Martha Jones: The Companion

Martha Jones is the 10th Doctor’s second companion. Jones is an acquired taste. Some people say that Jones is too forward because she does not like to be the damsel in distress.  Martha likes to think of herself as the Doctor’s equal. She does not want to be looked as the companion that is dependent on the Doctor.  Martha looks at the Doctor as her partner and not as some powerful alien. She argues with the Doctor with a purpose. Martha does not like to be bossed around if it is not necessary. However, I think it is obvious that she is a dominating force when she on the show, but she is still just a companion. Martha does get in situations where the Doctor must rescue her. She also is seen to have a temper,

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but I believe it because of her strong personality. She doesn’t like to know that there is nothing more that she could do to help the Doctor. A lot of the “Whovian” fandom dislike Martha because she fails to be a Rose or a Donna. Despite this, Martha works harder than any other companion. She leaves her medical career to continue helping the Doctor with his crazy adventures. Martha is loyal, reliable, and she’s strong. She is by far the best companion that the doctor has had.

 

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Regeneration Continuity

In one of David Tennant’s final adventures, a team of his most famed companions/allies is formed.  The team consisting of Harriet Jones, Rose Tyler, Jack Harkness, Sarah Jane Smith, and Martha Jones come together to aid the Doctor in stopping the end of the world.  This gallery of characters were iconic during the adventures of previous incarnations of the Doctor and Tennant’s edition of the Time Lord.  Their presence in “The Stolen Earth/ Journey’s End” helps provide a storybook ending to Tennant’s run as the Doctor, but is it’s unfair to the characters that the viewers grew to love during the tenth Doctor’s adventures.

Rose Tyler traveled with both Christopher Eccleston and David Tennant’s version of the Doctor.  She added continuity to a somewhat abrupt change to the iconic role.  She anchored Tennant in the first few episodes of season two, and she also gave the viewer some continuity within the show.  At the end of Tennant’s run, we are given closing points for Rose, Jack, Sarah Jane, Martha, and Donna.  This bookend for the series was beneficial in that it gave the show a “mini-reboot,” but it hurt the show in that the eleventh Doctor didn’t have a continuity point from the tenth Doctor, and seemed very lost in his first adventure.

Rose was a dynamic character that the viewers already knew, and this made assimilating the new Doctor much simpler.  In Matt Smith’s first episode, he acknowledges his former versions of himself, but not his former companions.  This feels out of character for the Doctor, and it hurts the chance for these former companions to appear alongside the eleventh regeneration of the Doctor.  Without watching ahead, I think this is a disservice to the characters that travelled with Ten, and it also hurts the mythology of the famous television show.

Favorite Fan Video

This video is great because it takes a show that is usually fun and quirky and puts an interesting darker spin on it. One of my favorite parts of Doctor Who is the constant question of how much influence the Doctor should have on the course of history. Is he making the right decisions? Would the universe be better off without him? How far is too far? And should anyone have that kind of power? My favorite episodes are the ones that explore this fine line between good and evil. I think this fan video highlights this well.

Martha Deserved Better

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Six years ago when I watched Doctor Who for the first time I did not like Martha very much. I found it extremely annoying how she always pined after the Doctor and I, along with the Doctor, viewed Martha as a rebound companion after he lost Rose.

Re-watching the third season though, I ended up liking Martha. Looking back on my old opinions of Martha, I’ve realized that they probably spawned out of racism that I wasn’t previously aware that I had. In truth, she is intelligent, brave and has a great sense of humor. Also, she had enough self-respect to leave the Doctor as soon as she realized that she deserved better than being with a man who made her feel like “second best,” and I respect that.

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While it’s great that the show was diversifying itself by adding Martha as the “first” black companion (some would argue that Mickey was actually the first), it failed in properly representing the black community in a few ways. The first being that the writers avoided addressing racial issues in episodes that take place in the past. The most obvious example is in S3E2 The Shakespeare Code when the Doctor and Marth first arrive in Elizabethan England. Martha is immediately concerned about how she’ll be treated being black.

MARTHA: I’m not going to get carted off as a slave, am I?

DOCTOR: Why would they do that?

MARTHA: Not exactly white, in case you haven’t noticed.

DOCTOR: I’m not even human. Just walk about like you own the place. Works for me. Besides, you’d be surprised. Elizabethan England, not so different from your time.

The writers had the opportunity to make some great points on racism and use their hugely popular show as a way to spark a conversation. Instead they chose to take the easy way out and dismiss her as though her worries are completely invalid. It’s also offensive that the Doctor assumes he knows what she’s going though and compares his experience as an alien with the outward appearance of a white man with that of a black woman’s.

The second way that the show failed in diversity with Martha is that the Doctor was mildly racist towards her. He never showed her the level of respect that he did towards Rose or would to Donna, Amy, and Clara. When the Doctor first met Donna he invited her to travel with him with no stipulations and she, of course, turns him down at first. When he meets Martha just an episode later though, he specifies that he is only going to take her on one trip and then right back home. The audience is supposed to think that this is because his heart is still broken over loosing Rose, but if that were true, why didn’t he give Donna the same condition?

He also never gave Martha a proper goodbye. After traveling the world alone for a whole year telling everyone she could about the Doctor in order to save him and her family being imprisoned and enslaved by the Master, she deserved his utmost respect. Instead she just receives a “thank you” whereas, in comparison, Rose got a Doctor substitute and Donna got a winning lottery ticket.

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Overall, Martha isn’t a popular companion and is often overlooked by fans. This is probably partly because she came after the love interest Rose and hilarious Donna, but is also partly because of racist bias. Hopefully the show starts to diversify its companions more and uses these opportunities to address social issues.

Pitting Women Against Each Other Part Two

In my previous post I discussed the issues with female representation in the episode School Reunion and I will now address the issues with S2E4 The Girl in the Fire Place.

In this episode the Doctor, Rose and Mickey find themselves on a broken down spaceship with windows that lead into France in the 1700s. What they later find out is that the ship’s crew is using human body parts to repair their ship and that the windows are all moments in Madam de Pompadour’s life since they need her brain as the final piece.

The first couple times the Doctor fleetingly meets Madam de Pompadour, otherwise known as Renette, she is a child. When he meets her a third time though she is a woman and she almost immediately kisses him and he is thrilled yelling out,

DOCTOR: I’m the Doctor, and I just snogged Madame de Pompadour. Ha, ha!

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Renette is set up as a love interest for the Doctor from the get go and since Rose had already been well established as a love interest, this forces the audience to pit these two women against each other.

Later on in the episode the Doctor and Renette have a short conversation where he goes into her mind in order to find out why the crew wants her. He becomes enamored with her and when she invites him to a party he accepts, seeming to forget about Rose and Mickey who are in grave danger. When Rose ask him why he would leave them in harm’s way his simple explanation is that he “invented the banana daiquiri a few centuries early.”

The Doctor and Renette only get closer as the episode goes on and by the end he considers bringing her onto the TARDIS and making her his next companion. When he goes to the future to pick her up though he misses her by a few minutes making that impossible.

The issue with this episode is that it diminishes a strong woman in history by making her a love interest through lazy writing and cheap tricks. The Doctor is almost a thousand years old so meeting Renette would have been a tiny speck of his life to him. On top of that, he had only met her twice as a child for a few minutes before they are suddenly making out and running off to parties together. It’s a love story that makes no sense. Why create a love triangle that the writers never intended to follow through with?

It’s unfortunate that the writers of Doctor Who make almost every woman that meets the Doctor fall in love with him. An incomplete list of these women would be Rose, Sarah Jane, Renette, Martha, and Amy. Why can’t a woman want to travel with the Doctor simply because she loves adventure and wants to explore time and space?

Pitting Women Against Each Other Part One

In the second season of Doctor Who there a two episodes in particular that are especially terrible when it comes to female representation. Those episodes are School Reunion and The Girl in the Fireplace. While these episodes feature strong female leads who are capable of defending themselves, they fall into the trap of pitting these women against each other.

The first of these episodes is S2E3 School Reunion in which Sarah Jane Smith, companion of the Third and Fourth Doctors, returns. The Tenth Doctor and Rose run into her when all three of them are investigating strange occurrences happening at a school. When the Doctor first introduces Sarah Janes and Rose they immediately dislike each other.

ROSE: Does anyone notice anything strange about this? Rats in school?

SARAH: Well, obviously they use them in Biology lessons. They dissect them. Or maybe you haven’t reached that bit yet. How old are you?

ROSE: Excuse me, no one dissects rats in school anymore. They haven’t done that for years. Where are you from, the dark ages?

Then there is this quick bit of dialogue.

MICKEY: Ho, ho, mate. The missus and the ex. Welcome to every man’s worst nightmare.

While it has been strongly implied that there are romantic feelings between the Doctor and Rose for the past two seasons, there was never a romantic implication between the Doctor and Sarah Jane, so why try to force one now? It should not be immediately assumed that a man and a woman who are friends must be in love with each other. Also, while I acknowledge that Mickey’s line was intended to be funny, it should also not be assumed that two women who are friends with the same man or even have dated the same man are automatically going to hate each other.

It is later on established that Rose is worried that she is not as special to the Doctor as she previously thought since she just found out that she is only one of many companions the Doctor has had. Sarah Jane on the other hand feels that Rose has replaced her and that the Doctor just brushed aside someone he once considered his best friend. After coming to these realizations and bonding over the Doctor, Rose and Sarah Jane have a good laugh and get along for the rest of the episode. While it is good that Rose and Sarah Jane learn to accept each other and get along, this episode would have been much better from a diversity standpoint if they had never fought in the first place.

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I will address The Girl in the Fireplace in part two of this post next week

Doctor vs Doctor

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Since I have recently met the tenth doctor, I decided that I would share my thoughts on which doctor I like more. I have only watched the reboot of Doctor Who, so my views of The Doctor are based solely on the ninth and tenth doctors. Because of this I see the ninth doctor as the “cool doctor” and the tenth doctor as the “goofy doctor.” I base this opinion off of what the two doctors wear and how I see their personalities through their actions. The ninth doctor wears a leather jacket with jeans, and I see this as him trying to come across as “cool” to the audience. The tenth doctor wears a suit with tennis shoes which is why I see him as goofy. I also think the ninth doctor has a more serious expression most of the time, while the tenth doctor seems to be more easy-going. While the ninth doctor also has his goofy moments, I feel that he is overall more serious than the tenth doctor.

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The main reason I like the ninth doctor more than the tenth doctor is the way he treats the aliens that appear in the show.  Both doctors are compassionate towards the aliens, but I feel that the ninth doctor takes things a lot more seriously than the tenth doctor, based on what I have seen so far. He shows that he truly cares and understands more than others do. An example of this is in the episode “Aliens of London” when they are trying to catch he fake alien. I think the ninth doctor has a very good balance of assertiveness and compassion and therefore why I like him more than the tenth doctor.

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I will leave you with some quotes that will further help explain why I would choose the ninth doctor over the tenth doctor.

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