Summary: The Doctor and Peri meet Anzor, a Time Lord who was basically the Academy’s school bully when The Doctor attended. He forces the TARDIS to take them to the binary planets Magnus and Salva. There he encounters a society where the women are outliving the men, and the women like it that way. He also meets two old enemies: Sil, and the Ice Warriors.
Companion: N/A (this is the only story from the classic era that did not feature a companion)
No. of Episodes: 4
Season: 14, ep. 3 (9-12)
Summary: The Doctor receives a premonition that the Time Lord President’s life is in danger. The Master has returned, having run out of regenerations. He is now a decaying husk, desperate to find any way to lengthen the one life he has left. To that end, he frames the Doctor for the murder of the president and attempts to kill him within The Matrix, where he can manipulate reality.
The Companions represent the audience. They show us what it might be like to travel with the Doctor. In the 50-plus years Doctor Who has been on the air, several companions have joined each Doctor on his adventures. I’ve ranked the Doctors. Now it’s time to rank the companions. This editorial will focus solely on the “classic” period, starting with William Hartnell and ending with Sylvester McCoy. Next month, I will talk about the modern Companions starting with Christopher Eccleston and ending with Peter Capaldi (I will be skipping Big Finish because I’ve only met three companions.)
10. Nyssa (Sarah Sutton) Sarah became my favorite Fifth Doctor Companion by default. Tegan did nothing but complain. Adric was often too smug and arrogant. Nyssa was the only one who had any endearing qualities. She was a kind woman who had lost everything–her father was possessed by the Master, who had then destroyed her homeworld of Trakken. And yet, it rarely seemed to bother her. She now had all of space and time. I still marvel that she had a positive attitude.
9. Jo Grant (Katy Manning) When I first saw Jo, I didn’t like her. She seemed somewhat clumsy and incompetent. Her predecessor seemed a good fit for the Doctor, as they seemed intellectually equal. However, Jo had the one thing Dr. Shaw didn’t–a sense of humor. She was great comedy relief, and even though she didn’t understand some things as good as Shaw often did, she was a fun character.
8. Leela (Louise Jameson) Leela at first seemed several steps backward from her predecessor Sarah Jane. Sarah Jane operated on with and pluck. Leela was a “noble savage”, more prone to violence than more rational decisions. But the Doctor needed someone like Leela, who would be more willing to do things he didn’t care to. The Fourth Doctor would rather outwit his opponents than resort to violence. He took pleasure in gleefully using his foe’s flaws to his advantage, but Leela could help in a pinch.
7. Peri Brown (Nicola Bryant) The Sixth Doctor was by far the most arrogant of the Doctors, someone who needed to be humbled. The person who did that was Peri Brown. She would not stand for the Doctor’s arrogance, turning them into a great comedy duo.
6. Jamie McCrimmon (Frazer Hines) I totally didn’t expect to like any of the Companions from the 60’s. So much of their adventures are missing. How can I like any of them based on what little is available? But what I saw was enough to convince me that Jamie is a great character. I liked Jamie’s brazen charging into battle with his clan’s battle cry. I laughed at how out of place he seemed with advanced technology. He was a loyal Companion and was undaunted. I call him the Don Quixote of Doctor Who.
Summary: Susan Mendes has become the Daleks’ “Angel of Mercy”. She gives all the slaves just enough hope that they will be saved from Dalek rule, and gives the slaves enough food, water, and rest to be efficient slaves.
Companions: Dr. Liz Shaw (Caroline John) and Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart (Nicholas Courtney)
No. of Episodes: 7
Season: 7, eps 18-25
Summary: The Doctor is using nuclear power from a power plant that is drilling into the Earth’s core because he thinks it will fix the TARDIS’s control console. He discovers that a toxic subatance has been unearthed, causing all who come in contact with it to mutate. When a disgruntled scientist cuts the power to the TARDIS console by sabotaging one of the plant’s computers, the TARDIS takes the Doctor to a parallel world. In this world, the experiment is being conducted, but Britain is now a fascist state. Lethbridge-Stewart is not ranked as a Brigadier, but as Brigade-Leader and wears an eyepatch. Dr. Liz Shaw is no longer a doctor, and is a brunette. Will he be able to return to the proper Earth and avert disaster?
Companions: Henry Jago (main narrator)(Christopher Benjamin), Professor George Litefoot (Trevor Baxter)
Running Time: 1 hour, excluding interviews
Summary: The renowned actor Henry Jago recounts to his old friend George Litefoot a recent encounter with a mystery he recently investigated. A dead body has been discovered on the banks of the Thames river, but in reality it’s a mannequin made out of wood. The mannequin is actually alive, and working for a scientist named Dr. Tulp.
Companions: Jamie McCrimmon (Frazer Hines), Victoria Waterfield (Deborah Watling)
Season: 5, ep. 4 (eps 17-22)
Summary: The Doctor discovers that he is mistaken for a mastermind named Leader Salamander, who is plotting to become dictator of the world. Both Jamie and Victoria are captured by the real Salamander, and the Doctor realizes he must impersonate Salamander to prevent him, with the help of a covert team plotting against the villain.
Well, not only do we have a new Doctor, but we also have a new composer and a new executive producer: Chris Chibnall. Chris is actually someone whose history with Doctor Who has been hit or miss. I’ve liked some of his stories, like “42”, and there were some that I didn’t outright hate, but I didn’t rank highly either, like “Dinosaurs on a Spaceship”. On the other hand, he also wrote many of Torchwood‘s best episodes.
While I do have faith that Chibnall will do the best he can, I can’t help but think of what I would do if I had the job. Here’s some ideas I had:
My Doctor would be either Eddie Redmayne, star of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, or my dream pick Liam Neeson. Both have shown they can do both dramatic and comedic performances, and I’d want a Doctor like characters they’ve portrayed.
One idea that they’ve already addressed is extending the run time. As I said in my overview of the Capaldi era, the pacing was a big problem. Many episodes felt like they didn’t have enough time to flesh out their concepts. Chibnall has decided to add fifteen extra minutes to the run time, which for Americans like myself means the show will probably run about 75 minutes with commercials.
No more leaks! Last season, we had too many things spoiled: Missy’s return, the Mondasian Cybermen, Rona Munro returning to write “Eaters of Light”, and the returns of John Simm and Matt Lucas. True, many of these did become great, but I’d much rather be surprised by their success. (Especially when the hype didn’t work out, as in the case of “Eaters of Light”)
No spin-offs–Torchwood and Sarah Jane Adventures were fine. We already have great spin-offs from Big Finish, we don’t really need more, especially when we have what happened with Class, where one of the big problems was that it was placed in a bad timeslot and it was barely promoted.
I have two companion ideas. One is a female android named Ardra. On her planet, androids are forbidden, even though they are programmed with the laws Asimov concocted for his robots: Don’t harm humans, do what humans tell them, and protect themselves. Ardra is also a blank slate, something the Doctor would have to fix. Ardra is looking for her “Father”, her inventor David Nikola, who would be introduced at Christmas. I don’t have preferences for their actors/actresses because I’d rather whoever got picked be relatively unknown and become a success later on, like Karen Gillan, Arthur Darvill, and John Barrowman have.