Confession #23: I'm Disappointed by the New Companion


As filming begins on the 2012 Christmas special, in which we will be introduced to the as-yet-publicly-unnamed new Companion being played by Jenna-Louise Coleman, the first official photos of Jenna and Matt on set are being released. And excited as I am for a change-up in the TARDIS team, I have to say I'm disappointed in what I'm seeing.

Sure she's cute, and based on early reports, the chemistry will be great, but the new Companion (according to someone who was supposedly on set, her name is "Clara"; I'll withhold judgment on the veracity of that designation until something official comes down the pike, but for ease of reference, I'll use it as her name here) appears to be another run-of-the-mill, modern Earth human. Clad in a short-skirted dress, jacket and bright red shoulder bag, Clara strikes me as this decade's answer to Jo Grant: fashionista pixie.

Since Doctor Who returned to our screens in 2005, we've been treated to an endless parade of Companions designed specifically to be the point of reference for the audience. Almost to a one, they've come from 21st Century England: Rose, Mickey, Jackie, Martha, Donna, Wilf, Amy, Rory - even Sarah Jane. Adam (if we can count the idiot who had a door put in his forehead as a Companion) was also modern, though he was American. Jack and River - multi-story Companions, though not strictly "regulars" - both hailed from the 51st Century, and off-world, but are still quite human (even if 51st C. sexuality is not of a variety that's currently considered "mainstream"). You have to get into The Specials from 2009 before you get Companions from either the past or the future (Astrid Peth, Jackson Lake, Adelaide Brooke) - and they're all still human - British ones, at that (OK, Astrid was meant to be an off-worlder, and I can't remember whether or not she Britted up her Aussie accent - but my point stands).


Confession #22: I'm Ready for the Ponds to Leave


By now most of you reading will have heard that Amy and Rory are slated to leave the show in Series Seven. The initial announcement, on 15 Dec 2011, stated that their story would be coming to a "tragic" end. Much as I love Rory (and don't actively hate Amy), I'm ready for them to go. Here's why.

First, Amy's tenure on the show is unprecedented in post-Hiatus Who. Until the arrival of Eleven and Amy, there was a change in either Doctor or Companion (or both) at least every series. Though I found it slightly galling at the time, longing for a bit more stability, it kept things "fresh," and I find that now the TARDIS crew is getting slightly stale. Three series is quite a lot, actually, and that's borne out by reviewing the pre-Hiatus TARDIS crews, too.

Look at the longest tenure record-holders. According to the TARDIS Index File, we can consider individual episodes (in which Jamie comes out on top, with 113), total stories (Rose, with 26, including the Children in Need special and two "substantial" cameos), or calendar time (Tegan, just shy of 3 years, with Sarah Jane only a couple of weeks behind). Amy is fast approaching these latter two marks.

In her first two series, plus A Christmas Carol, Amy has appeared in 21 stories. If you count extra shorts like "Space" and "Time" (one story) or the DVD extras from The Complete Sixth Series "Bad Night" and "Good Night" (one or two stories, depending on how you look at it), she's up to 23 or 24. So she only needs a couple more to pass Rose for the number-of-stories title. Personally, I expect her to last through Episode 5 (which, as I understand it, will be the last one before the Christmas Special, in which our new Companion - played by Jenna-Louise Coleman - will be joining us), meaning she'll leave with 26 regular stories and a couple of extras to boost her over Ms. Tyler.


The Caretaker, the Matriarch and the Disappointment


Review of The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe
Warning:  This review contains episode-specific spoilers and wild speculation about future episodes.

Let me say right up front that this was my favorite Christmas Special to date. Despite being fully engaged and along for the ride almost the whole way through, though, I found myself ripped out of the moment and slammed back into my seat with my Critic's Hat jammed tight on my head by the predictable and saccharine crowning plot twist. But I'll get back to that later.

TDtWatW got off to a strong start with a wonderfully irrelevant introduction sequence. It gave us yet another glimpse at what the Doctor gets up to when he's not traveling with a Companion (or even just when we don't see him on screen). Although it was patently ridiculous (as some of the best Who is), the Doctor's "entrance" and our introduction to Madge give us a beautiful snapshot of her personality, and set us up to suspend our disbelief quite willingly through the rest of the hour.

Her eventual heartbreak at losing her husband (c'mon - that's hardly a spoiler; the title says "Widow"!) and the way she choses to approach that with her children provide some of the most "real" and emotionally engaging television I've seen in a long time (again; more later). Thus we're set up with another family separated by wartime, ready to walk into one of the Doctor's good deeds gone wrong.


The Impossible Series Plot


Review of The Complete Sixth Series
DVD Release Date:  22 Nov 11
Original Air Date:  25 Dec 2010 - 01 Oct 2011
Doctor/Companion:  Eleven, Amy Pond, Rory Williams, River Song
Stars:  Matt Smith, Karen Gillan, Arthur Darvill, Alex Kingston
Preceding StoryThe Big Bang (Eleven, Amy, Rory, River)
Succeeding Story:  The Doctor, the Widow & the Wardrobe (Eleven)

Since the blog began with a review of the first episode included in this boxed set (A Christmas Carol), I won't go into details about my views on each one. As a reminder, though, I'll list for you the thirteen regular episodes of the series here, with links to the associated reviews:

Look back over that list and take a moment to think about what this series was. There was some great stuff (as The Doctor's Wife), some stinkers (I'm looking at you, Rebel Flesh/Almost People), and some mixed bags (Good Man gave us both the scintillating Mdme. Vastra and the regrettable "kitchen sink approach to cameos"). Mostly, though, it was about something "inevitable" (the Doctor's death) that we all knew was never going to happen. I'm not sure why Moffat decided to go that route. As I've said before, no one over the age of eight ever believed the Doctor was really and truly dead - or at least that he would really and truly remain so. That takes a heck of a lot of suspense right out the window along with your credibility. So I suppose in the end, it was all a question of how he'd get out of it, rather than of whether.


Much Ado About Nothing


Review of The Wedding of River Song
Warning:  This review contains episode-specific spoilers and wild speculation about future episodes.

While I will admit that I rather enjoyed (most of) the Series Six finale, and there were plenty of moments that felt epic, when you stop and think about it for a while, not much really got resolved. Moffat is a master at smoke-and-mirrors scriptwriting, like last year when the universe got "rebooted," yet we didn't learn anything about why the TARDIS blew up in the first place. In fact, we still don't know the answer to that particular little puzzle.

Now we do have the answers to a couple of big questions: no, the Doctor didn't really die on that beach (was anyone surprised by that?); and yes, River Song is his wife. Sort of. Actually, that wasn't clearly answered, either, thank-you-very-much. I can't imagine the Doctor actually taking that kind of thing seriously (especially since it was clearly used as a device to gain River's cooperation). Perhaps that's why they did a handfasting ceremony instead of an actual wedding. Are they really "married"? How binding/lasting is a handfast marriage? How did the Time Lords (does the Doctor) view such an interpersonal contract? Frankly, I was terribly disappointed to see these two get "married"; not only does it go counter to how I think of the Doctor, but it made River's story overly predictable ("Of course she's the Doctor's wife! What else could she possibly be to him?" Yuck.). My own personal canon will look on this as a non-binding contract-of-convenience, and leave it at that.



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