The Default Doctor Who Companion

I just blundered across this on a Guardian blog:

But the thing about Doctor Who companions, whatever their age, background and ethnicity, is that they are all, essentially, the same character – the big-hearted Earth girl who finds the hero within herself. That's the story of Doctor Who, and what did for the original series was when they strayed too far. After all-time-favourite Sarah Jane, the Doctor travelled with a tribeswoman, a Time Lady, a genteel alien lady, an Australian air hostess, an American, and Bonnie Langford. It took until the rigorously badass Ace for them to get it right again, and by then it was too late.

And I think that it's a remarkably insightful comment. From the departure of Sarah Jane Smith onwards, there was never again a real companion that people could identify with. That didn't matter when people had a strong relationship with Tom Baker's Doctor, but after that, the steady decline was on…

Dr Who: Here Comes Season 4

Who4team
Ah, we have more news about season 4 of New Who.

There's some good casting in there, but the hardcore aren't going to care, because they're still in shock that the Doctor will have a 30-something companion, rather than the normal young tottie.  A 30-something who screamed and screeched her way through her first episode.

Yeah, and…?

Dr Who fans seem to exist in a parallel reality where TV production crews are utterly blind to the most obvious factors. Writers who are incapable of developing characters and giving them more depth when the get a larger role. Where comedy performers are incapable of stepping up to dramatic roles. Theirs is a world where one-note characters from Cheers like Frasier are incapable of being the lead in their own series. When comedy actors from Robin Williams to Ronnie Barker haven't moved to more serious roles to great acclaim.

Doctor Who fans are special, you see. Years of watching time-travelling adventures has given them special powers to see into the future, and know what a series that has only just started filming will be like.

The rest of us will just have to wait and find out. And, to compensate us for our lack of special powers, we'll get to enjoy it more.

Last of the Time Lords: intial thoughts

My goodness. Doctor Who fans are a miserable bunch, aren't they?

[Link now dead] Personally, I rather enjoyed that. Lots of fun, some real, lingering emotional consequences to what happened, and at least three separate threads that will continue into the next series.

And the Titanic in the Vortex.

Christmas seems too far away, now.

More detailed thoughts tomorrow.

In Praise of Lucy Saxon

Alexandra Moen as Lucy SaxonI don't watch much TV right now. I'm the archetypical 30-something who is caught between a busy lifestyle, family commitments and the internet. But one show that I do watch religiously is Doctor Who. The reasons why are fodder for another post but, for now, I'd just like to spend a few moments congratulating the combination of Russell T. Davies and Alexandra Moen for bringing us the character of Lucy Saxon (pictured right from next Saturday's episode).

Giving the Master an evil companion to match the Doctor's good companions is an inspired idea, really pushing the idea of the two Time Lords being dark reflections of each other. And her clearly sexual (as far as anything can be clearly sexual in a family show) relationship with The Master-as-Harold Saxon mirrors the Doctor's endlessly chaste relationships with his travelling companions. 

Moen's contribution? She's managed to make a relatively small part compelling, and give a character who is excited at the idea of the rapid slaughter of 10% of Earth's population a staggering credibility, in the circumstances. Davies has used the character as a powerful tool to underline the horrific nature of what's happening, which has proved necessary with John Simm's so-far-over-the-top-he's-likeable portrayal of the Master. She gives a human edge to his alien villainy that brings it all so much closer to home.

So far we've seen her as the stereotype politician's wife, with sensible hair, and buttoned-down outfit. From the looks of the picture, we'll see her as a much more typical villain at the weekend.

Dramas like Doctor Who often stand or fall on their guest cast. So far, Moen's Lucy Saxon has been one of the best.