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31 May 2010 @ 01:23 am
On the fate of Second Companions  
"This TARDIS isn't Big Enough for the Both of Us"

Spoilers for Series 5 through "Cold Blood".

While the latest episode of the fifth season made me want to weep for poor Arthur Darvill's Rory, the adorable nurse who grew up loving Amy Pond, it also made me ponder the fate of the Second Companion during the revamped series of Doctor Who. They certainly don't last long, do they?

First there was Jack Harkness. Well, speaking from outside the story, it was a given that he wouldn't last very long, what with all the intertextual setup for Torchwood that was going on even back during Christopher Eccleston's time in the TARDIS. Five episodes was Jack's grand total, and two of them were two-parters, so really that makes three stories. Three stories in which we sort of got to know the character before he was whisked away.

Then came Mickey the Idiot, who was in the TARDIS (figuratively speaking) for three episodes, including a two-parter. Of course Mickey was a secondary character for much of the first two series, but he was only a Companion for those brief episodes before he too dropped off the telemap.

Season 3 saw Jack back again, once more for a brief three episodes with another two-parter. For both of Jack's appearances he makes real connections with the main Companion and the Doctor, but it's not enough to keep him around for an entire season.

The Secondary Companion of Season 4 was the Main Companion of Season 3, Martha Jones. Again, a single episode and then a two-parter of dashing about with the Doctor and his Main Companion Donna before she was shoved offscreen until the Big Reunion at the end of Season 4.

Jack, Mickey, Martha, and now Rory. Why can't they manage to stick around for a while?

(And before anyone shouts about Adam or Wilf or any of the other one-time Companions, for this discussion they don't count. Only established, multi-story, invited, traveling and laughing with the Doctor Companions count.)

For starters, the lengths of the seasons of the revamped Doctor Who are extremely different from the old Classic series. It's as simple as the different between one hour episodes versus half hour episodes and a majority of one episode stories versus multiple episode stories. Not many Classic stories lasted only two half hour segments; more often they were at least four episodes long, sometimes even longer. Basically, it was like every story was akin to a New Who two-parter, allowing ample time for a story to be developed and everyone to have a bit of screen time. This is why the Fifth Doctor was able to travel with three Companions at once (Nyssa, Tegan, and Adric/Turlough), or the First and Second with their two or three at a time. Sure, there were times when there was just one companion in the TARDIS, but it was much easier to shuffle the Companions in and out and give everyone enough screen time to make viewers actually care about the people dashing about in the blue Police Box. That sort of time is a luxury in the New Series, which is focused on using its time to cram in as many stories as possible during each season.

This is, however, the first time a Companion has died since Adric, as far as I know. Sure, there have been lots of potential Companions who have died, like Astrid Peth, but it's completely different when it's someone traveling with the Doctor, part of his little family he has to protect at all costs. There may be some doubt as to whether Rory will stay dead, considering the nature of the Big Story this season and the long history of not having Companions die, but it will certainly be interesting to see if there is any sort of reaction to the Death of Rory in the following stories, especially since the team has potentially used its get out of jail free card on this one by having Amy not remember Rory's death, which means the Doctor can't openly react to it.

Hmm. Just a few thoughts on the nature of the Second Companion. Not really making any sort of argument, only gathering thoughts in a somewhat coherent formation.
From the land between Wake and Dream.: DWOT3 - brontidesea_thoughts on June 19th, 2010 03:12 pm (UTC)
Mind if I friend you? I really like your thoughts on the second companion and DW in general. :)
Amy (Not Pond): new adventuresamynotpond on June 19th, 2010 04:40 pm (UTC)
Thank you! It's always good to hear your ideas aren't complete rubbish.