“When you wake up, you’ll have a Mum and Dad.”
-The Doctor, Big Bang Two
One of the elements that Russell T. David bought to the show in the reboot was the companions’ family, which are used to ground the character in reality and show us more about the character by showing us the nature and nurture elements that made the companions who they are.
Rose was raised by a single mother. They were poor, but Jackie did her best for her daughter, standing up to the strange man who abducted her, putting herself in danger to protect her and most impressive, letting her do the right thing even though it goes against what Jackie wants and her instinct to protect her baby girl.
Rose’s father died when she was very young, but through the magic of the TARDIS, we get to meet Pete Tyler. Pete is likable and gave his life up to save his wife, child and world despite failing as a husband, father and man in other areas.
To be honest, I never warmed to Pete Tyler from the alternate world (hereby known as Pete 2.) He was not a father and did not seem willing to take on that role until Doomsday when he saved her but considering he didn’t return with Jackie and Mickey in Journey’s End, I feel that really had more to do with Jackie giving him an ear full. He just lacked what made Pete 1 a good man.
Her parents are perfectly crafted to see why Rose is how she is through both nature and nurture.
When Pete was alive, Jackie needed to be constantly yanking on his lead to keep him from wasting money on crazy schemes, to keep him from cheating with every other woman who even glances at him and knock sense in to him. Because of that, Jackie’s view of men was that they were on good-for-nothing animals that have to be controlled, something that without a strong male role model to counterbalance this, she imprinted on to her daughter. That is part of the reason the Doctor amazed her so much. “He’s not a boyfriend, he’s better than that.” (The Christmas Invasion.)
But Pete wasn’t completely useless. Although he wasn’t always moral when it came to getting his leg over, he had a strong sense of right and wrong, a sense of adventure and an open mind when it came to things that are possible in the Whoniverse. These are three qualities that Rose did not get from her mother.
Martha’s mother is shown as a villain for most of the series, working with some shady seeming people poisoning her against The Doctor. She is not doing this to get the Doctor, but her love for her daughter is being used against her. She is a pawn in the Master’s game, trying to protect her daughter but ultimately working against that. Francine gets her redemption by not killing the Master.
Martha’s father had far less screen time than her mother. We first see Clive siding with his young gold digging girlfriend over his aggressive ex-wife in the fight that ruined his only son’s 21st birthday. It’s a quick flash of the family but it shows a lot about Clive. He is a man in a mid-life crisis trying to have fun now that he’s free from Francine’s iron fist and being taken for a fool by this other woman. I had very little sympathy with him but when it comes time for him to play his part in the Master’s plan, he warns Martha, even though he is very clearly putting himself at risk. He, like Pete before him, is willing to give his life to protect his family.
Donna’s mother is also a very dominating woman. She loves her daughter and wants what’s best for her but instead of encouraging her, the way The Doctor does, Sylvia is constantly nagging at her in order for Donna to improve her life. Sylvia was never really given a chance to shine like the other mothers but we saw her potential in how quick and resourceful she was to save her father from ATMOS.
Donna’s father, Geoff, died between The Runaway Bride at Christmas 2006 and season 4 in 2008. Geoff was meant to be in season 4 as Donna’s ally under Sylvia’s iron first, however the actor Howard Attfield passed away in early production so Wilfred Mott was re-modelled from the extremely minor character in The Voyage of The Damned to Geoff’s role as Donna’s grandfather and the other side of the generation gap.
Geoff and Sylvia Noble were meant to be together and that would have made them the first only parents-of-a-companion to be together during Russell T. Davis’ era.
…Except they wouldn’t have been.
Jackie and Pete 2 were paired up at the end of Doomsday. There are cultural and social differences that make them different people. They can’t just replace the dead spouse like nothing and it never come up again or cause problems later in the relationship. It’s implied they are still together in Journey’s End but I don’t buy it. Pete 2 didn’t join Jackie and Mickey. Surely they could afford a babysitter so Pete 2 can come and save his daughter? I don’t see him ever accepting Rose as his and rescued her in Doomsday because Jackie told him to and I don’t see Jackie/Pete 2 lasting.
And they aren’t the only parents hurried stuck back together at the end of the season. It is heavily implied Clive and Francine got back together by how Clive talks about protecting his family in The Last of the Timelords? Stockolm syndrome! Yes, it may be the Master who has them prisoner but they are prisoners together and there is that strong traumatic bond.
They are not working over the issues that went wrong in their marriage that led to the divorce. They will still be there. Clive and Francine along with daughter Tish were left traumatised by the year that never was with Martha, implying lasting affects when she returned in season 4. If those two have rekindled their relationship, it’s probably not all that healthy or won’t stand the test of time.
For Martha, her parent’s divorce, or rather it’s dramatic aftermath, was why she needed the escapism of The Doctor’s lifestyle. It was not a childish “I want them to be back together because” but because all members of the family was relying on her and no one was looking out for her because they expected her to keep it all together.
A better ending would be for her family to see how much they are hurting Martha, for them to find a better way to deal with their issues rather than screaming in the street and putting everything on Martha’s shoulders. Having three fifths of the family scarred is not how families should solve their problems.
With divorce as common as it is today, teaching kids that their parents will magically get back together at the end of the season is a bad idea.
The annoying thing is, in The Sarah Jane Adventures, RTD does this story right. He has Maria dealing with her parents divorce but through character development she accepts it and the show doesn’t just stick her parents back together at the end of Maria’s arc because…that’s what happy endings look like.