“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.
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.
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.