Archive for the ‘Companions’ Category

The Mind Robber   Leave a comment

Fictional characters confronting fictionality is one of my favorite tropes – and this time it wasn’t even Moffat!

For once my husband was in the mood for DW, and the Second Doctor is one of his faves – hence my veering from the Classic timeline. There aren’t many extant Troughton stories left that we haven’t seen, but this was one of them. I remembered it as the story where Frazier Hines got sick and Jamie was played by someone else. (That did happen for one episode – and fortunately in the Land of Fiction you can make that work.)

Overall this is a cracking story. It moves fast for its era with no especially notable padding. The interactions with Gulliver and Rapunzel are great fun – Rapunzel is adorable, and I don’t understand why this is her only television role. I also particularly enjoyed the comic-book superhero from the future: grounding Zoe as a character and legitimizing comics as literature in one fake-muscle-bound stroke. However, neither Jamie nor Zoe is at their best in this story, each having little use for their strengths and both being repeatedly and too easily fooled.

A couple of things confused me as well. The title didn’t click for me at first, though after some thought I managed to put it together – the Doctor’s mind was needed to continue creating the fiction, and could not be got by legitimate means. The intent of the primary villain – to empty the earth via stories? never quite made sense. (The secondary villain’s motivation of looking for a replacement so he could retire worked much better.) And then there was that credit at the end of episode 1: The Master, though no new character had been introduced and the Master himself does not appear until the Third Doctor’s era.

I have never even heard another Master mentioned. In story, the character is more accurately called “the Master brain” or something like that – the alien intelligence that kidnapped the human “Master” for its inexplicable purpose. There is no (apparent) relationship between this Master and the Master. Still, I can’t imagine that fandom hasn’t tried to create one.

The story picks up right where the previous story – “The Dominators,” which I haven’t seen – leaves off. It also ends on a cliffhanger, but as far as I can tell that one does not resolve: the following story, “The Invasion,” begins on the moon, and I recall no reference to a prior story. However I haven’t seen it in some time; perhaps in a few years when I get to this spot in my Classic Who (re)watch, I’ll learn better.

On another note, I don’t usually swing that way but I adore this shot:

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In the #MeToo era it doesn’t look good. There’s no story value in Zoe’s bum no matter how glorious. We get no corroborating up-skirt shot of Jamie. (A disappointment to be sure.) And truthfully, had this been most any other companion – any modern companion for sure, or any more helpless companion such as Victoria, or more thoroughly sexualized character like Leela – it would be nothing less than crass. But something about Zoe makes it work. One, she is rarely sexualized in the series, and rarely less than fully clothed from chin to sole. And two, according to the stories at least, Wendy Padbury was more than able to hold her own on set. The boys’ club of Troughton and Hines was known for practical joking, generally at the expense of their younger female co-stars. (Deborah Watling reportedly had a difficult time on the show for this reason.) But it’s been said that Padbury could give as good as she got, and was undeterred by any juvenile antics.

 

I don’t know what Padbury thinks of the shot, or what her young fans at the time felt. For me, I’m reminded that sexuality can also be empowering for women.* I’m reminded, in spite of her detractors and of course Moffat, of Amy Pond.

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Your mileage may vary.

 

*This is a complex arena, but I have acquaintances who are strippers and burlesque dancers, and they are anything but disempowered by a glorious bum.

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Martha’s Moments   1 comment

Scrolling through my old posts, I came across Top Ten Moments of Rose Tyler, and wondered if anyone had ever done something similar for Martha. The first Black woman to travel in the TARDIS has suffered all manner of under-appreciation: even her fans spend their time bemoaning her treatment by RTD or the Doctor, or complaining about Rose. It’s rare she’s valued for her own merits. But Martha is the most grown-up of the modern companions. As a medical student, she far exceeds her fellow travelers in education and book-smarts. As the parent-figure of her own family, she is the most responsible adult among them. Also, she’s a bad-ass who learns to take care of herself while taking care of everyone around her.

In fact, the Radio Times did a Top Ten for Martha much as they did for Rose. However, as I disagree with almost every one of their choices, here instead is my own selection of Martha’s best moments – to the best of my recollection, as I haven’t watched her series in a while. In order of appearance:

#1. We Might Not Die

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Finding herself on the Moon, Martha doesn’t worry about running out of air. Instead, she appreciates the wonder of the moment – in spite of the risks.

 

#2. Expelliarmus!

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Put on the spot, Martha provides the magic necessary to seal Shakespeare’s witches away forever. Incidentally, this is not the only reference to her literary choices: in Eleven Doctors, Eleven Stories, Martha acknowledges the breadth of her reading – up to and including Twilight.

 

#3. In Heels, No Less!

If I could do screen caps, I’d have a better picture for you. In “The Lazarus Experiment,” wearing THAT DRESS and THOSE SHOES, Martha Jones jumps over a table to shut down a machine to free partygoers trapped in a burning building. This is the kind of woman we’re dealing with: quick-thinking, fast-acting, and steady on her pins.

 

#4. Would You Like Some Tea?

Another example of Martha’s quick thinking is this conversation from “Human Nature” by Paul Cornell:

MARTHA: Would you like some tea?
JENNY: Yes, thanks.
MARTHA: I could put a nice bit of gravy in the pot. And some mutton. Or sardines and jam. How about that?
JENNY: I like the sound of that.
MARTHA: Right. Hold on a tick.

The Doctor has forgotten her. Aliens are invading. Her one friend in this world is acting a bit odd – and Martha doesn’t miss a trick.

 

#5. So, So Sorry

Again, if I could do screencaps, you’d have the moment I mean.

From Professor Yana’s lab, Martha overhears a conversation between the Doctor and Jack, two old friends separated by metal and death, and united by a woman:

DOCTOR She’s gone, Jack. She’s not just living on a parallel world, she’s trapped there. The walls have closed.
JACK: I’m sorry.

In this moment, Martha gets the truth about the Doctor and Rose, and the depth of his grief. In this moment she finds her compassion.

 

#6. I’ll Do What I Like

Back on Earth, Prime Minister Saxon has just blown up her home. Her family is in danger. The Doctor tries telling her what to do.

It doesn’t go well.

 

#7. I’ll See You Again, Mister

Her family needs her. Her planet needs her. Her time with the Doctor was fun, but it’s time to be the doctor herself.

She leaves him by choice, and in friendship, and she leaves him with orders:

“If that rings, when that rings, you’d better come running. Got it?”

Good thing too, because…

 

#8. I Thought We Needed An Expert

Martha has finished her medical degree and gone to work for UNIT, the one employer she can find who knows about aliens. Now they’re in over their heads – and like Mickey at Deffry Vale, Martha knows just who to call.

 

#9. I’ve Got You

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She didn’t want to go to Messaline, and now she’s separated from her friends and her ride home. But instead of an armed alien, she sees someone who needs her help – and she won’t be stopped from helping.

 

#10. Dat Hair

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Martha Jones can save the world, snag a man, and rock her hair game. Yas queen.

Posted April 11, 2018 by Elisabeth in Companions

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Fifty Years of the Brigadier   Leave a comment

Read this.

Posted February 22, 2018 by Elisabeth in Classic, Companions, Cool Stuff

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Announcement!   Leave a comment

The Doctor has companions!

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Bradley Walsh, aka Token White Guy, has been rumored for some time. Per Twitter people either love him or hate him: he’s great, he should have been the Doctor, he’ll ruin the show, never watching again, blah blah blah. Having never seen him in anything I couldn’t say. While I do feel that his type has had plenty of representation on DW and elsewhere, I was intrigued by the potential of this dynamic: the typical figure of power and authority playing intellectual and executive second fiddle to (someone appearing to be) not that. I don’t hate the idea.

The other two are a surprise. Mandip Gill and Tosin Cole are soap opera stars, previously known for something called Hollyoaks. Cole has also appeared in the Star Wars universe. Gill’s Yasmin will be the Doctor’s first South Asian companion – impatiently awaited since the too-brief appearances of Rita (The God Complex) and Nasreen (The Hungry Earth/Cold Blood). It’s nice to have some color and gender balance aboard ship – and I kinda hope Walsh turns out to be an alien. 🙂 Just for variety, you know.

I’m surprised at how strongly people are reacting to the number of companions. Three is apparently a crowd for some, in spite of  Ian/Barbara/Susan, Ben/Polly/Jamie, Tegan/Nyssa/Adric, etc. I think it will be a nice change of pace. A single companion is more susceptible to an annoying romantic subplot. A team can tackle a story from a number of different, brilliant angles. (“Boom Town” comes to mind as a fun example.)

I am also intrigued by the inclusion of Sharon D. Clarke. Everyone seems equally confused by the “returning role” bit, since we’ve never seen her before; in fact it seems to have sparked rumors of a return of the Rani. But I think they actually meant “recurring” not “returning.” (Or is that what I’m meant to think?) Either way, looking forward to it.

If only we didn’t have to wait so long.

Posted October 30, 2017 by Elisabeth in Companions, Speculation, Squee!

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The Doctor is IN…   1 comment

… my city!!

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Yes I was miles from the stage, and the lines to ask questions streamed past me out the door, so I was content to sit in my seat and take terrible pictures. It was worth it. The Doctor and Bill were delightful, sweet, good-humored, and generally everything you want the Doctor and his companion to be.

Highlights:

  • When asked his favorite Doctor, “except yourself,” Capaldi replied “Jodie Whittaker.” The crowd went wild.
  • One small child, maybe 6 years old, came to the microphone trembling in terror and unable to speak. Recognizing the situation, Peter and Pearl both did their best to put him at ease. “We did a photo, didn’t we?” Peter asked. “You’re cool.” They asked his name, allowing him to find his voice, and then he was able to ask his question.
  • The final question, also asked by an under-10, was “Who is your favorite companion?” In the photo above, I attempted to catch Pearl’s look as she waited to hear his answer. Instead, I captured her reaction when he said, “K9.”

Rose City is quite a good convention. The guest list was impressive; I might have seen more if the event didn’t directly conflict with my dragonboat team’s final race of the season. My husband saw Katie Sackoff, the Weasley twins, and William Shatner. My sister did very well in Artists’ Alley. My DW meetup group hosted a panel. I may reconsider participating in the race next year, if these two events continue to share a weekend.

Especially if they bring back the Doctor.

 

ETA some (better) coverage from Digital Spy

Posted September 12, 2017 by Elisabeth in Companions, Conventions

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It takes all kinds   Leave a comment

I’m seeing lots of posts about “now little girls can see themselves as the Doctor” which is totally great btw until they add “instead of the sidekick/arm candy/also-ran/companion” which I think is massively unfair to the companion.

It’s okay to be the companion: to retain your humanity, to expand your mind, to try new things, to have a home and a family, to become better than you know yourself to be. It’s awesome to be the companion.

It’s also awesome to be a genius and a little bit mad, to crave adventure, to always step in when someone needs help, to be alone, to be alien.

It’s not that little girls get to be the Doctor instead of the companion. It’s that they now get to be ALL THE THINGS. Anything they want to be.

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Just as it should be.

Posted July 17, 2017 by Elisabeth in Commentary, Companions

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Hero Time   Leave a comment

At the end of last month, a new trailer appeared:

Since her introduction Bill has reminded me of Rose, and never more so than in this trailer. The look on her face as she speaks of danger is the same one Rose wears in her first episode, as the Nestene’s hiding place comes crashing down around her. That love of risk. That sensation of aliveness at the edge of death. That youthful invulnerability.

This season is going to be a lot of fun.

 

Posted March 9, 2017 by Elisabeth in Companions, Season 10, Video

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