The Three Companions of the 10th Doctor Who
Rose Tyler, Martha Jones, Donna Noble
By June K Williams, ©Buzzy Multimedia
For those of you who have never watched Doctor Who or who haven’t watched it since you were a kid, the Doctor’s companion is a human who travels with the Doctor through time and space and shares in his exploits. These assistants or helpers weren’t always called companions in the earlier series but my guess is that the writers have acknowledged the need of a 914 year old Time Lord to have someone to share his existence and for that person to have a designation recognizing this fact.
When the “new” Doctor Who came along in 2005 there was a change both in the character of the Doctor as well as his relationship to his companion. That 9th Doctor played by Chris Eccleston, believed himself to be the last of his kind. If that wasn’t enough to make him melancholy then his guilt associated with his participation in the Last Time War that resulted in his being the last his species could certainly have done it. Despite having a pessimistic outlook he worked mightily to keep Earth from being devoured by an assortment of alien threats. This Doctor also had a manic, even happy-go-lucky side and he has a profound sense of guardianship regarding the inhabitants of planet Earth. His primary companion through this brief incarnation as the 9th Doctor (just two television seasons) was Rose Tyler. Rose was at that time a 19 year old “shop girl” working in a dead end job. She was raised by her widowed mum Jackie Tyler and they lived together in a council estate flat which in American parlance is the projects.
She meets the 9th Doctor while being threatened one evening after work hours by mannequins at the store. Needless to say these weren’t simply mannequins and the Doctor rescued her, told her to run for her life, then he destroyed the building containing the mannequins that were really Autons controlled by the Nestene Consciousness. For billions of years these entities which have an H.P. Lovecraft level of scariness had been able to shunt some of it’s consciousness into plastics in order to consume a planet’s resources.
After escaping from the Autons and returning to her home, Rose begins to search the internet for clues as to who this mystery man who rescued her might be. She followed the trail and her instincts and rather than stay safe in her flat she did quite the opposite and eventually helped free the Doctor and…you guessed it…save the world. This Rose has a wide eyed sweet innocence about her and an enthusiasm that is contagious. It was inevitable that the Doctor would invite her to join him and inevitable that at first she declined. If you were her what would YOU do? That’s right, you’d worry about abandoning your mum, a bit more about how this would affect you relationship with your boyfriend, but in the end you would take the chance. Well the Doctor gave her a 2nd chance by telling her they could travel in time as well as space so off she went.
Not since Sarah Jane Smith was there ever such a brilliant match for the Doctor.
Rose Tyler had a mind as sharp as her tongue. Joined with her curiosity and bravery she became an invaluable asset to the Doctor. And she did not have the educational or professional background of someone like Sarah Jane. Rose shares with Sarah Jane the distinction of having traveled with two Doctors. (Sarah Jane with the third and fourth Doctor, Rose with the ninth and tenth.)
Judging by appearances one would never have supposed what lay beneath Rose’s pretty blonde working class exterior. Deep inside existed a yearning as many have for something exceptional. A way to stop her from becoming another one of those spoken of in song by the Moody Blues: “Bedsitter people look back and lament Another day’s useless energy spent.”
Rose grew as a person during her time with the 9th Doctor. She even got to meet Captain Jack Harkness which some in fandom insist should be called Captain Jack Hottness. Jack is pan-sexual, very sensual and although human, like the Doctor he is one of a kind. Rose’s human boyfriend Mickey made a great observation about Jack in the episode Boom Town that I’d like to share with you:
Jack about Rose and Mickey: Aw, look at these two. How come I never get any of that?
The Doctor: Buy me a drink first.
Jack: Such hard work.
The Doctor: But worth it.
Mickey to Jack: What are you captain of? The innuendo squad?
When The Doctor regenerated for the 10th time, Rose had a hard time believing it was him in his new form. His face and body were a bit younger looking and the chemistry between them was even better than before. He exchanged his leather jacket for sneakers and a somewhat form fitting suit plus a mop of unruly hair for the buzz cut of the 9th Doctor. He seemed…happier.
As far as I could tell The Doctor fell head over heels in love with Rose Tyler though he didn’t outright say it. While he has always seemed to cherish humanity in general and certain particular individuals I don’t believe this ever happened to him before. It is doubtful that the writers will ever allow it to happen again. Rose is eventually torn from The Doctor permanently. His loss of Rose was unlike the pain of losing any other companion.
Rose may have regrets; she lost friends, family, at one point her own humanity and even The Doctor himself. In the end she ends up in a parallel universe where she is united with her mother and her alternate parallel universe dad Pete Tyler. Most wonderful of all she now could be with the Doctor only this is a Meta-Crisis Doctor who had come about as a result of a spontaneous regeneration/clone of the Doctor’s severed hand and Donna Noble’s DNA as well. This Doctor has all the memories of the original but is a Timelord/Human hybrid. He has only one heart. He will age and never regenerate. This Doctor could spend his life with her. They could grow old together. Rose also knew the original Doctor’s pain and loneliness would settle in around him so there would always be a bit of sorrow with her joy.
While the 10th Doctor was still grieving the loss of Rose, Donna Noble showed up in the TARDIS in her wedding gown much to the amazement and dismay of herself and the Doctor. It is Christmas Eve, the day of her wedding. And she has no idea that her fiancé, Lance Bennett is working for the Empress of the Racnoss, an alien who is plotting to destroy all human life on Earth. Donna aids the Doctor in defeating the Racnoss Empress. Her feelings about the day she met the Doctor can be expressed up in one line of dialog from The Runaway Bride:
Donna: I’ve gotten married, lost my job and become a widow on the same day.
It was inevitable that the Doctor would invite her to travel with him but she also declines because she is frightened. Not just by such adventures, but also, to a certain extent, by the Doctor himself. Unlike Rose this fiercely independent secretary from Chiswick is not a wide eyed innocent plus she has just had her heart broken. Donna knows he needs someone who will not be afraid to tell him the truth, someone to remind him when he has gone off the rails and his moral compass is in danger.
Donna went back to her life and the Doctor went off in the TARDIS. Soon the Doctor was about to encounter another doctor. Doctor Martha Jones. The episode in which they first meet is Smith and Jones. Smith, because the Doctor is using John Smith as an alias and Jones because Martha’s surname is Jones. In this episode the Royal Hope Hospital was transported to the moon by the Judoon, a mercenary police force of sorts, who were seeking to arrest and execute a criminal, bloodsucking alien that they had determined was hiding in the hospital. The Judoon aren’t the brightest of all spacefaring species and they are not troubled by the loss of human life that occurs while they are tracking down this Plasmavore.
Martha is a clear headed intern working at the hospital when it was transported and is doing all possible to keep people calm in an impossible situation. Soon she is working beside the Doctor with cool efficiency. She saves lives, one of which is that of the Doctor whom she revives with her own last breath. After the day is done Martha goes home to her brother’s birthday party. The Doctor shows up at the party and expresses his gratitude for her help by way of an offer of one trip in the TARDIS. She hesitates until he demonstrates that the TARDIS can go back in time as well and she need not lose any time needed for her career or her personal life. He makes it clear that she will not be a substitute for Rose but it seems that she is that person that Donna had hoped for. This is the person who would be able to remind the Doctor of what is the right thing to do even when it is painful. The Doctor and Martha ended up having many, many adventures (19 episodes plus 3 on Torchwood.) She even meets Captain Jack Harkness who we learn might not have been exactly a companion of the Doctor but still carries a torch for him.
Having traveled back in time to Shakespeare’s London and forward to New Earth as well as all of those other times she helped saved humanity and the galaxy she finally came to a point where she would no longer travel with the Doctor. The bottom line was she knew her love for the Doctor would remain unrequited and she was not a masochist. Going back to the life she had led as if all she now knew didn’t exist seemed impossible. Her solution was to join UNIT the acronym for Unified Intelligence Taskforce, a human group dedicated much as Torchwood is, to keeping the Earth safe. UNIT is a military organization operating with the backing of the United Nations. Its purpose is to investigate and combat both paranormal and extraterrestrial threats. I like to think of UNIT and Torchwood as both being part of Homeworld Security. With her credentials and the Doctor’s recommendation Martha was a shoe-in for a position with them.
After Martha and the Doctor part it is not very long before he must again intercede on Earth’s behalf. Someone is offering humans the ultimate diet plan in the form of the Adipose pill. More pounds are falling off than could be dreamt of in a Bariatric Surgery convention. It not only arouses the Doctors suspicions but that of Donna Noble. Donna has not had an easy time of adjusting to her old life since she turned down the Doctor. As a result she has been investigating things that seem to be not of this world and if the truth were to be told she hoped to find the Doctor again. They do bump into each other in this episode Partners in Crime and after saving a great many lives she accepts the Doctors offer of travel, just stopping off for a moment to drop off her car keys for her mother and say goodbye to her grandfather.
Donna and the Doctor don’t (thank God) connect on a romantic level. It isn’t easy to get romantic with someone whose shrill voice is able to shatter glass when she’s angry. They do become close friends and Donna could see herself traveling forever with the Doctor.
I was pleased that they gave her a surname that fit her character. Noble she was, loyal and true. Donna has her own special skill set that is very useful at times. She has considerable investigative skills and her time as a secretary has honed her ability to cut through bureaucracy to find the truth. In the episode of the Doctor’s Daughter, it was she that discerned the meaning on the plaques that helped them to reach the Temple and avert genocide. When trying to explain her relationship to the Doctor to his daughter Jenny she tells her we “save planets, rescue civilizations, defeat awful creatures and also do quite a lot of running.” I can’t think of anything else that would sum it up better.
In the fullness of time it was revealed that Donna would be the most pivotal woman in all of history. The Ood saw it coming. Saw the Doctor Donna. At Journey’s End I found myself crying as the Doctor spoke to Wilfred, Donna’s grandfather and Slvia Donna’s mother:
The Doctor: She took my mind into her own head, but that’s a Time Lord consciousness. All that knowledge, it was killing her.
Wilfred: But she’ll get better now?
The Doctor: I had to wipe her mind completely. Every trace of me or the TARDIS. Anything we did together, everywhere we went. Had to go.
Wilfred: All those wonderful things she did.
The Doctor: I know. But that version of Donna is dead. ‘Cause if she remembers, just for a second, she’ll burn up. You can never tell her. You can’t mention me or any of it. For the rest of her life.
Sylvia: But the whole world’s talking about it. We traveled across space.
The Doctor: It’ll just be a story. One of those Donna Noble stories, where she missed it all again.
Wilfred: But she was better with you!
Sylvia: Don’t say that!
Wilfred: Well she was!
The Doctor: I just want you know there are worlds out there safe in the sky because of her. And there are people living in the light and singing songs of Donna Noble a thousand million light years away. They will never forget her. While she can never remember. But for one moment, one shining moment, she was the most important woman in the whole wide universe.
Sylvia: She still is. She’s my daughter.
The Doctor: Then maybe you should tell her that once in awhile.
And that leaves us with the reminder that maybe we should tell those that we love how very special they are to us once in awhile. Even if they or we never get to visit the end of the Universe or change the course of history. It is enough to love and be loved.
So tell me, who is your favorite companion? All you Captain Jack fans out there can weigh in but remember he wasn’t exactly a companion now was he? That’s right, hanging on to the outside of the TARDIS to be carried along doesn’t count…well maybe.
By June K Williams
©Buzzy Multimedia – Sci-Fi & Fantasy Audio Books…Funny Tees