My wife and I started talking about Doctor Who the other night. Specifically, about how Clara should go away and a new companion should come on board. That, of course, led to the discussion of what the new companion should be like. We started going through the previous companions and what we like/don’t like about each of them. I’m going to share my thoughts on each, then what I want to see in the next companion.
Rose was a great start for the 2005 series. She wasn’t anything special, just a shopgirl, but she was excited to see the universe, and while she really didn’t have many skills (which meant she usually caused more problems than she helped solve), she learned and grew. The biggest problem we had with Rose is the romantic relationship she had with the Doctor. It wasn’t too bad with the 9th doctor, but it became a bit much with 10.
Poor Martha. Martha could have been such a great companion. She was smart, brave, and capable. Unlike Rose, Martha could actually contribute something to the adventures. The problem with Martha was the fact that she loved the Doctor, but he was still hung up on Rose. It defined their relationship and ruined the character.
Donna was easily the best companion for the doctor. She was the first companion in the new series to be a friend and not a love interest. It’s like she took he best parts from Rose and Martha and combined the two. She had the same approachable backstory and had the same desire to learn and grow as Rose, but she was smart and capable like Martha. Not only that, but she came with much better auxiliary characters than either (Donna’s grandpa was fantastic).
Amy & Rory
This pair was interesting. On the surface, Amy seems like the heroine. She’s plucky and adventurous. She seems to match the 11th Doctor really well. Rory, on the other hand is the sidekick. He’s a little dour and hesitant, and mostly there just to keep the Doctor and Amy from developing any romantic feelings. Once you look deeper, however, you see that Rory is really the hero. He’s completely devoted to Amy, while her attentions flit back and forth. Not only that, but Rory seems to be the only one capable of sacrificing. He waits thousands of years for Amy without hesitation, while she gets stuck for a few decades and has to be dragged into helping rectify the situation.
While she wasn’t a regular companion, I’m still counting her. River is quite the point of contention. I know a lot of people really don’t like River, but she’s my wife’s all-time favorite companion. I’m pretty much right in the middle. I like the fact that River is the only companion that challenges the Doctor to a point of frustration, I also like that she’s pretty unstable. I’m not a fan of her dependence on the Doctor. It was better in her earlier appearances, but as the two moved towards each other in time, she became less and less independent. Maybe that was intentional, but it still bugs me a little.
Clara had a lot of promise in her early appearances. Unfortunately, that potential faded pretty quickly. I liked the idea of the computer genius that could hack things the Doctor couldn’t. I even could have gotten behind the idea of a Clara that appears and dies/vanishes at the end of every episode culminating in the events of “The Name of the Doctor.” Instead we get a ho-hum companion who’s most interesting aspect was her boyfriend who didn’t like the Doctor.
The one nice thing I’ll say about Clara’s time with the Doctor is that it’s setting up the series to have an interesting shift when a new companion comes on board. The 12th Doctor and Clara have had a rough relationship, and one of the big themes that’s been happening is that Clara doesn’t trust 12 like she did 11. I think this is a fantastic direction to go.
I’m hoping that the new companion is someone who travels with the Doctor, not because of the adventure, but because s/he doesn’t trust the Doctor to do what’s right. For years the Doctor has always concerned himself with protecting people, but 12 doesn’t seem to have that same compulsion. Sure, he still wants to make things better, but he’s no longer concerned with coddling people. He now admits that he uses people as bait, and even that he’s willing to sacrifice some people in order to save others. He’s losing his compassion, and a new companion that recognizes that and is legitimately scared of what means the Doctor might use to justify his ends could be amazing.