In honor of the 50th Anniversary of Doctor Who, as well as the regeneration of Eleven to Twelve, we’ll be having a series of conversations about the Doctor and his world in the next few months. Join the conversation; we’d love to hear your thoughts!
First, be aware that these posts include information covering all aired episodes. There will be spoilers!
A companion track for the companions, should you be inclined:
Subject: Conversations Through Space and Time: Darlin’ Companion
On Nov, 21, 2013, at 12:24 PM, Jennifer Clapp wrote:
So, I realize that in two short days (very short days, judging by my to-do list) we will get a chance to talk about this in person. BUT we might also be too distracted by our utter disdain of Clara to form proper thoughts. So, my question to you is about the companions. I wish I could say ALL the companions, but I admit to not watching before Eccleston’s Nine. Who’s your favorite (there is a right answer, by the way)? Least? What do you think about the development of the companions “as people” during their travels with the(ir) Doctor? (I could answer these questions now, but I’d like to hear your opinion first (so I can judge you. (Kidding.)).) <–puncutation!
First off, how do you categorize the companions? I tend to lump them into two main groups:
The “actual” companions: Rose, Martha, Donna, Amy, Rory, Clara
The “other” companions: Mickey, Jackie*, Captain Jack Harkness, Sarah Jane**, Wilf, Brian***
*I can’t wait to hear what you think about Jackie
**I hate calling her an “other” because she was a companion of an earlier Doctor (sadly not Paul McGann’s, aka the studly one..but maybe actually good because that means she wasn’t relegated to one-and-done companioning. I don’t want to think about what that would actually mean. Forget I said it.)
***It’s possible that Brian (Rory’s dad) was never actually in the TARDIS. Do you remember? I just want for it to be true so bad. So, so bad.
The other thing I want to ask you related to this: Does the Doctor make the companion, or vice versa? I have thoughts on this, too.
On Nov 21, 2013, at 01:08 PM, Megan Beam wrote:
Yeah, girl. It’s my favorite kind of gossip: of the time and space transcendent variety.
There are so many nuances that will be missing not discussing this face to face first thing. For instance, the way my eyes cross when I try to do an impression of Eleven doing an impression of Nine and Ten. Or perhaps the way my voice slowly rises in tone and decibel level when I think about how Clara bosses Eleven around the TARDIS: who, by the way, speaks for all of us.
First things first: I absolutely cannot choose a favorite between Rose Tyler and Donna Noble. It is more than virtually impossible for me to do this. And let me say why.
First, Rose. I admit, the first I hear of a new Whovian watching the Doctor and not caring for Rose, I automatically worry that I’ll never really be able to talk about the show with him/her. She was the perfect reintroduction of the show, in my opinion, to an [almost] entirely new demographic of watchers. Of course, she’s Billie Piper, with whom I’m always going to be slightly obsessed. But when she started this show with Nine, she was so ordinarily British as Rose. Working her retail job. Dating Mickey. Playing the world. Wearing her jacket strategically off one shoulder like it’s an accident. And I think the big reason I put her and Donna in the same affectionate category as companions is that neither one of them were overly concerned with what “more” the world had for them. They just kind of tackled what was in front of them. Only letting out that existential sigh once a blue moon. Like they weren’t going to let themselves be TOO discouraged with their realities. They weren’t really worried about it. You know? So, when the Doctor comes in, he’s not saving them from an obsessively miserable self concept (except let’s pause for that speech with Ten and Donna in the TARDIS at the end of season 4 [my favorite season] about being special. HELLO, FEELS). He’s not spending his time digging them out of a self-made hole of hatred and dissatisfaction. He’s just starting at ground zero and opening the sky. To me, that’s a fantastic representation of what kind of perspective the Doctor really brings to a pseudo-ordinary humanity. His wonder at the ordinary so perfectly matches their wonder at the extraordinary. He isn’t necessarily just fascinated with what we can overcome as a species, he’s simply fascinated by what we just are. Can’t help but make us think that maybe our definitions of “ordinary” and “extraordinary” have been a bit lacking. But that’s another post for another day.
So there. Rose and Donna. I love the kind of confidence they both instilled in their Doctors. I love the chemistry of love and friendship both Billie Piper and Catherine Tate pulled off with David Tennant especially. And I love the man the Doctor was with each of them. I cannot WAIT to see Rose with Eleven. Be still my heart.
I feel pretty sure I haven’t answered that one your right way. But. There it is 😉
Least? I think this has been established. Clara. And you know, I really do hate that I dislike her so. I love the storyline she has. I love the idea of Clara: The Impossible Girl. And maybe the bone I have to pick is more with Moffat and maybe even Jenna Coleman for the way Clara is being played. Something about her little mini-skirt-bossy-mouse routine takes away from the idea of companion in some of the storyline. Don’t get me wrong, she’s adorable. And she has great chemistry with Matt. But that’s kind of it, too. We got so attached to Eleven and River, bleeding hearts on our sleeves. Then that gut-wrenching Amy and Rory exit. It’s so soon to throw someone in with the kind of sharp, sassy, sexy chemistry with him. Slow down, Moffat. Think about how we got over Rose and Ten? First, we got Martha, which, okay, no thanks. But we still didn’t get a Doctor who’d just gone on and forgotten Rose. Which was satisfying to us in its own right. And then Donna. The perfect friend for the Doctor. Chemistry was perfection, have I said this enough. It was like the storyline was giving both the Doctor and the watchers space to heal from all of that broken-hearted love stuff. And It’s one of the things I appreciate most about this show: every single companion doesn’t have to be in love with him, and vice versa. Let’s stop making that the only reason to watch a show, ok? [Looking at you, ‘Merica] All of that said, I think Clara’s appeal brings out too much Matt and not enough Eleven. That statement will UNDOUBTEDLY provoke more to unpack. But I said it. And I meant it.
I have lots of thoughts on Amy and Rory and even Martha, but I didn’t want to get too talky in the first email. I’m sure you have thoughts 🙂 So bring them on!
On Nov 21, 2013, at 03:00 PM, Jennifer Clapp wrote:
Rose and Donna. They ain’t bovvered.
First off, let me say HOW EMBARRASSED I was when I realized I forgot about River. What was I thinking?!? Let’s save up and talk about her later… (You mentioned once that you’d love to see Donna meet Clara. What about River meeting Rose? RIVER MEETING ROSE.)
You were almost right – the answer for best is Donna. You were mostly there. Here’s my say about that: I do love Rose, and I think she’s the perfect reintroduction of Doctor Who as a cultural icon in 2005. Billie Piper is undoubtedly a huge reason for that success, along with your comments about her being a typical 19 year old British girl. Still lives at home, works retail, dates a childhood sweetheart, those jeans and all that pink. At the core of Rose’s story, she’s a girl who leaves what she knows to go after what she doesn’t know – LOVE THAT. Absolutely love it. But then…at the end of her run, she’s a girl in love with the Doctor. That’s who she is. Even when she comes back (and I just finished Ten’s tenure last night, so this is fresh in my mind), she’s jealous of the new companions and behaves like the jilted girlfriend. Even when she becomes a “searcher” on her own in the alternate universe, it’s to find the Doctor. Yes, yes, it’s a very romantic story. It’s what had to happen to bring this show back, I think. Love, actually, is all around.
Donna, though. DONNA. It’s almost like she’s Rose at 29 (okay, 35) if Rose didn’t meet the Doctor. Working as a temp in Chisick. Living at home. And then she leaves it all behind, and part of her recognizes that she has the ability to help the Doctor heal after the loss of Rose, but then there’s a stronger part of her that recognizes that her greater challenge is to restore his humanity and take responsibility for his actions. There’s a reason that The Waters of Mars – and all that means for Ten – follows Donna’s departure and not Rose’s. She’s comfortable with herself, she’s comfortable with other people, she’s the best. I want to be Donna.
Now, here’s the weird part. Martha Jones. I remember on first viewing, I thought she was the WORST. THE WORST. Always mooning over the Doctor and having a truly annoying family. Then I rewatched it, and I think she got a bad deal with writing. The character of Martha does have the moon-y side, but for the most part she’s the perfect counterpart to the Doctor in her ability to comprehend the “science-y side” of things. She was really interesting to see a second time. She’s someone who did pine for more, I think, but was also going after it (through studying medicine) but then she was willing to walk away to maintain her own identity. Kudos, Martha Jones.
I do have thoughts about Amy and Rory (and Clara), but it sounded like you had something to say about Martha…?
On Nov 21, 2013, at 06:25 PM, Megan Beam wrote:
RIVER MEETING ROSE. This is an entire fictional post in and of itself. I actually think this would be a really heartfelt moment. For both of them. I just know I would love it.
And you’re right. At the end of her run, that is the role Rose played: The girl who was in love with the Doctor. Not only that, the Doctor was madly in love with her as well. All of this in the best of ways, I think. Reminding us of all of the beautiful things about a story of love that isn’t jarred and constantly beat to death with the story of lust — to an almost painful extent. You know? Yes, that tension makes for great TV and fun plot points. Important even, sometimes. But I think Rose’s storyline will hold a special place with me because of the depth of purity it had. Another reason why I think this show is so brilliant. It’s that well written. It doesn’t have to tantalize my senses to engage me and have me committed. It’s just a well told story. Period. It does its own work.
That will be my one token “old woman” moment for this conversation (yeah, right).
Donna. Look. You are 100% right about this. No doubt. And I’m with you on wanting to BE Donna. Because… well you’ve said it. She’s DONNA. And her development with him was hands down the best. As well as facilitating his best development. Tis why that is my number one favorite season of the show. No question.
And come on. That Adipose moment? Where they finally see each other again? I’m literally pulling out my Apple TV remote to watch it as we “speak.”
I was the same way about Martha. I did feel like the writing kind of gave her the run around. Moon-y eyes were kind of her thing, and maybe it just took awhile to decide how to give her a real storyline at all independent of the “in love with the Doctor” route. But by that finale in season 3 with the Master — by the time she had walked the earth proclaiming her love for the mad man with a box — she earned her companionship then. It was after THAT Martha emerged that I would’ve applauded her forward. She certainly earned her keep in the end. I give her a lower score in comparison to other companions, but she has held her own in good company, I think.
Let’s go. Rory and Amy. My turn to judge you.
On Nov 22, 2013, at 02:05 AM, Jennifer Clapp wrote:
Rory and Amy.
A few surface level observations:
- I love the girl who plays young Amy. I heard it was a relative of Karen Gillan, which I also love.
- I was happy to see male companion to the Doctor that didn’t serve as an “inside antagonist” (like Captain Jack).
- I do like that we saw Amy independently of Rory in the beginning.
I wasn’t sold on Amy at first, and that’s because I wasn’t sold on Matt Smith at first. However, I came to LOVE the idea of this young girl’s imaginary friend suddenly showing up and meeting everyone. And Matt Smith certainly delivered as Raggedy Man. The issues I have with Amy and Rory are more issues I have with Stephen Moffet, and probably traceable to issues that came along with expanding Doctor Who to try to entice an American audience. Starting with…the voiceover. GAHHHHHH I hated that voiceover in season five! All of a sudden, this wasn’t Doctor Who, it was “Hi I’m Amy and here are my adventures with this guy in a police box!” It was a very American approach, though (“Hey, y’all, what we really need it to take the imaginary stuff out of this and make it about a redhead who wears short skirts!”), and at least it was ditched after a season.
Unless I’m forgetting a major plotline, Amy and the Doctor were mainly pals through their seasons, right? I can’t remember an instance where one or the other of them really had to grow or overcome an obstacle…and I’m okay with that! I think that it’s just what EVERYONE needed after the emotional roller coaster of the last half of season four. I also loved the addition of Rory as someone who, unlike Mickey, wasn’t really jealous or threatened by the Doctor, but still made protecting Amy his number one goal. I have the idea that outside of Amy, Rory wouldn’t have traveled with the Doctor. As in, if Rory had been the first in that pair approached, he’d have replied, “Nah, I’m good. Everything I need is right here.” Steady, steady Rory vs. impetuous Amy. (Another River sidenote: If we get more River this coming season, will we see a steady, steady Doctor vs. impetuous River?)
I should make two confessions: 1. I started watching Doctor Who around the time of the Pond-Williams’ departure. I’d seen a bunch of stuff on Pinterest and got curious. I started from the beginning of Nine but, sadly, a bunch of Eleven had been spoiled for me. Eh. What do you do? 1. Two of my favorite episodes (let’s say two of the top five) are in Eleven’s first season, even though I wouldn’t say he’ s my favorite Doctor. They both have to do with the companions. The first is Vincent and the Doctor. Does it get any more wonderful than that? The second is The Lodger (wherein I’m adding Craig to tertiary companion status…tertiary and not secondary in that he doesn’t even SEE the TARDIS, does he?).
Earlier tonight I saw The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, and one of the main takeaways was what a great job Josh Hutcherson (sp?) did this time around of showing the gentle, sweet spirit of Peeta. I’d always thought the character was a little too soft to be considered so heroic in the books, but Hutcherson just knocked it out of the park in CF. That’s what I see in Rory – he never misses an opportunity to stand up for Amy, and ensure their future together, even if it means something bad for the moment. He’s a big picture guy. Love ‘im.
One trait missing from Amy that I remember in the other companions (and again, I could just be forgetting, since I’ve now seen the other episodes THREE times but Amy and Rory’s only once) is the desire to protect whatever alien of the week they’re up against. Even Rose argued a case for the Daleks. I remember Amy being combative (and true, they did come after her and try to steal her baby), but instead of bringing a maliciousness to the show, it let us see those traits in the Doctor. I really liked that turn.
I hope this makes sense – I’m burning the midnight (post-midnight) oil getting some stuff ready for the 50th Anniversary party on Saturday! Yea!
Ok. Judge me. Bring it. (If for no other reason than to put off talking about Clara a little longer.)
PS That moment in the Adipose. I’ve been known to rewatch that and the part when she shows up in the TARDIS in her wedding dress (those five minutes) just for funsies.
On Nov 22, 2013, at 01:35 PM, Megan Beam wrote:
Yes! The young Amy Pond. Legit. Easily one of my favorite things about gently introducing affection for Matt. And what a great move.
I’m with you. I wasn’t sold on Amy at first, either. And I didn’t want to love Matt as much as I did almost instantly [but seriously — whose idea was that voiceover? Kill me]. And part of the issue that keeps me from just loving Amy is the same twinge I don’t like in Clara — that kind of bossy “I know more than the Doctor” routine. Yes, I think that plays a part in humanizing him and bringing him down from his proverbial Olympus. But when I think of the way Donna managed to do it, I don’t know. It’s different. Maybe just more charming. In short, she’s the only one in my mind who’s really allowed to talk to the Doctor like she knows that she knows that she knows him, you know? That’s alway gotten under my skin about Amy.
Still, can’t hate her. Particularly because: RORY. Steady, indeed. I always cry at the Pandorica season finale (before the wedding) when she’s watching the video of the legend of the centurion. And then that moment when the Doctor calls him the “boy who waited.” Just. Yes. To that entire deal. I love the thought, too, that you introduced of a steady Doctor and an impetuous River. Wouldn’t that be something…
There’s really no judgement necessary. We’re in agreement across the board here. I do love the Vincent episode. And I adore The Lodger (because, yes, Craig). Eleven, Amy and Rory have my number one favorite episode of all time with The Doctor’s Wife. So there’s a side note for you.
You’re right about the “alien of the week” defense. I hadn’t really thought of that, but it is a major difference ushered in by Amy. And I do like it. I like the complexity it brings to the Doctor’s history with these various species as well as the tension of his self-preservation and pseudo-pacifist tendencies. She serves as a great observer alongside a watcher, I think. And I hadn’t really thought of that until now. Solid.
[insert the rolling of eyes] Do we HAVE to talk about Clara…
On Nov 22, 2013, at 04:57 PM, Jennifer Clapp wrote:
Clara. Clara, Clara, Clara.
Was there ever as much spoiled potential? Sadly, souffle girl had to become the Impossible Girl, and then I got bored. Really bored. Bored, bored, bored.
I’m so bored by Clara that it’s honestly hard for me to remember much about here. And that’s probably the biggest thing I can say against her. She wears boots. She’s really young. She nanny’d in a house that later went to Narnia (one of my fave Doctor Who callbacks). That’s about it. I do need to rewatch her episodes, but there’s a shocking lack of wonder about her. She never seems that impressed by the Doctor. I mean, sure, Matt Smith is a little goofy and doesn’t spout off facts and info like Nine and Ten, but they’re still TIME AND SPACE TRAVELING. She just doesn’t seem that excited about it. She won’t even give up that nannying job.
Here is one thing RIGHT about Clara, and something I file in the “what might have been” folder: Remember when she was Souffle Girl? AKA Remember when she was A DALEK?!? WHATTTTT?!?! That was the biggest introduction into Doctor Who of any companion (she’s even one of two (Donna) that got to play the same person) and it totally fell flat. As soon as she was a nanny in the Christmas episode, were we supposed to forget she was a Dalek? Is that still something out there? OH MAN is Capaldi going to turn her into a Dalek?
You take the Impossible GIrl that is important for a reason I still haven’t fully figured out. I’ll take the girl who’s going to be a Dalek (because who doesn’t want to see that go down?).
Much like poor Martha, I think the problem is in the writing/characterization and not with Jenna Coleman. She seems like a perfectly capable person of pulling off a compelling character.
It sounds like you have some definite examples in your case against Clara, and I can’t wait to hear them! I wonder if this is because your fave is Eleven and mine is Ten? (That you remember these episodes better?) I mean, I’ve watched them THIS YEAR and I can’t remember much of anything that happened. There was an amusement park at some point, right? And then something else with CRAIG again, right? Craig. [Craig.]
On Nov 22, 2013, at 09:54 PM, Megan Beam wrote:
Listen. Before we even move forward you need to understand something: TEN IS MY DOCTOR. 100%. Never going to change. I love Eleven. I do. I love Matt. And I have SO MANY THOUGHTS on the chances Matt gets with Moffat that David never did. But this is me, calming down and focusing. Now that I’ve made that clear.
So, I just watched The Name of the Doctor again. And I gotta say, this is where we’re about to almost disagree. I know, I know, after all this time. But the truth of the matter is, I can’t fully blame the writing for Clara. Here’s why.
1. I know. That whole Asylum of the Daleks thing. It wasn’t very well explained. BUT. When you think about how Clara threw herself into his timeline in Trenzalore, everything that happened in that episode that first introduced her to us was probably about just that: saving his life. Run you clever boy. So, I can’t think they just wanted us to forget about that. AND. How can we help but think that some of it will appear in this next episode. Maybe even clarify a little? Who knows. Maybe that’s wishful thinking. Moving on.
2. I’m with you on the boredom. She bores me. And maybe it’s Jenna Coleman. Maybe it is the characterization of Clara herself outside of the overarching storyline. But yes. Bored bored bored. I get it. 100%.
3. The overarching storyline of Clara and the timeline is brilliant. I love it. I do. I think the details of it are genius. The only thing lacking to me is, honestly, that Jenna Coleman is too cute to be the Impossible Girl. Seriously. That short skirt sexy mouse thing she puts off throws the entire balance of the storytelling completely out of whack. Like. Are we supposed to think he feels about her like she’s his friend? His kid sister? His daughter? His mistress? How are we supposed to be interpreting his feelings as The Doctor? Versus the chemistry she just has naturally with Matt? To me, that’s all so muddied and mucked up that it barely leaves room for what is actually a really, really good story. You know? I don’t know if that makes any sense. I just think their personal chemistry is better suited for a different storyline. This one was too good to be fogged up by all of that confusion. Blah.
I hope that’s at least remotely coherent…
On Nov 22, 2013, at 011:42 PM, Jennifer Clapp wrote:
Oh no! I did make a beginner’s error and assume…my complete bad. Forgive me and unite with me in proclaiming all for Ten. You should know that I saw this email come through a few minutes ago, but I was too busy crying over Wilf to stop and answer. So you’re LITERALLY catching me at the moment of Eleven’s regeneration. I’ll finish this email, go put the next batch of potato cakes (for tomorrow’s party!) in the oven, and come back to “meet” Amy Pond. (PS I’d forgotten the Doctor’s line about Donna, “Do you think I’d leave my best friend without an escape mechanism?” I’m going to use that the next time I need to be a wing-person.)
1. Oh, I hope so – I really do hope that we get some clarification about the Dalek thing in this next episode. Howevs, I know that Clara is going to continue to be Twelve’s companion, so I just…I don’t know how that will work. Is Moffett still involved? I feel like I heard the show runner was changing along with the Doctor, but I could be making that up. Mainly, I’m wondering if he’ll feel the need to wrap up storylines or not.
2. & 3. No, this makes perfect sense, and I think we actually still agree. It’s not so much that Clara is BAD, the whole situation is just confusing. I think some of that might be that Eleven is the “awkward Doctor;” he seemed most comfortable with Amy and Rory, and then after that just awkward with girls (River, Clara). When I think about it like that, it’s kindof adorable, yet I don’t know if my brain will let me do that in the wake of Nine’s complete studliness and confidence with the ladies. And it does get convoluted, because we have Rose as a soulmate, right? But then River as the wife. So do we (and we’re veering out of talking about Clara and into talking about Rose now. Or actually the Doctor.) think that Rose and the Human Doctor are happy in the alternate universe and the Gallifreyan Doctor is emotionally clear to have another soulmate in River? But then that does lead to a weirdness with Clara. She doesn’t seem moony like Martha, or all that mate-y like Donna…but she isn’t romantic like Rose, either. She’s an acquaintance. A person you see at parties once a year and enjoy talking to…but don’t make an effort to hang out with. So why is she here? Sigh. I’m not going to make another assumption like I did last time, but am I at least close in thinking that we don’t really care for her because we don’t know how to think of her? This is all adding to the anticipation of tomorrow…
Let me know if that makes sense about Clara.
Now, I have one more question for you, non-companion related, before tomorrow’s Day of the Doctor.
This has been my burning question ever since I first watched The End of Time, and I was reminded of it a few minutes ago. There’s the lady in white who comes to visit Wilf, then we see the SAME LADY, now in red, with the council of Time Lords. THEN she comes with T. Dalt (my little nickname for Timothy Dalton, btw) and we see her cover her face in her hands. At one point, she tells Wilf “[the Doctor] saved me once.” The question: Who is she?!?! I have several theories:
1. At one point, T. Dalt actually says something about the weeping angels. Was she a weeping angel, or did the Doctor turn her into one to save her (related theory, is this his mother (Verity), and he made her a weeping angel to save her from the destruction of Gallifrey? Can he do that? He can, right, because he banished that one little girl to the mirror.)
2. Is she a part of the coven-thing in Pompeii, since they all covered their faces with their hands? This is a spin-off from my weeping angel theory.
3. She’s in either white (River’s color) or red (Clara’s color). River at one point is banished to a false world (with false children) to keep her from dying; however, she ends up in Trensalore. Is this her being saved by the Doctor? Similar idea for Clara. When Clara first appeared all in red with that “Who is the impossible girl?” time travel theme, I was SO CONVINCED this lady was adult Clara. But Clara never seems to get to be an adult, so…
4. When Wilf asks the Doctor who the lady is (at the end of The End of Time), he doesn’t get an answer, but the Doctor does give Donna a stare-down. Is this an adult Donna? Because she was Doctor Donna, does the Doctor somehow send her back in time to save her brain from exploding – she gets to live her life with the Time Lords?
I realize this is an entire different can of worms. We can talk about it or not…just wanted to see if you had any theories (I am a theory-developing fiend, btw. Ask me about what I thought LOST should’ve been sometime.).
See you TOMORROW!