I don’t know why watching ‘Listen’ made me think of this. Maybe because we see so much of Clara; Clara becomes the central figure much as Rose was in ‘Rose’ or ‘The Christmas Invasion.’ But what I thought of was how we come to know the characters; how they come to know the Doctor; how the relationship develops on screen.
At this time it appears that Rose is wholly unique in the way her development as the Doctor’s friend and companion is portrayed. We see her intrigued but wary in ‘Rose;’ overwhelmed in ‘The End of the World;’ coming into her own in ‘The Unquiet Dead.’ She questions the Doctor, and her decision to trust him, and we follow her thinking on screen. The romantic course of their relationship came to me as a complete surprise, because in the end it was the natural result of the slow development of their friendship. I saw them go from curiosity to interest to friendship to love. It was organic, believable, and real.
I think most of the time when I don’t like romances it’s because they feel forced. Characters get shoved together just because romantic love is supposedly the be-all and end-all of all things, the only goal worth reaching. Bleah. But in this case – and also, incidentally, Parker/Hardison – it works. No shoving required; the characters grow together naturally.
Martha’s acceptance of the Doctor, on the other hand, felt far too abrupt. She spent one adventure with him in the hospital, then takes one trip in the TARDIS and suddenly trusts him with her life? Rose didn’t throw herself on the Doctor’s mercy in E3. In fact, I’m not sure she counted on him once in all of S1. Sure, she got in scrapes and screamed for help, but she didn’t sit back going ‘the Doctor will save me, the Doctor will save me.’
I get that ‘Gridlock’ was, at its heart, an episode about faith. I just think it was far too early in Martha’s run for her to have such faith in him.
Donna, like Amy Pond and Madame de Pompadour, seems to build the Doctor up in her mind in his absence. She grew a lot in the aftermath of ‘Runaway Bride;’ she tried to make something of herself, and was less successful than she would have liked. When the Doctor reappears, she’s ready to run away with him. This makes some sense, I suppose, because in her head she ‘knows’ him. But we never see them really getting to know each other. They have adventures and say things, and it’s fun, but that’s it. Both Martha and Donna get the ‘best friend’ label, without much of anything to back it up. I suppose there are things happening off-screen to develop the friendship, but I much preferred seeing it on screen.
Okay, now I remember why this has been on my mind. I just re-watched ‘The Beast Below,’ a cheesy episode with some very sweet moments. The line about being ‘very old, and very kind, and the very very last’ gets right to the heart of things. But once again it happens far too early. Amy has known the Doctor for most of her life, but she hasn’t spent very much time with him. ‘Very old’ and ‘very last’ she learns in throwaway lines within the episode, tiny low-impact moments. Kindness she gathers, I suppose, from his reaction to the crying child, but it’s not much in the way of evidence. Yet she is sufficiently certain of him to bet the life of every human on the ship. Two episodes later it might have made more sense; so early in the run it feels wrong.
Ah well, I have long known I was spoiled early by Rose, Russell, and good old Nine. 🙂