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The Companion Piece or Why I Don’t Like the Kissing Doctor Trend April 12, 2009

Since writing the article about the impending Tennant/Smith change over, I’ve gotten some emails from people about this subject. Thanks, by the way. I always enjoy constructive comments, even if you happen to be utterly wrong and disagree with me. (I jest. For the record, I’ll approve all comments that aren’t hateful and miserable.) It’s not because I don’t like change, that I’m a ‘Who’ traditionalist or a prude. It’s down to a couple very simple facts. Well, they’re facts in my world, to others they may only be opinions.

A myriad of mostly female Companions.

A myriad of mostly female Companions.

When I was a little girl, there wasn’t a lot of female characters on shows that weren’t there primarily for eye-candy purposes and to be the hero’s make-out partner. Naturally, I didn’t consciously know this at the time but there’s a reason I loved Sarah-Jane Smith so dearly growing up. She was spunky, brave, compassionate, funny, clever, resourceful and….much further down the line in importance….attractive. I always felt that The Doctor picked his Companions based on the junk your parents insisted mattered most – your inner self, not what you look like. He did this because he’s better than us, more evolved and much much smarter. Like, if The Doctor had a choice between Kate Moss and Dawn French; there’d be no contest – he’d pick Dawn. Not to say that Ms. Moss is devoid of smarts or that Ms. French isn’t pretty but I imagine that Dawn would be handier in a crisis on Planet Scary and then she’d make a funny joke which would crack him up after said crisis was averted. I liked Rose and Martha, both of them were mostly positive characters but the ‘I wanna get in The Doctor’s pants and have his intergalactic time-babies’ shtick that permeated through their story-lines got, well, kind of boring. It introduced a ’silly, fawning girlie’ side to them that was pointless. Then, Donnas’ too-often insistence that she and he were not a couple; no way, no how, was too much in the opposite direction. Why make sex a big issue at all in this programme? One of the major factors of the show which I’ve enjoyed all my TV loving life was that it wasn’t like every other show on TV, it was engaging and imaginative enough to forgo that easy route. Don’t give in now, Writer-People!

Now that I’m a big girl, there still isn’t enough female characters on shows that aren’t there primarily for the auld ‘eye-candy-make-out’ purposes. There may actually be less. I do know that this could come across as annoyingly feminist but I really don’t mean it to. The truth is little girls today don’t seem to have many female-character role models. At least in the 70’s and 80’s, there was Wonder Woman, The Bionic Woman, Charlie’s Angels and Bonnie the Mechanic on ‘Knight Rider’, as well as others. All those women were played by super good-looking actresses but the way they were portrayed – that was secondary; practically coincidental to my eyes. On a personal note, I was fortunate that my Mum had been a model and used to tell me and my mates (girls and boys) all about lighting and make-up and other such enhancers. This is not a bad thing to mention to young minds. The best girls have at the moment is someone like Hannah Montana and that’s all about being secretly famous – or secretly normal, depending on your point of view. My friend’s daughters play that and ‘American Idol’. This is something she despairs of and we chatted recently about the TV-based games we would play as young ‘uns.

In her satin tights, she fights for our rights.

In her satin tights, she fights for our rights.

I couldn’t get my little girl friends to play ‘Doctor Who’ back in the day (they were scared of Tom Baker, never mind the Cybermen and Daleks. Sissies) but we’d play ‘Wonder Woman’ all the time. There was the extremely serious conundrum of what to do with the purse when you’d spin around to reveal your WW costume under your ‘Diana Prince’ clothes. So we’d just chuck it and get on with lassoing Bad Guys. Once, my Mum found all these purses of hers down the bottom of the garden. Oh boy, was she ever MAAAAD. I used to play ‘Doctor Who’ with the boys and they would constantly try and make me be the Companion when I wanted to have my go at being The Doctor. However, since I was the one with the long scarf, hat and coat; my Dad told me, on my way out to play, “He or she who has the scarf makes the rules”. Using that argument, I always got my turn. Jamie, the boy from next door, made a simply delightful Sarah-Jane.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think the Powers That Be at the Beeb have taken it too, too far with the kissy stuff. Yet. I just don’t want New Who to go for the lowest common denominator and push the ’sexy quota’ up too much. The Doctor’s Companion is about the only cool chick on telly that young girls can look to and say – ‘I can be brave and honest and kind and proud of being clever and make mistakes but learn from them and it doesn’t matter what I look like. If I met The Doctor, he’d see those qualities in me and take me on trips in his TARDIS.’

"Martha, besides being a 900 year-old alien with 2 hearts, I'm also a HUGE tease..."

"Martha, besides being a 900 year-old alien with 2 hearts, I forgot to mention that I'm also a HUGE tease..."

In this age of girls wanting to emulate the media train-wreck that is Paris Hilton and others of her ilk, they desperately NEED an icon of their own whose worth doesn’t get boiled down to how hot they are. This is why I’d love if Gail Trimble could be a one-off Companion. She’s not an actress but she’s everything a Companion should be. Smart, polite, brave in the face of idiots who say nasty things about her lovely big brain and she’s attractive in a studious sort of way. She’d be rather good, I feel.

It also brings into question the gallantry and ‘alien-ness’ of The Doctor. Like so: The Doctor seems to admire and prefer human females for the exact same reasons that human males often find us frustrating to deal with in real life; the open emotion (i.e. Crying. He never flinches when a Companion cries. That’s so great), the wanting to nurture, the bit of nagging every now and again. The attributes we possess that real blokes generally want and need us for never seemed to interest him. (The Doctor looks you in the eye when he talks to you! How refreshing.) Steven Moffat has said that since the character eats and drinks and sleeps like us, there’s every suggestion that he would also ‘date’. It’s not that I don’t concur; it’s that if you’re working within the show’s logic, 10 years is a “handful of heartbeats” for The Doctor, so it doesn’t quite fit that he’d be getting some lady-action every season. ‘The Girl in the Fireplace’ was a brilliant episode and wouldn’t have been as moving without the attraction between Madam De Pompadour and The Lord of Time. On the other hand, it made him mutable and flaky as he was also meant to have romantic feelings toward Rose. And that makes him The Doctor That Plays Games With Girls’ Hearts, which is uncool whatever species you are. It bothers me; thinking The Doctor is a jerk who’d mess people around like that.

Sarah-Jane Smith - Girl Reporter and all-round awesome chick. (Liz Sladen - I want to know what face-cream or whatever you use cos you're still a total BABE.

Sarah-Jane Smith and The Fourth Doctor are shocked and appalled at the level of naughtiness in 'New Who'. (Liz Sladen - I want to know what face-cream or whatever you use cos you're still a total BABE. You are so WEARING them jeans in the 'Sarah-Jane Adventures', lady!)

Essentially, what I’m saying is – I don’t want the dear old Doc to never fancy anyone or that nobody should ever fancy him, just slow it down. With any luck, the character will be around for many more years to come and there’ll be ample opportunities for certain ladeez to get all swoony over him and vice versa. It could be that the show’s writers mainly consist of men who had schoolboy crushes and wanted to kiss-up Nyssa and Leela, so a touch of vicarious living is possibly going on. Helen Raynor has done some episodes but I don’t know if she was a fan in the past. Maybe the show could do with someone who used to be a slightly odd little girl that adored it and is now working as a scriptwriter, for that kind of perspective. But where, oh where could they find such a person? It’s like trying to find a Unicorn on Brigadoon! Hmmmm…If I come across such a rare and fantastic creature in my travels, I’ll be sure to make it known. “Oh, you are beautiful!” – Yep, that’s what The Doctor would say.

(I wouldn’t have to resort to such cheap methods if my agent would just take me at my word and do what he’s supposed to. Get on it, 15 Per Cent Boy!)

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[...] The Companion Piece or Why I Don’t Like the Kissing Doctor Trend. [...]

Howard April 14th, 2009

I realize many people have been watching Dr Who their whole lives and seen the doctor morph into many different actors but I couldn’t help notice none of them were actresses. I realize I’m leaving myself open to hate mail by even suggesting that there could be female doctors in the future, and will not probably have to change my email address due to death threats but I’d like to know how people would feel about it. It would certainly give women/girls another Wonder Woman/Charlie’s Angel type hero instead of best supporting actress characters.

Erin April 14th, 2009

There will be no hate mail!!! Only friendly debate. The idea of a Female Doctor is interesting and a much-talked about subject in circles as geeky as mine. Myself, I actually come down on the ‘No Chick Doctors’ side, which may seem strange at first.I think the Companions are really brave – they’re not Timelords, they don’t have a bunch of regenerations, they have one life, so I think it’s actually much scarier for them – they have more to lose. These girls are terrific character icons if only they’d stop getting weak in the knees all the damn time. I like my Amazons to be women and my Timelords to be men. I think it’s good for kids to see a man and a woman playing their own unique parts in saving the planet from nasty aliens. They’re friends, they care and respect each other and they chose to be a team. I like that it says to girls – you can play with the boys and win. To boys – if you let the girls on your side, there’s every chance she’ll make the team better.

(Technically – Joanna Lumley, (of ‘Absolutely Fabulous’ fame) did play a Female Doctor in a Comic Relief sketch called ‘Doctor Who – The Curse of the Fatal Death’ written by One Steven Moffat. The other Docs were played by Rowan Atkinson,Hugh Grant,etc, etc, then just kept regenerating until…Ms. Lumley. It’s really fun.)

Gunner November 11th, 2009

I don’t mind if there’s a female Doctor. I only care if the Doctor can act. And is a fully dimensional character that gets good scripts. Because it doesn’t matter how good you are (For instance you could be Eric Roberts as the Master-not so great, compared to say Anthony Ainley who dices him up, tosses him into a blender and pours Eric’s script over his Roses for compost.)

Personally I wasn’t sure how I felt about the Dr. & a romantic angle of any sort. But after having seen it, given it some thought. I wasn’t entirely opposed to it either. Although I prefer when he has 2 or 3 Companions, an ensemble cast is better. Like when it was Nyssa, Teagen & Aidric. Or Sarah Jane, Harry & K-9/Jamie. I don’t think that the romance necessarily has to be between the Dr. & his companion. I don’t see why it couldn’t be 2 companions.

I only get tired when the writers have the wo/men companions get to a new planet & immediately get a crush on someone. It’s never, ‘Wow, I like this planet, did you see this guy? He’s got the best art.” Or “This woman makes the best stew, it reminds me of home.” It’s always something mushy. Or the Master Villian wants to kidnap the companion to make them their bride, because they’re the best specimen they’ve ever encountered. I mean really. You’re the Master Villian-probably the richest, most influential person on that planet, and you couldn’t find anyone else? I don’t buy it.

john colleluori September 21st, 2010

I think the female doctor is a posssibility if u remember the doctors daughter is out there in a ship somewhere and as the old saying goes like father like daughter. I am sad to see tenant go but matt smith is coming along. Everybody who has played the doctor has left us fans some special memories.

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