This is part two of the three-part series looking at those who have travelled with the Time Lord as we celebrate 50 years of the Doctor. See the first part by clicking the link.
Where last we left off we considered one of the best Doctor-companion partnerships in the entire run, namely that between the Fourth Doctor and Sarah-Jane Smith.
After that, I watched how the Fourth Doctor engaged and left all his companions and he was rather brusque and brisk in getting rid of them. He was fairly lacking in sentiment, whether it was his ‘savage’ in Leela, or his intellectual equivalent in Romana. Indeed of all the Doctors, the Fourth appeared the best equipped not to need a companion.
The Fifth one, however, was certainly designed to need all the assistance he could get, so it was fitting that his TARDIS would be full of companions. It’s just unfortunate that most of them were fairly average. Tegan – annoying. Adric – errrr … why? Nyssa was alright, but because she was in a big group she hardly stood out. The thinking behind Turlough as a companion was dead on arrival because once we got over his homicidal mission, he was of little real interest.
There’s a lot to be said about the Sixth Doctor’s run. You can criticise the outfit, you can criticise the stories and you can criticise how his stint ended. One thing I actually think did work was the evolution of his relationship with Peri. Their odd couple into essential pals routine worked a treat and showed that a Doctor could have a female companion and not need to make it anything other than a friendship. This is something that was almost lost on the new era of the Doctor’s companions until Donna.
Mel was not as bad as some want to make out. But she was bad. So we move swiftly to the final companion of the old series – Ace. The Seventh Doctor-Ace relationship is up there with the best. That mentoring thing and the Doctor seemingly knowing more than he showed almost manipulating Ace into things, was superb storytelling over multiple serials. It’s a real shame the television series never had the chance to show how that relationship ended up.
Not much to say about the movie version – not enough time to feel invested in the Eighth Doctor’s companions.
When the series was re-launched in 2005 there was something different about the role of the companion. Indeed like no companion before, the series focussed more on Rose than anything else. In as much as I appreciate the importance of the companion, it is a problem to me when the series revolves around them.
I am happy for Billie Piper that she proved herself as an actress of worth in the role. However for the first four series of the new Who to be dominated by her in one shape or other, showed a different direction that did not endear itself to me. The romantic thing between her and the Tenth Doctor was annoying to me.
Martha, though, was just something else. To be the rebound companion and to script her as having a crush on the Doctor irritated me no end. I felt that element of the story arc with her involved was tedious and detracted from whatever positive things she did do as the companion.
Coming very soon is the concluding part of this companion piece to the Doctor outlining some important ingredients of what makes a decent companion.
C. L. J. Dryden