Playing favorites

doctor-who-companions-63-13My husband asked me today to list my three favorite companions. Now, number one should come as no surprise to anyone who’s read what I’ve written before: Donna Noble is definitely the best. No question. No hesitation. Just the best. But the top three? That took a bit more thought, and I realized that I could probably name my top five, but I had a lot of problems with top three. So, here are my top five companions, not listed in order, except of course with Donna at the top. (I’m counting only traveling companions, not one-shots and few-shots like Jackson Lake, Wilfred Mott, and Craig Owens. Also please note that I’m not very familiar with the companions of the first three Doctors and a few of the other classic companions.)

Five Favorite Companions

Donna Noble: Donna was the perfect support for the Tenth Doctor. She acted as his conscience, and was the friend that he needed. She was always willing to defend her beliefs and was strong enough to stand up for herself, even against the Doctor. Both she and the Doctor grew while they were together.

Sarah Jane Smith: A strong, confident, fearless ¬†woman, she was always willing to get right into the heart of the problem. She also worked well with all of the Doctors she met. I think a lot of Sarah Jane’s appeal had to do with her actress, Elisabeth Sladen, a woman who just sparkled on screen.

Vislor Turlough: One of the things I really like about Turlough is that he had secrets. His introductory stories were about his deal with the Black Guardian, which bound him to trying to kill the Doctor. The only other episode of his I have seen so far is “Planet of Fire,” and again, in that, we find out about his history on Trion, which he has guarded up until this time. He’s a survivalist, which makes him look a bit cowardly, but this makes him more realistic, as well as rounds out his character.

Ace McShane: Ace was a rough-and-ready street urchin, a great complement for the educated, sophisticated, and cunning Seventh Doctor. She was straightforward and unapologetic, and sometimes her decisions would cause more trouble than they would solve, but that’s how she was.

Rory Williams: Rory was loyal to the Eleventh Doctor without being obsessed with him, an important contrast to Amy. Thus, his motivations were far more complex, and it also allowed him to be a less than perfect companion: he was fearful of danger, worried for Amy, and distrusting of the Doctor.

Honorable Mentions

Tegan Jovanka: I haven’t seen enough Tegan, I think. She’s brash, blunt, and obnoxious – in short, a lot of fun.

Barbara Wright: I’ve only seen two First Doctor episodes, but I really loved Barbara in both of them. She’s not a sympathetic character, but she’s confident and takes charge when she needs to.

Companions I Don’t Like

Rose Tyler: Not a popular opinion, I know. I liked her a lot more in series 1, but in series 2, during the show’s “let’s see how silly the Doctor can be when he’s in love” stage, she’s insufferable. She’s whiny and selfish, manipulates the Doctor when she can, and treats everyone else like crap (especially Mickey, but also Jackie). Her writing was also erratic, portrayed as a strong, take-charge person in one episode and a cringing coward in the next. During the Darlig Ulv Stranden scene, I cried for the Doctor, but was glad to see Rose go.

Melanie Bush: I’ve only seen her in “Time and the Rani,” which was a terrible episode, but Mel made it so much worse. I am hoping she turns out to be better when she’s in a non-terrible episode.

Clara Oswald: The “Impossible Girl” arc was interesting, but Clara herself has no character. She simply seems to exist as a deus ex machina for stories in which the Doctor doesn’t win. And then suddenly we find out that she fancies him, with no previous, in-character clues. I’m hoping she’s treated better in the new series.

 

Less destiny, please

550w_cult_doctor_who_wedding_01We just finished watching Series 5, and let me tell you, the second time around it really made a lot more sense. I’m looking forward to Series 6 making more sense, too, since I still don’t have any idea what happened in that one! I definitely like Eleven a lot now, and I like Amy more than I did the first time, but Rory is still by far one of my favorite companions. I think part of it has to do with the fact that he’s a very normal person thrown into extraordinary circumstances, and he shines like star. He doesn’t really get all these fantastical things that are happening to him, and he really doesn’t want to be in the TARDIS, but when he has to be, he’s as strong as Amy or any other companion.

One thing that I did notice this time that I didn’t get on the first viewing of this series was the fact that everything centered around Amy. I knew that the whole scenario presented in “The Pandorica Opens” came from Amy, but I didn’t realize that so much of the whole series revolved around her, too. The entire story was really well done. However, I can’t help but feeling that there’s way too much “destiny” involved with the companions. It started with Donna, with the Doctor realizing that all of the timelines converged on her, explaining why she encountered him a second time after refusing to travel with him in “The Runaway Bride,” why the Ood considered her so important, and why she had such an important role to play in the final encounter with the Daleks. Then there was Wilf, who also was tied to the Doctor by destiny. And then there’s Clara, who was tied to the Doctor because of her actions in fixing her timestream. Thus, the stories of four out of the last five seasons were driven by the companions. (I’m not sure about Series 6, as I remember very little of it.)

While I like the general idea of the universe pushing certain events to happen, I’m getting a bit tired of it happening over and over again. It’s a cool concept only if it’s used sparingly. With probable new storyline of the search of Gallifrey and the fact that Clara’s “Impossible Girl” story has concluded, I can hope that the series storyline will not be so companion- and destiny-centric.