This week, Whoydnesday is all about the Companions

So, for our second Whoydnesday (taking up Su’s suggestion for a slight revision in spelling since last week), lets focus on the sociodynamics of the relationship between Doctor and Companion. (Although when Lauredhel logs on she has a great image to post which draws upon the more epic-quest aspects of the Doctor mythos.)

As previously mentioned, the Companions are very useful for plot exposition – a large part of their role is to ask questions that the Doctor must answer so that everything is explained for the audience. But there’s more – each regeneration of the Doctor brings slightly different quirks to the fore, and the Companions are the foils (and brakes) for those quirks.

So, this week’s Marrying, Shagging and Cliffing: Rose, Sarah-Jane and Donna, what would you do?

Marry, Shag or Cliff?

Many fans went on the record last year as rather nervous about the return of Donna Noble, but the reviews of the current season have been overwhelmingly positive. For those of us fortunate enough to have caught some of the 2008 season already (and very mindful of spoilers), Donna seems to examine and challenge the Doctor’s character more deeply than previous Companions, perhaps as a result of having had more time to consider going travelling with the Doctor in the first place (having said “No” in the Runaway Bride episode, and then reconsidering over the next year (I don’t think that’s too much of a spoiler!)) versus Rose, Martha and most other Companions making a snap decision.

Quite a lot of Donna’s revealed strengths are actually foreshadowed in the Runaway Bride, and I’ve put together just three images which are part of those foreshadowing scenes as a reminder for others (having just watched that ep again over the weekend):

Jump! Sly. Manic Delight.

When she does decide to jump, she trusts her gut. The wink shows us how Donna can size up a situation and turn it around. The Segway scene shows that even in the middle of a scary adventure she doesn’t lose her sense of the absurd.

Bonus Whoverse:
I found this shot while doing an image search. Have we actually seen this in an earlier episode and I missed it, or was it a deleted scene, or is it yet to come?

Bonus Alan Rickman:
Because why the hell not, and I only found it last week, and I’m intrigued. Sometimes you really wonder what prompts certain publicity shots.

Categories: arts & entertainment, relationships, Sociology

Tags: , , , ,

28 replies

  1. Oh no! How can I choose between Sarah Jane, Donna, and Rose? I love all of them.
    I’ve been watching a lot of old episodes lately, and Sarah is so vibrant, so capable, and so wonderfully feminist. I’d heard that she was famous for screaming, but she hardly screams all the time, and when she does, it’s when her life is in a huge amount of danger– ie, when most people would scream. And she never lets her fear get in the way of investigating and finding ways out of (and into) trouble. I didn’t like that in School Reunion, Rusty has re-interpreted her relationship with the Doctor as an unrequited romance, which I don’t get at all from the old episodes. I don’t have a problem with her ending up single, but I never get the impression that she’s the sort of person who would sit around waiting for an unrequited lover. To counter this, it’s my personal theory that she’s shagged Jack a few times over the years, when they’ve crossed paths while alien-hunting. And besides, it’s still frakkin’ awesome that she’s fighting aliens at sixty years of age, maintaining a career, and (in SJA) raising an adopted son as a single mum.
    Donna’s “I won’t take crap from anyone” attitude is something that I wish I could cultivate in myself more (in real life, as opposed to online, where it’s easier to be assertive), and I LOVE that the experiences that make her so perfect as a representative of humanity are the normal everyday experiences of single women– working as a temp, having various relationships with different people and learning from them, her different relationships with her mother and her grandfather. And I really like the sense that, while she and the Doctor are great mates, she’s primarily in it for the adventure– as you point out, Donna made a very conscious decision to travel with the Doctor, and she made that decision because she realised that she owed it to herself to see as much of the universe as she could.
    Rose was the first companion I knew, in addition to having loads of guts and a great sense of fun. I love Rose’s loyalty, and the way that she will save the people she cares about no matter what– she will change the fabric of the universe if she needs to. Rose refuses to accept second-best for herself– she knows that there’s more to life than eating chips, and she refuses to hide from that.
    It’s impossible to choose between all that awesomeness. But if I have to…
    1. I’ll shag Sarah Jane. My theory about her interludes with Jack may or may not have something to do with this. 😉
    2. I’ll marry Donna, because Donna makes me feel like I can take on any arse-hole that the world can throw at me.
    3. I’ll reluctantly cliff Rose, because in spite of everything, I feel stronger connections with Donna and Sarah Jane. But it will be a very small cliff with something soft and bouncy at the bottom of it.

  2. I’d marry Sarah Jane. But run off with Leela.
    I’d shag Rose. But run off with Leela.
    I’d throw Donna off the cliff. But run off with Leela.
    Actually, you can pretty much interchange the names above as in the end…I’d run off with Leela.

  3. I’d marry them all! I can’t possibly choose!!
    Rose was my first Companion. I fell hard for her – she has this amazing sense of pure wonderment for the universe and all around her that utterly captivates me. Also, that deep sense of loyalty – and the making of a commitment to what she believes in and what she believes is right – compelling! I’d marry her in a heartbeat.
    Donna is made of awesome – I love the way she makes the Doctor examine his motivations and his actions. I wonder at what she would have done in Martha’s place during the ‘Family of Blood’ two parter. She’s beautiful, and ready to explore the world – I agree with previous comments that her thinking through travelling with the Doctor shows in this regard. Also, she won’t be silenced, won’t be relegated to a corner and she’s so capable of anything she sets her mind too. I’d shag her (again, and again and again).
    Sarah Jane is a little of a quandry for me – I’ve seen her young self in one ep only, and she was utterly adorable in it. She was obviously independent thinking and didn’t plan to let the Doctor or the other Companion (guy – name escapes me) have all the fun. I didn’t really find that I liked her in the ‘School Reunion’ episode – I thought some of it rang true, but other parts of it were just a little too… disassociated from my impressions of her as a character – in the SJA however she was made of awesome and so much more the character I expected! I’d reluctantly let her abseil down the cliff – one she’d love it and two I feel more of a connection with Rose and Donna.

  4. marry – Donna (for the hell of it, at least she’s got a mind)
    shag – Rose (have you seen the snippets from her latest work – based on the Belle de Jour blog?)
    cliff – Sarah Jane, sorry but I never got to know you…
    another outspoken females last blog post..written on the body

  5. Sometimes you really wonder what prompts certain publicity shots.

    …and then you decide that you really don’t care, just so long as they keep ‘em coming.
    I think that photo may be a subtle nose joke.
    Sarah Jane is the biz. I haven’t seen Donna yet but I think it would be very tough to cliff any of those three.
    A nice small cliff somewhere in that quarry may be just the thing, Beppie. She could land on a semi-deflated Sontaran.

  6. While my partner would toast Shaun’s response (he actually blushed when Leela returned to the screen in re-runs a few years ago), I can quite happily stick to the topic at hand.
    I haven’t seen any of the new Donna series, but I REALLY enjoyed her as The Bride, so I’m looking forward to it immensely.
    Disliking SJ was one of the only things my father and I agreed on in the 70s, so it was hard for me to let go and re-assess her in School Reunion.
    Rose… sigh.
    SO: Marry Rose, shag Donna on the side (o wot fun!) and cliff SJ.

  7. Oh, and tuck Alan Rickman under my arm and take him home… woof! Greek statuary!

  8. The costume shot in red looks like something from the Tom Baker years. Time Lords wore costumes like that in a number of episode. Maybe they were going for the angry lizard look! And the grey background is classic Dr Who. It’s possible that over half of the scenes for the old Dr Who series was shot in the BBC parking lot…

  9. Let’s try that last link again. ANGRY LIZARDS!

  10. Marry Rose, because she’s so lovely you’d want her around all the time, and I think she’d be good with the kids. Shag Donna because I think she’d be a whole lotta fun and send Sarah Jane for a walk along the cliffs with K9. She is the first companion that I really remember, so I couldn’t bear to actually push her off.

  11. Perhaps SJ & K9 could join the Doctor on this cliff, Mindy?

  12. oooh, might pop out for a little walk myself…

  13. I was just wondering about the differences in dynamic of the relationship between the Doctor and the two regenerations of fellow Time-Lord Romana. As I remember it (looooong time ago), the usual “explain the history/science of things to the Companion as an infodump for the viewers” was replaced by “argue about the history/science of things with the Companion as an infodump for the viewers”, and there was a nice sense of the rigorous Romana disapproving of the Doctor’s improvising ways quite often, and equally often coming up with a better idea or two.

  14. I think you’re right about that, Tigtog. I’ve seen more of Romana I than Romana II, but she would often be the one explaining things, pointing out where the Doctor was wrong a lot of the time.

  15. tigtog: My SO is so with you on the Romana front.

    I personally would disregard the offered options and shag Ace, marry Martha and throw Jo off a cliff.

  16. TimT, I only just fished you out of the autospaminator, what have you done to aggravate Akismet?
    But yes, the shot almost looks like it could have been a publicity shot for the announcement that DT would take over the role, because those look like original Time Lord costume pieces from the Pertwee/Baker years rather than what the costume dept would come up with these days, and that does look very much like The Quarry, doesn’t it?
    I rather like the idea of the Time Lords going for an Angry Lizard look. There’s some classic footage somewhere taken of a Frill Neck Lizard by a nature-doco crew, where they obviously stirred it up to get good shots, but then the lizard just kept on chasing and chasing them for minutes of film. If it had had a sonic screwdriver they would have been in big trouble.

  17. You’ve made it difficult by not putting any of the most obviously cliffable companions in the list (Tegan, Adric, Jo Grant). And omitting some of the most obviously shaggable (Ace, Leela). And complicated by adding Sarah Jane – I like the older, wiser, Sarah Jane more than the original, I think. It would be so much easier if it was Rose, Martha, and Donna, as Martha would be my cliffable choice.
    Tom Baker strongly believed in the idea that the role of companions was just to ask questions, and once infamously said that he would have preferred a talking cabbage as a companion, that could just sit on his shoulder and ask questions on behalf of the audience.
    Lalla Ward, who played the second Romana, and also married Tom Baker, when told replied that she though he might have preferred to marry one too.
    The second Romana would have to be a contender for most marryable companion. In real life Ward married Richard Dawkins, who she was introduced to by Douglas Adams, who she met working on Doctor Who.

  18. You’ve made it difficult

    It’s no fun if it’s too easy, Dave! I’m pretty sure that the first time I ever played this game the choice was between John Howard, Tony Abbot and Alexander Downer – barfapalooza. Another week I might make people choose between the most detested TARDIS travellers, or the most inhuman antagonists. There are endless permutations for the trilemmas in the Whoniverse.

  19. I love Donna’s character, but (and I realise I’m out on a very thin and unpopular limb here) the actor is getting in the way of the character, for me. Personal taste – I’m not a big fan of the overacted-panto thing in much other than children’s stories. And even then, sparingly.
    So I’ll cliff Donna, though off that same bouncy cliff, and perhaps with a wee parachute.
    The rest is more difficult, but I’ll go for shag Rose and marry Sarah-Jane, if only because of the age difference. I love ‘em both.
    And that photo? Ganked from fandomsecrets:

  20. That’s what I meant about the photo reflecting the larger epic Doctor mythos: I’m pretty damn sure that the fandomsecrets poster is not referring to the 9th Doctor’s blunt Northern dialect or his penchant for black leather: it’s all about the saving-the-world stuff.
    Now, while I certainly prefer Barack Obama to the McCain alternative, I don’t see him as saving the world from itself and/or alien intrusion. He’s a centrist compromiser (which may well be very pragmatically effective in political terms, and may well result in reversing some unpalatable recent policies), he’s not a world-saver.
    The image does point up to some of the overblown rhetoric surrounding the 2008 campaign though.

  21. I really started to dislike Rose’s character towards the end. It always felt like she had blown their relationship out of proportion and when Martha started doing the same, I was ready to bang my head against a wall.
    Donna has yet to do that and that is why I like her.

  22. Going by the way that The Doctor grieved for Rose I’m not at all sure that she did blow their relationship out of proportion. The fact that he was still missing Rose so deeply was part of the fact that Martha felt that he couldn’t see her.
    If Doctor Who wasn’t family programming aimed at kids in the UK we’d be seeing a lot more snogging a la Torchwood in that TARDIS, I reckon.

  23. Regarding Doctor Who and Obama, there’s also this.
    (Is it possible to get one of you lovely Hoydens to make the actual image show up in the comments– if it’s not too big, that is? :))
    While it’s true that Obama is a centrist candidate and not an epic revolutionary, when you consider how different things look today compared to five years ago, it’s not hard to see why some people mistake him for such.
    Image from Tom Tomorrow:

    (the original image is a bit too big, sorry ~tigtog)

  24. Donna! SQUEE!
    The whole School Reunion heartbreak thing with SJ did seem a little trite. Though it was pretty funny when Rose and SJ actually started talking to each other and laughed at the Doctor. David Tennant does that bewildered look so well.
    Also, I always thought there was a lot going on in that TARDIS.
    Does anyone else think that Donna and Jenny should have gotten together? I know we can’t expect them to get anything right, after all, Gwen and Tosh aren’t together. *tear*

  25. Marry, shag or cliff Rose, SJ and Donna?
    I’m tucking them under my arm and running away to live in communal female bliss, where we’ll play board games and have pillow fights and go out and kick some arse every so often. *nod*
    (I can’t cliff any of them! nuuuuu)

  26. communal female bliss, where we’ll play board games and have pillow fights and go out and kick some arse every so often. *nod*

    That sounds awf’lly jolly hockey sticks! Will we have a robot cleaner, though?

  27. I’d cliff Rose in a heartbeat, shag Donna and marry SJ.


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