Thursday

In celebration of Doctor Who turning 50, let's celebrate his companions' accomplishments

Yes, I should be working on my NaNoWriMo stuff. Yes, I am procrastinating. Come at me, bro.

My first thought when I wanted to write a post on Doctor Who was ranking some of my favorite episodes, or maybe some of the most ugly-cry-inducing moments in the new series. And then I thought, meh, the whole Internet is going to be doing that. You know what I bet they won't be doing? Having an awards ceremony for the Doctor's long-suffering companions, who are pretty much the only reason that man is still alive and hasn't used up all his regenerations (although lesbi-honest, they'll wibbly wobbly a way to give him endless regenerations as long as the series is a hit, which will be FOREVER).

Without further timey wimey, everyone step forward to accept your companion merit badges.

The badge for Relentless Resourcefulness goes to my girl Rose Tyler. Rose was always clever and brave, with one famous example. The Ninth Doctor sent her home using an emergency protocol, with no way for her to pilot the TARDIS back to save him. She was displeased by this. It's worse than getting broken up with on a Post-It note.

But would Rose ever give up? Not on your life. Enlisting the help of her mother and Mickey, she deduced that she could communicate with the heart of the TARDIS and ripped the ship's center open using a moving truck. With contact made, she absorbs the time vortex, pilots the ship back to the Doctor, destroys all the Daleks and finally gets a kiss from the man she loves. All in time to get back to London for Christmas dinner.



The badge for Power of Love goes to Craig Owens, whose double appearance on the show makes him a companion in my book even if he never boarded the TARDIS. In "The Lodger," he taps into his previously unconfessed loved for his best friend and uses his intense desire to stay and be with her to short circuit a crash-landed space ship, which is searching for a pilot desperate to leave and frying up a bunch of innocent bystanders in the process.

He again saves the day with love by reversing his conversion into a Cyberman after he hears his baby, Alfie, crying. Let's process this. He was reprogrammed to have all his emotions eradicated, and his love was so powerful that it could overwrite the reprogramming and fight off the Cybermen to protect his child. Or as he beautifully put it, "I blew them up with love." Someone please give this man a World's Greatest Dad mug immediately.



The badge for Stunning Self-Assurance goes to Rory Williams. His fiancée runs off with another man, her imaginary friend, in fact, the night before their wedding. He then tags along with them and is, at least for a few episodes, painted as a "gooseberry" who is the odd man out while Amy and her raggedy Doctor yak it up. Is Rory a chump? Nope. He's a champion. I get the sense from rewatching Rory's episodes that he always knew he had Amy on lock. Whenever a choice was presented, Amy chose Rory. He eventually encouraged and joined in to her friendship with the Doctor, confident in the knowledge that while lesser men should be threatened by a gallant Time Lord, his ability to protect his woman, wield a sword and do it while dressed as a hot Roman warrior would always leave the ladies saying, "Doctor? Ha! Doctor who?"

(And the merit badge, or demerit badge, for worst joke ever goes to Liz. Boo. You suck, Liz.)



The badge for Insane Bravery goes to Clara, my beloved sister in MPDGness. The sassy nanny faced certain and repeated death by jumping into the Doctor's time stream, which scattered "echoes" of her throughout time and space to undo the damage the Great Intelligence did in reversing all the Doctor's victories into defeats. No whinging, no fear, just the conviction that she had to do what she had to do. Clara, I've realized, is the ultimate metaphor for the fan. The companion is always the voice of the audience. Clara began her journey with the Doctor with Eleven, like many current fans of the show have, and then she jumped into his past, poking around in his history even at the very beginning, learning every one of his faces. Yes, we do that on a less grand scale, involving more Netflixing and Wikipediaing than transtemporal splitting, but still. My point is, Souffle Girl, you da business.




Two badges, one for Excellence in Comedy and the other for Defiance of Clichés, go to Donna Noble. The Doctor is kind of a lady killer of late. Martha Jones wanted a piece. Rose Tyler got a piece. Donna just wanted to travel and have a laugh and had zero romantic desire for the Doctor, in part because he was too scrawny. No companion has had the wit or spunk that Donna had. She humanized the Doctor more than anyone else did, by making him laugh and being his best friend, and by forcing him to do more when he refused to claim responsibility. I miss Donna, you guys. She had tremendous personal growth in her travels with the Doctor. The program exhibited paradoxical brilliance in giving her a happy ending that made the viewers cry all the tears, and I still hope we'll see her again.


Happy birthday, Doctor Who. Here's to another 50 years of brave companions, laughter and buckets of tears.

2 comments :

  1. Fifty years, five companions. Sounds about right.


    But let's spare a thought for Leela with her Janus thorn, Liz for refusing to be a good girl and fetch the tea, Jo for resisting the Master's hypnosis, Tegan for having enough of the death and destruction that followed in the Doctor's wake, and Ace with her baseball bat & Nitro-9.

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  2. Yes, let's. Fifty years of material — of course this post isn't comprehensive. I've watched Classic Who, but being limited to what's on Netflix, I preferred to not wade out of my depth and just write a fun little post about recent companions that the casual viewer might enjoy.

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