yet to be paralleled, I think, by any kind of companion. And [spoilers!] his moment with Ten just before his regeneration? Spot on. Can’t say enough good things about him.
Jen: Coffee shop scene. Just…just…that coffee shop scene. I loved that the Doctor was able to share real feelings with someone who was a confidant – they were both completely committed to protecting Donna. Also, their statuses as the “old guys” made for sympathetic ears and endearing moments. I adore Wilf and would love to see more of him. (Side note: Did you know Tennant has a son named Wilfred? YEP.)
M: Hands down the most ridiculous, obnoxious, loveably flawed, drama-drenched secondary companion ever. Come on. That blue eye shadow? Those juniors’ jeans bedazzled with rhinestones on the pockets? She’s so great on her own, let alone as a context for Rose.
J: I love Jackie because (and I know I’m saying this after seeing all of the episodes) she’s the only mother who realizes the GOOD that her daughter is experiencing by traveling with the Doctor. She doesn’t lose her protectiveness of Rose, but doesn’t let her own fear keep her daughter from having an adventure. She doesn’t blame the Doctor for decisions that are ultimately her daughter’s (::cough:: Martha and Donna’s moms ::cough::).
M: I’ll be honest. I want to love Mickey and his whole storyline. But it just never really happened for me. He was interesting insofar as making Rose and the consequences of running away with the Doctor believable, but any further than that felt forced. I don’t actively find him to be the worst, I just can’t help but see him falling flat every single time. I feel so ashamed for even saying that. I WILL say that ending up with dreadlocked Martha Jones? WINNING.
J: Poor Mickey. He was really just holding Rose back. He really only existed as a vehicle to show just how brave Rose was to go with the Doctor. Mickey was a safety net – Rose wasn’t just a girl living with her mom, she was a girl with a job and a boyfriend who was a childhood sweetheart, and she saw that it just wasn’t enough to be “safe.” I think Mickey’s shining moment was when he stayed with his Grandmother in alterna-England. I think there’s a really cool thing with Rory that is directly related to Mickey, but more about that next week when we talk about Eleven specifically.
M: I’m so not qualified to talk about Sarah Jane any further than the few episodes I’ve seen with her. That said, I cannot fully express my love for her and K9 particularly. And her bonding with Rose in series 2 was easily one of the best ways Davies thickened up the history of the show. So great.
J: Ditto on all counts. I would’ve loved to see more Sarah Jane and Captain Jack interactions in her few short appearances since 2005, though. I feel like they would have clashed like I’m HOPING Twelve and Clara will clash. I think that Sarah Jane’s appearance in the “reboot” was so telling of Davies’ devotion to the show as a British icon, too. It makes me even madder thinking of Eleven sitting next to little Amy’s bed in the finale of season five and saying “I think I’ll skip the rest of the rewinds. I hate repeats.” MOFFAT.
M: I love Jack for so many reasons. I want to hate him. I feel an urgency about my sophisticated Doctor Who tastes to find Jack annoying, but it just won’t happen. And you know why that is? FACE. OF. BOE. The hopeful theory is all I need.
J: That face. That entrance. His place in Ten’s exit. I WILL DIE if we get to see him with Capaldi. DIE. I absolutely love Captain Jack. I heard that his turn on Torchwood was kinda dark, but I loved the levity he brought to Doctor Who. Also, much like my weird Stephen King devotion, I feel an odd sort of pride in/for John Barrowman. He seems like a delightful individual and I want him to succeed in all things.
M: I will say that the use of the chemistry between Rose and some of the other secondaries (Jack and Mickey included) to bring about a little more complexity in hers and the Doctor’s relationship was pretty great. Adam was a solid addition: young, impulsive and curious enough to run away with her. But real talk: Adam was not hot enough to stick this thing out. So one good episode and BYE. Fine by me!
J: I always want to turn Adam into the guy that worked for the military lady (real name: Adam Garcia) in The Christmas Invasion, but it isn’t him. I do like that they introduced another potential love interest for Rose, especially since it was hard to feel bad for Mickey since he pretty much refused to travel with her and the Doctor, but his lot was always to die and make Nine step up.
BRIAN [our only secondary for Eleven!]
M: What is not to love about Brian? He’s Rory’s dad. He is constantly curious about what’s going on and totally willing to buy into the whole thing. I love it. And I’m gonna say something big: I think with a little more time and cards played right, he could’ve been another Wilf-like mentor for Eleven.
J: YES Wilf 2.0. I say that in love. Much like Jackie and Wilf, I SO appreciate that there’s a character who is supportive of their loved one’s desire for adventure and that can show appreciation for the opportunities that the Doctor’s given companions not just to travel in space and time, but to become self-actualized and develop traits that they might not have needed to if they’d stayed in [Wherever,] England. I like that he gets to travel with the Doctor and form that bond (even if it’s a bond that will never really be shared in person(tear)) with Rory. Also, Mr. Weasley.
As for tertiary…
MADAME VASTRA & JENNY
M: I am sorely disappointed to not have more time with these two and the Doctor. The Snowmen episode with Clara, Madame Vastra’s kind of angry vibe was fantastic. And it always leaves me wanting more from her. And Jenny? It’s one of my favorite things, honestly, how unapologetic this entire relationship is. No explanation. No context. It just is what it is. Deal, humanity. I love it.
J: EVERYTHING YOU SAID. Also, I always want to make Madame Vastra a recurring character from one of the earlier two repto-sapien episodes, but she isn’t. I like that just like the Doctor, she has a companion in Jenny (her Rose) that helps her stay sane – I mean, she’s a LIZARD LADY traveling through time, so, actually a ton more difficult to go unnoticed than the Doctor. Madame Vastra should have a spin off show. Madame Who?
M: I would’ve loved Craig to become a full companion for at least one or two episodes. Some of Eleven’s finest, most human moments were with Craig (and Stormageddon, obvs), and I almost resent that. But only almost. Because Craig was everything I could’ve asked for in a male counterpart for Eleven. Everything.
J: At this point, I think everyone knows how much I love Craig. LOVE CRAIG. (Side note, Megan: Have you see History Boys? RENT IT.) I really liked the points in The Lodger where Craig got frustrated at how perfect Eleven was at everything; I think that if he’d gotten to be a full time companion, that would’ve really humanized the Doctor. Instead, we got three seasons of watching the Doctor chase girls. (I’m really not as bitter as I sound, honestly.) James Corden is really terrific. I hope Craig comes back for more episodes.
MADAME DE POMPADOUR
M: I do love the Madame De Pompadour episode, and I think it’s because of the complexity it adds to the Doctor’s sort of constant heart-on-sleeve status when it comes to humanity (and particularly women, at least for Ten). It was kind of a twinge of “oh yeah, he just goes on and people die around him” before we actually had to do any rough heartbreak…say, on Bad Wolf Bay… *le sigh
J: Lots of people really love her episode not because of the awesome villains (CLOWN ROBOTS!) or the adorable tete e tete of Rose and Ten about the horse, but because of the character herself. WHY? I don’t get it. No one between Ten and Rose!
M: Vincent goes down as one of the greatest episodes of this show, and I don’t think many would argue with me about that. Related to Mdm De Pompadour, things end. Vincent was going to die in some way all along, and it was going to be hard no matter what actually happened. But the fact that it gave Amy a little moment to say, “I didn’t change everything, but I changed something,” was really valuable to her character and to/from the Doctor. Plus, that scene… bringing him to the museum. Ugly sobs from me every single time. Bonus: BILL NIGHY. HOW I LOVE IT.
J: Vincent and the Doctor isn’t a topic I’d usually relegate to one paragraph, but here goes – I feel like Vincent helped remind Amy that while they were getting to go on these grand adventures, and her world was being shifted, the lives of the people they encountered generally went on as before. The Doctor wasn’t going to bend the rules just to have a happy ending (see: Killing Hitler, related: Ten was okay dropping some lines to Shakespeare). Vincent helped remind the Doctor that sometimes a person doesn’t have to be the last of their kind to FEEL like they are alone. I love Vincent and I was happy to see them do this kind of episode again (Dickens, Shakespeare, etc.). BILL NIGHY in my heart.
THE NEXT DOCTOR
M: Don’t act like you weren’t at least a little nervous to put the Governor in the same room with Ten. Because if you weren’t, you may be dead inside. And if I said I didn’t kind of want him to be a Time Lord, I’d be lying. Because a time traveling hot air balloon? UH OKAY. You had me at “hello, run for your life.”
J: Confession: I think David Morrissey is sooooo dreamy. When I saw his episode of Who, though, I’d actually just come off seeing him play a total creeper in Our Mutual Friend, so his lack of eye patch didn’t even cross my mind. This story, “The Next Doctor,” as a Christmas special is total genius – the concept of a regular guy – a guy who would normally be the type getting to be a companion – getting to actually be THE DOCTOR, was amazing. I loved that while Ten, and the audience, could see that everything was all wrong, Morrissey behaved with the same conviction and valor that the Doctor would show. Spirit of Christmas-togetherness? YES. Also, he had everyone cheer for Ten. So dreamy.
AS FOR THE PATRIOTS…
J: Megan, in an email a couple weeks ago you threw out a question about American companions that I’ve been mulling over. I’ll be honest…I’m still just not sure how I feel about this happening. I mean, remember when DC announced that Superman wasn’t American? That he didn’t identify with any one country? JUST SLAP ME IN THE FACE WHY DON’T YOU. I feel the same way with introducing Americans into Doctor Who (or, I feel like this on behalf of the British people). I don’t think there should EVER be a non-Brit playing the Doctor, but I don’t know about companions. Are we distinguishing between having American actors playing Brits and vice versa? Maybe that’s a thing, too. Here’s my best case scenario, and one I’ve thought way too long and hard about: The Doctor (preferably 12) is really spending quality time with his wife, River. YOU KNOW. She has a baby, but timey-wimey, space prison, action adventure and all that and somehow they baby can’t be raised by River and the Doctor (in my mind, somehow the Doc has been shielded from the knowledge that he has a baby). River delivers the baby to the 1930s (I haven’t worked that out yet) and AMY AND RORY RAISE THE BABY!!! THEN the Doctor finds them in a wonderful reunion episode, spends a couple episodes (i.e. decades) bonding with their second child only to realize when the child is…20ish?…that it’s his and River’s. This child (in my mind it’s a daughter, because ME) would’ve been raised in America by British parents. It could be played by an actor of either nationality. This would also be the next companion because I’m convinced Clara will ditch the old dude and River will end up in Trensalore sooner rather than later. What do you think?
M: The thing is, I could go either way. I love the Brits. Obviously. I near-religiously believe they can do next-to-no wrong. That said, part of me really loves the idea of American companions, particularly if we could spend a little less time on Earth and a little more time on some crazy other planets. I feel like there’s a lot of opportunity for commentary there that could (potentially) broaden both audiences. And if I was going to trust someone to pull it off, it might actually be Moffat. I know it’s super popular to hate him at the moment, but I stand by my belief that he could pull it off. He’s pulled off an awful lot so far. Agreed, however, on the point of a non-Brit playing the Doctor. Not okay. Never going to be okay. And 2nd agreement, ideal would be Capaldi (am I supposed to call him 13 now? I need some guidance on how to refer to him after that 50th) and River. Don’t hate that baby storyline, btw. But I say we could use a few American actors playing American companions. Doesn’t have to be extravagant. Doesn’t even have to be an entire season. I just think there’s untapped potential, and I’d be game to see what they could do with it.
Okay Whovians, who’d we forget? Tell us all about it. (Note: We did NOT forget about River. She just deserves her own post, don’t you think?)
**For the record, we know that Sarah Jane is a companion of earlier Doctors; however, we are looking at the 2005 reboot (through present-day) only. Forgive us, Classic Whovians!
(Pssst! Check back next week for a special “All Things Eleven” roundup before the Christmas episode and regeneration!)