Wicked Professor!
January 5, 2015 9:30 AM   Subscribe

 


Ghostlight makes perfect sense if you watch it three times with all the commentaries!
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 9:49 AM on January 5, 2015 [3 favorites]


Apparently there were a lot of last minute cuts, which is why it's kind of broken narratively. Also a lot of it was salvaged from the script for Lungbarrow, which to a certain kind of Who grognard is the epitome of the grown up complexity that classic Who possesses and NuWho lacks.
posted by Artw at 9:54 AM on January 5, 2015 [1 favorite]




Nice piece, but can someone explain the stuff about 'modern companions'? I mean, there haven't been any more companions - the series was cancelled in 1989.

God, I wish I could be hypnotised into really believing that.
posted by jack_mo at 10:07 AM on January 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


Yes! Ace! Totally the best companion ever – for the best Doctor ever.
posted by koeselitz at 10:09 AM on January 5, 2015 [4 favorites]


Thank God it wasn't Adric.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 10:16 AM on January 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


Thank God it wasn't Adric.

.

/blows party whistle over silent end credits.
posted by Artw at 10:20 AM on January 5, 2015 [14 favorites]


Diamanda Hagan also pointed this out in her "A quick guide to Classic Who" series. It's worth watching, particularly if you've never seen the classic series but want an overview of the background of the character and some of the good episodes to watch.

Personally I'm hoping for more companions modeled on Leela, at least in the moments when she was allowed to live up to her full knife wielding badass, unsophisticated but keenly intelligent, "why don't we just blow them up?" potential.
posted by Grimgrin at 10:24 AM on January 5, 2015 [7 favorites]


Leela, at least in the moments when she was allowed to live up to her full knife wielding badass

“Enjoy your death, as I have enjoyed killing you!”
posted by 1970s Antihero at 10:33 AM on January 5, 2015 [13 favorites]


I miss Nissa a lot. The smart, scientific, cool headed counterpoint to Adric's immature genius and Tehan's emotional realism. I miss multiple companions as well; it lets you spread around the damselling.
posted by Deoridhe at 10:36 AM on January 5, 2015 [5 favorites]


I do like it when there's more of a Tardis crew. The new series has veered that way a couple of times - Mickey, Jack and Adam all looking like they might hang around for a bit, Rory having a good long stint, but it keeps springing back to single female companion. The pseudo-romantic aspect seems to be getting downplayed at the moment though.
posted by Artw at 10:54 AM on January 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


I just loved Ace, she was such a big change from Mel. That was a tough time under the Seventh Doctor, but it was the 25th anniversary of the show and it had a big budget. If nothing else, they went out with a bang. I looked back at the stories from that final series, the Ace story arc is wonderful, with episodes like The Happiness Patrol, Silver Nemesis, and Battlefield.
posted by charlie don't surf at 11:53 AM on January 5, 2015


Oh, man, did I love Ace. I doubt you could have a young female character like her on modern TV.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 12:09 PM on January 5, 2015


Yes! Ace! Totally the best companion ever – for the best Doctor ever.

Amen! So happy to see Ace getting some love and recognition. One of my favorite episodes, especially because of how creepy I found it at the time, is The Greatest Show In the Galaxy, which was finally released on DVD a few years ago.

I was 15 in 1987, so I think I loved Ace so much a) because she was a bad-ass who didn't scream, but also b) because she was a lot like who I imagined I would be if I were a companion.

Even though the writing during his tenure was very uneven, and the series ended rather unceremoniously, I have always thought Sylvester McCoy was one of the best doctors Of. All. Time.
posted by DiscourseMarker at 12:41 PM on January 5, 2015 [3 favorites]


McCoy gets a bad rap because of the relentless awfulness of the Colin Baker episodes, which were really the ones that got the show cancelled.
posted by Artw at 12:44 PM on January 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


I miss multiple companions as well; it lets you spread around the damselling.

There's such a thing as too many companions in the multidimensional kitchen.
posted by ...possums at 12:45 PM on January 5, 2015


Mel screamed a lot because that's what she was hired for. Ace beat the hell out of a Dalek with an electrified baseball bat. I think we all know who the clear winner is here.
posted by Spatch at 12:46 PM on January 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


Ace is My Companion -- that is to say, the Companion when I first started watching the show.

The fact that she is also the Best Companion is entirely a coincidence. No, seriously.
posted by kyrademon at 12:47 PM on January 5, 2015 [5 favorites]


an electrified baseball bat

The atoms of the bar were fused by the Hand of Omega!

TBH That's one if the things that's a little bit Poochie about the character. That and the Nitro9 and the yoof-speak.

In retrospect it's a little more charming now.
posted by Artw at 1:09 PM on January 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


Gordon Bennett!
posted by brilliantmistake at 1:39 PM on January 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


Peri Brown was the companion in the first episode I remember seeing (Caves of Androzani) but Nyssa was "my" companion, as in the companion I first identified myself with. Romana was who I wanted to be.
posted by Deoridhe at 2:09 PM on January 5, 2015


I really loved Leela. "Savage" and uneducated, but smart and dignified (embarrassing costume notwithstanding). Louise Jameson was perfect in the role. She respected the Doctor but wasn't in awe of him--something ALL the NuWho companions could learn from. In a way, she was too competent to last long in the TARDIS. The Doctor likes 'em helpless.
posted by orrnyereg at 2:13 PM on January 5, 2015




Liz Shaw. All the brains and never took any BS.
Also Lethbridge-Stewart as a non-companion type, but was still great at antagonizing and being antagonized by the Doctor.
posted by Zack_Replica at 3:18 PM on January 5, 2015 [4 favorites]


So my exposure to non-NuWho material has been pretty idiosyncratic (I've sampled a decent amount of Classic Who but am far better versed in Eighth Doctor books/audios and Gallifrey -- also enjoying the Titan comics Artw linked to above) but I've honestly liked to loved most of the companions I've gotten to, barring Adric (whom I hate more than any other fictional character in my life, go figure). Leela is a favorite, and so are Martha, Romana, Clara and K9, so you could say I have a soft spot for the ones on the brainier side of the spectrum (Leela's definitely brainy, just not cerebral), but I also love frivolous types like Charley and what I've seen of Jo.

I have to say though that I really wish the "screamer" meme would die. I get that it's meant to be a critique of stereotypical writing, but it's so overused at this point to be essentially meaningless -- at best a shibboleth, frequently used as a cover for gratuitious shitting on female characters. I mean I believe the universal consensus that Mel's throat noises are irritating, but I see people making arguments all the time like, "Martha Jones sucks and I can prove it because she screamed one time in her first episode, ipso facto", so it's hard not to get reflexively wigged out.

One of the reasons I like Clara's tenure a lot despite its flaws is that she frequently expresses fear in a feminine-coded way but the narrative never denigrates her for it -- in fact celebrates her ability to pull herself together and use her fear against her opponent (revealed as a trait she shares with the Doctor).

As far as future companions go, I would most especially like a lead female companion who's not played by a white actor and isn't a straight lady from the present day, but beyond that I think it would be interesting to put the Doctor in the position of being the more "normal" one, or at least the one who's only equally alien -- think Four with Romana and Leela, in different ways.
posted by bettafish at 3:28 PM on January 5, 2015


Slightly amazed that Donna hasn't got a mention in the NuWho leagues. Catherine Tate is a skilled comic who was very happy to let herself be whatever she needed to be to carry the story. Watch her stand as the Doctor's total equal in Fires of Pompeii - which will also confuse people who only just came in because the Doctor meets the Doctor while he's not playing the Doctor.

I'm afraid that I never warmed to Ace because it was all a little too over-the-top but I'm going to blame Colin Baker's "Bastard Doctor" for that as I had pretty much soured on whole series and only watched Sylvester McCoy to see if anything was left. Sophie Aldred looked like she was having a lot of fun and I know that the intentions were all good so I'll file myself in the curmudgeon basket.

I've just re-watched Pyramids of Mars with Tom Baker and Liz Sladen and Sarah-Jane regularly calls the Doctor on his pomposity. For those used to the NuWho running theme of the "Dreadful Agony of the Last Time Lord", Oh, the pain, the terrible pain, you'll find the whole thing summarised in the first 4 minutes of "Pyramids" and treated with the level of respect it deserves - i.e. none.

(And, of course, much love for The Brig, Liz Shaw, Jo Grant, Leela, Martha, Rory, Mickey and Jack. I cheered when Adric became a part of history. Respect to Tegan for her "I'm just a mouth on legs" line, possibly the most honest characterisation of a companion, ever.)

If we're going to keep turning previous actors into Time Lords (the head of the guard in the Citadel became Doctor 6, the Roman householder became current Doctor, Princess Astra became Romana II) then I vote for Donna Noble as Doctor Next.

Vote [1] Doctor Donna!
posted by nfalkner at 3:53 PM on January 5, 2015 [5 favorites]


Why all the Adric hate? He was the first companion that I identified with, as a young, sort of angsty, smarty-pants know-it-all. Oh wait, now I get all the Adric hate... But anyway, Sarah Jane was my first companion, and remains one of my favorites, but I'm also a big fan of the two Romanas, not to mention Leela (and, of course, Adric).

Anyway, a few years ago I watched ALL of Classic Who again, for the first time in like 20 years. I came to the realization that I love even some of the terrible Who -- the much reviled Colin Baker years, for example, I think are more than a bit underrated. Baker-Mark-II was an interesting experiment as a Doctor, what with his semi-psychotic outbursts. The problem, IMHO, was that his character jarred with what the series producers were trying to do with the show, and they didn't really pair him up with companions who could work well with brand of dangerous mania. And I still think "Trial of a Time Lord" is a great series.

I also like almost all of the companions, with Peri & Mel being the weakest, I think, but still not totally terrible. I had completely forgotten about Turlough, and I quite enjoyed watching his story unfold. He's another rare Classic Series companion who has a whole life and backstory that develops on its own in parallel to what's going on with the Doctor, and he also, like Ace, grows as a character -- transforming from (spoilies!) cowardly traitor looking out for himself to loyal companion and friend. He was also smart, and I really liked it when there was a companion -- like Turlough, Romana, Adric -- who could keep up with the Doctor intellectually.

I'm very glad they've been downplaying the romantic subtext since Capaldi took over -- Ten(nant) falling for Rose was just ludicrously unbelievable for me -- and I would like to see a long term, full-time male companion on the show. I don't really count Captain Jack or Mickey as full timers, since neither of them traveled with the Doctor for that many episodes, but I would put Rory in that role. Actually, I came to appreciate him as a companion far more than Amy Pond, who just became too fucking tedious for me -- and I really hated the "we're just her two boys!" schtick that 11 and Rory sometimes played. Rory was good because he disagreed with the Doctor and challenged him -- not in the snarky-cutesy-flirty way that Amy or River Song would (oh god how overdone and tedious), but in an actually meaningful way. Also one of the reasons why I liked Danny Pink (his calling out of the Doctor as Just Another Officer was some of the best stuff of Series 8) and why, even though she's rather thin as a character much of the time, I'm not as anti-Clara as most fans (although I'm ready for her to go) -- she isn't afraid to tell the Doctor when he's being a thoughtless asshole. My dream would be for Capaldi to have a 3-person crew for a bit, maybe 2 females and 1 male, at least 1 of which is either alien and/or not from present-day Earth. An Ace/Leela-type, a Turlough- Jaime- or Ian-type, and a Barbara/Romana-type, maybe?
posted by Saxon Kane at 3:54 PM on January 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


nfalkner: Donna is the best of the Nu-Who companions for my money, hands down. Great performances by a skilled comic actor, not afraid to cut that skinny little Ten(nant) down to size, and no BS romantic entanglement between Doctor and Companion. Oh, and her grandfather, Wilfred Mott, is a fucking BADASS.
posted by Saxon Kane at 3:56 PM on January 5, 2015 [5 favorites]


The fact that Arthur Darvill can act really, really well is what drove Rory. The Centurion on the Cybership is one of my favourite moments in recent Who.
posted by nfalkner at 3:57 PM on January 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


I liked Martha a lot. Horribly underused of course.
posted by Artw at 4:03 PM on January 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


Why all the Adric hate? He was the first companion that I identified with, as a young, sort of angsty, smarty-pants know-it-all.

Adric learned the Block Transfer Algorithm at Logopoolis, so in a sense, he did know it all. I still hate the Doctor for not rescuing Adric. IMHO that is the worst thing the Doctor ever did (or failed to do). So I will not hear of any hate for Adric, he is a tragic figure.
posted by charlie don't surf at 4:25 PM on January 5, 2015


Adric learned the Block Transfer Algorithm at Logopoolis

Nobody loves a mathamagician.
posted by Artw at 4:30 PM on January 5, 2015


Mainly I think he was too desperate an attempt at an audience identification character and played by a horrible uncharming actor.
posted by Artw at 4:31 PM on January 5, 2015 [4 favorites]


Nobody loves a mathamagician.

Well, not until the fate of the universe hangs in the balance.

If you want to hate on someone, hate Turlough.
posted by charlie don't surf at 4:39 PM on January 5, 2015


Turlough is punk.
posted by Artw at 4:58 PM on January 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


If you want to hate on someone, hate Turlough.

What about Harry?

HARRY SULLIVAN IS AN IMBECILE

On second thought, don't hate Harry. He means well.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 5:30 PM on January 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I freely admit my dislike of Adric is 90% gut reaction -- and I liked Wesley Crusher as a kid, so I really don't know why he grates so. He did seem to fit better with Tegan and Nyssa than Romana in the serials I saw, so maybe I'll feel differently once I see more Five-era stuff.
posted by bettafish at 6:13 PM on January 5, 2015


I would most especially like a lead female companion who's not played by a white actor and isn't a straight lady from the present day

I'd be surprised to see a main companion from another planet, or from our past or future. In the NuWho the companions are our identification figures, and they all hail very specifically from the UK of the present. But then again I was convinced they weren't going to scale back the flirty stuff and the Doctors would be young and dishy types from now on, and Moffat surprised me by all but dropping the romantic angle and casting a 50-something Scot who could play David Tennant's scrappy uncle.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 7:05 PM on January 5, 2015


I was expecting big things from Brigadier Winifred Bambera. The Brigadier is more than a companion.
posted by charlie don't surf at 8:04 PM on January 5, 2015


bettafish: That's interesting, because I always hated Wesley Crusher while liking Adric. There's no accounting for taste, I guess.
posted by Saxon Kane at 9:16 PM on January 5, 2015


RonButNotStupid: That video is great. Incidentally, it took me to another video of someone's favorite references to Doctor Who in other media. whoo boy, is Big Bang Theory a terrible fucking show: the two references were basically someone saying, "I watch Doctor Who," triggering canned laughter at the NERRRRRRRDERY!
posted by Saxon Kane at 9:21 PM on January 5, 2015


Donna was the worst thing to happen to anything ever. Wilf should have been the companion.
posted by blue_beetle at 4:56 AM on January 6, 2015


I've never understood the Donna dislike, but I have been out of the UK for the entirety of Catherine Tate's career so it's possible I missed her reaching some kind of saturation point.
posted by Artw at 6:42 AM on January 6, 2015


Judging by the importing of dodgy light-ent figures into who like Tate and Cordon it's probably only a matter of time before we get bloody Miranda in the Tardis
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 8:25 AM on January 6, 2015


Sorry, they crossed that line a long time ago. And it was kind of good actually.
posted by charlie don't surf at 9:13 AM on January 6, 2015


fearfulsymmetry:
"Judging by the importing of dodgy light-ent figures into who like Tate and Cordon it's probably only a matter of time before we get bloody Miranda in the Tardis"
Wait, are you actually complaining about comedians being on Dr.Who?
posted by charred husk at 9:14 AM on January 6, 2015


Wait, are you actually complaining about comedians being on Dr.Who?

Well only ones I don't personally like... Frank Skinner was great! I even have a soft spot for Ken Dodd... possibly because his ep was so bad
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 10:31 AM on January 6, 2015


Oh god...

And never forget the show ended with Hale and Pace.

I liked Alexi Sayle as the DJ though. Don't judge me.
posted by Artw at 11:53 AM on January 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


blue_beetle: “Donna was the worst thing to happen to anything ever.”

Huh. You seem to have misspelled "Rose."
posted by koeselitz at 1:17 PM on January 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


I actually liked Rose...

For a while I've wondered if the increase in romance was a response to fans becoming the writers/producers for Who and identifying with him, and thus wanting to give him one of the status symbols he never really "got" - a hot girl on his arm.
posted by Deoridhe at 3:30 PM on January 6, 2015


You're dating Rose might have been a tiny bit of a Mary Sue? Nahhhh...
posted by Artw at 3:39 PM on January 6, 2015


Deoridhe: Considering that the showrunner at the time of the Rose & Martha romantic storylines, Russell Davies, is gay, I don't think he ever fantasized about having a girl on his arm.
posted by Saxon Kane at 5:12 PM on January 6, 2015


Eh, I could be wrong. The entire creative team for New Who could be gay men and straight women.
posted by Deoridhe at 7:52 PM on January 6, 2015


Deoridhe: “For a while I've wondered if the increase in romance was a response to fans becoming the writers/producers for Who and identifying with him, and thus wanting to give him one of the status symbols he never really ‘got’ - a hot girl on his arm.”

I think it's the other way 'round, really. Superfans don't really identify directly with the Doctor, as much as they're enthralled by him; their proxies were always the companions, I think. So it made sense that, in the revival of Doctor Who that RTD was ecstatic to be able to create, the companion he wrote for the show ended up snuggling up into a romance with the Doctor. (And it's not altogether rare for gay men to write women as their proxies in television and film, I think – Marc Cherry jumps immediately to mind, although there are others.)
posted by koeselitz at 10:30 PM on January 6, 2015


I identify directly with the Doctor, but I guess I grew up as a bit of a sociopath political refugee anyway.
posted by I-Write-Essays at 5:47 AM on January 7, 2015


Agreeing with the love for Wilf. I would have loved more episodes with him as the companion.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 11:34 AM on January 7, 2015


I loved Rose as the Ninth Doctor's companion, but I thought the writing for her suffered during Ten's tenure.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 12:36 PM on January 7, 2015


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