Confession #78: I Want Bromance


When I mention the Doctor's Companions, who's the first person who pops into your head? Is it the current or a recent Companion: Clara, or maybe Amy? Is it the first one you ever saw: Rose or Nyssa or Liz Shaw or even Susan? What about your all-time favorite (if it's not one of those I've already named): Sarah Jane, Jo, Ace, Barbara...?

When I say "Companion," how often does a guy come to mind?

Even if we restrict the Companion count to television, there have been a great many folks who've traveled with the Doctor over the years. Using the fairly generous selection criteria on the relevant Wikipedia page, we get a total of fifty individuals, including such outliers as Kamelion and Adam Mitchell. Of those, seventeen are men (eighteen, if you count the male-presenting Kamelion; or nineteen if you include male-voiced K-9). That's roughly 35%.

More strictly, if one doesn't include those who were only on one adventure (like Sara Kingdom or Jackson Lake) or didn't have their names in the opening credits (like Adam), but does include regular UNIT staff (the Brigadier, Sgt. Benton, and Capt. Yates), the Companion count comes in closer to thirty-seven or thirty-eight. Eleven or twelve of those are men (depending on whether or not you count Jack Harkness), or about 30%.

Either way we count, men are relatively uncommon TARDIS travelers. And yet some of the Doctor's longest-lasting, most intriguing relationships have been with these male Companions. There are two in particular that I'm thinking of: the Brigadier and Jamie.


Confession #77: I Think the TARDIS Is a Caretaker


How do the Doctor and his Companions take care of their basic biological needs while they're traveling in the TARDIS? It's a question perhaps less pressing when considering Clara than most others, as she seems to spend little time at all there. We've seen her changing clothes after an adventure, but on-screen evidence suggests (to me, at least) that she rarely, if ever, so much as spends one night aboard.

Even as recently as Rory and Amy, though—another pair who treated their time on the TARDIS more like a commuter than a residential lifestyle—it was clear that long stretches of time passed between their visits home. Historically, Companions lived in the TARDIS more like a dormitory or a commune, presumably spending their time between adventures in its halls.

So where do they sleep? Eat? Relieve themselves?

I suppose one obvious answer is that they stop off at various planets (or space stations, or whatever) to get supplies, have a picnic, or find a place to crash. (After all, Rose and Nine talked in The Empty Child about needing to stop for milk: "All the species in all the universe, and it has to come out of a cow," he quips.) It makes a certain amount of sense that part of exploring the universe is exploring various species' cuisines, for example.

I don't think that's how it works, though. We saw early on (in The Daleks, the second-ever story to be broadcast) that the TARDIS was equipped with a food machine that could produce (rather unappetizing looking) blocks of nutritional matter, programmed to taste like whatever one liked. Although it barely ever showed up again, that seeded the idea that the crew had everything they needed without ever leaving the ship.


Confession #76: I Like Grumpy


As I've discussed the latest series with more and more people, I've noticed a distinct dichotomy in fan reactions to the new Doctor. Capaldi's Twelve appears to be a "love him or hate him" kind of character, with very few having a lukewarm reaction. It made me wonder why some can't stand him, while others think he's the best thing since sliced bread.

Then I got to wondering why any Doctor appeals to certain fans and not others.

Perhaps the most noticeable schism in fandom lately has been between fans of the Classic era who don't really care for the more recent stuff and fans of "NuWho" who just can't get into the Classic stuff. For ease of discussion, I'll call the former "strict paleowhovians" here, and the latter "strict neowhovians" (to differentiate from my usual use of paleo/neowhovian as mere indicators of which era of the show a fan first saw).

I know, for example, a significant number of strict neowhovians (SNs) who are none too impressed with Twelve. Conversely, I've come across a fair number of strict paleowhovians (SPs) who just really don't like Ten. The reasons seem to be similar, with opposing sense: the SNs don't like Capaldi's depiction because he's "too mean," while the SPs don't like Tennant's because he's "too emo."

But what about the rest of fandom—those who fall under neither SN nor SP umbrella? Those of us who like at least some of the stories across all fifty-plus years of the show's history still have strong opinions about each Doctor, and no fan's likes and dislikes align perfectly with any other's. Some can't stand Hartnell, and others think him an underrated gem. Some feel Tom Baker will always be the archetype against which all other incarnations are measured and others find him irritatingly self-congratulatory.

So what are the key qualities about any given Doctor that set him apart from the rest, and make him climb someone's best of/worst of leaderboards? Or is it qualities of the fan that dictate a Doctor's reception? (There's undoubtedly a master's thesis in there somewhere...) I suspect it's a combination of both, but here are my completely unscientific speculations about what some of each of those might be.


Confession #75: I'm a Bit Boggled


In a few months, it will once again be time for CONsole Room, the new Doctor Who convention in the Twin Cities (now in its second year). Having fallen in love with the con scene after my first Gallifrey One in 2012, I was thrilled when one cropped up local to me, and I've been trying to get some of my Gally friends to join me here for CONsole Room (because seeing them once a year is just not enough!).

Its first year seemed to go pretty smoothly, and from what I could see was well received. Since I want to see it continue to thrive, I would like to do something to contribute to its success—without getting into any con ops/volunteer roles. (Sorry; simply not one of my strengths.) When the call for panelists came, then, I was happy to respond.

What I didn't expect was to be put on all the panels I'd listed as interests.


Confession #74: I Have a Vision


The last few days—since the full schedule got posted—I've been thinking ahead to this year's Gallifrey One, now a mere two(ish) weeks away. As usual, there are copious panels from which to choose; when deciding how to spend the weekend, one has to prioritize not only panels but meals, potty breaks, and time with friends. My first attempt at a tentative schedule is predictably bonkers, and I've found myself trying to decide whether or not the effort to get from panel to panel is worthwhile based on what is likely to be said (or not) in each.

There's one panel in particular that intrigues me, though probably not enough to pull me away from my usual "park myself in Program A most of Sunday" tradition. Because I won't be there to hear how the panelists approach the topic, then, I decided to share my own perspective now. So what's sparked my latest round of thinky thoughts? It's a panel called "The Missing Companion."

This panel has us looking to the future of the show. What will upcoming Companions have to offer? How will they be similar to or different from past Companions? What kinds of stories—in terms of who the Companions are and where (both geographically and philosophically) they come from—ought to be told? How would these Companions fit into how Doctor Who has been or "should" be (depending on individual visions) presented?

Not knowing any of the scheduled panelists personally (and only one or two by reputation/podcast), I have no idea what direction their discussion will take. If I were a panelist, though, I'd probably start by sharing what kinds of people I'd like to see in the TARDIS.



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