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Op-Ed: Maybe DOCTOR WHO’s Next Companion Should Be Not of This Earth

Op-Ed: Maybe DOCTOR WHO’s Next Companion Should Be Not of This Earth

So. This season of BBC’s Doctor Who has been a polarizing one, even for us self-proclaimed Whovians. The series’ tone has changed dramatically with the arrival of Peter Capaldi — a man who is quite capable at being the Doctor. To say nothing of the incredibly positive leaps forward the series has taken on a production and directorial level. (It’s so shiny and polished now!) But still — something doesn’t seem quite right. The Doctor and Clara, these stories they’re telling, have not found a balance in the new Doctor’s innate alienness and newly darkened attitude. But maybe the problem isn’t that this Doctor is too alien for this world — maybe it’s that his world is too earthly for him. Maybe he’s outgrown it, and needs to be untethered for awhile. In order to grow up and move on to bigger and better ideas, maybe the burgeoning human race atop Earth over here needs to gestate for a bit on its own, without help from the Doctor. And maybe the best way to do that is to make is next companion not of our planet, either.

It’s no secret that this season of Doctor Who is likely to be its last for Jenna Coleman and Clara. And maybe that’s for the best. The writing this season has been uninspired at best, and Clara’s character has suffered a bit because of it. Once a very strong, competent, independent woman, she is far less than that in these most recent episodes. At times it feels as though the Doctor — or, mayhaps, the writers — are tired of the dynamic and don’t know what to do with her.

So how do you do that? Rethink the formula.

The need for change felt particularly evidenced in the wholly petulant attitude of the Doctor in “Kill the Moon” (which is a whole ‘nother story for another day). Though an episode I found, overall, to be slightly problematic — jeez was the over-the-top abortion allegory really necessary? — the Doctor honed in on one particular sentiment I agree with: humanity has a tendency to be very selfish in its machinations. And so, too, are the viewers of Doctor Who (I mean, sometimes. It happens to all fandoms). The audience needs to be able to relate to the Doctor’s earthly companion, represented on-screen by their metaphorical stand-in, sure.

But is it really necessary, what with the enormity of time and space out there in the whole of the known universe, to keep plucking upstanding ladies of Earth to be taken into his jaunty blue box? Humans have, apparently, spread across the galaxies and the stars. Why not, then, look forward at an alternative human reality? One where, say, a companion from a distant planet, far off in the future, comes in all ghost-of-Christmas-future-y and gives the Doctor someone a bit more outsider-y to push and pull against? All it leaves for the series is, well, endless possibility.

And it just might be what the series needs to help this current Doctor’s iteration find his flow. If we’re leaning into Twelve’s inherent weirdness and utter alien attitude towards mushy-brained humans of Earth, giving the Doctor a human companion not of this earth will buck with his conventional wisdom of the limits of humanity. As it stands, the Doctor finds humans to be idiot mush-brains — not exactly the most charming sentiment, but not wholly without some merit. If the point of this season is so establish and grow Capaldi’s Doctor into his own thing, he must be challenged rather than obligated.

As it stands, the Doctor has been traveling with earthly humans for thousands of years. He has taken for granted humanity’s ability to change and evolve. By replacing his companion with someone outside the Earth’s purview, not only will the Doctor see a different side of people, but so will the audience. The audience, in turn, will be able to see, say, the cautionary tales of our hypothetical future. OR, better yet, they’ll see just how capable and good we all can be, and perhaps inspire the Doctor (and its viewers) to open up their minds a bit.

To say nothing of the fact that, well, it would just be really fun. The possibilities — and the companion’s abilities — would be essentially limitless: these are hypothetical future beings we’re talking about. Not the human of now, but one that is a product of many, many more generational evolutions. In those stories, the series can explore how well humans have or have not grown since their earthly days. With a non-earth human companion, the mental capacity could be expanded (or, heck, maybe on one planet it has wholly regressed: these ideas are free, Steven Moffat. And you’re welcome). And the gadgetry upgraded. Not that this will make them unrelatable — far from it. After all, the more things change, the more they stay the same sometimes, right? Surely the at-times lesson-y nature of Whovian storytelling would be able to understand, appreciate, and convey that, should they want.

Think about it, is all we’re saying. It could bring a whole new outlook and life to the series’ currently stale-seeming ways — and force the humans who watch it to look and think beyond themselves. It’s a whole big universe out there — why not really, truly explore it a little?


For more on who should replace Jenna Louise Coleman, check out Dan Casey’s thoughts on The Dan Cave!

Images: BBC

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Comments

  1. James says:

    Really good companion would be Doctor’s daughter,she’s time lord so she could not be afraid of dead(she has 12 more lifes),and she’s his daughter so she could has only father-daughter relatonship with him(evry single Doctor’s female companition felt in love with him and I think Doctor is always pissed of by it).it would be nice to see Doctor and his daughter traveling around the space only with close friendshi.(she isn’t only sexy and smart she’s also super-solider badass who quit fighting, and decide to use only non-violend methods how fight bad alliens.Completly like her father!

  2. splash1326 says:

    Several years ago there was an episode where DNA was taken from the Doctor creating his Daughter. I for one would like to see this story arc developed with his daughter as his new companion.

  3. Mike says:

    Also, it needs a new writer. I’m sorry, Moffit has written some amazing episodes, some of which are my favorites.  But this new season and it’s stories are the absolute worst.

  4. Time to bring back the well established Timelady Romana in her new 3rd incarnation as the perfect equal female equivalent companion to the doctor, which could even possibly lead into her own show to replace The Sarah Jane Adventures. No need for a female doctor then.

  5. HerbFlynn says:

    But if you look at the history of the show, there has been more Earth (or Earth Colony) companions than Aliens – Lelia was season 14 – the first non-Earth companion. But by season 22 the Doctor was back to having Earth companions with runs to present series.

  6. Timothy Fosseen says:

    I would love to see how Jack ends up becoming The Face of Boe

  7. Kev says:

    Bring back his daughter Jennie as a companion.

  8. Kev says:

    Bring back the Doctors daughter.  She’s almost a time lord and it was great when Romana was around.  Jennie would be able to care for him and straighten him out.

  9. Timkins says:

    “The writing this season has been uninspired at best, and Clara’s character has suffered a bit because of it. Once a very strong, competent, independent woman, she is far less than that in these most recent episodes. At times it feels as though the Doctor — or, mayhaps, the writers — are tired of the dynamic and don’t know what to do with her.”

    What… show have you been watching in your head? No, really. REALLY. Because the above quote has no relation to a series which has given us “Deep Breath”, “Listen”, “The Caretaker”, or “Kill the Moon”. None whatsoever. And charming of you to conclude so readily (your ropey conclusion) when the series has only just passed its half-way point…

  10. Timkins says:

    “The writing this season has been uninspired at best, and Clara’s character has suffered a bit because of it. Once a very strong, competent, independent woman, she is far less than that in these most recent episodes. At times it feels as though the Doctor — or, mayhaps, the writers — are tired of the dynamic and don’t know what to do with her.”

    What… show have you been watching in your head? No, really. REALLY. Because the above quote has no relation to a series which has given us “Deep Breath”, “Listen”, “The Caretaker”, or “Kill the Moon”. None whatsoever. And charming of you to conclude so readily (your ropey conclusion) when the series has only just passed its half-way point…

  11. Timkins says:

    “The writing this season has been uninspired at best, and Clara’s character has suffered a bit because of it. Once a very strong, competent, independent woman, she is far less than that in these most recent episodes. At times it feels as though the Doctor — or, mayhaps, the writers — are tired of the dynamic and don’t know what to do with her.”
    What… show have you been watching in your head? No, really. REALLY. Because the above quote has no relation to a series which has given us “Deep Breath”, “Listen”, “The Caretaker”, or “Kill the Moon”. None whatsoever. And charming of you to conclude so readily (your ropey conclusion) when the series has only just passed its half-way point…

  12. favcamel says:

    If something happens with/to Danny Pink in the series 8 finale that deems him “good enough for Clara” and The Doctor changed his mind slightly about soldiers…I think Journey Blue would be the perfect sequel to that dynamic and help move away from a present-day Earth companion deal.

  13. Just as long as Clara is gone as soon as possible

  14. Marjorie says:

    And what about his daughter. He may not know that she did regenerate and is alive. 

  15. Yes but to set it up the way they did and then to just shelve it completely just doesn’t make any sense at all, I’m cool with waiting for it but it kinda pisses me off that they set it up the way they did and then farted out a season with a few mentions of “heaven” and Clara’s painful attempt at romance as the only thing resembling a plot. Capaldi’s performance and strad are literally the only reasons the show is worth watching anymore and if it doesn’t pick up by the end of this season a lot of people are going to just drop the show, myself included

  16. When has the doctor ever been misogynistic? I could see it in the old series when that was a bit more acceptable, but since Eccleston he has only ever lectured them on something stupid that they did or berating the human race as a whole

  17. E says:

    Yes, let’s shut women out the TARDIS completely. ???

    I loved Jamie as a companion but hated the boys’ club atmosphere. Right now a male companion HAS to be second string to maintain any semblance of balance. Get a lady Doctor and that ceases to be true. Also, there’s nothing that says there HAS to be a romance just because we have a male and a female. We can have platonic friendship between the sexes, and we can have romance within them; having a male companion is only a very small-minded way of ‘solving’ the excess of romance.

    Also, the Doctor has been equally condescending and show-offy to both sexes, at least pre-Moffat, and pre-1996 there was NO hint of romantic potential. And why does a woman traveling with an older man have to have either ‘daddy issues’ or romantic designs? I’d jump in that TARDIS in a second, and it has NOTHING to do with the Doctor’s age, gender, or appearance.

  18. Hello says:

    Clara pops up all over the place in different guise’s because she inserted herself into The Doctor’s timeline to save his life at some point last season.

  19. Celia Moore says:

    Let’s start by saying this is MY opinion, I am not speaking for others the way you Brian seem to be. Not sure the Doctor has to be ‘soft for us’ he didn’t start that way and the stories were good when he was unfettered by human emotions. He made you think and look at things less emotionally and more logically; have modern viewers lost the ability to become objective and need to have a ‘love interest’ or a simpering Doctor. This regeneration to me is closest to a ‘proper’ Doctor and he has endeared himself to me and from what I’ve read elsewhere to millions like me. He doesn’t need re-suiting or rebooting but he does need a new companion and preferably one who travels with him all the time and doesn’t need to return to Earth after each adventure.

  20. Timothy Fosseen says:

    That would be E Space

  21. Joeldi says:

    Glad I wasn’t the only one that despised Kill the Moon for that reason above all else.

  22. David says:

    Romana I and II, Adric, Nyssa, Leela (though of human stock, not of Earth), K-9….the Doctor has had many no-terrestrial companions. I think someone needs to study their Dr. Who history…