So, as soon as she stepped away from the TARDIS rumours abounded that Martha was out because the writers couldn’t develop her character further. I’m prepared to pledge now, as a regular Doctor Who viewer: I’ll keep watching, even if there is no character development for the companion across a whole season. Gosh! What’s more, I don’t need the season to build up to a a themed crescendo. Keep Martha, a very descent companion, but tell a few more stories (Blink style), from the POV of new characters.
But I was interested in a new companion, hoping they’d be from another planet. Or at least another era. But no, they’re not even going to be new. I can’t feel the production team have got things arse about face with their companions. Keep Martha in the TARDIS, and send Donna to the Hub. I’d love to see her telling Jack and the crew what w*****s they all are.
It really was infallible link bait for Who anoraks, but it worked: the Guardian listed the five best and worst Doctor who companions to celebrate Martha’s arrival. With the announcement of the recent shakeup, I can’t resist the temptation anymore. Here’s my list:
Whilst we were drunk, a fellow Who fan persuaded me of this; and even sober I’m now convinced she’s the best. Tough, violent and good with explosives; she only makes it to No. 3 in the Guardian poll, but she did for the Doctor Who what Rose was to be celebrated for: she was a contemporary companion with a story arc.
She and the Doctor made a great team; they were equals, close but independent, respecting and trusting one another. She’s a clever, classy companion (but not according to the Guardian). Martha is a companion in this vein, but without the explicit equality of status that a fellow Time Lord has.
- Zoe Heriot.
A young brilliant mathematician with a sense of fun and a spangly catsuit. The Guardian have her, though only at No. 5, and compare her to Emma Peel. Zoe brought a youthful enthusiasm and a sense of fun.
The introduction of Leela was a masterstroke, not just for er… “keeping the Dads happy” but because her savage violence was such a perfect counterpoint to the Doctor’s pacifism. Rather than the Doctor “civilising” her, there are occasions when he turns a blind eye to her vengeful ways when it suits him, adding a nicely ambiguous moral dimension. Outrageously neglected by the Guardian poll.
- Liz Shaw
Sarah-Jane tops the Guardian’s poll. She’s at the top of almost every poll in fact. She’s the feisty feminist companion who put an end to all the screaming and being rescued, we’re always told. But this is wrong on two counts: she quite clearly didn’t put an end to it (or we’d never have had Mel Bush) and she wasn’t the first: Liz Shaw, physicist and medic was an expert in her field and headhunted by UNIT 3 years earlier (our time). She had little respect for her military masters and even the Doctor had to earn her respect. Liz Shaw is also ignored by the Guardian. But the Doctor had to earn her respect; much as he did Donna’s (not that the latter is the former’s intellectual equal).
Okay, I quite like Sarah Jane; but she’s not the best. And despite the extended air time she seems to be getting anyway, I suppose I should mention Rose as a runner up.
- Jo Grant
So I know this may be a bit controversial (though the Guardian put K9 in its 5 worst, so I don’t think this is so bad). But here’s the case against: a bubbly blonde replaces Liz Shaw (see above) having only gained the job by nepotism. She takes the companion role straight back to screaming and being rescued. And she’s popular because…? I suppose it’s that Dalek picture…
For some reason, whining was popular with 80s companions. Peri had other facets to compensate, Adric… well, he’s just too easy a target (though not for the Guardian…), as is Turlough, but Tegan… What was the point of her? The best thing about Nyssa for me was that she was the one who didn’t whine, for that alone her place in the Guardian’s worst 5 is underserved. Besides, I’ve become rather attached to her in the Audio adventures. Tegan can take her place here. As someone said on the Outpost Gallifrey Forums, “show a girl the universe, and all she wants is Heathrow.”
This might seem harsh, but for Vicki the problem was she wasn’t Susan. Grafted in to take her place, she didn’t have that “unearthly” quality that Susan seemed to posess, instead slipping into a generic child role; basically she just wasn’t needed.
- Harry Sullivan
Oh, I know he was likable and all that, but he represents the generic third companion. Like Hex, Cr’izz and Erimem he’s a hanger on. Nice, but unnecessary.
I said he was too easy a target, but (sorry) it’s too much to resist. I’m ashamed of myself now. He’s not actually as bad as Adam Mitchell, but I’m not sure Adam really counts as a companion.
Martha, Donna, Jack and Rose aren’t in the five best, or five worst. If they haven’t been “fantastic” they’ve been pretty good, and Martha and Jack came close. Martha and Donna aren’t finished yet either, so they may earn their places (at either end!) yet.