Archive for Bumble Toes

The Russell T. Davies Parent Trap

“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.

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.  (For my opinions on killing the Master, see He Was So Good To My Father.)

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 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.

…Unless you count Jackie and Pete 2 getting together in Doomsday.

What?

That would never work.  There are the cultural and social differences that make them different people.  Unlike the metacrisis, they do not share a past, even if it’s just memories for one.  Oh, it’s implied they are still together in Journey’s End but Pete 2 didn’t join Jackie and Mickey: well clearly that’s not a happy marriage.  Maybe they got a divorce like the Jones.

What?

Is it 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, the divorce is the driving factor why she went with the Doctor but it is not because she wants her parents to get back together and everything to be as it was before, but because of the stress it caused: everyone got upset, it ruined her brother’s 21st birthday and Martha was the stone that everyone leaned on.  It was the stress of these two forces bashing their heads together and the shockwaves it let off that drove Martha away.  If this had to be fixed, it would be by these two getting over each other, not back together or scarred for life.

For Rose, her parents are so perfectly crafted in being the nature and nurture that this girl comes from.  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.

Yes it was sad when Pete died because if (i) “OMG! Pete!  But are so awesome” and (ii) “Rose’s dad is dying.  I have so much feels for her.  Come here so I can hug you” but not because of “NOOO!  My Pete/Jackie ship is sinking.  DAVIES!!!”  Whether or not Pete 2 and Jackie makes sense and/or works, this was not a ‘ship people was rallying for, well maybe when they were put in the same room together and sparks just flew with two great actors giving an incredible romantic, sad and funny performance, but that’s not the point.

The point is, this was another quick-fix relationship that didn’t need fixing and only works because the plot requires sticking the Rose’s supporting cast behind the wall with her so they don’t leak out over the rest of the series which didn’t really work out.  Again, if Jackie needed an happy ending, why with the copy of the husband that died almost two decades ago.  It would be more interesting to see Jackie hook up with someone – say Howard, the fruit guy she was seeing during The Christmas Invasion – and how that relationship plays out over season 2 with Howard meeting Rose, The Doctor and less friendly aliens.

I am not against happiness or romance but I don’t like these quick-fix romances that Russell T. Davies kept doing.  I don’t see it as a happy ending to magic away or ignore problems.  I see it as a happy ending to work through problems or move on.  I also think that the quick-fix of reuniting parents is a really bad message: Being raised by a single parent, be it through the couple splitting up or a parent dying is more normal than the traditional nuclear family now-a-days.  There is nothing wrong with that but still Russell T. Davies is trying to fix it.

The really annoying thing is that I know he can do better.  In the Sarah Jane Adventures, he had Maria’s parent’s divorce and the fourteen year old girl taking it badly but the parents didn’t get back together.  They moved on be it to someone else or somewhere else.  Maria learnt to accept that her parents weren’t getting back together and this was the spin-off for children.

Love After The Doctor

“Well… there was this one guy. I traveled with him for a while. But he was a tough act to follow.”
- Sarah-Jane Smith, School Reunion

With this quote, Russell T. Davis points out why he shouldn’t have made The Doctor a romantic hero.  From Mickey Smith to Rory Williams, nu-Who always had the competition for the companion’s attention, attractive men with decent qualities of their own, but did they stand a chance when The Doctor were ruining all other men for these women?

Sarah-Jane herself, had one canon relationship in her spin-off show.  That storyline opened with the kid companions tracking her on a date because they were freaking out by her ‘strange behaviour’ lately.  This shows that Sarah Jane has pretty much given up on love after The Doctor but the quote implies that she has seen other men between Doctor 4 and Doctor 10 and none of them interested her.

I don’t really have a problem with Sarah-Jane not being boy-crazy as she’s not fourteen years old and she was the feminist companion but then she goes all giggly and bashful when Captain Jack ‘says Hello’ in Journey’s End.  What?  Is she fourteen?

Likewise, Rose seemed to close herself off to love, determined to get back to The Doctor.  On one hand, I hate Rose’s return as it’s re-finishing a storyline that is finished already.  Doctor Who is not about The Doctor and Rose Tyler and with Davis, it really just making all episodes without Rose filler.  On the other, this is an incredible young woman knowing what she wants and through impossible odds she gets it.  Well a duplicate of it with half the hearts and some Donna Noble throwing in to the mix but it was close enough for her.

Martha Jones is a woman who tracked down the deliciously handsome and heroic Doctor Tom Millican who is good with children and does relief work after the year that never happened and within half a year they are engaged, the relationship lasting at least a year after Martha calls him in the hospital and then we next see her married to Mickey Smith.

Wait, what?

Well …because both Martha and Mickey change and grew through their experiences with The Doctor they were the better suited couple while Tom seems lacking the same way Sarah-Jane found other suitors lacking before she gave up on love.  So one could argue that The Doctor ruined normal life for her: she wanted it but she was working with UNIT and when on to freelance rather than strictly training in medicine so even in normal life she still yearned for what she had with The Doctor.  Likewise Donna Noble rejected The Doctor’s offer of time and space and then spent a year searching for him after just a taster of what his life had to offer and she had no romantic attachment to The Doctor whatsoever.

When it comes down to it, experiences changes people and traveling with The Doctor would be quite an experience. We’ve seen characters that change just because their lives were touched by The Doctor: Harriet Jones, Craig Owens, Sally Sparrow, Amy’s friend Jeff, Lady Catherine de Souza and the members of LINDA.  The experience made them see the same things at a different angle and that will apply to what they look for in a partner and their relationship.  It’s not all about love.  Love is just a part of it.

Love is a powerful story telling tool but the stories of Sarah-Jane’s return and Martha could be told without the romance.  At least with Sarah-Jane it’s undertones to appease the shippers but Martha’s story could have been so much stronger if her story wasn’t mutually conclusive with a love story.

It does make sense that Martha was ‘the rebound companion’ as she was always good, but finding that self-belief that one could argue she had in Smith and Jones and The Doctor’s been chipping away at since making her feel second best.  However having her interest over The Doctor and jealously over Rose be romantic it makes Martha slightly petty.  When Donna meets Martha, Donna sees how good this young woman is and ups her game, not competition with Martha but to earn her place on the TARDIS which she does in one act.  Having a series with Martha trying to prove that she is worth that ‘one more trip’ and make that a more stable position on the TARDIS would be far more interesting, speaking to anyone who ever felt ‘not good enough.’

I hope with the new companion we see new interesting character arcs being explored and experiences change her without it been driven by romance.  It’s not needed, it’s been done more than once and rather than building up a doomed romance they can put in fresh plot and character moments.

Lucy Saxon: But He Was So Good To My Father

“There was a time when we first met, I wondered… 
But he was so good to my father.”

Lucy Saxon
“Sound of the Drums”

 

For me, this short and rather simple statement doesn’t just sum up Lucy Saxon in a nutshell but is possibly the scariest line in all of nuWho.  This was the line where it was revealed that this seemingly normal woman was The Master’s wife, not Harold Saxon’s wife, but The Master’s loving and faithful wife.  She knows what he is doing and is supportive of his evil deeds.  In the following episode, The Last of the Timelords set one year later, we see Lucy disillusioned by The Master, abused and driven to murder him but during most of that episode Lucy plays the role of wife, not out of love or loyally but fear.

Knowing The Master is a baddie, even the children of the audience can tell that Lucy has been fooled.  The line “but he was so good to my father,” shows us the ‘in’ The Master used to get Lucy’s loyalty, but what really scared me, was the ‘was’: past tense.  “He was so good to my father.”  Instantly I assume The Master killed his father-in-law and Lucy is oblivious.  It is logical.  By putting Lucy in the weakened state such grieving for her father, he can comfort her, stepping in to hole her father left in heart and the power vacuum he held over her.

This different approach to how a timelord can treat a human companion is hit upon in the show, going as far as The Master calling that more than once.  This, however, isn’t to compare Lucy with a companion but make Lucy just a tool in comparing The Doctor and The Master.  I can see the point story wise: this is the first time that The Master has been in nuWho and a large amount of the audience will need this and for a tool, she was given plenty of personality.  Even if scenes where Lucy is just in the background, and they are plenty of those, Alexandra Moen is acting her heart out and with Lucy being the one to shoot The Master, it’s important to the plot.

Saying that, there isn’t much of a comparison between Lucy and the companion, while there was plenty of material for it.  Even though this two-parter is meant to be another step in the epic battle between hero and arch nemesis, The Last of the Timelords feels more Martha Jones versus The Master.  She is solo, becoming a legend by standing against The Master.  She shows intelligence, kindness, resourcefulness and a moral compass in the battle to save her family, her world from The Master and the toclafane.  This is her story, The Doctor saving the day is like playing Super Mario and then Princess Peach takes down Bowser in the final boss battle, but one article at a time.

The only direct comparison between Martha and Lucy is the shooting of The Master.  Martha laughs at the notion and The Doctor says “As if I would ask her to kill,” while Lucy does it.  While he is hardly innocent, The Master has been caught and The Doctor decided he would take responsibility for him when Lucy shoots him: hardly self defence.

A better comparison for Lucy would be Rose Tyler, the previous companion and the one The Doctor is still pining over.  The Master and his companion’s dysfunctional relationship, the prevertation of timelord/human relations is really the best argument Russell T Davis made against getting The Doctor and Rose together and he never used it.

 

Looking at Lucy as a companion: her love for her father, her loyalty, trying to save Vivien Rook by asking her to leave, doing what she needed to survive on the Valiant, acceptance of aliens, desire to travel through time and space and a sense of fun, it strikes me that if she met The Doctor first, she could be a great companion as he nurtures these qualities like he nurtured Rose and Donna’s good qualities.

 

This is where I become conflicted about the image Lucy Saxon gives off.  She is the embodiment of a weak woman but she is written this way.  Although we are allowed to understand and sympathise with Lucy, never allowed to be on her side.  Even when she kills villain of the two-parter, she’s shown to be wrong.  Lucy is not a role model but a cautionary tale.  If people make certain choices, they could end up like Lucy or if they make the right choices they could end up like the companion – however debatable a role model they may be in reality, they are a role model the writers are expecting us to look up to.  I think it’s good that not every character is a role model.  If they are then they become less of role models and a grantee that will disappoint.  Children should know that they can be brilliant but they need know they will have to work at it.

 

And that’s where the conflict comes in.  Martha is putting in the effort to be worthy of a role model status and Lucy, the manipulated in to the embodiment of a weak woman but that’s not what align them to their sides in the episode’s conflict.  It’s the men they fall in love with.  I like to believe Martha is ‘fighting’ more for her family, her race, her planet in the year that never was, but the fact remains that she fell in love with The Doctor when she first met him.

 

If the Master had met a companion first, could he corrupt them like Lucy could be nurtured by The Doctor?  Certainly in nuWho.  He could use Rose’s unresolved daddy issues. He did use Martha’s family against her.  All he had to do was make Donna a cup of poison and she’ll nag him in to marrying her.  Amy has her abandonment issues, even at seven. The Master was ‘always hypnotic’ and with the Arc-Angel Network tap-tap-tap-tapping away in their heads, would our companions stand any more of a chance than Lucy?  So the two timelords become more than the moral symbols for the companions to rally behind, they are chess masters and the companions are their pieces:  two men who basically claim (usually) women to be instruments of good or weapons of evil.

 

However this two-parter was not the end for Lucy Saxon.  She was bought back in End of Time as a plot device in The Master’s return.  So no improvement there.  Since The Last of the Timelords she been in prison although no one knows she killed ‘Harold Saxon’ but considering the rest of the plot I’m willing to forgive this plothole.  The Doctor did nothing to help her after what The Master done to her, and if he didn’t seem so surprise I wouldn’t put him past him putting her there.  Although Lucy seems a stronger character, fighting back against The Master, all her used to the plot was ‘The Widow’s Kiss’ which shows another level of abuse The Master used her for (and possibly made him blond) and the ‘magic potion’ to kill The Master again which (i) she admits is through family connections so it’s not really her being resourceful, (ii) not just doesn’t kill him but gives him super powers and (iii) gets herself killed failing.  That covers up that loose end before the hand over.

 

As much as I love Wilf, I would love to see Lucy Saxon as a companion for The End of Time.  Both Doctor and companion will have a personal vendetta against the main villain with enough differences to conflict over while working together.  With Lucy’s drive for revenge it gives The Doctor a real reason to take on a companion after rejecting Lady Catherine in Planet of the Dead, looking after her and trying to control her, just like The Master, leading to interesting character development for both and actually dealing with his Timelord Vicious issues that seemed to be dropped because he cried over a cuppa.  The subject of them being married could lead to The Doctor really opening up about his feelings over Rose.

 

It gives us a different kind of companion: someone who isn’t out to see the stars but someone on a mission, someone The Doctor doesn’t trust, someone he has didn’t save.  This could have been a far stronger emotionally driven episode to give Tennant’s Doctor a chance to get over his angst with Lucy bringing out both his worse and his best and giving Lucy Saxon a chance to redeem herself as something other than a victim and a tool to the plot.  An equal.

 

And give Lucy a chance to say those words with understanding in her voice:

 

“There was a time when we first met, I wondered… 
But he was so good to my father”

Not Just A Nurse

Being part of the Whoiverse on Twitter, I have noticed a lot of Rory role players tend to make Rory a doctor rather than a nurse.  I have seen far weirder and extreme breaches to canon but this one really irks me.  The implication of a nurse not being good enough; be it for the player or for the character himself.

The job ‘nurse’ sums up Rory’s character and his relationship with The Doctor rather neatly.  A nurse’s role is different than a doctor’s.  They are in the care profession, not medical.  They are more patient orientated than problem orientated: in The Doctor’s Wife it was Rory comforting the dying Sexy  while The Doctor focus on the threat of the episode.  They apply aid on behalf the doctors: in A Good Man Goes To War it’s Rory that blows up the cybermen fleet as a ‘message from The Doctor.’  The can be often overlooked: in The Eleventh Hour it is Rory that has put in the prep work of all the photos of Prisoner Zero in human disguises and isn’t thanked.  They care for the emotional needs of the patients as well as psychical: in The Rebel Flesh Rory cares for Ganger Jen, listening to her story, caring what’s going on in her mind while The Doctor just ‘outs’ Ganger Miranda in front of Jimmy and Buster.

It’s a different job and for the most of it, the show captures the different outlooks of both professions in the characters of The Doctor and Rory.  These role players seem to miss this and latch on to that Rory is ‘just a nurse’ and ‘not a doctor.’  I blame Amy’s Choice for this.  The fact of in Rory’s dream world that Rory is a doctor stuck with people.  First, this was not a Moffat episode and he can’t micro-manage everything so it’s possible that this slipped past him or didn’t stick out as something major that he had to correct.

Secondly, we don’t know for sure that this is Rory’s dream but how The Doctor perceive what Rory’s dream would be.  He is the one that pointed it out.  The Dream Lord was psychic pollen feeding on the darkness in The Doctor’s mind who says if it was feeding off the companions it “would starve to death in an instant.”  I choice to believe that The Doctor gave Amy and Rory the ‘normal life’ that he was envious of in Father’s Day to the extent to pushing things – the pregnancy, Amy’s nesting instinct, Rory’s PhD and possibly even the ponytail – to give them the adventure that he can’t have, once they have ‘grown up’ and left him.

The Sontaran Nurse is the one that expressed feelings of being just ‘a nurse’ as he died when Rory stared at him with a stony grieving expression.  In the audio commentary Arthur Darvill adds the deleted line of ‘So am I’ which was cut.  Apparently that line and scene was to show that Rory is no more a nurse but as much as a warrior as the sontaran.

What?

The sontaran was made a nurse as a punishment.  He is a member of a race that wars for sport.  He doesn’t want to be a nurse.  He tells his patients that he looks forward to crushing them in the field of battle when they are all better.  He is ‘just a nurse’ because he wants to be a warrior. [See the first comment for Tansy Rayner Roberts' take on the Sontaran.]

If Rory is ‘just a nurse’ it’s because of Amy’s perception on The Doctor.  He doesn’t want to a doctor.  He wants the woman he loves not to hero worship another man.  It’s not just romantic jealously.  He was there with Amy the fourteen years that The Doctor wasn’t and seen Amy instance that her Raggedy Doctor was real as she got transferred between four therapists yet he was only the boy who dressed up as her magical mad man when The Doctor was the flesh and blood fantasy he had to compete with for his wife’s attention.

And that does come full circle.  In The Wedding of River Song Amy draws what is described on the script as “an impossibly handsome picture of Rory” and goes to save Captain Williams rather than going with The Doctor and River Song.

He doesn’t need role players giving him a job that will take him out of care industry for a title and higher pay check.  He worked at least three years to become a nurse.  He has Amy’s love and respect.  That is Rory’s happy ending.