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The Premier League has been very interesting this season. I would not say it was of great quality and there has been displays of mediocrity from all the teams. No one team has stood out for consistently very good or effective football.
As a result the gulf from the good to the bad is more distinct than ever before.
The top of the table is the most intriguing it has been for years. The top managers have intimated that five or six teams are potential winners. A closer look however will see that only three teams have a realistic chance of winning the title. The real surprise in this has been Arsenal who have overcome various setbacks to find themselves topping the table and justifiably so.
Arsenal’s success has come thanks to the Ozil impact, but their star player in the first half has been more Aaron Ramsey than anyone else. In recent matches other players have stood up to be counted, which is very encouraging for the team with the thinnest squad in the title run-in. The run of games, and their mental fortitude to this stage makes them likely title winners, which no one seriously considered at the start of the season.
What has been of interest, however, is how the two other teams have remained in touch at this critical stage of the season. Chelsea have been all about Mourinho and his interesting team selections. He’s done something different to the last time he was at the club. He’s endeavoured to adjust to the attacking midfield options open to him, but to date his side has been misfiring especially up front. Yet they have also played some canny football to escape Old Trafford and the Emirates with clean sheets and a point. They have done this hinting that the best is yet to come from them, which is ominous.
Pellegrini has particularly adjusted to the Premier League very well. He’s dealt with the expectation and the pace of the Premier League enough for his side to still be the team expected to pick up the trophy at the end of the season. City have had some dominating home wins against their key opponents, except Chelsea. Their away form, however, cannot be overlooked, and their toughest away games are scheduled to take place in the second half of the season.
Middling Matters – Underachievers and Overachievers
If you are Southampton or Newcastle United, you can look back on the first half of the season with satisfaction. Both clubs finished last season grateful to survive in the Premier League. Though they’ve had their ups and downs, and in Southampton’s case, they are certainly suffering at present, their overall approach to the first half of the season has virtually seen them assure another season of Premier League football.
Hull City fans should be mildly pleased as well with where they are in the table. Like most teams recently promoted the main aim is to stay there, and Steve Bruce has done well so far in achieving that goal.
If there are clubs who should be disappointed chief among them should be West Ham United. Unlike other teams last season, they should have started this season confident of being among the better teams in the lower half of the table. The manner in which their season has been a virtual wash out so far and has plunged them into the relegation battle is a tale of bungled management at all levels. Where half a dozen other clubs in the Premier League have changed their managers, it’s baffling how the Allardyce Effect has seen the owners keeping the faith with the man whose self-opinion is substantial.
The plight of Manchester United could be predicted. New manager and new chief executive, a side that was not the strongest United side ever getting used to the new guy. Transition is inevitable. They may not be contenders for the title, but they’re not going to have as bad a season as some have thought. If they finish in the top 4 it will be a good first season for the new guy. Their performances when there have been wins have not set the world alight, but their recent run of wins bode well and Moyes prefers second half of seasons to first half.
The Relegation Scrap
The bottom of the table is almost as interesting as the top. Some have already written off Sunderland, yet bearing in mind they are 4 points away from the team in 15th and there’s enough time for teams to suffer severe dips, that decision to write Sunderland off might be misguided. Crystal Palace appear to have made a savvy decision bringing in Tony Pulis to see if he can work the miracle.
Meanwhile sides like West Brom, Fulham and Cardiff are apt for being sucked into the mire with new management taking their time to adjust to the demands of the Premier League. As for teams like Norwich and Aston Villa, their rather tepid style of football might only see them survive because there are even worse teams in the table.
I predicted Chelsea would win the league, and I’m happy to stick with that prediction because of the canny way in which Mourinho has negotiated the season so far. The other teams in the top four should certainly include Man City and Arsenal. That leaves the race for fourth place all the more interesting, especially with Everton, Liverpool, Spurs and United being the likely competitors for that one place. Experience would tend to give the likelihood to United to just about nick it, but there’s enough football to play to make it up for grabs.
As for who will go down, I was expecting the teams who got promoted to go straight down, but the way certain other teams are imploding, that is far from likely now. At least one of the promoted clubs will stay up, which is not really a credit to the quality of the Premier League football. I actually believe Sunderland can mount enough of a run to just about escape the bottom three. With that in mind I reckon the three clubs that will be relegated will be Cardiff, Fulham and Crystal Palace.
C. L. J. Dryden
The Episode Overview
A message is being sent around the universe from a town called Christmas on the planet Trenzalore. The message cannot be deciphered. It attracts forces from across the universe, all in fear. The Doctor is on the scene as well, with no fear. The planet, however, has a barrier preventing access by a force known as the Papal Mainframe as led by Tasha Lem.
Meanwhile Clara wants the Doctor to be her ‘boyfriend’ at the family Christmas dinner and there is humour to be had at his choice of clothing (or lack of) for the occasion. The Doctor and Clara, however, need to appear naked before Tasha. The Mainframe is the church responsible for the Silence as we see the familiar figures who are forgotten when not seen.
Tasha agrees to send the Doctor and Clara down to find the message’s meaning. After a brief skirmish with some Weeping Angels they enter Christmas which has a Truth Field. There the Doctor discovers that the message originates from the Crack in the Universe that has followed him since the start of his regeneration. The message is from his lost home planet of Gallifrey.
The message is the oldest question hidden in plain sight – Doctor Who? If the Doctor answers the question it would bring the planet back from the known universe unleashing the Time War bring devastation in its wake. The Papal Mainframe takes on the role of the Silence to ensure that the question is not answered, as the Doctor becomes protector of both Christmas and Gallifrey from the horde of forces who seek to invade.
Clara is sent back home, as the Doctor fears having to bury her. The fear is well founded as the Siege of Trenzalore lasts hundreds of years. When she finally meets him again, the Doctor is aged, feeling the effects in limited mobility. As they catch up, Clara seeks to get the Doctor to leave the defence of the village to someone else. The Doctor remains committed. He also confirms that this incarnation is the last one, and he is happy to spend his time somewhere he is wanted.
Stakes are raised when it transpires that the Papal Mainframe has been infiltrated by the Daleks, taking over even Tasha Lem. Yet an act of bravery helps Tasha overcome the Daleks briefly, and what the siege becomes war, this time the Silence being on the Doctor’s side. Once again Clara is returned home, this time bringing greater sadness as there is no obvious way of return, which brings her into tension at the family meal.
The TARDIS however returns, although it is navigated now by Tasha who has come to bring Clara to be with the Doctor as his life reaches close to its end. Now the wizened Doctor understands he is near his death – he has lived his lifespan, and is ready to make the final stand against the Daleks.
Clara pleads to his people through the crack on the wall to do something. AS the Doctor appears at the top of the church tower to face his foe, a crack in the universe appears through which he receives a gift from Gallifrey – a new regeneration cycle. The Doctor uses the burst of regeneration power to wipe out the Daleks.
In the aftermath, Clara searches for the Doctor and finds him in the TARDIS. He looks young again, but it is apparent that this is momentary, and he uses the time to state how all things must change as he welcomes in the new guy. Before he goes, he is bid a good night by the first face his face saw, Amy Pond.
As Clara seeks to stop the change, in a flash the new Doctor emerges. The new guy with the older face glares at Clara and first comments on having new kidneys and how he doesn’t like the colour. Then moving around the console he seeks to get himself to focus, before asking Clara if she has any idea how to fly the machine.
This episode had the typical Smith ingredients such as the humour, making use of his wiry physicality. It also brought out his ability to convey his emotions even when older and less mobile. Huge props to the prosthetics as the wizened old Smith was truly a masterpiece. It was s superb performance in every element from Smith. His closing scene was full of emotion without making it saccharine. It was the end, he realised, but it was also a new beginning which he accepted, unlike his predecessor.
Kudos likewise to Jenna Coleman as Clara, the chief conduit of the motion in the episode. This was her best performance as Clara. She played the role of the companion to a tee exuding confidence, bravery, genuine sadness and anxiety at just the right pitch. An important ingredient in the programme’s success is the relationship between the companion and the Doctor and Smith and Coleman played their roles superbly.
Part of the build-up for the final story was how strands that had been going on since the start of the Smith era would be tied up. That happened. We know why the TARDIS exploded in Smith’s first series. We know who the Silence are in more detail. We know what the fall of the eleventh was all about. We have some idea of how Gallifrey can be located. We know how Smith was the 13th incarnation of the Doctor and how he could get over the rule of the 12 regenerations.
It is unfortunate, however, that the way these were tied up were fairly routine and almost glibly. Something I tried with a few episodes of Doctor Who was actually close my eyes and see how much of it could be explained almost like an audio play. This episode could have worked equally as effectively as an audio play such was the stress on dialogue. (That must have been a whole heap of words to have learnt.)
After four years of searching and pathos and excitement, for things to be explained in a sentence might have felt somewhat deflating. That is the problem, however, with building things up for so long and to such an important degree. Satisfying so many strands in a 60 minute episode was always going to be a big challenge.
This episode, however, was full of excitement, fun, drama and emotion. Moffat’s writing makes for good television. There was effective use of colour to depict this as a darker story that is about the end of the Doctor’s journey. If you wanted to get all philosophical and deep there were plenty of ‘messages’ you could get about loyalty, life, relationships, fear and hope among others.
Something that has improved over the time of the series is the brilliant use of incidental music. This episode was no different. It is a great example of assisting with the feel of the drama at key points from the revelation of Tasha Lem as a Dalek, to the regeneration scene itself.
Other than the Doctor and Clara the only other character of worth is Tasha Lem. She plays her role well mixing the enigmatic with the caring very well. It does, however, say something about others in the episode that she’s the only memorable one. Clara’s family are there as decoration (geddit) on the whole, though there’s a precious little nugget from her Gran.
On the regeneration itself. Eccleston’s change took place after he took the Vortex from Rose, and it didn’t take too long for the change to take place. When it did, Rose could see it quite clearly and the aftermath. With Tennant, his change gave him enough time to wander around the universe looking for his reward. It was long and drawn out to say the least – and it was a good thing he didn’t have over a dozen companions. The actual change, however was powerful and made an impact.
With this episode, it was brilliant seeing the wizened and decrepit Doctor receive the new cycle from Gallifrey and get a new bounce in his step before unleashing an enormous wave of regeneration energy to wipe out his long-hated adversary. I must admit, when I saw the usual arms out, head back, regeneration energy burst, I expected to see the change there and then.
Clara’s steps into the TARDIS and look at the clothes on the ground, and steps on the opposite side of the console room got me thinking of seing the new Doctor there and then. Yet Smith’s final monologue was superb and not a let-down at all. The flash that just brought Capaldi’s face to the screen was a disappointment.
Still, the New Doctor is here. His start was interesting and left enough for us to eagerly look forward to how he’ll flesh out in time to come.
I do not help comparing episodes to other episodes of a similar kind. Hartnell had the Tenth Planet. Troughton had the War Games. Pertwee had the Planet of the Spiders. Tom Baker had Logopolis. Davison had Caves of Androzani. Colin Baker never had a proper regeneration story. McCoy had the Movie. Even McGann got a send-off in The Night of the Doctor. If you want to include Hurt in the canon then he had Day of the Doctor. Eccleston had Parting of the Ways. Tennant had The End of Time.
The only full story I’ve not watched is Hartnell’s one. The best regeneration story for all reasons remains Caves of Androzani, which is usually followed closely by Planet of the Spiders. This episode is as good as Planet of the Spiders. Where others have been too long (War Games is 10 episodes! End of Time should have been one episode not one and a half, with a protracted regeneration.) and some have been forgettable (Logopolis), this one had drama and emotion in fitting with the character of this Doctor.
After the episode I said to myself that they did it the right way. It’s a strong end to Smith’s time on the show. It’s a good episode. I enjoyed watching it, and felt it hit the right notes emotionally without going over the top.
“I will always remember when the Doctor was me.”
Now, the Smith era is over and I will certainly remember when the Doctor was him.
C. L. J. Dryden
On December 25th 2013, Matt Smith concludes his tenure as the Doctor. Since he emerged after the regeneration in 2010, viewers have had the privilege of watching a very different performance from the hugely popular predecessor.
It was considered a gamble at the time. There were concerns that the actor was too young. That he was relatively untried in such demanding roles. That the guy before him cast too big a shadow.
By the end of The Eleventh Hour I was firmly in favour of Smith’s Doctor. We can talk about many different factors behind him doing so well. We can talk about co-stars, directors, writers and other brilliant support that enabled him to do what he did from 2010-2013. The bottom line remains, however, that the guy in the title role has to deliver. It is he that determines the fate of the show, and so it is his performances that are critical to the show going from strength to strength or not. Smith proved from the start that he could handle the job.
The brilliant set-up for Smith to emerge through the hologram images of the (then) ten actors that had played him before and say rather simply that he was the Doctor, was one of those occasions that left me cheering to the rafters.
His first season remains the best first season of any Doctor. Even Tom Baker took a while to settle down. Smith got the hang of it straightaway, whether it was the mystery of who Amy Pond was, what the Silence was all about, what was the crack through time and space. These things defined Smith’s Doctor early on.
Even in the episodes that didn’t really work for me, like the very next one The Beast Below, Smith put in a confident performance. I recall the anger he had raging at the choice between killing the people or killing the whale – this was very different to the last guy. His idea of adventure was very different as well.
Moffat reckons Smith captures the fact that this man is an old time-traveller. He certainly doesn’t act his age in the sense of being a young man. He can shift from the vibrant, twirling adventurer to a very still portrayal of a man who has seen a lot.
His take on humour was outstanding too. The Lodger was a brilliant platform for his abilities at physical as well as verbal humour. He was far more alien as well. Any characterisation of the Doctor that highlights him being an alien is always a winner in my book. I particularly enjoyed the habit he had of looking to explain things only to state that how he was explaining them was not to be accepted.
The angst that Smith brought to the role, particularly in this last season – just those long looks that scream of what could have been have been excellent. I’ve loved him being manic. I insist that the Rebel Flesh/Almost People double is one of the best two-part stories of the new era, precisely because of the chance to Doctor enjoying himself with his Ganger.
What makes this Doctor stand out from his predecessors is his engagement with children. Like never before this Doctor interacts with children and can really get on with them, whilst retaining the element of mystery.
I felt there was something about the trilogy regarding Smith’s tenure. This allowed the first season to establish the mysteries with a bang and the second season to be look to unearth answers, only deepening the questions leading to a third season that has started new mysteries whilst resolving others. It is fitting he should end at the same season of the year as he started.
Whether it was his speech in The Pandorica Opens, the fun he obviously has in the Impossible Astronaut/Day of the Moon double bill or his brilliant turn in Nightmare in Silver, he has been brilliant. Not only that, he leaves whilst at the peak of his powers in the role.
It is not a pity that he won’t be as fondly regarded as his predecessor. His brilliance will be recognised in the fullness of time. He doesn’t need the pining after that Tennant received, because he’s a different Doctor. He is the Doctor we certainly needed at this time, whether we truly appreciate it or not. He leaves the role in good hands, and Capaldi has a great base on which to develop his own Doctor.
In the meantime, thank you Matt Smith for being a superb Doctor. It is a body of work of which to be proud.
C. L. J. Dryden
It’s not that there isn’t anything funny anymore. It’s just that there’s little I’ve come across to make me laugh out at the sheer genius of it. Nothing worth me blogging about. Until this,
I saw it, I laughed at it. Played it at least four times before someone told me to find the next funny thing. I’m still looking. In the meantime I am still laughing at this.
C. L. J. Dryden
So that was the weekend that was. It’s worth sharing some thoughts on what I watched:
Expectations Determines Response: I contacted two people immediately after the show to get their feedback on it. Both of them expressed disappointment. Digging deeper into their response, it was clear they had certain expectations for this episode. Part of these expectations came from the size of hype leading up to the main event. This hype was not helped by the outstanding minisode Night of the Doctor. With the stakes so high, the special had to go above and beyond to at least meet the hype. Exciting as it was, the episode did not meet those lofty expectations for those two people.
For me, conversely, I was only too aware of the hype in the days running up to the event, but had switched my expectations lower because of it. As a result I was pleased with what I watched. It met the basic requirements for me, and it even lived up to some of the things Steven Moffat suggested.
The Plot Was Not That Complicated: Moffat scripts and story-arcs have been accused in the past of being too complex for the audience. I read some people level that criticism at this episode. That was a misguided criticism. It worked as I looked to summarise the plot.
Zygons attempt to invade earth again in the present and in duplicating Elizabeth I where the Tenth Doctor is getting himself in romantic trouble with the Queen. The danger however also triggers a letter from the Queen picked up by the Eleventh Doctor who receives a summons from UNIT to investigate the matter. This connects with a portrait of the last day of the Time War where the War Doctor is about to end it all, the only way he knows how.
The Three Doctors meet up in Elizabethan England as the War Doctor works out how he’ll end up and the two latter Doctors come face to face with something and someone they’ve sought to hide. In resolving the Zygon effort in the past and the present, it reinforces the belief for the War Doctor that he must still carry out his dreaded task. His later selves also reach the same conclusion and are about to join him, when Clara appeals to her Doctor’s very title. This triggers an idea that the Doctor has been considering for hundreds of years, and it clicks with his younger selves and so they make an audacious bid to radically adjust their own time-line, by altering the close of the Time War.
This was a relatively straightforward plot to follow. At least to me.
The Doctors Were Brilliant: Great credit must go to Matt Smith, David Tennant and John Hurt for putting in excellent performances as the main character. Two things help make a programme enjoyable, the story and the performances. The story was done well and the performances really were of the highest standard for the series. Their differences as Doctors was highlighted well. Hurt’s War Doctor was already set, it’s as though we knew what he was like for ages, even though it’s the first time he’s performed.
There was something in the younger Doctor being the most mature and the oldest appearing the least, when in actuality behind the frivolity and playfulness there was still a level of weariness affecting the Eleventh Doctor. The episode was meant to be about the Doctor and it worked a treat largely because their portrayals were nailed on.
The Feel Was Special … But: The quality of the programme by its production values ensured I was not watching a regular series episode of Dr. Who. Great effort has been put into the quality of the episodes over the series, and the recently completed series endeavoured to give it a feature-film feel. This one went even beyong those standards to make it feel special.
Yet it didn’t quite feel epic. The scope of the script was large. The implications of the storyline were large. The set-pieces were large in places. Larger than normal – but not epic.
That’s not a bad thing necessarily, unless you demanded epic, in which case you could feel a tiny bit let down. Only a tiny bit.
It Has Set Up Doctor Who For The Future: I am not fussed by the happy ending to the episode. Some prefer the more melancholic tragic series endings we’ve come across in time past. This, however, is a special. This is a special set-up to give the programme a boost for the future. It meets this expectation then exceeds it. The programme was not going to struggle for story ideas, and story-arcs to consider. What this episode did, however, was change the game in a large way by leaving questions that other writers and head-producers can answer at their leisure. Questions like:
What are the consequences of the change to the Time War for the Doctor?
What are the consequences for Gallifrey and Time Lords?
What are the consequences for the Daleks?
How will that impact the rest of the universe?
Confirmation of the John Hurt Doctor as a legitimate part of the lineage also drastically changes things. The question of the 13th incarnation now for certain has to be resolved in some way with the Peter Capaldi Doctor.
Leaving the programme with these questions and issues set for the next few seasons with ample room and time to develop more issues gives much hope for the future of Dr. Who.
C. L. J. Dryden
If I haven’t mentioned it yet, my timing has been somewhat suspect on a few things. I really got into supporting Liverpool Football Club just when they stopped winning League titles. I also got into having AC Milan as my Italian team and then they decided not to be that good anymore.
So it should come as no surprise that I started getting into Dr. Who in the early 1990’s. I have vague recollections of bumping into the occasional Sylvester McCoy episode during an advert of Coronation Street. I recall the odd occasion coming across it in Peter Davison’s era. There might have been maybe one or two times I saw a programme with that Colin Baker fella in it. Yet these were not occasions when I would stop and pay attention to what the programme was about.
So, I actually came into Dr. Who by reading some of the novels (from the classic era, very few New Adventures) in my local library. I discovered later that these were novelisations of episodes. I can’t remember the novels now, because the interest into the novels soon turned to interest in non-fiction descriptions of the programme, especially from a writer called Peter Haining.
It was fun getting insight on the actors and the different focus the programme had from the 1960’s til the time it was taken off the screen. This is where I came across the fact that I was very late in getting into it as it had been taken off the screens. I mean, it was unlikely it would ever come on the screen again.
Even in those pre-Internet days – and I didn’t have access to video recorders – it was still fascinating reading about this intriguing character. First there was a grumpy old man, then an impish, mischievous accidental meddler, followed by an action-hero of the mature variety. From there he was a wide-grinning curly-haired joker followed by a soft and vulnerable cricketing type, before a larger brash well-meaning bounder gave way to a mercurial truly mysterious man who was Time Lord.
Good stories, but a far more captivating central character. On the one hand he wasn’t a very deep character, on the other hand he certainly was complex. I preferred him all the more when it was emphasised his alien nature.
By 1996 with news of a TV movie potentially re-launching the television series, I was as excited as any fan. Finally after nine years of being off screen where I turned from someone who couldn’t care less to someone very much interested in the character, here I was going to get a taste of it for real.
I do remember being taken with the novelty of having the Doctor on the television and actually seeing him regenerate. That carried my interest for the rest of the episode. What has also got to be said though, was I wasn’t surprised when nothing else happened from there.
Thankfully, it wasn’t long after that when the Internet era came along (for me), and I could subscribe to certain web-sites and get reviews on episodes. Honestly, in the latter 90’s and early 00’s my interest in the character waned whilst my time was taken up with other things. I’d occasionally read this or that about him, but I wasn’t a die-hard fan who had to get everything Dr. Who related.
When 2005 came around and I came across the programme, it was a good time for me. I recall watching that first episode called Rose with my brother when he lived in Guildford. Someone recently said that if you watch the last Sylvester McCoy episode and then this episode you can tell it’s the same programme. Sure some of the basic standards had risen, but I can see the point.
What I love about the programme from that time in the early 90’s is what was maintained in the new series. That was a commitment to portraying a fascinating central character. I don’t think Eccleston did enough in the only season to place himself as a very good Doctor, but evidently he did enough to keep the programme on the air and pave the way for Tennant and Smith to excel.
They have indeed excelled thanks to the supervision of very good television writer-producers like Russell T. Davies and Steven Moffat. I keep watching it because it still tells a good story. It still has an intriguing central character.
Unique characteristics like the regeneration thing and the diversity of personalities that have makes the one renegade Time Lord worth me watching. The stories that it tells even from perspectives I disagree with also show the power that something that is ‘entertainment’ can subtly convey to those who watch it. A programme like Doctor Who is permission to explore such a range of creative expressions it far outstrips any of its rivals on television. The loyal fandom is also something that is compelling and the ability to hear different views on both old and new Doctor could keep me entertained for hours and hours.
The bottom line about why I like it is this – I like a good story. In its ups and downs the television programme that started in November 1963 told and continues to tell a good story. I hope it continues to do so for years to come.
C. L. J. Dryden
This is the final part of a three part series considering the role of the companions in the hit sci-fi programme Dr. Who as it celebrates its 50th anniversary. You can see my views on the companion in the first three Doctors by clicking here. Then go on to see what my views were on those that were with the Doctor from Leela through to Martha Jones by clicking here.
The outstanding companion of New Who is Donna. The relationship between her and the Tenth Doctor struck all the right notes. The comedy, the drama, all made the tragedy of how it ended for her all the more touching. It worked. Of all the companions, she was the one that you wanted to keep travelling most with the Doctor – though it’s a sign of good timing and scripting when you can see one depart where you wanted to see more.
Lots can be said about Amy Pond, but she was a strong companion who evidently grew as she travelled with the Doctor. The dynamic really worked, because it was no longer a love triangle when Rory came on board the TARDIS. Sure there were vestiges of it that seeped over from the end of series five to the beginning of series six, but by The Angels Take Manhattan, everything was as it should have been.
I loved Rory as a companion. He worked far better than Mickey did in his brief excursions. Like Amy we got to see the evolution of Rory in the role and saw the effects of time travel on how he behaved, from a wimp of nurse, to a stronger sort who could look after himself and his wife when it came to tough decision-making. I’d say Rory is the best male companion in the TARDIS since Jamie with the Second Doctor. To be fair, though, Rory doesn’t face that much competition when you consider how nondescript the likes of Adric, Turlough and Mickey turned out to be.
The current incumbent, Clara, has had it tough. She has had to follow a really strong companion team, in a somewhat disjointed season and a significant mystery behind her character. I think, to her credit, she’s had some really strong stories to appear in – like Hide, Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS, Nightmare in Silver and The Name of the Doctor. She’s bright chirpy and a match for the Doctor in not following the stereotypical route in the TARDIS. It will be intriguing seeing how she ends up, and what her dynamic will be with the Twelfth Doctor.
The likes of Captain Jack and River Song are different types of companion. They may have been on the odd adventure with the Doctor, but they were hardly companions. This is just like I wouldn’t call Jackie, Rose’s Mum, a companion although she was on the TARDIS in the finale of series 4.
In this brief jaunt over the companions things that appear obvious to me are the following:
- The more companions on the TARDIS the harder it is for any one of them to stand out.
- The best combinations tend to be the Doctor with one companion.
- The challenge remains to write a decent male companion to the Doctor who is connected directly to him, not through another companion.
Strong companions are those who still ask the Doctor the key questions, but in a way that brings out a good relationship with the Doctor, without it becoming ‘complicated’.
The Twelfth Doctor offers a chance to return to a different dynamic of relations between the Doctor and the companion. It need not be the love-interest thing anymore. It could revert to some of the strengths of the Seventh Doctor’s one with Ace. It’s a great writing and acting challenge for whoever gets to take it on.
I’m not endeared to the ‘he must not travel alone’ ethos that has been the standard for New Who. If the Doctor needs humans to do what’s right, it detracts from the mystery of his alien nature – he should be fine on his own. Having said that, I hope, however, that companions for the future make travelling with the Doctor the dangerous, exhilarating and personally fulfilling adventure it can be at its best.
C. L. J. Dryden