Saturday, January 10, 2015

Doctor Who: Time For a Bro-panion?

Last week, I wrote about the announcement that Doctor Who co-star Jenna Coleman would return for Series 9 which should've started shooting by now so where's my new episodes already?

Patience, Dave-El.

Anyway, I examined what I think it means for Doctor Who when companions stick around a while.

The idea of a companion being around awhile is not quite the aberration I may have suggested. During the classic era, the following actors were part of the show as companions for approximately 3 years or more: 
  • William Russell & Jacqueline Hill  (Ian Chesterton & Barbara Wright, 1963-1965) 
  • Frazier Hines (Jamie McKrimmon, 1966-1969)
  • Katy Manning (Jo Grant, 1971-1973)
  • Elisabeth Sladen (Sarah Jane Smith, 1973-1976)
  • Janet Fielding (Tegan Jovanka, 1981-1984)
  • Nicola Bryant (Peri Brown, 1984-1986) 
  • Sophia Aldred (Ace, 1987-1989*)  
    • *or to 1993 if you count her appearance as the 7th Doctor's companion in the 30th anniversary "special"

Since Doctor Who's return in 2005, during the 4 series under Russell T Davies, there were 3 companions. For the 4 series under Steven Moffat so far, there have also been 3 companions although 2 of them were at the same time (Amy and Rory).  

An added twist to Jenna Coleman's involvement with Doctor Who is that while she has portrayed companion Clara Oswald since 2013 (going into 2015, that makes 3 years), she appeared as alternate versions of Clara in 2012 in Asylum of the Daleks and The Snowmen. So Jenna will have been on the Doctor Who set for 4 years with Series 9. 

So the concept of actors sticking around as companions for a few years is not without precedent.  

One issue of concern with modern Who and the subject of companions is the adherence to the model of the plucky young girl in her 20's from contemporary Earth.  So far that model has applied to Rose, Martha, Amy and Clara. Only Donna pushed the boundaries of the model by being older than her 20's.  It's a shame that the Clara from The Snowmen couldn't have remained the companion; yep, she would still be a plucky young girl in her 20's but at least from the 1800's, not modern Earth again.  

The subject of diversity amongst companions was addressed in this exchange on Twitter. 

Jan 3
much same way i liked rory more than amy (and rory's dad). More dude campanions bropanions

Jan 3
"Bropanions" - like that! There needs to be more variety in companions beyond 20 something girls from modern Earth all the time. 

Jan 3
that's fan service. where donna was not.

  Jan 3
I think if Doctor Who ever did establish a solo male companion, it would be short term. But the allure of having the Doctor accompanied by a pretty young plucky girl in her mid-twenties is a bit hard to deny. That being said, I think a female/male companion combo could be given a twist to give the Doctor a strong connection to the male rather than the female. In the Amy/Rory dynamic, Rory was there because he became the husband of the companion which by default now made Rory a companion. What if we had a scenario where the Doctor bonds first with the male companion and then a female companion would be brought in to the dynamic.  The risk here is that you might create a female companion who is basically the tag along damsel in distress and that's not going to fly in today's world. 

For now the point is moot, I suppose. Clara Oswald is still on board the TARDIS and I'm cool with that. It would be nice if the character of Shona from Last Christmas is indeed a set up for a potential follow up companion. 

Even though she is a plucky young girl in her 20's from contemporary Earth.  

Everyone, be good to one another. 

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