Upon watching this year’s Doctor Who Christmas special, I was struck by a couple of interesting things: First was the realization of how much Second Doctor seems to be inherent in Matt Smith’s portrayal of the Eleventh Doctor, but the second was that the new Doctors have almost exclusively traveled with a solo female companion.  The major deconstructions of this came in the form of Captain Jack (who, if you recall carefully, still had a romantic/sexual component) and Rory, who became seemingly became part of the TARDIS crew to create a love triangle with Eleven and Amy. This sort of interaction would have been unthinkable in the William Hartnell days, as he was a more paternal figure, and even when the Third Doctor seemed to develop feelings for Jo Grant, it was played in a very subtle manner.  Even when Peri left ol’ Sixie for Yrcanos, it wasn’t set up as a lovers’ abandonment so much as a general sense of loss and ennui for an immortal alien (although that whole season is a bit difficult to parse due to extensive executive meddling.)

The MS-QOTD (pronounced, as always, “misquoted”) reminds you that there is no change, no time, no rhyme, no place for space, nothing…  Nothing but the grinding engines of the universe, the crushing boredom of eternity, asking: Is it a problem for you that the new Doctor Who tends to use the Doctor’s companion as love interest or potential love interest?

The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

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  1. Warner
    December 27, 2012 at 12:18 pm — Reply

    Yes, absolutely, since it’s completely illogical that a human would be able to spend any amount of time with a time lord and that the Doctor, being who he is (no pun intended), has a logical enough mind to see this and would avoid it at all costs.

  2. GeorgeDubya
    December 27, 2012 at 12:37 pm — Reply

    For me, it has been a problem in half of the female companions – Rose and Martha.

    For Rose, her loving the Doctor defined her character. Name for me someone in Rose’s life that hasn’t been on an adventure with the Doctor or had his/her life completely changed. Rose, as a character, was defined only by her relationship with the Doctor.

    Martha was an interesting character when she was introduced. She was smart, funny, and capable. By the end of “Season 3” her character had devolved into pining over the Doctor, and she got boring and annoying. When she was away from the Doctor and joined up with UNIT, becoming Dr. Martha Jones badass MD, she became interesting again. I would have liked to see more of that Martha (and good on you Mickie for nabbing that, even if it does mean you scared away her old fiance).

    Donna (my favorite female companion of the “New Who” era) never had a love interest with the Doctor, and I loved that about their relationship.

    I was worried that Amy’s character was going to be a lot like Rose and wholly defined by her relationship with the Doctor, and while a LOT of her stuff was, we saw that Amy developed a life away from him. She realized her feelings for him weren’t love, but were instead childish infatuation (and good on you Rory [my favorite “New Who” companion overall] for snatching up that one).

    All of this, of course, reminds me that I need to watch the Christmas Special now…

  3. December 27, 2012 at 6:01 pm — Reply

    The notion of the companion as a love interest is probably one of the biggest problems with Doctor Who since the restart. The closest they ever came in the original series to that sort of thing was Four and Romana 2.0, and even there there was never anything other than the barest suggestion, and, to be frank, I don’t think the original series suffered one jot from the absence.

    The bigger problem, however, is the overuse of the notion of the companion as magical savior (Time Vortex Rose, Martha wandering the wastes, Time Lord Donna, Amy the Rememberer). Now we have Clara Oswin Oswald, who looks to be cut from the same cloth. Even though Jenna-Louise Coleman is very easy on the eyes, I’d almost rather have Strax be the Doctor’s companion rather than tread the same old ground again.

  4. Jon
    December 27, 2012 at 6:26 pm — Reply

    I think the companion as a genuine potential love interest has only really been explored with Rose. Sure we’ve had Martha’s infatuation, and Amy’s lusts for the Doctor, but only Rose has been shown to have been someone with whom the Doctor genuinely seems interested in pursuing a romantic involvement with. Discounting River Song of course.

    As far as the very idea of the Doctor falling for one of his companions, I actually think it makes a lot of sense. Here’s a guy who has lost his home and is flung into time and space to seek out some meaning for his life. He’s taken a very keen interest in the human race and has been shown to be both very intellectual and very emotional at times. It’s not a wonder that in his lonely journeys he’d seek or find a companion or two with benefits so to speak.

    It’s more than okay with me if they would put the ‘will they/won’t they’ stuff on hold for a season or two. As they did with Donna. That gets old hat after a while. Really, what I’d like to see if a female Doctor, but that’s a different topic.

  5. December 27, 2012 at 8:29 pm — Reply

    Using them as love interests doesn’t bother me as much as the frequency of them being used as love interests. It would be nice if it were more of a once in a while thing rather than being used multiple times every season (or as a season theme) like it has been lately.

  6. Damascus
    December 27, 2012 at 10:07 pm — Reply

    I kind of agree with GeorgeDubya’s points, I feel each companion has carried a different kind of relationship with The Doctor. Rose (who for me is my favorite companion and I have an unhealthy infatuation with her, which is entirely besides the point), had the most overt romantic relationship with The Doctor and I think it worked really well. I think she would still be the best companion to be able to come back and bring the Doctor back from the brink if the story ever needed some plot device like that.

    Donna who I didn’t like at first, when I thought she was going to be a romantic interest, later became a great companion in my eyes when they started playing her more as just a female friend. She’s also part of my favorite Doctor Who episode which still kinda breaks my heart a little when I watch the end of it, Forest of the Dead, which apart from my basic indifference to River Song, I like that episode a lot.

    Martha liked the Doctor but he never really seemed that interested in her, for a reason I never could tell. I watched a full season of Law and Order: UK just because she was on it. It’s a little boring though, no guns typically, powdered wigs, and most crimes are caught on CCTV, but still.

    And sadly for whatever reason, I still haven’t watched a single Matt Smith episode so I have no take on Amy.

    I don’t personally have a problem with the love angle. I don’t think that should be the focus of the show but if it works into the story and doesn’t always feel like the same thing over and over, then it isn’t a big deal.

  7. Christina
    December 28, 2012 at 12:43 am — Reply

    The ‘Companion as love interest’ thing bothers me only when it feels wrong for the character OR wrong in the situations the characters are thrown into. Martha Jones and Amy Pond as love interests seemed weird to me, while Rose and River Song as love interests seems okay. I do hate it when this sort of thing seems too forceful or used too much- I sometimes wonder why people can’t just travel together and be friends without have a weird forced love sub-plot going on.

  8. that guy
    December 28, 2012 at 5:39 am — Reply

    It does tend to bother me alot actually. One of the things that bothers me most however is when people are saying that one of the companions ( take your pic of late) are the doctor’s true love. and then people on the internet then proceed to take it many steps further than it needs to be.

    While it can be argued that yes the doctor can have a one true love, I would argue that since he’s a time lord that each life has its own true love.

    Also I’m really really tired of companions being in love with the doctor in some way shape or form. I didn’t have anything against Martha, since she was smart enough to realize things for herself at the end. Rose bothered me alot, and Amy…well. c’mon once she realized s he had a husband it usually got to be okay…ish.

  9. December 28, 2012 at 8:07 am — Reply

    Other than being easy on the eyes, I didn’t like Rose. Martha and Jack were fun, and I loved Donna.
    The Ponds had a lot more good moments than Amy on her own.

    So I guess you can say that I’m not a big fan of the love interest, but with that said I like River and one of my favorite episode from the new run is The Doctor’s Wife.

    Even tho the love interest angle might work in some cases, I find it boring when over used. The old series have great female companions without it.

    I hope Clara is not, but we will see.

  10. justanothergeek
    December 28, 2012 at 8:24 am — Reply

    Yes, absolutely. If it was just one of the new ones, but every time sexual tension is too much to handle, it’s no wonder my favorite new companion was Donna Noble, and there was some tension there but it got resolved really quickly and after that they were really great together because they were buddies and that was really fun.

  11. December 28, 2012 at 10:36 am — Reply

    I personally prefer the platonic companions more that the romantically motivated ones . I liked the Ponds as companions better than Amy alone because it added a more interesting dynamic and helped downplay the potential romance angle. Donna was a bunch of fun as a best friend instead of a true love. I also enjoyed Wilf and Brian Williams (Pond) in their brief excursions with the Doctor.

    I hope the appearance in the Christmas Special of Strax, Madame Vastra, and Jenny Flint points to more ensemble episodes with all the potential character interactions in that group. We also only have the first few appearances of Oswin, and don’t really know what kind of bait and switch we are in store for. River is also still in play.

    Given that in the US the new Who is wildly successful, I have to wonder if the ‘will they, or won’t they’ potential of romance component hasn’t broadened the appeal and attracted an audience that might have otherwise balked at the rather bizarre concept of a madman with a blue box. My guess it it will be part of the show for the foreseeable future.

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