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cultural vandal | by maryann johanson

Doctor Who thing of the day: who counts as a companion?

Lis Sladen and Tom Baker on Doctor Who

Who counts as a companion? It didn’t used to be a tricky question, but the reboot of Doctor Who has mucked it up something awful, as Alasdair Shaw at Kasterborous sighs:

These days it seems to be merely having your name appear in the main credits. But that’s hardly a rule that we can apply to Classic Who, especially as it classifies Adelaide Brook, Grace and Astrid as companions when they’re clearly not. I’ve upset some of you now, haven’t I? Well I’m sorry, but those three are no different from any other local who has ever helped the Doctor in the past. Well maybe not Grace, but the point stands. Shall we include Pete Tyler and Cho-Je as companions in that case?

Shaw — whose own name sounds like that of a lost companion — goes on to implement a points system for deciding who gets to be called a companion and who doesn’t. You know: X number of points for traveling in the TARDIS, Y points for loyalty, Z points for number of years on the show, and so on. I suppose it works, but… it feels so reductionist.

I prefer to think of companion status in terms of an emotional connection to the Doctor. (I know, I know: The fanboys get uncomfortable when we start talking about feelings in connection with the Doctor. Tough. Deal with it.) I have no problem whatsoever calling Astrid a companion because she clearly connected with the Doctor on a level that few other people do, and that she would have been a kickass friend and fellow traveler for him for a good long time if she hadn’t, you know, died to save him, and to save the day. Such a qualifier eliminates someone like, say, Pete Tyler from companion status. And if he clearly shouldn’t count as a companion, as Shaw implies, this “emotional connection” rule works.

What do you think? Who counts as a companion? Whom do you consider the ultimate companion? Does it even matter who “deserves” such a label and who doesn’t?

(Thanks to Ryan for the link. If you stumble across a cool Doctor Who thing, feel free to email me with a link.)

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