Archive for the ‘characterization’ Tag

The Rueful Fate of Donna Noble   6 comments

It’s not just a track from Series Four

I saw something on Tumblr recently, supposedly an exchange between Russell T. Davies and Julie Gardner regarding what really happened to Donna Noble after ‘The End of Time.’ Fans can be reasonably confident she won a lot of money – a lottery ticket from a time traveler is always a good thing – but what was she doing with her life? According to the exchange, an early version of the script included dialogue about her work with charities. The producers regretted cutting it, wanting fans to know that while Donna might not remember the Doctor, she didn’t go entirely unchanged by her time with him.

Many fans bemoan Donna’s fate, calling it the cruelest end a companion could suffer, worse even than death. As if they’d rather die than be the person Donna was before she met the Doctor. Lance called her shallow, stupid, and it seems these fans agree.

I don’t.

I believe there was nothing wrong with Donna in the first place.

Other people judged her for the things she liked, an experience fans should understand intimately. But Donna never cared what anyone thought of her. She was always bold, always assertive, and always in her heart a good person. She looked after her family as best she could, but she never forgot to enjoy herself.

What the Doctor gave Donna was peace with herself. For most of her life, she didn’t believe she had any value. Traveling with the Doctor taught her that she did. However, forgetting him doesn’t mean she had to forget herself. She may not remember the experiences that revealed her to herself, but the genie is out of the bottle. Donna is a force to be reckoned with, and she knows it.

No companion – with the tragic exception of Zoe and Jamie – goes back to life as it was before. Donna has always been powerful, unstoppable even; it’s no stretch to believe she would use that power for good.

Whether it stayed in the script or not, I know Donna’s fate is a noble one.

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Posted November 15, 2015 by Elisabeth in Companions

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Top ten moments of Rose Tyler   Leave a comment

For Billie Piper’s birthday, the Radio Times counted down Rose’s best moments from her time on Doctor Who. As any regular reader knows, Rose is my gal: my #1 companion, the one I want most to be, the one I’d want along if I were the Doctor – one of my favorite fictional characters of all time. An ordinary person with an ordinary life, she found in herself courage, compassion, a drive to do the right thing, a zest for the opportunity of life in the TARDIS. At the same time, she’s a flawed, authentic human being, with petty jealousies, unkind words, selfish moments. Like the best of us she strives to overcome these things, and it’s her struggle that makes her real.

Taking advantage of the Radio Times’ hard work, I’m going to comment on their entries one by one.

#10: Rose meets Sarah Jane Smith

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At first blush this is not one of Rose’s better moments. The Doctor’s old companion puts her instantly on the defensive, and she skilfully shreds the older woman with her scorn. However, after a brief Mean Girls-style skirmish, Rose stops herself. She pushes her jealousy aside and opens herself up to friendship. Having more in common with one another than almost anyone else on Earth, the two women form a fast bond. The scene is a great example of Rose overcoming her faults, a model for us all to live up to.

#9: The Moment

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This isn’t really Rose Tyler, though the Moment finds her face in the Doctor’s timeline and recognizes her significance. It’s a wonderful opportunity for Billie to expand as an actor and have a little fun. It’s also an acknowledgement of Rose and Billie’s impact on the success of the show. So while not a Rose Tyler moment, it’s a great Moment, and I understand why they chose to include it.

#8: The Reunion

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In the closing seconds of ‘The Stolen Earth,’ Rose and the Doctor finally find each other – only to be torn apart again by a Dalek blast. This is one of those overhyped, melodramatic moments that I normally despise, but because I love these characters so much, I wasn’t bothered. I also saw it coming eight miles away – but somehow, Tennant’s era is full of things I saw coming and loved anyway. Anticipation isn’t always a bad thing.

#7: Captain Jack

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I think Rose embodied most people’s first reaction to Captain Jack in this scene. Flirting is such an ingrained part of the show now, but here it’s still new and fresh: an interested woman and an interested man having a bit of safe, consensual fun. I kind of miss the relative innocence of their interaction; no one since has had John Barrowman’s charm.

#6: Father’s Day

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This one is an absolute winner. She begins with a mistake, she defends her decision, she brushes off the Doctor’s rage. Then, as she realizes the impact of what she’s done, she experiences all the horror and remorse that go with that. Most of us won’t endanger the universe with our errors, but everyone knows the pain of unintended consequences.

On the plus side, she gets to know her dad, and to see him as the hero she always believed he could be. Rose matures a lot in this story, and takes her relationships – with herself, her family, the Doctor – to a new level.

#5: Making a stand

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In ‘The Parting of the Ways,’ the Doctor sends his friend home for her own safety. However, she’s no longer willing to stay home safe while he gives his life for her people. She makes a stand; she says no. She has the guts to do what’s right when everyone else just runs away. Even when she doesn’t know what to do.

#4: Dalek

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This episode showcases Rose’s compassion like no other. The Doctor sees only a killing machine: Rose sees a creature in pain, that only wants a chance to feel the sunlight.

#3: The Sycorax

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Here, Rose’s courage takes center stage. The Doctor lies sleeping, out of reach. The Earth is under attack. Her home, her family, everything she knows is in danger. She wants to hide – she tries to hide – but when circumstances require a hero, she steps up. She overcomes her fear and acts anyway. She doesn’t know what to do, she knows she’ll probably be killed, and she doesn’t let it stop her.

#2: Bad Wolf

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As the Doctor says later, “Everything she did was so human.” Gaining godlike powers from the Vortex, she uses them to save her friends and the Earth below, with no thought for her own safety.

#1: Doomsday

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Rose’s first goodbye is everyone’s favorite moment. It’s melodrama, but decently executed, and the acting is beyond compare. (A later reviewer of a stage play of Billie’s commented that “no one can cry more convincingly” than she can.) I wouldn’t have ranked it #1 – I’d give that spot to ‘Father’s Day’ or ‘Dalek’ – but for Rose Tyler, it’s a pretty definitive scene.

Bonus

I can understand why the Radio Times left this one out, as it’s more the Doctor’s moment than Rose’s. However, it so beautifully embodies who she is – for him and for herself – that the list feels incomplete without it.

"I bet you're going to have a really great year."

“I bet you’re going to have a really great year.”

Happy Birthday, Billie Piper, and thank you for Rose Tyler.

Posted September 22, 2015 by Elisabeth in Companions

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Companion envy   1 comment

As I mentioned in my last post, Martha expresses occasional jealousy of the Doctor’s other women, for example in ‘The Shakespeare Code,’ ‘Human Nature,’ and ‘Utopia.’ But the biggest episode for jealousy in New Who is ‘School Reunion.’

It’s hard to say who starts it. Rose’s voice is a bit crisp when she asks ‘who’s this?’ of Sarah Jane. But Sarah Jane has venom on her tongue when she comments on Rose’s age, and it’s all downhill from there.

Why?

Rose knows little of the Doctor’s past, and nothing of his prior traveling companions. She hasn’t experienced much rivalry for him in the past – there’s a brief flare-up with Lynda in ‘Parting of the Ways,’ but mostly she has felt secure in her relationship with the Doctor. She’s startled to see Sarah Jane, but it isn’t until Sarah Jane attacks that the claws really come out.

And boy do they come out! Rose certainly has a ‘mean girl’ side. But she doesn’t unleash it until Sarah Jane has made two disparaging comments about her age and one about her relationship to the Doctor. Her guard was up, but she’s clearly not the one on the offensive.

And why does Sarah Jane attack? She’s delighted to see her old friend again. But once the glow has faded, thirty years of doubt and pain return. The Doctor abandoned her. She decided he must be dead, and mourned him, and got on with her life as best she could; admittedly, not well. Seeing him again, she realizes it was his choice not to come back. Seeing him with a younger version of herself highlights everything her life hasn’t been for the past thirty years. She got old; he not only stayed young, but replaced her with a younger model. She’s hurt, and she lashes out at Rose.

Rose too is hurt. She has traveled with the Doctor all this time, thinking – naively perhaps – that she was someone special. Now she knows she’s only the latest in a long line. Worse than that, the Doctor will likely leave her behind to be forgotten, just as he did Sarah Jane.

Ouch.

Fortunately, Rose quickly sees the ridiculousness of their predicament. She and her best friend only ever fell out over a man; she knows it’s a silly thing to do. She stops herself, and invites Sarah Jane to see what they really have in common instead. Sarah Jane leaps at the chance. The next thing anyone knows, the two are fast friends.

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Of course, they have more in common with each other than anyone else either of them has ever met.

This experience effectively banishes jealousy for Rose. She has only compassion for Reinette, a woman admittedly in love. She admires Martha from their very first encounter. She grows up; she takes Sarah Jane’s advice; and when her heart breaks, she doesn’t let it stop her.