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Why the Doctor's companion will probably die

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posted on Apr, 22 2017 @ 11:02 AM
I have been watching Doctor Who, intermittently, since it slipped onto our screens in 1963 as one of the components of “Children’s Hour” on the B.B.C..
I won’t pretend that I could recognise it as a classic from the very first episode. The line about “Sorry, I forgot you haven’t invented that yet” sounded particularly lame and artificial, since it had been included in the trailers.
It has become explosively popular, of course, and a vital factor in the popularity has been the interaction between the Doctor himself and his fellow “crew members”.

Anyone who watches the current format may notice a repeating pattern in the relationship between the Doctor and his main companion. It comes to an end, almost every time, when she experiences a catastrophe of some kind.
It seems to me that this catastrophe is a necessary consequence of the difference between the old Doctors of the twentieth century, and the new Doctors of the revival.
To wit, that the old Doctor was a homeless nomad, while the new Doctor has made himself at home on our own planet in a version of our own time.

The old Doctor was an incessant wanderer through the galaxies and through the timeline. When we first meet him, he is “on the run” from his own authorities. There are long periods when the TARDIS is malfunctioning and he cannot entirely control where he is going. Sometime he responds, or is forced to respond, to appeals for help from the nearest planet. The “Key to Time” series is a mission imposed upon him from above. At the end of that series, to evade pursuit, he deliberately sets his controls to operate randomly, so that his movements cannot be predicted even by himself. These wanderings are interrupted only by the period of his “exile” on Earth, when the TARDIS has been disabled by the Time Lords.; during this time he works as an insubordinate member of UNIT, the United Nations military taskforce set up to tackle alien threats to the planet. Apart from that interval, he is always arriving in new and exciting and dangerous places.

This lifestyle governs his relationship with his fellow-travellers, in the beginning, in the middle, and at the end.

They join the Doctor by entering the TARDIS as their new home.
They may be picked up at any point in his travels. Some come from “the present day”, some (like Jamie) are taken from past eras in history, and some are descendants of human colonists on other planets, met when the Doctor travels into the future. At least three of them (Romana, Adric, and Turlough) have non-human origins, despite being humanoid in appearance.
Many of the companions enter the TARDIS when they are invited on board, perhaps because they need a refuge of some kind. Some of them smuggle themselves aboard, whether deliberately (like Sarah-Jane) or accidentally (like Tegan). Ian and Barbara make a forceful entry which turns into a kidnapping. Romana was originally sent into the TARDIS by the Time Lords, for the sake of the mission carried out in the “Key to Time”. His granddaughter Susan may well have been born there.
Once again, this principle of “entering the TARDIS” does not apply to his period of exile under UNIT, when he simply works alongside assistants who have been assigned to him by the Brigadier.

They remain with the Doctor by necessity, as semi-captive passengers in the travelling TARDIS.
For most of their planetary landfalls are not attractive enough to tempt them away. This means there is no need to account for their presence in subsequent adventures, and the writers can experiment with stories about strained relationships.

They leave the Doctor by leaving the TARDIS while the Doctor moves on.
The death of Adric is almost unique (the death of Peri is ambiguous). A companion’s departure happens naturally enough when they decide they want to adopt a new life in the location which the TARDIS has reached. Romana (“You were the noblest Romana of them all”) wants to evade a summons to return to Gallifrey. Alternatively, the Doctor can simply take them back to the place where they first came from, or as near as he can get (sorry about that, Sarah-Jane). Then he moves on, and the moving on is what consummates the separation. Yet again, of course, this principle does not apply to his earthbound period as part of UNIT, when Liz Shaw has to be re-assigned and replaced.

edit on 22-4-2017 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)

posted on Apr, 22 2017 @ 11:03 AM
The revived Doctor, in contrast, has a way of life which might have been modelled on the later seasons of the UNIT era. As a free agent, independent of any kind of authority, he commits himself to defending the human race in our own period of its history (“This planet is protected!”). So he keeps coming back to this time and place. In effect, our society has become his base. He faces threats to the planet, threats to the planet which are symptoms of threats to the universe, and threats to his own life. When he is not facing threats, he becomes a tourist, because that’s almost the only way of getting him off-planet. No more aimless wandering. Self-imposed sentry duties and sight-seeing.

This change in his life-style has an impact on his relationship with his companions, in the beginning, in the middle, and at the end.

They no longer join the Doctor by entering the TARDIS as their new home.
All of them, necessarily, come from our own society. He meets them, typically, when they are caught up in one of the many alien threats. Of course each new companion is shown into the TARDIS, as part of the initiation. Even the most recent episode ended with a standard “invitation” gesture, but this was really symbolic. It is not of the essence of the relationship that the companion should stay in the TARDIS. Their acquaintance with the Doctor need not take them away from their homes, full time, or even from their day-jobs.

They no longer remain with the Doctor as semi-captive passengers in the TARDIS.
Once they have met him, the companions continue to be involved in his subsequent adventures, and join him on his tourist trips. The big question now is- “Why?” Why should he expect them to share in his dangers? Why should he invite them to see this or that spectacular view on one of the distant galaxies, and why should they accept the invitation? Once their presence in the story is no longer automatic, it needs to be accounted for in some way. That is why the flirtation has been such a repetitive element in the relationships of the new format. There must be a very firm friendship, at the very least, before the companion can be drawn away from the comforts of home, over and over again. Once the “fellow-traveller” bond has been abandoned, the emotional bond must be called in to take its place.

They no longer leave the Doctor by leaving the TARDIS while the Doctor moves on.
“Leaving the TARDIS” does not work anymore, since they can go home again at the end of every other story.
The real problem is this; under the new dispensation, the Doctor does not move on.
The Doctor continues to live and work in the same time and place where his companions have been living and working, and the solution of the previous problem involved creating a fiercely intense emotional bond between them. How, then, to explain the loss of contact?
The relationship with Martha is the nearest the Doctor gets to a formal romance with a companion, and that one ends with what amounts to a break-up and “let’s just be friends”.
Apart from that, the necessities of the case work with a remorseless logic. If the Doctor will not move on, then the companion herself has to move on. An impenetrable barrier of some kind has to be established between them, in order to account for the separation.
That is where the catastrophes come in.
Rose is trapped in a parallel universe.
Donna’s memories of him have to be blocked, in order to protect her mind.
Amy is sent back with her husband to live and die in the distant past.
While the separation from Clara is doubly secure, instigated by an irreparable death sentence, and also covered by the loss of the Doctor’s own memory.

What about “Bill”, when her time comes?
I don’t suppose the Doctor will be allowed to relapse into his old life as a homeless nomad? In that event, he would be able to “move on” again, leaving Bill behind somewhere to resume a more normal existence.
Otherwise, the production team will be obliged to rack up their imaginations and discover yet another catastrophic way of terminating her TARDIS life.

posted on Apr, 22 2017 @ 11:03 AM
Susan gets married

Jo gets married

Sarah-Jane gets home (sort of)

Romana gets K9

Nyssa gets a job

Tegan gets what she wished for

See? No catastrophes! No, wait a minute...
Adric gets blown up

posted on Apr, 22 2017 @ 11:11 AM

Why the Doctor's companion will probably die

poor choice in friends

What about “Bill”, when her time comes?

she'll move on to a normal life or be a space pirate
the Doctor will help another lonely soul
and then they'll make a poor choice

the moral lesson is
even if a man from space has a time machine
don't get in it

edit on 22-4-2017 by kibric because: boo

posted on Apr, 22 2017 @ 01:45 PM
Call me sentimental, but I liked the River Song story line even though it ended in a sucky way (although it really doesn't end due to the time travel aspect, and she "died" the first episode she was in).

I see The Doctor as a perpetual little boy, selfish in his relationships. He craves the ooohs and ahhs the companions provide, and loves to show off what he can do. Some of the companions actually do end up living a good life. Rose eventually gets the human version of the Doctor with whom she can share her life, as well as know the father she lost. Amy and Rory get to live a long and happy life together (both living until their 80's), even if it is in the past. And since Rory has already lived over 2000 years, he knows how to "blend in!" Hahaha!
I admit some of the other companions have bitter ends, but I don't think it necessarily has to be that way.

My introduction to the Doctor was later than yours (Tom Baker was my first), so I don't have the benefit of knowing how it used to be when the show first started. I'll be sad when it ends, and I can't see it continuing much longer. Unless, of course, they do a complete revamping.

posted on Apr, 22 2017 @ 01:50 PM

originally posted by: Lolliek
I'll be sad when it ends, and I can't see it continuing much longer. Unless, of course, they do a complete revamping.

Yes, one problem with the current format is that the writers are not satisfied with low-key stories of the old style and keep aiming for the "ultimate". How many times has the very existence of the universe been threatened now? How many times has the Doctor been threatened with death? Eventually they're going to run out of "utlimates".

posted on Apr, 22 2017 @ 07:23 PM

“Why?” Why should he expect them to share in his dangers? Why should he invite them to see this or that spectacular view on one of the distant galaxies, and why should they accept the invitation?

Are you kidding?
"All of space and time". To be able to go anywhere any Time that you want. Go back and see what the dinosaurs really looked like and forward to the very end of the Universe.....all in the same day. To just stop and open the door of the TARDIS in the middle of space and see the stars, like no other person has ever seen them. Visit alien planets, to see alien life and the technology they have.To actually see what Mankind will have achieved in a thousand years.

How could I not go?

posted on Apr, 23 2017 @ 02:45 PM
a reply to: DISRAELI
Come on DISRAELI, Dr Who is still a modestly low budget production so maybe the reason he's on Earth in the present time is the cost of locations and by the same token the "ultimate's" must be able to be thwarted by one person , The Doctor.
The cost of casts does not cover a Star Ship Trooper force and as for scenarios (even ultimate scenarios) the list is as endless as the number of science fiction books on a book shelf. So it still comes down to:-
1. Budget.
2. The story line must be a solvable solution for the Doctors character.
3.Even though some elements go on longer than a series, ie, the Daleks, the Master, River Song etc. the major plot theme must be fitted into a series.
3. The doctor Who series is always going to be an ongoing changeable scenario hence the usage of regeneration for different actors to carry on with the same persona.

posted on Apr, 23 2017 @ 03:17 PM
a reply to: crayzeed
1 Wasn't it always low budget? Since the travel costs of getting cast and production team to alien galaxies were purely imaginary, a Dalek battle in Skaros would not have been much more expensive than a Dalek battle in London.
2 As for the question of solvability; eight twentieth-century Doctors demonstrated that one man (and his dog) were perfectly capable of coping with anything an alien planet might throw at them.
3 Nor did twentieth-century writers have any difficulty in containing the stories within half a dozen episodes, no matter how far the Doctor was travelling in time and space. Only when the stories were brought under an "umbrella" title, like "Key to Time" or "Trial of a Time Lord" did a basic plot line go on longer.

And I think the issue of "changeability" is on my side of the argument. I think there is a case that the "tied to a home base" format restricts possibilities. It limits the number of different ways a companion can join the Doctor. It also limits them to a single planet and a single species, which was not the case before. It limits the range of their emotional interraction, because their continued association now depends on it. It eliminates all the non-catastrophic ways of separating companion and Doctor. If the Doctor started moving on again, all these experiences would be more varied, even if they were more low-key. The old Doctor was immobilised with UNIT, but not permanently immobilised.

edit on 23-4-2017 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)

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