Companions past and present

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  • #13511
    Nick @nick

    @Shazzbot (or the Rani rather)

    I would add Donna into your list with Sarah -Jane (given what she was up to at the beginning of the Adipose adventure).

    In BG Who, the Doctor didn’t really have control over the Tardis and once a companion had been swept off by him, they couldn’t have a family life outside the Tardis while they were travelling with him. The Companion story arc early was sometimes all about getting them home, although there were Companions who didn’t really have a home at all (eg. Victoria, Jamie, Zoe, Vikki etc). By the 70’s (UNIT stories) more stories were set on contemporary Earth so it was natural that there was more of a Earth base where Jo/Sarah/Ian could be dropped off home between stories. After that we had quite a large % of Companions (Leela, Romana, Adric, Nyssa, Turlough for example) who had no (Earth) home or were not strictly Human anyway. Looking back, I’d say the majority of later BG Companions a home life, in the sense of AG Who didn’t exist (eg Teagan had no close family I recall and as an Aussie in the UK, not many close friends here either). The Companion story dynamic was therefore different in BG Who as you have stated.

    In AG (obviously) the Doctor is able to give Rose an intergalactic phone and drop Rose/Amy/Rory/Clara home at will (from hazy memory both Donna and Martha had fewer visits home while travelling so it was less of any issue for them). That’s actually quite a change in the Companion tory dynamic really, which is what RTD wanted to show us (the wider impact on them and their families of the Doctor) that BG Who couldn’t show us. We also didn’t get any relationship dynamics in BG Who (I guess most of us now consider Ian/Barbara and Ben/Polly were in relationships during their travels ?). I would say that reflected the wider era attitudes given it was a family tea time show.

    Whilst I would generally agree that the treatment of Companion departures was pretty awful overall, there were quite a few that left for their own and narratively good reasons (Teagan, Romana, Nyssa, Adric, Turlough, Ian/Barbara, Steven, Victoria immediately come to mind). The surprise in most cases, was that the departure came out of the blue, as they didn’t bother to sign post the Companion character development which “caused” their departure to happen. If they had done that, would we really be making this to be such a big difference BG/AG as we do ?

    Nick

    #13592
    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip

    One of the things Moffat really enjoys doing in his scriptwriting is writing scenarios that don’t make sense from the revealed information – until finally, near the end of the story, you get a piece of information that allows you to retrospectively make sense of what’s just happened.

    Amy and Rory’s break up is an example of that. It apparently doesn’t make sense – there’s a strong implication, in fact, that one of the reasons Rory’s angry is because it doesn’t make sense to him. It’s only near the end of the story that we find out why Amy feels their marriage has no future.

    But then, we’ve never seen all of Amy and Rory’s lives. Just snapshots; unlike, say, Rose, Martha and Donna – where we saw them over a period of time that closely corresponded to real-world time. We don’t have the same kind of character development with Amy and Rory that we saw with Rose, Martha and Donna – because we’re not seeing them over a continuous period.

    Davies is a novelist by temperament. He told his Who story via series long arcs, long-term character development, and kept tight control of his writers’ scripts. It’s natural to him to have a largish cast of regular characters who develop slowly and consistently over the space of several episodes.

    Moffat has chosen to tell his Who story as a connected series of short stories. Whether he’s chosen this because he’s a natural short story writer, or whether it’s because he realised that the Doctor basically lives his life as a series of short stories, I don’t know.

    So what we’ve seen are snapshots of Amy (and Rory) at certain times of their life. We’ve been told that the events of S5, S6 and S7 took place over – what, twenty two years? Anyway, the technique was set up in Eleventh Hour. Little Amelia. Jump, and we see grown-up Amy. Jump and we see Amy on the eve of her wedding.

    What happened in between was for the viewer (or the Doctor?) to work out from hints, sometimes, and sometimes not. For example, we jump straight from Amy not being sure she wants to say Rory’s her boyfriend to her getting married to him tomorrow.

    Snapshots. Short stories. Sometimes things are mentioned, sometimes they aren’t. Losing the baby was a big thing – but in real life you don’t announce every single day that you’re really torn up about your missing child. So in some short stories it isn’t mentioned. The near-divorce was a big thing – but the next time we see them, the reconciliation was probably a year ago. Why on earth would you go ‘do you remember that big row we had last year’?

    This viewpoint is much more like the way the Doctor sees the universe, but it means the viewer has to do the same kind of ‘fill in the gaps’ work. And of course, we may not even be seeing the snapshots in the right order…

    We’ve got a similar thing with Clara: the Eleventh clearly likes taking snapshots (quite literally, in Hide). He wants to check her out: he jumps from her parents meeting, to first date, to the baby Clara, to her childhood, to her mother’s death. From hints it appears that she travels with him on her days off; so she’s got this entire life he doesn’t really know that much about. As I pointed out way back when, for all the Doctor knows, Clara could have been adopted. His ‘snapshots’ include her as a baby, but he doesn’t see her parents in the hospital when she’s born.

    If we usually see the Doctor from the Companion’s viewpoint, this series has been about seeing the Companions from the Doctor’s viewpoint. And this Doctor’s viewpoint is patchy.

    #13605
    Nick @nick

    @bluesqueakpip

    Thank you for this insight. I have to say its not a thought that had crossed my mind at all (no surprise their though) and I’m not entirely sure I like what you think Mr Moffat has done dramatically. If true then (for me at least) it needs more signposting. I would have never appreciated that there was such a long time interval shown in the Rory/Amy relationship on screen. I would have guessed 2 to 3 years at most.

    Whilst I like your “seeing the Companions from the Doctor’s viewpoint” idea, I don’t necessarily think that the Doctor’s view is patchy. Given his age/aging (even without the Tardis), its quite possible for him to see watch their entire lives unfolding from the sidelines (much more likely for him to do for an intrigue like Clara). Isn’t this what we are supposed to believe the monk Doctor is avoiding doing in the Bells of St John ?

    One other thought I had when reading your post is that we may also be seeing the effect of changes in their personal timeline has on their relationship. On screen we see them together (Hungry Earth) in the near future, when they have come back to see their earlier selves with the Doctor. During the story, the crack thing, kills Rory (which is why we see Amy alone later), which then results in the rest of that Story Arc playing out. Whilst Rory/Amy end up going back home together, its not clear that their future still follows the timeline shown at the beginning of Hungry Earth (together on the hill side) still happens. Of course the course of their future, changes dramatically in later stories, multiplying the timey wimey effect on their lives (ending with them in past Manhatten). I think its reasonable to suggest that there would have been simultaneous changes in the nature of their relationship as well.

    On a more general point, we accept that travelling with the Doctor changes Companions out look on life and the way that they approach it.. Whilst the effect can be detrimental (eg Sarah Jane’s unresolved departure from the Doctor and Rose too actually), but it can also be beneficial. I’d say the Donna we see at the start of the Adipose story has changed dramatically from the Donna in the runaway bride [of course RTD just has to show us the price she pays for this].

    Actually, playing devils advocate here, in AG Who I’d say that RTD/SM have consistently shown us that the Companions pay a high personal price for the gains they make from travelling with the Doctor. Has any  of them actually left unharmed from the experience ? Whilst this may be, narratively satisfying for the story, is it actually good for the series in the long run ?

    Nick

     

     

     

    #13608
    ScaryB @scaryb

    @Bluesqueakip

    That’s a really interesting way of looking at it – RTD as novelist, SM as short story writer.

    If we usually see the Doctor from the Companion’s viewpoint, this series has been about seeing the Companions from the Doctor’s viewpoint.

    So maybe that’s where dissatisfaction in some quarters creeps in – usually the viewer expects the companions to be their own point of entry, but that’s more difficult when the companions are the story and we’re seeing them as the Dr sees them – as you say, it’s necessarily episodic. Being the Dr seems to be a bit like being in a room with dozens of TVs all on at the same time and choosing  to watch several at once, dipping in and out of some, spending longer with others.

    Whether he’s chosen this because he’s a natural short story writer, or whether it’s because he realised that the Doctor basically lives his life as a series of short stories,

    I’d say it’s symptomatic of the way each writer sees the world, the way their thought processes naturally work eg some people think visually, some musically/aurally, some think in words etc  Each has limitations and benefits. Yes the Dr lives his life as short stories, but he also has a long narrative

     

    #13610
    ScaryB @scaryb

    General thoughts on AG companions in particular – most of them meet the Dr when they need to. Yes, the experience of travelling with him changes them, but usually for the better. They find qualities in themselves that they didn’t know they had (applies to BG companions as well). It’s like getting years of life experience packed into a very short time. The discussions Rory and Amy have about it in Power of 3 especially, highlight this – and the fact that the time they spend with the Dr is “real time” for them – they are aging faster than their friends. To travel with the Dr means losing out on “real life”.  At some point short lifespan species members choose to re-engage with their real lives. Like growing up, choosing to become an adult and take on adult responsibilities (lots of Peter Pan refs here).

    Even the Dr refers to the effect time travel can have on an individual (in NotD he acknowledges that no one else has travelled anything like as much as he has, that its effects are unknown, but suggests he too has paid a price for it).  It’s an interesting area for thought, and one that didn’t have come up when the programme was younger. It’s bubbled up as a consequence of the show’s longevity.

    More detailed thoughts later…

    #13620
    janetteB @janetteb

    @scaryb. quote, “General thoughts on AG companions in particular – most of them meet the Dr when they need to. Yes, the experience of travelling with him changes them, but usually for the better. They find qualities in themselves that they didn’t know they had”

    I think this was particulary emphasised with Donna which is why her eventual loss of memory was worse than the death of the character would have been.

    @bluesqueakpip I like your distinction between RTD as a novel writer and S.M. as a short story writer. I think you are spot on there, and not only because it made me feel much better about my failures as a short story writer. (having said that i have not seen any of Moffat’s other t.v script writing offerings but certainly in Who his tight, short stories ie Blink have been brilliant whereas he does seem less confident with long arcs.)

    (( if the last post was slightly off topic blame it on the excellent Barossa Valley Shiraz 🙂 )

    Cheers

    Janette

    #13622
    wolfweed @wolfweed

    @janetteb – Love your new avatar…

    #13623
    janetteB @janetteb

    Thanks @wolfweed. Though it should have been up months ago..

    Cheers

    Janette

    #13624
    HTPBDET @htpbdet

    @bluesqueakpip

    The view we get of Amy and Rory is pretty much the view the Doctor gets – a series of short stories, the exciting bits, with huge chunks of their life happening when he’s not around.

    Not sure that is right, is it? There are numerous references on screen to adventures that the Doctor has had with Amy and/or Amy and Rory which we do not see or see only a snatch of. The Zygons in the Savoy is one incident that springs to mind.

    Part of my issue with the SM era is that so much happens off-screen – it is not really possible to understand the nature of the relationships between the characters. Rather than seeing the ups and downs, the audience is told where the friendship/relationship is.

    This is one of the key differences between RTD and SM it seems to me.

    We don’t have the same kind of character development with Amy and Rory that we saw with Rose, Martha and Donna – because we’re not seeing them over a continuous period.

    Quite

    Moffat has chosen to tell his Who story as a connected series of short stories.

    Or even a disconnected series of short stories…

    For example, we jump straight from Amy not being sure she wants to say Rory’s her boyfriend to her getting married to him tomorrow.

    A good example of where SM tells us to believe an emotional attitude we see no sign off…

    Snapshots. Short stories. Sometimes things are mentioned, sometimes they aren’t. Losing the baby was a big thing – but in real life you don’t announce every single day that you’re really torn up about your missing child. So in some short stories it isn’t mentioned.

    Oh, I don’t know about that…

    Sure, you could have had a story with Amy and Rory without the Doctor where the loss was not mentioned – but is it really believable/truthful to have a story with him where they do not mention it or press him about what he has found out? He is the reason the baby is gone after all…I would hazard a guess that the parents of Madeline McCann talk about her loss every day, because there is no closure for them. And Amy and Rory have no closure about Melody until Wedding of River Song occurs and even then…

    I find your analysis of RTD and SM’s styles fascinating.  And I entirely see why you feel that way.

    But, for me, SM is perfectly capable of writing novels (Press Gang and Coupling, I think, prove that) – he just uses a particular style AG Doctor Who to separate the chapters.

    For me, much more than RTD, SM writes novels. But there are entire chapters missing – in the novels RTD wrote, the chapters were all there.

    @nick

    If you think about it
     
    “Travelling in the TARDIS is something so spectacular that Companions need a really good reason to leave”
     
    is just a writers conceit, even if its one we choose to believe and share. No sane Human Being I’ve met really wants to “suffer” multiple near death experiences, even if there are interludes (which we don’t see on screen too often) which are the complete opposite.

    I agree completely with this.

    That quote is from SM unless I am mistaken ( which I may well be) and if it is it says a lot about his view of the AG Doctor Who world.

    Depending on who you are, I would have thought it much more likely that a companion would, after the initial couple of adventures, more need a reason to keep travelling than to stay home. I always thought Harry’s reaction was genuine – he went along for the ride, enjoyed it but stayed on home soil first chance he got. Sarah-Jane was a journalist at heart – so her lust for adventure was understandable, as was Leela’s and Romana’s given their identities. Many other BG companions had no choice but to travel – and Jo was there for three years but did not do that much travelling.

    In AG, Rose fell in love, Martha wanted to fall in love and Donna was running away from her own life – so each had a reason to keep on travelling – and a reason to stop.

    We also didn’t get any relationship dynamics in BG Who (I guess most of us now consider Ian/Barbara and Ben/Polly were in relationships during their travels ?). I would say that reflected the wider era attitudes given it was a family tea time show.

    I don’t think I ever really thought Ian and Barbara were lovers while travelling, but I did think they had fallen in love and that, post The Chase, they would marry and spend their lives together.

    Ben and Polly definitely were not lovers, although Ben wanted Polly to be his “duchess”. But, again, post- Faceless Ones, there was the sense that their travels would bind them and they would be together for life.

    The one love I am confident about is Jamie’s love for Victoria. He adored her.

    The surprise in most cases, was that the departure came out of the blue, as they didn’t bother to sign post the Companion character development which “caused” their departure to happen. If they had done that, would we really be making this to be such a big difference BG/AG as we do?

    I don’t understand? Rose was wrenched into another dimension; Martha had been alone, away from the Doctor for a year, and had moved on and was in a relationship; Donna’s memory was wiped and staying with the Doctor could kill her; Amy and Rory were thrown back in time to a point inaccessible by the Doctor.

    In each case, the companion’s finale was the story. In BG, that was not ever the case, except, arguably at least, perhaps for Adric. Every other companion left because of an opportunity or decision that was unplanned or opportunistic.

    In AG, the adventures are the particular companions’ adventures with the Doctor and their consequences; in BG, the adventures were the Doctor’s adventures with whoever.  Isn’t that the true – and key – difference?

    On a more general point, we accept that travelling with the Doctor changes Companions out look on life and the way that they approach it.. Whilst the effect can be detrimental (eg Sarah Jane’s unresolved departure from the Doctor and Rose too actually), but it can also be beneficial. I’d say the Donna we see at the start of the Adipose story has changed dramatically from the Donna in the runaway bride [of course RTD just has to show us the price she pays for this].

    Hmmm….From Donna’s point of view, she has not suffered at all. Only the Doctor, really, and perhaps Wilf too, suffers over her fate. Our perception is of a devastating event – but from Donna’s point of view, it is not.

    And I am not sure I see Sarah-Jane’s exit in Hand of Fear as detrimental to her. Her experience was of the sudden inexplicable loss of a close friend – she seemed unfazed in Five Doctors. In School Reunion, she is clearly still very successful in her career but when her professional path crosses with the Doctor’s she takes the chance to confront him about what happened.

    @scaryb

    General thoughts on AG companions in particular – most of them meet the Dr when they need to. Yes, the experience of travelling with him changes them, but usually for the better. They find qualities in themselves that they didn’t know they had (applies to BG companions as well). It’s like getting years of life experience packed into a very short time.
     
    Yes, an excellent point and certainly true up to the SM era. Amy and Rory’s experience of the Doctor as an active presence in their lives is spread over a much longer period and, because of that, assumes an importance that association with the Doctor did not bring for any of the earlier companions.

    This, too, seems to me a fundamental point of distinction in the SM era. The Eleventh Doctor is willing to dip in and out of the lives of his companions over a much greater period of time than any earlier Doctor – actually, it’s one of the reasons this incarnation troubles me. He seems not to care about the fact that his disruptions stop Amy and Rory from having their lives.
    @janetteb
    Ah…the glories of a Barossa Valley Shiraz…

    #13629
    Nick @nick

    @htpbdet

    The surprise in most cases, was that the departure came out of the blue, as they didn’t bother to sign post the Companion character development which “caused” their departure to happen. If they had done that, would we really be making this to be such a big difference BG/AG as we do?

    I don’t understand? Rose was wrenched into another dimension; Martha had been alone, away from the Doctor for a year, and had moved on and was in a relationship; Donna’s memory was wiped and staying with the Doctor could kill her; Amy and Rory were thrown back in time to a point inaccessible by the Doctor.

    In each case, the companion’s finale was the story. In BG, that was not ever the case, except, arguably at least, perhaps for Adric. Every other companion left because of an opportunity or decision that was unplanned or opportunistic.

    Sorry I’m not sure I was clear enough. I agree in BG the writers didn’t bother to write in the departure, which is why it is opportunistic on screen. However, its not to say that with quite small edits it needn’t have been. For example (and this is mostly based on what I recall from seeing the story first run and reading the target books (usually several times) as a teenager

    • Nyssa had a biosciences background. She leaves to help perfect the cure for the disease shown in Terminus and help the suffers. The exit is consistent with her character and background (and she’s not human and no longer has a family to speak of).
    • Turlough finds his Brother/family and leaves
    • Teagan has seen enough of death and destruction at the hands of the Daleks, Cybermen etc and leaves for perfectly good emotional reasons
    • Ian/Barbara wanted to get home, they reluctantly leave as soon as the opportunity arises
    • Romana leaves to help the Tharils. Having matured with the Doctor’s help, she leaves home if you like
    • Victoria you explained yourself

    The failing in BG Who was that they didn’t show that any of the Companions had grown/changed as individuals and to sign post that their departure day was arriving. If they had added this relatively small change then the Companion leaving would no longer be quite the shock it was. BG was stupid and thoughtless in the how, but the why’s were more often than not quite reasonable in hindsight.

    On Donna

    I didn’t mean suffered quite like that. She was changed by Runaway bride for the better, but RTD made the character suffer right at the end. Even then Donna, wouldn’t really have been aware of her fate. We and Wilf suffer for her.

    On Sarah-Jane

    I can see what you mean, but to end up alone, seemingly without a family and only a career until the Doctor showed up again is what I was thinking of.

    Cheers

    Nick

    #13631
    Nick @nick

    @htpbdet

    Ben/Polly. Absolutely agree, there was no love relationship on screen. I don’t think any modern writer would keep that as is though, which is why [like Barbara and Ian] the relationship would be more in your face today. It would be shown to develop during their time travelling with the Doctor. It might not have lasted post departure that long, but that’s another story.  (see the Who Alt 1 blog post for a different take on the Ian/Barbara relationship)

    Jamie/Victoria made more sense as a Victorian lady wouldn’t would she ?

    Thoroughly tongue in cheek

    Nick

    #13632
    Anonymous @

    @nick @htpbdet (and @jimthefish at the end) – re companions ‘getting together’ during their time in the Tardis:

    It’s well known that relationships forged in extreme circumstances don’t translate into boring domesticated life all that well.  The adrenaline hits the two people felt during the excitment of the dangerous situations they met in, don’t happen any more in a go-to-work, take-out-the-rubbish, did-you-pay-the-leccy-bill kind of living.

    Not knowing Ian/Barbara’s story so well, I have to assume that they were simply two work colleagues with a shared concern for a particular pupil when they entered the Tardis.  If they grew closer in their few years with the Doctor and then left him with an eye toward trying something a bit more intimate between themselves, well, then, other than taking up extreme sports (highly unlikely in London mid-60s) I wouldn’t see their relationship lasting too long, as you say, Nick.

    @jimthefish ‘s take in his Alt blog changes that dynamic utterly – Ian and Barbara are already a couple – in fact, an adulterous and illicit one which has its own thrills and adrenaline rushes.  Whatever near-death experiences they survive whilst travelling with the Doctor, these are two people who are more likely to stay together once they depart the Tardis.

    (That having been said, though, it’s also a well-known phenomenon that illicit lovers, once shed of their ‘others’ and alone themselves together, often also have difficulty settling into a life lacking the prior dangers/thrills of their adultery.)

    #13633
    HTPBDET @htpbdet

    The failing in BG Who was that they didn’t show that any of the Companions had grown/changed as individuals and to sign post that their departure day was arriving. If they had added this relatively small change then the Companion leaving would no longer be quite the shock it was. BG was stupid and thoughtless in the how, but the why’s were more often than not quite reasonable in hindsight.

    @nick

    I guess once Susan left, the die was cast for me. There was no permanency in the TARDIS crew – travellers would come and go.

    At the time, I felt that was just part of the thrill – never knowing who would stay, who would go or when.

    Nowadays, unfortunately, we know well in advance when companions will come and when they will go – so the element of surprise is lost. Which is why I think, at least in part, AG makes the stories about the companions more than BG ever did.

    How much more spectacularly affecting would Rose’s original departure had been had we no idea that Billie Piper was moving on?

    But the issue for me with the companions in BG was that ocassionally, the departures were not consistent with the character. The abruptness of them did not matter so much if there was a reason.

    So, while incredibly abrupt, Susan’s departure was understandable. While devastating and opportunistic, Barbara and Ian did the thing most consistent for their characters – they used the Dalek time machine as their ownly realistic prospect of going home. Steven stayed to rule the race he had helped protect and liberate. Katarina and Susan Kingdom and Bret Vyon all died.

    But Vicki and Dodo, whatever you thought of them, both had raw deals. Vicki staying to marry was ridiculous and completely out of character; Dodo was simply dropped.

    Ben and Polly did not have a proper farewell – they were just sort of thrown aside. But each of Victoria, Jamie and Zoe had ends to their journeys which worked.

    Liz Shaw was all but erased from memory, exiled to Cambridge. Jo went off to marry and follow a cause, which was consistent with her impulsive nature, even if her beau was a drip.

    Sarah-Jane started as she finished – essentially a loner. And, as I have said before, the Doctor’s treatment of her was rough but had a purpose: he wanted her safe in case the Time lords sought to wipe her memories of him.

    Harry jumped ship when he could – as close to the Ian and Barbara mould as you can find.

    Laughably, Leela married Andred: she should have been killed saving the Doctor’s life. Romana decided she wanted to be her own woman and saw E-space as an appropriate opportunity and I think that was okay.

    Adric was killed. Unfortunately, Tegan wasn’t – and while her sudden departure is explained I do not think it is particularly consistent with her character as we had seen her to that point. Although fielding makes that final scene work very well.

    Nyssa’s departure made sense, albeit unexpectedly. She wanted a home and a purpose.

    Turlough returned home. Peri was appalling enough to want to marry Ycranos, but still her departure was hard to fathom, but as the story was just part of a disjointed flashback sequence it was hard to judge.

    Mel left appropriately, albeit three stories too late…Ace never left.

    And I don’t count the robots here because, well, they are robots.

    So, for me, there are 8 instances of departures BG which were both abrupt and inconsistent – which is not too bad over 26 seasons.

    Ben/Polly. Absolutely agree, there was no love relationship on screen. I don’t think any modern writer would keep that as is though, which is why [like Barbara and Ian] the relationship would be more in your face today. It would be shown to develop during their time travelling with the Doctor.

    Why does Doctor Who have to be relationship driven? I can understand why RTD re-booted it as he did but, now, going forward – why can’t it return to just being about damn fine stories of adventure and mystery and intrigue?

    Is it now de rigeur for there to be some sort of sexual tension? And, if so, isn’t that a good enough reason not to provide it?

    #13634
    HTPBDET @htpbdet

    @Shazzbot

    I think if you lived through the Ian and Barbara years, at the time, you would find it hard to imagine them not being together after their travels.

    It’s like working on a piece of theatre with people: sometimes you form short, highly charged bonds; other times, you make friendships for life; occasionally, you fall in love with a co-star and it lasts well beyond the final curtain.

    I don’t think there is a hard and fast rule about love though…

    🙂

    #13635
    Anonymous @

    @htpbdet“How much more spectacularly affecting would Rose’s original departure had been had we no idea that Billie Piper was moving on?”

    Well, *I* for one was shocked, and spectacularly affected.  At the time that episode was broadcast, I didn’t follow any Who-related media so I had no idea that she would end up in that alternate universe.  If I thought anything, I suppose I thought she could be back in the next series after a brilliant rescue by the Doctor, but that thought didn’t come until long after I’d stopped crying about how bloody romantically awful that sudden whoosh-away of her was.

    And is this how we are warped by prior knowledge of casting decisions?  It’s so much harder today even than it was so few short years ago when Billie’s leaving episode was aired, what with Doctor Who-related stories now getting front-page prominence in most newspapers.

    And now that I’ve been assimilated into the dark side of bonkers theorising ™ I’m privy to the knowledge that Jenna Coleman is signed for another series.  Which means my expectation levels are set to look for her departure at the end of the next series.  I’m not entirely happy about that – the element of surprise is long gone for me – but I balance that loss of surprise against the depth of knowledge and understanding I’ve learnt here on the dark side, and I’m reasonably happy at the trade-off.

    #13636
    Anonymous @

    @htpbdet – “Is it now de rigeur for there to be some sort of sexual tension?”

    Well, we had a lively discussion last night and this morning in the Rose & Crown pub thread on just this very topic – well, at least on the angle that a really well-written female villain shouldn’t have to have sexual tension with a male protagonist in order for her villainy to work.

    And of course it’s appropriate – and timely – to raise that question about the companions on this particular thread.  I’m 100% with you, the whole Rose-fell-in-love, Martha-felt-unrequited-love, Amy-tried-to-mouth-mash, Clara-also-snogged … that whole business is so bloody*  tiresome.  I loved the Donna character for several reasons, not least because she showed that ‘a mate’ was not only a perfectly reasonable way to approach the Doctor-companion relationship, but that it worked brilliantly.

    * remember that, as an American originally, ‘bloody’ sounds cute to me and isn’t a real swear word.  Apologies to anyone who is offended by my use of it.  🙂

    #13639
    Anonymous @

    @htpbdet

    I… did not find the Angels Take Manhattan resolution of Pond Time satisfying on any level. Well, except that Amy was finally gone.

    Likewise! There was no reason the Doctor couldn’t go back for the Ponds, even if you take what was literally carved in stone as metaphorically carved-in-stone (i.e. their deaths) – he would just have to make sure to bring them back to where the angel had sent them in time to die at the proper ages. Since the headstone only listed death ages – not death dates – he could probably have gotten around that too, by simply bringing them back there for burial. But. like you, I was glad to see Amy gone. I liked her at first, but her character had gotten seriously stale by the end – in contrast to Rory, who grew into a much better-developed, more likeable character as he went along.

    @shazzbot

     Her reason for leaving, to me, was simply that she yearned for a normal life again.

    I always figured it was simply that she finally realized that the Doctor was never going to feel the same way about her as she did about him, so she left before the pain of unrequited love could tear her apart.

    #13651
    Anonymous @

    MadScientist72  – “I always figured it was simply that she [Martha] finally realized that the Doctor was never going to feel the same way about her as she did about him, so she left before the pain of unrequited love could tear her apart.”

    Yeah, there’s that too.  🙂  Here’s Martha’s final scene:  Martha Says Bye, But Not Goodbye

    I spent all these years training to be a doctor; now I have people to look after …

    I spent a lot of time with you thinking I was second-best, but you know what?  I am good.

    Yes, I know she re-enters the Tardis with that story about Vicky and Sean and how ‘she’ loved ‘him’, but ‘he’ never looked at ‘her’ twice; and those moments are what you are referring to.  But Martha’s goodbye speech started with the most important points she needed to make:  that she used to be normal, she wants to help people, and she needs to feel that she’s fulfilling her own potential.

    ‘This is me, walking away’ is the finale of her speech, the way for her to put the Doctor firmly in his place in her life:  a normal life, without him.  But like all gals with a mad crush on someone who can’t love them back, she leaves the door slightly ajar in the form of throwing him her mobile and tells him that she expects he’ll come running when she calls.

    Ahh, we humans – How fallible, complicated, and confusing we are!

    #13661
    PhaseShift @phaseshift
    Time Lord

    @bluesqueakpip

    Good analysis by you, I think. The “snapshot” analogy certainly works for me. I wrote a while ago that RTDs run can be characterised to a certain extent by the family, and SMs more on the family you make – friends. You can have friends you spend a lot of time with, and then go through periods of infrequent contact and back again. It’s noticable how much more seems to change in their lives during periods of infrequent contact. 🙂

    We’ve got a similar thing with Clara: the Eleventh clearly likes taking snapshots (quite literally, in Hide). He wants to check her out: he jumps from her parents meeting, to first date, to the baby Clara, to her childhood, to her mother’s death.

    It’s interesting that Clara has just got her “snapshots” of the Doctor. I think this is where I diverge from people who seem to think that because she had access to his time tunnel, she knows him pretty completely. What she says is:

    Sometimes it’s like I’ve lived a thousand lives in a thousand places. I’m born, I live, I die. And always, there’s the Doctor.

    So a thousand lives, a thousand potential random meetings. If they were all as long as a day, that’s accumulated time of less than three years. In a life as long as the Doctor, that’s all she really has – snapshots.

    #13672
    Anonymous @

    Very interesting discussion this. My own take on it is pretty much what @bluesqueakpip says. But I think @phaseshift is right and that Moffatt’s take is very much on the ‘family you make’ as opposed to the ‘family you’re given’. (I suspect the brilliant Buffy episode ‘Family’ was something of an inspiration for this.)

    I think the idea of the ‘snapshots’ of a companions life is spot on and it’s actually made pretty explicit if you look at the ‘Pond Life’ webisodes on the official website. They to me are the best bit of ‘extra content’ that Moffatt has produced and really do contextualise the Ponds’ relationship with the Doctor. They also counter @htpbdet‘s issue that the divorce crisis of Asylum of the Daleks is ‘too sudden’.

    But even without the ‘Pond Life’ context, I’m not sure I’d agree with the assertion that the Pond divorce sub plot is unsatisfying. Its ‘suddenness’ is part of the point, I think. It’s sudden for the Doctor, and therefore the audience. One of the really interesting things about the Pond era for me is that the traditional dynamic of the show is slightly turned on its head. Rather than the companion being the audience’s access point to life with the Doctor, now it is the Doctor who is our access point with life with the Ponds. As @bluesqueakpip points out,

    What happened in between was for the viewer (or the Doctor?) to work out from hints, sometimes, and sometimes not

    This, to me, is what makes me love this period of Who. And Smith’s Doctor. Because while he is often slow on the uptake, often gets it completely wrong, he still takes the time to care about ‘working out’ the Ponds’ lives — something I’m not convinced all the other incarnations of the Doc would even bother to do.

    And just to correct myself slightly on Asylum of the Daleks. The Ponds’ divorce isn’t actually the subplot — I’d argue that it’s the plot masquerading as the subplot. The actual Daleky stuff was fun window dressing but not really the point. The Clara Oswald stuff was scene-setting, establishing themes that wouldn’t really see their pay-off until The Name of the Doctor. In terms of narrative — situation, complication, resolution — this story was about the reconciliation of the Ponds.

    And, sure, the underlying emotions, and the subtext of miscarriage in the Melody arc, could have had more room to breathe but time (ironically) is clearly at a premium and I’d argue that to push it any further into something like Who would have actually been too intrusive. I think Moffatt realised that there was a balance he had to strike and I think he got it pretty much right. That he was able to inject such a thing into Who at all is surely quite remarkable in itself. Here we have a couple of companions in pain — and it’s a very human, very real pain. It’s not a ‘strapped to a table, activate the mind probe’ type of pain that the Doctor can just leap in and turn off. The best he can do is just to be there, to help guide his friends through their agony as best he can and this is exactly what he does.

    To my mind, it’s precisely because of this that Asylum sees the Doctor at possibly his most heroic in perhaps the show’s entire history. It’s one of Moffatt’s best episodes and I think something of an instant classic. It’s not as obviously and showily smartarse clever as, say, Blink but it is a very grown-up and even slightly subversive episode and one of the highlights of Matt Smith’s run, I’d say.

    I’d also take slight dispute that Angels in Manhattan as an unsatisfying end to the Ponds run. Bearing in mind the long-term arc that had been put in place, there was really only one logical end to their time with the Doctor — and that was with them dying of old age while the Doctor still remains ‘young’ and helpless. To do this literally would have, let’s face it, been kinda depressing. (Which doesn’t mean that that isn’t what they should have done.) And in fact that’s exactly what they did do, they just rather subtly made it happen off-screen while simultaneously allowing Amy and Rory their moment of heroism too. The one thing I’ll say is that I think not including the little coda with Brian was a mistake. I can see whey they didn’t — it’s a little too similar to Blink — but I think would have added to the power of the Ponds’ sacrifice and would have given their whole arc a nice note of completion. But bearing in mind that this story always has me crying like a baby anyway, maybe it’s just as well that they didn’t.

    And as if this post wasn’t long enough already, a quick word on @htpbdet‘s plaintive cry against ‘why do we always need sexual tension now’. I think the simple answer is that times change. The deliberate neutering of that aspect of character in many shows (not just Who by a long chalk) in the 60s and 70s only really worked in that era because it seemed that audiences were willing to ‘suspend their disbelief’ as it seemed somehow inappropriate for a genre or SF or children’s show.

    But even towards the end of the 80s I think it was becoming the ‘elephant in the room’ with regards to the show. The very ‘not dealing’ with one of the primary ways in which people relate to each other (not to mention one the primary reason why they even bother to do so in the first place) actually gets in the way of the drama and the adventure. I’d argue it was becoming disproportionately conspicuous by its very absence.

    And, as I’ve said before, even in old Who of the 70s and 80s by way of good writing and clever acting in the most successful Doctor/Companion partnerships (Doctor 4/Sarah, Doctor 4/Romana 2, even Doctor 5/Tegan and perhaps even Doctor 7/Ace??) managed to appropriate the easy dynamic that comes with an established sexual relationship without the necessity of there actually being one (or at least making it explicit that there is one). All these pairings bicker and banter, gently tease, as well as support each other in the same way that real-life partners do.  Part of the reason why the Colin Baker era foundered so much was that it severed the link between the Doctor and the companion so dramatically.

    My test of a strong character has always been ‘do you believe that still exist after the camera moves away from them? Are they still walking and talking and dreaming and existing? I’d say ‘yes’ with Sarah-Jane and Romana 2 and Ace but ‘no’ with Peri, Romana 1 and Mel and so on. And ‘yes’ with Rose and Amy and Donna but ‘no’ with Martha and I’m afraid to say with Clara as well…

    #13673
    janetteB @janetteb

    I think the problem, raised by Pond Life was that too much tension was being teased out of the Amy Rory relationship. Episodes like Amy’s Choice used the tension between them to advantage, the seperation did appear to be written in the for the sake of it. Amy’s explanation for why she left Rory goes a long way to compensate for that and I agree that AotD was a brilliant episode and the reconciliation did leave eyes here with that annoying water problem, however I did have a niggling feeling that enough had already been said about Rory and Amy and we didn’t need yet another reminder of the strenght of their relationship before AiM which really said it all.

    At times in the past the lack of development of sexual relations, ie between Ian and Barbara felt like a lost opportunity. (Well handled by @jimthefish in his blog story.) In AG Who it is at times overdone. The Doctor does not need to fall in love with every companion or have every companion fall in love with him. It worked with Rose but destroyed the character of Martha. The dynamic of Doctor/Amy/Rory worked very well.

    Not sure where I have ended up with this post and I don’t even have a decent Shiraz to blame it on.

    Cheers

    Janette

     

    #13678
    Anonymous @

    @janetteb

    The Doctor does not need to fall in love with every companion or have every companion fall in love with him.

    Thus, Donna Noble.

    #13693
    janetteB @janetteb

    @MadScientist72 and so to conclude we need more Donna Noble’s, or at least companions who are strong enough to be “mates” with the Doctor.  (There can only ever be the one Donna Noble.)

    Cheers

    Janette

     

    #13708
    PhaseShift @phaseshift
    Time Lord

    @jimthefish

    I’m not sure I’d agree with the assertion that the Pond divorce sub plot is unsatisfying. Its ‘suddenness’ is part of the point, I think. It’s sudden for the Doctor, and therefore the audience.

    I entirely agree with this. I was someone who lamented the fact that more wasn’t made of the Melody storyline in the second half of Series 6. Watching them back with knowledge of “Asylum” it struck me that may have been the point though. Amy and Rory aren’t really talking about a big issue, even as storylines that highlight parental estrangement from children (like “Night Terrors”) go on around them.

    There are many examples of a slight distance between them in Night Terrors, The Girl Who Waited and God Complex where Rory is seen to be more than willing not to follow Amy like a puppy as he did in the first half of the series. The brief glimpse of them in Closing Time sees Rory tailing his now famous wife laden down with bags.

    Moffat likes playing with the cause and effect of narrative. In Asylum you see the result and the reason, but when you rewatch you begin to suspect that some subtle clues that all was not well were laid down beforehand.

    Personally, I think the Doctor, Amy and Rory dynamic was a triumph. An involved story that rewards rewatches and contains a hell of a lot of subtlety.

    #13710
    Anonymous @

    Personally, I think the Doctor, Amy and Rory dynamic was a triumph. An involved story that rewards rewatches and contains a hell of a lot of subtlety.

    @phaseshift — agree whole-heartedly. I don’t think there’s been such a nuanced and, well, adult TARDIS dynamic before or since…

    #13826
    Nick @nick

    @htpbdet @jimthefish @phaseshift @janetteb @MadScientist72 @Shazzbot @bluesqueakpip @scaryb

    Fascinating discussion on the Amy/Rory relationship arc. It makes me sorry that I missed most of the subtly and nuances you describe, especially since the relationship arc left me with a bit of a sour taste at the end of the day.

    As a viewer who has seen each episode once (so far) and doesn’t go digging into the BBC website for the extras (let alone spending time on sites like these in any consistent way), should I conclude I’m watching the wrong show ? As HTBPDET commented elsewhere, I don’t expect the show to be made for me and take the bits I like with the bits I don’t (I’m not a F-ARSE after all ), but I’m not entirely convinced its a good idea to leave as this much apparently unsaid on screen.

    (Sorry, I cant find quite the right words to express myself properly here)

    Nick

    #13827
    Anonymous @

    @nick – I too followed that portion of this conversation and came to the conclusion you did.  Whilst intellectually I liked the ‘snapshot’ idea and the change of POV from companion to Doctor, emotionally it didn’t work so well for me.

    But then I started watching the show in 2005 so my expectation levels were set from the get-go on seeing the Doctor through the companion.  People who have been with the show since the very earliest incarnations of the Doctor don’t have that same expectation, perhaps.

    But the gaps in what we saw of Amy and Rory’s life made me feel distanced from them, and not so emotionally involved.  Which is maybe what Steven Moffat intended (at least toward the end of their run)?  Did SM want the audience to feel distanced from them because the Doctor was gradually growing away from them?  If so, that’s an interesting thing to do, but it lessened the impact of their final leaving for me.

    #13828
    Anonymous @

    @jimthefish – I just picked up on what you said on Friday which is pertinent to this weekend’s screening of Forest of the Dead:

    My test of a strong character has always been ‘do you believe that still exist after the camera moves away from them? Are they still walking and talking and dreaming and existing?

    Similar to how Joshua and Ellie feel in that last scene with Donna – they don’t exist when Mummy closes her eyes.  🙂

    #13830
    Nick @nick

    @Shazzbot

     I started watching the show in 2005 so my expectation levels were set from the get-go on seeing the Doctor through the companion

    I started in 1970/71 ish, so whilst I have different expectations in some or even many respects, this is isn’t one of them.

    I’m quite capable of believing that Mr Moffat’s conception of the Amy/Rory story is more complicated that it appears and that it should pay back a more detailed examination than it would on first sight, with hidden levels of subtly, but this much ?

    Nick

    #13833
    PhaseShift @phaseshift
    Time Lord

    @nick @shazzbot (mention to @jimthefish)

    should I conclude I’m watching the wrong show ?

    I think that’s only a conclusion you can make yourself. I do think it is a mistake IF (and this I’m posing as a question) you consider the level of analysis that goes on this site is somehow necessary to understand or get something from the relationship.

    That’s not true. I think there are plenty of casual viewers for who the relationships worked, just as there are some for which it didn’t. It is a different approach from what went beforehand but maybe that is a necessary trait for the show to ensure renewal and survival.

    For me the attraction was a big sprawling story that crossed decades in the case of Amy and Rory, and centuries in the case of the Doctor. It’s also full of things we have never seen before in the most mundane way. The first companion who is seen to engage with the Doctor as a child, the first married couple in the TARDIS, the first Child of that Union.

    These aspects were enough to get me engaged and rewatch this run probably more than is healthy, with the added attraction of the puzzle elements. Hence why I say rewatches are rewarding. That’s because people are puzzles to.

    Clara: “Then what are we? What can we possibly be?”
    The Doctor: “You are the only mystery worth solving.”

    So while some people say the divorce was just too sudden, from the perspective of a friend I think I’ve witnessed five couple break-ups. Two were noisy, boisterous affairs in which they became inevitable (and something of a relief). The other three came as a complete surprise. It’s only when you look back you begin to see “clues” that you should have spotted earlier that you could have picked up on. For me, that is quite an honest bit of storytelling if you approach it from that “friends” perspective.

    As @jimthefish said, I don’t think we’ve seen something like the Amy & Rory story before, and I don’t think it will happen again. The broad sweep of Series 7 has been the Doctors disengagement from his friends and seeing his new companion as a puzzle in the wrong way.

    If you didn’t have that engagement with them, I don’t think any amount of analysis will help you appreciate them more, but it may help you understand why I did.

    #13836
    Anonymous @

    @phaseshift – thanks for writing that, but it shouldn’t have been directed at me, just Nick.

    I realise where the confusion came from, though:  I was agreeing with Nick that I’d missed a lot of the subtlety and nuances when first watching the Amy/Rory episodes.  I was not agreeing with him about ‘watching the wrong show’.

    I let my distaste of Amy’s treatment of Rory – the constant put-downs, the condescending attitude, the witheringly dismissive tone of voice – overshadow my ability to objectively analyse the relationship in total.  Let’s just say that I’ve seen a few of those kinds of relationships in RL and they make me sad and angry in equal measure.  And, they never work out in the long run.

    You’re right – their arc embodied so many ‘firsts’ that for long-term watchers of the programme, it all was quite thrilling.  A newbie like me didn’t appreciate all of that.

    #13838
    Anonymous @

    @nick (and @phaseshift)

    I’m not sure that it’s as much a case that you’re watching the ‘wrong show’ as a ‘different show’ and I think that’s a fundamental aspect of Moffatt’s tenure as showrunner. It’s often the case that say each time you watch The Eleventh Hour, you are in fact watching a subtly different episode from the last time you watched it. Because you’re bringing some new piece of knowledge to it.

    Even RTD’s Who was more or less designed to be watched once. However, I get the impression that Moffatt on the other hand is working on the assumption of a time-shifted, site-visiting, DVD boxset-buying public. You can ‘get’ the Amy/Rory/Doc relationship by just what you see in any given episode, but there are also nuances and texture that you’ll only pick up on retrospective viewings of previous episodes, or by viewing extra content, such as webisodes. (Perhaps we’re also linking in to the discussion of padding v texture from the Weng Chiang thread here. A 45-min episode time doesn’t allow for the kind of character work that we see in old six-parters like Talons, so it has to be introduced in other, more subtle, ways.)

    Now, not every fan will want to pick up all these extra pieces but they are there for those that want to. And I do think it’s rather canny on Moffatt’s part. We consume our audio-visual fiction in much more nuanced ways these days and to create stories that can exist as single piece of Saturday night telly while simultaneously being part of a wider transmedia narrative for those that wish to seek it out is quite masterful, and possibly increasingly necessary in the modern media landscape.

    Over the past year, I’ve been as critical as anyone of how little new Who has been offered in anniversary year, but by the same token I don’t think any showrunner has ‘given’ so much to fans as Moffatt has. I suspect we’ll miss him for that when he goes.

    But, of course, some people (inexplicably) to my mind didn’t really take to the Ponds. I can understand to my mind how some (e.g. @Shazzbot) might think that Amy could seem a bit too mean to Rory early on but I suspect that being Scottish made me view that a bit differently. It’s just the way we tend to speak to each other a lot of the time…

    #13842
    Nick @nick

    @phaseshift

    In part answer to my question it would take more than this to stop me watching lol.

    I like your comment “The broad sweep of Series 7 has been the Doctors disengagement from his friends and seeing his new companion as a puzzle in the wrong way” and wonder whether this (and the series 5/6 story arc as well) will get some bigger linked explanation in the anniversary and Christmas specials. I rather hope so.

    To answer your specific question (and I’m sure others will have a different point of view) in the case of Amy/Rory, then it appears to me that you do need to have the level of analysis presented on sites like this to understand how it was meant to pull together. Left to my own devices (and I’m sure I haven’t noticed or paid enough attention to some lines of the script and haven’t seen the little extras on the web site) I saw nothing that said to me that the Amy/Rory stories played out over as much as 5 years of their lives (sorry they just don’t age from 20 some things to 50 some things suggesting ‘decades’ of their lives together having passed by over the stories we see).

    I may or may not come back to explaining just why this didn’t work for me on the level it did for you and debate particular points you raise above as I’d rather hope others will express their points of view first.

    Thanks

    Nick

    #13846
    Nick @nick

    @jimthefish

    I’m the first to accept that if you are taking in the whole multi-media watching several times etc perspective as you suggest its absolutely right that you should (and do I hope) get much more out of it than I do as a single time viewer. One of my pleasures is learning about the things I missed on places like here and evaluating others ideas and perceptions against my own. What I’m really complaining about here, is that it seems so much was left unseen and unsaid that it makes me wonder if I have watched the same show.

    My unwritten question here, is just what did the general audience think was happening ? (you know, the ones who don’t watch every episode shown and don’t consider themselves to be “fans” in the sense they drop into sites like this). This goes back to the point we have tangentially discussed elsewhere. The easiest way to ensure Who is put into back hiatus is to create something that you need to be a fan to get.

    Nick

    #13848
    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip

     I saw nothing that said to me that the Amy/Rory stories played out over as much as 5 years of their lives 

    @nick – yes, the big trouble with Moffat’s era for the more casual viewer is his deadly habit of putting important bits of information in one, repeat one, line.

    In fairness, the technique was set up in the Eleventh Hour. But you do also get that one line: it’s in The Power of Three. Amy mentions that they’re growing older faster than their friends (because of time spent travelling with the Doctor) and hazards a guess that it’s been ‘ten years’ for them.

    #13849
    ScaryB @scaryb

    Agree very much with @jimthefish and @phaseshift on the Ponds. They worked for me.  The outwardly feisty Amy who is so much stronger for having Rory at her back. I think they are both misunderstood sometimes.  Because Rory is happy just being around Amy it’s assumed he’s weak, when in fact he’s just been very clear and comfortable about who he is, from an early age. But try pushing him in a direction he doesn’t want to go, or threaten Amy/his family and watch him burn!

    Amy isn’t always meant to be likeable on screen, her first reaction is often defensive, but her heart’s in the right place. she’s a “nippy sweetie” as we say in these parts 😉

    And the whole experiment of a companion actually growing up with the Dr in her life (meta references anyone?), and how their releationship changes as she grows up and they get to know each other. The “pounce” made sense to me – she’s a gawky youngster, from a small village and she’s just re-met the mysterious man (who appears to be only a little older than she is) with the blue box that can take you anywhere/when that everyone told her wasn’t real!   It’s enough to turn any teenager’s head. But the point of it was that it wasn’t reciprocated and she grows out of it, and into real life instead.

    But sometimes with Dr Who you just don’t like or connect with the companions – eg I strongly disliked Mel and wasn’t daft on Peri – but there are other poeple who do rate them.

    This video probably won’t change anyone’s mind about the Ponds, but I came across it while looking for Tim Minchin’s Proms vid for another thread, and it’s a lovely tribute to Rory

    #13850
    Nick @nick

    @Shazzbot

    I let my distaste of Amy’s treatment of Rory – the constant put-downs, the condescending attitude, the witheringly dismissive tone of voice – overshadow my ability to objectively analyse the relationship in total

    I’m not sure why it should have this effect. If you cant believe in the relationship at the outset then how can you objectively consider the entirety to work as fiction for you ?. If you reject it as being something that just wouldn’t last in your point of view, then how can the entirety can have meaning. I like Amy/Rory/Doctor it doesn’t mean I like Amy or Rory individually in terms of how they’re written as characters. A bit counter-intuitive I know for me to argue the sum of the parts worked better than the individual elements.

    You’re right – their arc embodied so many ‘firsts’ that for long-term watchers of the programme, it all was quite thrilling.  A newbie like me didn’t appreciate all of that.

    I have to ask why you think that as a newbie it should be different for you. I’d guess 70 to 80 % of the audience is as much as a newbie as you are. I certainly don’t think your perspective is any better than mine as an oldie.

    Nick

    #13852
    PhaseShift @phaseshift
    Time Lord

    @nick @bluesqueakpip

    I saw nothing that said to me that the Amy/Rory stories played out over as much as 5 years of their lives

    Are we ignoring young Amelia in Eleventh Hour, or the retrospective views of Young Amelia and Young Rory in Let’s Kill Hitler or can the decades line stand? 😉

    #13853
    ScaryB @scaryb

    @nick

    I doubt the casual viewer who is only dipping in and out would get many details of anything! They could still watch and enjoy the show but it would be on a different level of understanding. But that applies to any long-running series.

    I don’t think it’s necessary to watch all the additional material to “get” the characters, but it does add to the fun. And as  @bluesqueakpip said Moffat recognises that SciFi fans in particular view things in different ways and formats these days. The interwebs etc suit Dr Who v well.

    But you’re also right, that for Dr Who to remain a flagship for the BBC then it has to also succeed in its broadcast timeslot.

    #13854
    ScaryB @scaryb

    I posted this in SitL thread the other day, but it’s worth repeating here, re Moff’s long term planning –

    This is a link to an interview with Moffat, from Aug 2011, where he says the intention for Amy and Rory to be River’s parents was there at least from the start of Amy’s character.

    #13855
    Anonymous @

    @nick

    The easiest way to ensure Who is put into back hiatus is to create something that you need to be a fan to get.

    Agree wholeheartedly. But I think Moffatt has been clever enough to avoid this trap. That’s why I think the average viewer can watch, say, The Power of Three as an invasion romp with no harm, no foul. But there are the other levels to those looking for them. As @bluesqueakpip says, it’s there in the line about them growing older faster than their friends, but also in the whole business with Amy’s glasses.

    Like I say, Who has almost become different shows, depending on the level of engagement that you’re bringing to it. And these different shows are running in parallel and are not really that dependent on each other. But it’s not that there’s some kind of superiority to those that take in the, erm, meta-textual levels. They’re just ‘extras’ and not knowing them doesn’t impair the ability to enjoy the core narrative.

    But the point you raise is a good one. Is the balance quite right? Did people fail to relate to the ‘vanilla’ version of Amy and Rory. I’d argue not and for this I will invoke the ‘Linda Lee’ defence. I don’t how much time she spent on the website or with her DVDs but she seemed to genuinely warm to Amy and Rory.

    I think it comes down to the fact that everyone just warms to some companions but not to others and that it’s largely down to personal preference and character. I loved Rose, was bored by Martha, liked Donna but loved Amy. Same as I loved Romana 2 but was not crazy about her first incarnation. It’s very much horses for courses, as they say.

    #13856
    Anonymous @

    @nick – yeah, when I said ‘relationship in total’ I guess I meant Amy & Rory & the Doctor and all of their adventures together, including the growing-up all 3 of them did during their time together.

    It just isn’t a healthy relationship in my PoV if one person feels the need to mask their ‘real feelings’ by constant, subtle or obvious put-downs of the other (even if they’re Scottish @jimthefish!).  But the overall relationship here was more than just Amy & Rory; as others have been debating here this afternoon, it’s how that relationship fit into the show as a whole, and how it allowed Steven Moffat to bring brand-new concepts into his time as show-runner.

    #13857
    Nick @nick

    @bluesqueakpip

    Thanks. I’m beginning to appreciate the one line part (as I said I guessed there were things I’d completely missed). However, the

    “Amy mentions that they’re growing older faster than their friends (because of time spent travelling with the Doctor) and hazards a guess that it’s been ‘ten years’ for them”

    is counter-intuitive for me. Growing slower than their friends makes sense, not older. To me it implies they spend 10 years personal time in the Tardis and reenter their Earth time line after only two years (say) has passed by. Apart from the where the hell have you been for two years type questions from their friends, just when do they spend that much time travelling.

    In the first series (or was it the second ?), Rose returns home after one year real time has elapsed after her disappearance, but after only a short time travelling for her. This is surely more realistic ?

    Thanks

    Nick

    #13858
    Nick @nick

    @scaryb

    Thanks. I hadn’t seen that (of course) but it does tie in with what I considered to be true anyway in that both RTD and SM had roughed out at least three of four years of the show from the outset. I firmly believe that SM has been moving towards the anniversary/christmas climax for Doctor 11 for 2 or 3 years already.

    Nick

    #13860
    Anonymous @

    @jimthefish“I loved Rose, was bored by Martha, liked Donna but loved Amy.”

    Interestingly, I loved Rose, was bored by Martha, loved-loved-loved Donna, and liked Amy.  🙂

    I’ve been coming down hard on Amy today but I thought her first few episodes were brilliant.  The way she steered the Doctor back on-track at the end of Beast Below and the Churchill/Dalek episode made me like her very much – I thought, here’s someone like Rose, who can step in and do the right thing when the Doctor is about to do the wrong thing.  An instinct for keeping the Doctor away from the worst of himself is exactly what a companion should be there for.

    But then (as has been discussed to death) we got into the dynamics of her relationship with Rory and it went a bit wrong for me.  Sure, in Amy’s Choice she was ready to commit suicide rather than live in a world without Rory – but that’s exactly the kind of fictional character choice that didn’t ring true to me, based on how up til then she’d treated him publicly.  It rings of untruth to think that a really deep, true love can ever underpin repeated withering put-downs.

    #13862
    ScaryB @scaryb

    @nick

    What if you spend, say a few months on an adventure with the Dr – eg IA/ToA was set over several months. Then the TARDIS drops you back in your own life  5 minutes after you left?  You’re 6 months older, but your friends are still on the same glass of wine they were drinking when you left.

    I thought Power of Three illustrated exactly this very well, and not just in that one line.  The crash/bang/wallop montage of  “life with the Dr” (with several stories flashed into a few seconds). Then real life as the Ponds return to gone-off yoghurt in the fridge and the pleasant mundanity of life in the slow lane.  Skipping out mid-party cos the Dr calls etc.

    But it also throws up the different effect/consequences of being a time traveller depending if you’re human or time lord.

    #13863
    ScaryB @scaryb

    Amendment to last post –

    “eg IA/ToA was set over several months”

    should be IA/Day of the Moon

    😳

    #13864
    Nick @nick

    @scaryb @jimthefish

    your Casual viewers and balance right comments

    Without a poll of some audience appreciation analysis, we’ll never know which side of the hypothetical line the “truth” lies. You may well be right that it doesn’t matter to the show as a whole, but I think that if the more casual part of the audience, whether its someone who is a fan like me or not, doesn’t pick up on the basics of what you are trying to do with the characters you have to consider that you have failed to get your concept across as a writer surely ? 

    Nick

    #13865
    Nick @nick

    @bluesqueakpip @scaryb

    Apologies. I mis-read the original comment to be friends getting older quicker rather than the other way round. I absolutely agree with your comment ScaryB although I still don’t see anything that necessarily demands really extended periods travelling (months/years) to add up to the “10 years” though. As I pointed out before, if SM really wanted to show something like that, then they really needed to add some aging into the make-up mix.

    The ability to drop a Companion back into their life is, I think, perhaps the biggest conceptual difference between AG and BG. In BG, the Doctor’s control of the Tardis was almost non-existent which is why the AG narrative of dropping Companions back into their lives periodically didn’t occur back then.

    By the way, I think BG concept worked better the Doctor randomly dropped into a situation where there was an issue to solve (and of course the off-screen adventure in between were holidays if you like). In the AG narrative you almost have to ask just why the Doctor arrives at the right place at the right time given he can pilot the Tardis pretty much wherever he likes. That is another discussion though :).

    Nick

    #13866
    ScaryB @scaryb

    Final thoughts on the Ponds for now

    Amy and Rory’s relationship has been shaped since they were very young. Rory’s always tagged along, Amy’s no 1 fan. He met her when he was a child and was bowled over by her.  He’s not conventionally ambitious or conforming eg his choice to become a nurse – and we see several times that his natural inclination is to care for people. His character reinforces the strength of a non-aggression philosophy which the Dr himself personifies.

    Amy is the balance to Rory’s quietness.  She’s restless, and unsure of herself. She’s told throughout her childhood that her imaginary friend isn’t real. Rory is the only one who believes in her.  She gets  used to her no 1 fan always being around. But she also worries that she isn’t worthy of him, and that it’s her fault if they get into pickles with the Dr.  But her instincts are rock-solid eg her reaction to the Star Whale. And she knows Rory is gold.

    Their reaction to losing River as a baby isn’t wholly convincing for me, but there again Amy hardly had time to even know she was pregnant, and she does know her baby survived.  The divorce on the other hand was shocking, but believable. Long established couple, who have been through unique experiences – they’ll talk about many things, ,but not the “elephant in the room” – their infertility, because that’s the bit with Amy’s huge guilt – it’s her fault, she brought the Dr into their lives.

    But as I said above, and others have also made the same point, you don’t have to like them. If a character doesn’t work for you, they don’t work.  Wait for the next one!

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