Doctor Who

P is for Bill Potts

I adored Bill Potts from her very first episode, so naturally I was worried that something terrible would end up happening to her as I knew she wasn’t in Jodie Whittaker’s series. I won’t go into spoilers but her last few episodes certainly did break my heart and (before things get kind of weird but better for her) I thought it was the most tragic things to happen to a companion since Donna Noble’s fate.

Bill was like a breath of fresh air after Clara Oswald (who I never really liked) and I loved Bill’s relationship with the Doctor as it felt so different to his and Clara’s dynamic. They are like a grumpy professor and an inquisitive student and it really works. I love the kind of questions Bill has for the Doctor. Like, how she wonders why the name of the TARDIS works in English when it and the Doctor are from a different planet and would therefore have a different language. She just see’s things in a different way and sometimes it really throws the Doctor for a loop which is always fun. Side note: the Doctor going back in time to take photos of Bill’s mum so she could have photos of her and see what she looks like was one of the sweetest things the Doctor has ever done.

Bill Potts is amazing because even though she cares for the Doctor a lot and knows how brilliant he is, when she thought he had turned on the people of Earth and was working for the enemy she legit pulls a gun on the Doctor and shoots him! She was willing to kill her friend in order to save the world and while companions have put their own lives on the line before, I don’t think I’d seen one put the whole of humanity above what they think of and feel for the Doctor before.

Bill is thoughtful and observant but isn’t afraid to stand up for herself and to just unapologetically be herself. Her standing up to sexist and/or racist people was always great. She’s bold, brave and thoughtful and I would’ve loved to have had another series with her in the TARDIS. Also, on a purely aesthetic level, I adore Bill’s style and outfits. She just looks fab in every episode.

O is for Ood

The Ood is one of those new Doctor Who creatures that have been developed over multiple series and each new appearance has added depth to who or what the creatures are.

The Ood are quite tragic as they are an example of how awful humanity can be. The Ood are a peaceful, generally calm race, with low-level telepathic abilities, and because of that, humans saw them as no smarter than animals and enslaved them. It’s been interesting how the Ood have been developed over time because in their first appearance in “The Impossible Planet”/”The Satan Pit” it was just seen as the norm to have Ood as slaves/manual labourers and were just seen as the help. The Doctor and Rose Tyler did question it and Rose especially would ask the Ood how they were and if they got paid for their work.

Seeing how the Ood became this docile race in “Planet of the Ood” is interesting and adds depth to their previous appearances while also being horrifying as the Ood are mutilated in order to communicate with humans.

I liked it when Doctor Who takes the time to criticise human nature and shows how dangerous people, especially people who will do anything to make money, can be. The perils of capitalism is something that is featured in various Doctor Who episodes, in pretty much all of the series’, and it’s always good when Doctor Who has something to say about the state of the world and also to give some hope or guidance on how people can do better. That being said, it’s still a bit disappointing that however many thousands of years in the future, people are still being cruel and making the same horrible decisions that we did hundreds of years ago from today. Time and technology may change, but how far can human nature and corporate profit really change?

N is for Donna Noble

Donna Noble was like a breath of fresh air in the TARDIS after the romance/infatuation from Rose/Martha. It was so much fun to see a different dynamic between the Doctor and a companion, and for them to be best friends with no underlying tension was so great. You got to see another side of the Doctor too, sure they’re still showing off and wanting to show Donna the wonders of the universe but she isn’t afraid to answer back and perhaps even insult him now and again so he doesn’t get too big headed. It’s all said with love though.

Donna is bold and sometimes brash, she’s a bit of a drifter but all her temp jobs means she has other skills and is perceptive in ways other characters aren’t. Overall though she is compassionate and her travels with the Doctor made her less selfish. The scene in “The Fires of Pompeii” when she took on the responsibility and guilt of destroying Pompeii to save the world alongside the Doctor so he didn’t have to bear it alone is one of my favourite moments of hers.

I also love Donna’s relationship with her family, especially her grandfather Wilf. They are such a great duo; they have a similar sense of humour and it’s one of those instances where you can see the family resemblance in how they react to things, including injustices.

Rewatching series four with the benefit of hindsight is a bittersweet experience. There are so many small moments that are easy to miss but when you know Donna’s fate and what the series finale is about, they add so much more to it.

I am so excited and intrigued to see what’s going to happen in the 60th anniversary specials later this year. I’d love for Donna to be able to get her memories so she truly knows how amazing she is and how she helped save the world. She deserves to be the best version of herself, and travelling with the Doctor did make her better – it brought to the forefront her best traits and smoothed out some of her more harsher ones.

M is for Wilfred Mott

Wilfred “Wilf” Mott is just a wonderful character, played with so much warmth by the late, great Bernard Cribbins. He is kind, caring, funny, and has a strong sense of duty and clearly loves his daughter Sylvia and granddaughter Donna a lot.

The familial dynamics between the three of them are all very true to life as they sometimes get frustrated with each other but they still love on another. I love how Wilf listens to Donna and encourages her to follow her dreams and the Doctor, wanting the best for her while still being there to welcome her home with a huge hug. Compared to some other family members of companions, Wilf is very encouraging of Donna traveling with the Doctor, even if it can be dangerous. His little speech to Donna is just wonderful, “And you go with him, that wonderful Doctor. You go and see the stars… Then, bring a bit of them back for your old Gramps.” Wilf is probably the best TV grandfather I’ve ever seen, and is the kind of character I’d love to be real and to have in my life.

I love Wilf’s can-do attitude and how he’s almost relentlessly positive at times. He recruits his fellow pensioners to go search for the Doctor, he convinces some aliens to help him rescue the Doctor, and he is incredibly selfless, willing to die for a stranger. Wilf is the kind of supporting character I was always happy to see, no matter for how short a time so the fact he became an official companion at the end of David Tennant’s tenue as the Doctor was brilliant. I’m looking forward to seeing him again in the 60th anniversary specials but I’m sure it will be a bittersweet feeling.

In my post for “The End of Time” I mentioned the scenes between Wilf and the Doctor and how they all made me cry so I have to share the one where not only does the Doctor say he’d be proud if Wilf was his dad, but Wilf also begs the Doctor to not die. It gets me every time.

L is for Love

This is one of the last letters I thought of what the post could be on as there was no character names or episode titles that began with “L” that I felt super strongly about. When it finally came to me, it felt so obvious and I couldn’t believe I hadn’t thought of it early – love. Doctor Who as a show and the Doctor as a character is all about love.

The Doctor has so much love for humanity, and for people in general no matter what planet or solar system they’re from. The Doctor can’t stand to see a crying child and will do whatever they can to help people. The Doctor has so much love that at times they try and shut themselves off from their friends and companions in order to try and protect themselves but those pesky humans still find a way to make their way into their hearts.

Also the people that travel with the Doctor tend to be kind, loving people too. Martha Jones is a doctor and Rory Williams is a nurse, with the medical field being one of the most selfless careers, Rose Tyler always asked peoples names and even checked in on the Ood to see if they were getting paid for their work, Clara Oswald cared about her students, and there’s so many other instances where companions stuck up for the normal, everyday person and often made the Doctor listen and help because they cared and loved and wanted to help people.

I love the different types of love there is in Doctor Who across the series. There’s romantic love (Amy and Rory, River Song and the Doctor, Rose and the Doctor – which is still my OTP), familial love (Rose and Jackie Tyler, Martha and all of her family, Graham and Ryan), and platonic love (Donna Noble and Martha Jones, Bill Potts and the Doctor).

Sidenote: there needs to be an update version of this video that includes Thirteen – even though she didn’t give that many hugs – but this is the best I could find.

K is for Knock Knock

Some of my favourite Doctor Who episodes are the ones where the Doctor has to deal with every day, ordinary people, especially when those people are friends or relatives of the Doctor’s companions. I just find it funny to see how the Doctor fits into these existing relationship dynamics when they’re ego is often huge and they “don’t get” humans. It also really highlights how different or special the Doctor’s bond is with their companions. They’re ordinary humans but there’s something about them that stands out; their bravery, intelligence, empathy, that makes the Doctor take notice and it’s also the way that the companions roll with the weirdness and some of the Doctor’s antisocial-ness and makes them open up to them.

So, in series 10 the episode “Knock Knock” is one that stood out to me. I enjoyed meeting some of Bill’s friends/housemates and how they were an eclectic mix in terms of personality and interests which is true to life as someone who went to uni and had to move into halls with nine strangers. It was also fun seeing how the Doctor interreacted with them and how some asked the good/clever type of questions that made the Doctor appreciate them more.

“Knock Knock” is also a creepy house story. I’ve already talked about “Blink” and “The Haunting of the Villa Diodati” and both of them have creepy haunted house vibes and honestly it wasn’t until I was putting a list of my favourite episodes for this A-Z Challenge, that I realised that this was a theme in some of my favourite episodes. It’s somewhat surprising because I am a wuss that does not watch proper horror films, but there’s something about the unsettling nature of the house in “Knock Knock”, the score and the sounds of wood creaking that I really liked. It’s an atmospheric location and having the whole episode pretty much set in and around the house makes it its own character.

Really though, I loved David Suchet as the Landlord. Suchet being in Doctor Who seems like one of the most obvious things ever and it seems wild that it never happened before considering how many other big British stage and TV actors have been on the show over the years. I thought he was suitably creepy and manipulative but then when everything is revealed at the end, is also somewhat sympathetic and desperate.

J is for Martha Jones

Martha Jones is a brilliant companion and one I’ve grown to like and appreciate even more over time.

As a Doctor/Rose shipper I did get tired of her mooning over the Doctor and I think it was a poor writing decision to have that as part of her character because it just made it all the more easier to compare her to Rose – especially for someone like me who Rose was the first companion I’d seen. Martha’s love of the Doctor was sometimes the character trait that outshined her better and more interesting qualities.

When we first meet her she’s training to be a doctor and clearly thinks outside the box, being the one to first suggest that there must be oxygen around them even though the hospital was on the moon, because doors and windows were hardly airtight. I really liked how her medical training is used throughout the series and how she’s shown to be kind-hearted and eager to help anyone, even aliens who aren’t humanoid and clearly have a very different physiology to what she’s used to.

Martha is brave and funny and I love how her family drama is always there and brushes up against her adventures with the Doctor. She has an older sister and a younger brother and Martha fits a lot of the middle child tropes with her trying to be a peacekeeper in the family feuds, especially between her divorced parents. The family dynamics for the companions is one of my favourite things in the RTD era and how exasperated Martha sometimes gets with them is very relatable.

How much her family means to her makes Martha’s choice in the finale almost seem obvious and I love how she chooses to put herself and her family first after going through hell for a year. Because Martha Jones saved the world, she saved the Doctor, and she had to do it pretty much all on her own while the Doctor and her family were held hostage by a mad man. Martha then joining UNIT and becoming almost a soldier does also seem like the logical next step for her, though it also shows the affect the Doctor has on people, turning them into weapons to fight his battles for him.

I is for The Impossible Astronaut

“The Impossible Astronaut” is the first in a two-parter story and it’s the first episode of series six of Doctor Who and it kicks off the series with a bang.

Steven Moffat’s time as the showrunner of Doctor Who gave us some epic and often somewhat convoluted stories. His story arcs are ones that tended to impact nearly every episode leading up to the finale which sometimes I liked, while other times I preferred the more subtle references of RTD era. “The Impossible Astronaut” kicks off one of those more convoluted story arcs as it introduces a new alien villain in the Silence and the episode starts with the Doctor getting killed!

Of course, all is not what it seems and the Doctor that Amy, Rory, and River Song get killed by an astronaut in a lake in Utah, is 200 years older than the one they then meet in a diner. Time travel heh? This does lead to an interesting scenario where the audience and the companions knows something of the Doctor’s fate while he doesn’t. The Doctor isn’t the one who’s usually in the dark so this dynamic where the companions are forced to keep a secret to preserve timelines when that’d normally be the Doctor’s job sets up some interesting potential conflict.

One of my favourite moments in this episode is when the Doctor can tell that his friends are hiding something from him, he asks Amy to swear that’s she’s not lying by swearing on something that matters. Amy thinks for a moment and then she chooses fish fingers and custard. I love how that is a shorthand for their relationship, for the night they first met when she was a little girl, and how that night and the fish fingers and custard is something that matters so very much to the both of them.

“The Impossible Astronaut” also features America in the 1960s and the space race which is always an interesting and fun historical period full of potential. Mark Sheppard plays Canton Delaware III, a former secret service agent, and he’s a nice addition to the TARDIS team and I liked his practicality and level-headedness even when suddenly presented with the reality of aliens and time travel.

And as I mentioned before “The Impossible Astronaut” gives us the Silence. They’re truly unnerving creatures that you forget about as soon as you’re no longer looking at them. Anything could happen while you’re in their presence but as soon as you look away you forget seeing them and anything else anyone might’ve said or done near you. Plus, they have electricity-like powers they can destroy people with so you might not escape them at all.

“The Impossible Astronaut” is a pretty good series opener. It immediately pulls the rug out from under you and then leaves you with a sense of foreboding because we’ve seen the Doctor die and the rules of Doctor Who state that big events like that can’t be changed. Then there’s the mystery of a little girl phoning President Nixon and an alien race lurking in the shadows. It starts the series with a bang and this is where the show clearly started to get a bigger budget and more of an American fanbase as suddenly this little British show was filming in America and not just in quarries in Wales!

H is for The Haunting of the Villa Diodati

“The Haunting of the Villa Diodati” is one of my favourite episodes of the Thirteenth Doctor’s era. I did find on my Doctor Who re/watch last year that the historical episodes tended to make up my favourites of the series list more than the big futuristic ones. I think it’s because I often had at least some sort of basic knowledge about the historical figures or events that the Doctor and their companions were getting involved in so it was fun to see how the sci-fi elements changed things.

“The Haunting of the Villa Diodati” worked for me because it’s actually a pretty creepy haunted house story and then a Cyberman is dropped into it. Even before the Cyberman arrived it’s a dark and stormy night and the occupants of the house are all telling scary stories. I really liked how the house was used to its full effect, with people getting stuck in rooms or in a continuous loop on the stairs, or inexplicable things being seen in the corner of the frame. It’s a really good ghost story even before the reveal that the ghost is in fact a Cyberman.

The Cybermen have always been a pretty scary villain and the fact that this one is a different and not quite what we’re as the viewer are used to seeing, makes it even more unsettling. The first time I watched “The Haunting of the Villa Diodati”, I hadn’t seen the Twelfth Doctor’s run so there’s certain lines that I didn’t really notice but having finally seen Twelve’s episodes and what Bill Potts’ fate was, they just hit different.

When Thirteen is explaining how dangerous the Cybermen are to her companions, “Humans like all of you changed into empty, soulless shells. No feeling, no control, no way back. I will not lose anyone else to that.” it’s a clear call back to Bill and it was like a sucker punch to me as I really think what happened to Bill is one of the most awful things I’ve seen happen to a companion.

G is for The Girl Who Waited

I see “The Girl Who Waited” as almost a companion episode to “Amy’s Choice” because this time it’s Rory having to make the tough choices about his life and Amy, so of course this episode really gets me.

Rory’s line to the older Amy, “I don’t care that you got old. I care that we didn’t grow old together” is one of the favourites and really encapsulates how much he loves her. The differences between Old Amy and Present Day Amy are stark but they both still love Rory, no matter how scared or closed off they’ve had to become.

Rory fighting to save both Amy’s the one from the present and the one who hasn’t seen him in decades, shows how much he loves her – every version of her. It would obviously be very weird to live with two Amy’s who had very different life experiences but Rory is willing to make it work because he wants to save every version of her. The scene where he’s inside the TARDIS trying to decide whether or not to open the door and let the Older Amy in is fantastic and makes me tear up (perhaps in part as I can’t help but think of the Doctor and Rose in “Doomsday”). Arthur Darvill, Matt Smith and Karen Gillan are all brilliant in this episode, but it’s Gillan that give a heart-breaking performance as the Older Amy. You can see the echoes of the Amy we all know but there’s also a well-deserved bitterness to her that works really well.

I love how “The Girl Who Waited” is almost an episode of two different themes, one is all about Rory and Amy’s relationship and how he’ll never stop fighting to get to her. The other is about how the Doctor lies and manipulates his friends. The Doctor always has darker moments but how his conflict with Rory is portrayed, it shows a level of cruelty towards his friends that we don’t tend to see. The fact that in “Amy’s Choice” it’s Amy calling the Doctor out on his limitations and in “The Girl Who Waited” it’s Rory pushing back against the Doctor’s lies, really shows how well these episodes work together.