Six Smart Women Discussing Doctor Who

VerityEpisode22-300It’s time to talk about companions again! Join Deb, Erika, Katrina (as opposed to Katarina–yes, we have some confusion there), and Lynne as we discuss companions who joined the Doctor from the past, the future, and other worlds. How do past companions stack up to those from the future? Does one type work better than the other? What about “alien” companions? How about robots? Do robots count? (They so totally do!)

Listen in as we compare Victoria’s and Zoe’s relationships to Jamie, ponder over whether Leela fits better as a past or future companion, disagree about which Doctor Adric works best with, and squee about Nyssa. All this and more…enjoy!


Also covered:
Kat reads Texts From the TARDIS (Classic Edition)! (Bonus: New Who edition)
Lynne watches Inferno Special Edition VAM: “Hadoke vs HAVOC”! (Bonus: Who’s Round podcast!)
Erika is going to Dragon*Con! & the Parsec Awards!
Deb thinks Verity! listeners are awesome!

Download or listen now (runtime 1:02:54) 

Comments on: "Verity! Episode 22 – Companion Confab: Once, Future, & Out of This World" (23)

  1. Looking back on it, I realized how *few* of the non-contemporary companions I’ve seen, aside from the new Who ones (i.e. Jack, River and the other Claras) and Susan & Romanas and the latter is more from the audios than the serials. I’m so used to (and a bit tired of) the modern girl trips over the Doctor and goes traveling with him storyline. To me, I’d *love* something different, especially future/alien options. I do think it might work better with three in the Tardis where one is from Earth and one is something else, so you can still have that reference point or tether, if you’re really worried about the audiences.

    I’m getting to be a little like Amy these days in my fussy Whovian-ness “You promised me a planet!” and we go back to Earth… *sighs* There’s a question — What are Verity’s favorite non-Earth adventures?

  2. Question: would a future companion carry the “sense of wonder” that contemporary companions can have? Would that be a good thing for Who going forward, or a bad thing? I can see it both ways. There’s something positive about a companion having their view of the universe expanded. On the other hand, having a companion from the future would expand and alter the kinds of stories that can be told on the show.

    I’d be more concerned about a companion from the past. For me, problem #1 would be historical accuracy. If you’re going to have a character from the past, they ought to act like they’re from the past. But then you have the trouble of them having past attitudes about race, gender, class, and such. I worry about the skill of writers to handle that without getting in trouble, or ignoring those views for the sake of the story.

    The other problem that I see is the whole “No, this thing isn’t magic, here’s how it works” trope. I could see that getting tiresome fast. Writers could work around that, but then you’re creating another Jamie or another Leela. Why go there if it’s been done before?

    I liked the shout-out for Nyssa. I always think she ended up, quite accidentally, having a good hero’s journey as a companion.

    Keep up the great podcasts!

  3. Great podcast. I too was excited about the notion of a Victorian Clara, as it would have been a fresher approach after all the present day ones. It was only changed later as i think Neil Gaiman was told to write the children, Victorian. The future companions had great back stories although after their inital story, they just seemed to be like modern day ones, particularly Susan and Vicki. Kamelion could have become such an exciting companion as he could have been played by a different actor every story. K9 doesnt seem like a companion to me as he more like a tool like the TARDIS or the sonic screwdriver. What were your opinions on robotic companions as you never really talked about them?

    Keep the podcasts coming 🙂 Also will you ever do one with all of you together?

  4. ElanorMJ said:

    A question first. Do Jenny and Vastra count as past companions? I tend to think that they do. They have clearly travelled in the TARDIS, even if we haven’t seen it. Vastra may be very sophisticated and seems very contemporary, but she still comes from the past. Jenny, as far as we know, is completely Victorian, apart from the whole ‘married to my female, lizard mistress’ thing. They have ‘contemporary’ sensibilities, however much of their behaviour and language is still very rooted in the Victorian era.

    Personally, I would love another non contemporary companion. Most of my experience of Doctor Who is post 2005 and the classic stories that I have watched have had contemporary companions. However, I am not wedded to the need to see a story through a contemporary companions’s eyes. (I’m fairly easily pleased – if it’s Doctor Who, I’ll generally find something to enjoy.)

  5. Companions. They need to be able to see things *differently* from the Doctor to help come up with solutions. For future-based companions, you don’t have to explain technology and “how things are” to get there, so solutions are down to (mostly) pure character development. Past-based companions need the explanation (which can get tedious after a while), but may be able to come up with a more left-field solution because of the context in which they receive the information.

    It does boil down to how well the characters are fleshed-out. And…how the showrunner feels about the companions (Martha – kick ass awesome skills, adaptable, intelligent, brave, bold and always SECOND BEST. What?). This is why Nyssa was problematic for me – she was so…reserved that I never could get any kind of feel for her or the depth of her losses or the kind of determination it would take to carry on after that. I don’t think the writing did her justice.

    How about a problematic companion? (And no, I don’t mean Turlough.) How many of us wanted to see Oswin get out of the Asylum and travel with the Doctor? I did! He’d have to confront his own feelings about the Daleks and she’d have to fight back the urge to exterminate six things before breakfast.

  6. Jamie is probably one of my favourite classic companions full stop, despite being a child of the 70s/80s. I think you did somewhat ‘skirt’ around much of what makes Jamie a great companion. Yes, he has that sense of wonder, disbelief and incredulity when it comes to the fantastic things that are presented to him. He also has the energy and enthusiasm that you mentioned. He also has a great relationship with The Doctor and all the companions he travelled with…friends, buddies as you called them. But he also has many qualities which in light of particularly Zoe’s hyper intelligence are often forgotten. He is supremely loyal to the Doctor, not like a puppy, but as a comrade in arms. He won’t blindly walk into a situation without thinking, and will question the Doctors motivations (Evil of the Daleks is the best example of this). He is fiercely brave, a cunning fighter but also strong willed and independent. His best story is without doubt Evil, as it demonstrates all his best qualities. He was able to shine. Sure, he was desperately in love with Victoria, but Zoe treated him like a slightly dim brother or school pal…yet relied on him to get her out of scrapes when her cleverness wasn’t enough, such as in the Invasion. agreed that Jamie is both of his time as a character, and of a time in terms of the cultural environment in the 60s…a bit sexist, but never unpleasant, always loyal and ready to take on whatever was thrown at him.

    I think subsequent characters such as Harry Sullivan, or to an even lesser extent Turlough, filled the Jamie shaped hole in the 70s and 80s. Harry was charming, witty and a bit blundering, but as was noticeable in Genesis..the Doctor and Harry had a great respect and fondness for each other. The little thank you after the minefield scene is a case in point. And where Turlough would try to escape danger wherever possible, he too was protective and loyal to both the Doctor and Tegan in the end, as Ressurection of the Daleks demonstrated. But neither had Jamie’s zest for life and energy that makes him one of my favourite companions, male or female.

    P.s. thanks for acknowledging the fans and listeners to Verity. It was very sweet and thoughtful of you. Appreciated x

    • Excellent thoughts on Jamie! We’ll be covering the male companions in more detail in the future, so I don’t doubt we’ll get into some of this down the road. Thanks!


  7. baticeer said:

    Hi, this is my first time commenting here, although I’ve been listening to your podcast for about two months. You said your comment section was a good place and it spurred me into wanting to post some response and thank you for Verity 🙂

    I don’t think you touched on Steven at all in your discussion of future companions. Did you not really have anything to say, or just forget about him? That’s understandable because it’s very easy to forget that he was an astronaut from the future… sometimes his background slips my mind and honestly I think the show forgot it too at times. What’s so frustrating about Steven is that he starts out with a really interesting backstory — if you haven’t seen The Chase, he crashed on a planet, all his comrades died, and he was held prisoner there for several years — but beyond his first story or two it doesn’t seem to really affect his character. He just takes up a role of “stalwart action man”.

    I think Steven works really well with Sara Kingdom for that reason, actually. They’re both from the future, although I think she’s farther on than he is, and both of them are soldier types who understand each other on that level. They make a great action duo. I always count Sara as a companion in my head, more so than I do Katarina, because you can easily imagine that Sara was a long-term companion of the Doctor. I think this came from the novelization of Daleks’ Master Plan, where the author added in this detail: along with the TARDIS trips that took them to Ancient Egypt and that police station and stuff, the three of them actually traveled for MONTHS on end in the TARDIS before they ended up back on…. whatever planet they’re on at the end of the story. And I’m not sure but I think Big Finish has also done audios with Sara set in this possible gap.

    • I will admit that I also spent several moments of listening to this podcast yelling ‘what about Steven’? I think that he is really interesting in The Daleks’ Master Plan – previously he was paired with the much younger Vicki and tended to be a bit protective/brotherly towards her, but with Sara I really believed he was a man of the future – because you never ONCE see/hear him balking at her capability for gendered reasons.

      But I will defend Dalek’s Master Plan till the ends of the earth. Deb is SO WRONG about this one. (I have indeed written a comprehensive love letter to that story but it won’t be published for another year or so)

  8. Another thoroughly enjoyable podcast.

    I completely agree that Canton Everett Delaware 3rd should be classed as a companion. He’s travelled in the TARDIS and been seen helping the Doctor in at least 3 different locations over 3 episodes. That beats Grace Holloway and (given the extended episode lengths in nu-who) Katarina.

    This one is going to be a bit of a bummer and I apologise for that – the 1960’s is most definitely in the past. I’m in my mid 30’s and the majority of the decade was more than a decade and a half before I was born. Besides, being 50-odd years into the past from now would be like setting a First or Second Doctor story firmly in the Edwardian era before either world war. The world with only a few cars, almost no electricity and a strict heirarchy of servants and masters would be as alien to the young of the 1960’s as their time is to anyone under 16 now. (I’ve thought about this a lot previously as part of my personal theory of how concentrating on the Beatles is actually killing Liverpool’s present)

    • Agreed on the CED3 being a companion. And…unfortunately, I also agree that the 60’s is (echo voice) THE PAST (dun dun DUNNNNN!).

      Amy’s phone was very futuristic for young Canton and probably on the same par as the concept of time travel. Of course, he was highly adaptable, but what successful companion isn’t?

      Wish we got to see more of him!

  9. Paul A. said:

    Katarina never really got given a chance. The production team had already given up on making her work as a companion before she’d even been cast.

    (Given that, it seems as if it ought to have been early enough to rewrite her scenes to make her better companion material. But perhaps they felt that the problem was inherent to her background and situation, and that rewriting wouldn’t have helped.)

    Her death scene was literally the first scene with her that was filmed.

    • +1 about Katarina. She had no opportunity at all to succeed as a character – she didn’t even appear in the whole of The Myth Makers! She was an afterthought treated as such by everyone involved.

      (how much more interesting if Cassandra had been brought aboard the TARDIS instead? We’ve never had a celebrity historical companion, apart from Mary Shelley in the audios)

      Jamie on the other hand, basically auditioned by accident with a great run in a story that built up a sense of who he was before he stepped on board the TARDIS. He was written and played with relish. Even better, he rose above some dodgy scripting (where he was inserted in scripts never intended to have a third companion beside Ben & Polly).

      From a Doylean POV worth making note of how weirdly the actors playing the companions were contracted in this period, by episodes rather than stories, which often dictated those odd and abrupt arrivals & departures – not just Katarina turning up randomly in Episode 4 of The Myth-Makers, and indeed Steven appearing at the very end of the Chase (a brilliant backstory, I agree with the above) but Dodo’s disappearance halfway through The War Machines, and the juggling of Ben and Polly in their final story in The Faceless Ones.

      Also a shout out for Katarina’s death scene – in which she was HEROIC damn it, despite everyone around her on both sides of the camera thinking she was stupid. And the shot of her floating in space is rumoured to have provoked Ridley Scott to call the BBC to find out how they did it.

  10. I do think that Jamie has a protective relationship toward Victoria. As I recall, the way Victoria was introduced in Evil of the Daleks was as a damsel in distress that Jamie, in his “puppy way” had to chase after to save.

    The varying relationship between Jamie and Victoria, and Jamie and Zoe make the Second Doctor’s run. I think people forget he started with Ben and Polly, so strong was these two companion pairs with Troughton’s second Doctor.

  11. MayorOfUlthar said:

    Very enjoyable episode. The longer the better, for me. As I have seen so little of Doctor Who prior to the eighth Doctor, I consider this an education/preview of what I hope to see soon.

    Mik: Oswin as a Companion would have been interesting. In terms of a problematic companion…. has there ever been a companion who sought out the Doctor and demanded to accompany him? As opposed to the usual since 2005, where the Doctor is always like the guy pulling up to the curb and asking a woman to hop in.

    • Not quite demanding to be there, but there have been quite a few stowaways over the years which the Doctor has got quite grumpy about – and accidental hookups, I guess? During the 60’s the Doctor had so little control over the TARDIS that once you were there you were stuck until your own decade rolled around again.

      In the audios, Lucie Miller was placed with the Doctor forcibly as part of a TIme Lord witness protection scheme, but neither of them were happy about it at first! Tamsin actually auditioned, The Apprentice-style. And of course Turlough only joined in order to assassinate the Doctor.

      For the most part it has been a mutual decision, but very rarely phrased in that ‘I want to do this FOREVER’ way that characterises the new show. Some of the companions end stories were quite casual and throwaway, rather than being genuine finales to their narrative, but I will admit I’d like to see a bit more of travelling with the Doctor being like a fun interlude in your life rather than something you have to be forcibly evicted from.

      We could do with a few more companions leaving because it’s time to move on with their lives – the trouble is of course that the current model of the show means that if the Doctor doesn’t keep in touch he looks like a bit of a dick. The obvious solution is not to put former companions in some kind of TARDIS-proof territory (Ponds!) but to put the randomiser back on the TARDIS…

      I’m more and more sad that they didn’t just end the story of the Ponds with The Power of Three, and them deciding that it was time to grow up now and let Peter Pan move on with his own eternal childhood. Even Martha had to go through hell before deciding to leave of her own volition. Why can’t they just find a better offer? The Doctor is awesome but seriously he would not be the world’s best flatmate.

      • You’re right, Tansy. It’s a bit disturbing, this “FOREVER!!!1!” idea of traveling with with the Doctor. Which is what made River’s choice NOT to so interesting. I suspect that she knew she’d be bad for him in the long term if they stayed together. Flirting while she’s killing people (Silents) is fun, but not a path you want to lead him down if you’re trying to keep him from becoming some kind of warrior god.

        I also liked Clara’s “come next Wednesday”. She’s got a life with responsibilities, but she’ll travel with him on her day off. It’s a rational, sane choice (well, as sane and rational as say, skydiving – your definition of sane and rational may vary).

  12. I feel inferior to all the insightful comments previously submitted but I looked on the texts from the tardis tumblr and can’t stop laughing! Thank you Kat!

  13. I’d like to see a future or otherworldly companion (like River, Jack or Madame Vastra) simply because the power differential that exists with past or present day companions is no longer interesting or cool. We’ve seen 3 present day Doctors play the all-knowing Grand Poo-Bah and it’s played out. I think modern audiences are sophisticated enough to want equality in their companions. Also, with equal knowledge comes a faster pace–no dumbing down to explain things. Do we really need to have things explained? Can’t equals conversing about the problem convey meaning to the audience just as well?

    Now SPEAKING OF ZOE, when are you guys gonna interview Wendy Padbury?

    • I agree completely! I don’t think ignorance is essential in a companion – they could as easily have expertise in different areas to the Doctor! We’ve had that ‘sense of wonder’ thing enough times that we are well due for a companion who takes all the usual things in her stride.

  14. Sarah B said:

    I think Jamie and Victoria (and Leela) worked better as past companions because they needed things that the Doctor and travel in the TARDIS could provide, while Katarina needed/wanted something else. Jamie and Leela were young, adventurous, not tied to anyone, and actively interested in the adventure, and Victoria, having just lost her father (and only family?) was looking for a new family, which the TARDIS crew provided (which also covers why she left when she found a more stable family to belong to). Katarina’s background wrote her needing the Doctor to be something he wasn’t in order to maintain the way she perceived him. I think the writers could have worked with that, but they weren’t willing to alter her world view, so… bam.

    The current production team still seemed fixated on providing a modern connection to anchor the viewers; perhaps they could do something with a larger team in the TARDIS? A better combination than Rose-Adam, though (inasmuch as Adam was “future”).

  15. Sarah B said:

    Oh, and, I liked Adric too, although I don’t really understand why in retrospect. 🙂
    I liked Nyssa because the actress was named Sarah, she had hair like mine, and she was smart, and I tended to cling to smart girls in TV shows then. 🙂

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