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rating the Companions, part 3


Polly: I liked Polly quite a lot. She was completely natural and believable as the epitome of a modern, sophisticated '60s girl. Her only downside was that she could be a bit bland, but a lot of that could be due to last-minute rewrites and the missing video on a lot of her episodes. She was a good Companion: sensible, smart, and good-hearted, but a lot of the time, the writers just didn't give her much to do. Given that she was the personal secretary of one of the world's leading computer geniuses, I was surprised at first that she wasn't more tech savvy. On the other hand, her real strength was in being people savvy, and OMG, in The Highlanders she was amazing. Taking charge, making plans (that work!), and blackmailing army officers while making them see the error of their asshole ways and fall in love with her. I wish we could have seen that side of her more often. She was kind of my hero after that, so I was disappointed to see her leave so abruptly, especially just as the triangle with Ben and Jamie was starting to form. I like to imagine that she became upper-level personnel or public relations management for some successful multinational company, was engaged to Ben but dumped him because he was being an ass, and then reconciled with him several years later after he finally got over himself.

Ben: Ben had a couple of real dick moments in his first few serials, which made it hard for me to like him as much as I wanted to. When I went back and rewatched from The Power of the Daleks, I found myself liking him quite a bit more. Of course, he still had his flaws. (In case you hadn't noticed, I love flawed characters, which is why I keep talking about them.) Ben's main one is that in Ben's book, Ben is obviously #1, and this leads him to be complainy, arrogant, and occasionally dickish, as mentioned above. (I wonder a bit about how he ever survived in the Navy.) On the other side of the coin, he was brave, quick-witted, and full of easy-going charm. And most importantly, he had the best accent. I could listen to him talk all day, which is good, seeing as how most of his episodes exist in audio form only. It's too bad that we don't get to see him in action more. I loved his rapport with Polly and the Doctor, and especially his reaction to the Doctor's regeneration, and having to accept him all over again. As for Jamie, it seemed to me that at first they thought they were going to be best mates, but then a strained tension developed between them, and I loved that, too. There was a fantastic dynamic getting started between the four of them, and I really would have liked to have seen more of it. And listen to him talk more. I'd love to see a post-Doctor story of Ben trying to readjust to Navy life. Especially if it involves him mouthing off to his CO and being put on 24 hour deck-swabbing duty. Also, he and Mickey need to meet up and accidentally save the world somehow.

Jamie: Jamie. Jamieeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee. Is it because he's Scottish? Yes. Is it because of his aversion to pants (and I mean that in both the American and British sense of the word (okay so the latter's just speculation, but it would be historically accurate))? Yes. Is it because the Doctor so very obviously feels a fondness for him that he has not felt about any other Companion? Yes yes oh god yes. I actually got the first inkling of it in The Underwater Menace, when it was Ben and Polly who'd done the actual work of saving the Doctor's life, but it was Jamie who he seemed happiest to see. And in general, the Doctor seemed to take Jamie under his wing more than he had any of the others, even Vicki. And he said Jamie's name so much more often, and with that special inflection that he's never used for anyone else. By the time I got to the "shush, you" jabs in The Faceless Ones, I was completely sold. Of course, back then, I still thought, oh I'm just being me and reading too much into things. And then the touching started. And the banter. And the more touching. And the looking up kilts. And the heads in laps. And the "I'm going to give you an alias which you will use for the next 500+ years". And the Sporran Incident. And the seriously hugely ridiculous amounts of touching.

Ahem. So, yes. James Robert McCrimmon: Piper, Time-Traveller, and Human SaranWrap -- completely transparent and clings to everything (ha ha, you thought I was finished, didn't you?). In case it isn't obvious, I love Jamie. I love his charming perpetual naïveté that he tries (and fails) so hard to hide. I love his penchant for telling the truth at really bad times. I love how he is so darned awkward whenever he's with anyone else, and so completely at ease when he's with the Doctor. And I love his complete, unhesitating, loyal devotion to the Doctor, who has really in effect become Jamie's surrogate laird. And that this devotion in no way precludes Jamie from giving the Doctor orders, or making snide remarks about his piloting abilities, or finishing his sentences for him. And it's also that devotion that makes their parting the hardest one to take. Jamie so clearly wanted to stay, and I think that given the choice, he would have gladly spent the rest of his life as the Doctor's piper. Time Lords, man. Dicks. And so, I wholeheartedly embrace the season 6B concept, and personally believe that Two and Jamie went on to have a long and happy space marriage filled with adventure and adorable bickering.

Victoria: Victoria started off great, and quickly went downhill. Originally, I found her upper-class-Victorian-lady-explorer attitude of "I can go wherever I want and do whatever I want, because I'm rich and British" quite charming, especially (or perhaps only) because it was tempered by her heart of gold. (And how adorable was she in that boystyle aristocrat outfit in The Abominable Snowmen?) She was plucky and resourceful in the beginning, but the writers soon gave her nothing to do except be the voice of contradiction and act as monster bait. By the end, every single one of her lines was delivered in the same shaky, timid, fearful tone, and I couldn't stand it. Now, one could argue that the Doctor wasn't able to completely undo the hypnosis she was put under in Snowmen, and that's why she became so fearful of everything, but I get the feeling that the writers weren't that self-aware. So instead, they gave her a nervous breakdown and shipped her off because she wasn't working, when it was their own bad writing that was making her not work. At any rate, I hope she was able to relax and get herself some good therapy (which she must have done, since she went traveling with the Doctor and Jamie again in 6B).

Zoe: Zoe is Hermione Granger in a catsuit in space. In other words, awesome. Sure, she was frequently insufferable, but she was so smart and cute and cool! She asked questions! She wore sensible shoes! She broke computers with her brain and saved the world with math! The main thing I didn't like about her was that the writers would too frequently fall back on making her "the smart one" and Jamie "the stupid one". They each had their own strengths and weaknesses without needing to resort to that. I thought she made a great Companion, and worked really well with Two and Jamie, who were her first-ever real friends. It's a shame that she won't be able to remember her time with them. Pshhh, naw, I refuse to believe that even a Time Lord mind wipe can hold up against Zoe's supercharged brain. Anyway, that team was broken up way too soon, but Zoe's definitely headed for awesomeness no matter where her path leads.

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