Saturday, February 21, 2015

List of the Worst Doctor Who Companions

Update: I think I shall have to release a revised list. I met Lisa Greenwood at Regen Who 4 and I can't go on hating Flip anymore.

A companion piece, so to speak, to an earlier post about the best companions in Doctor Who.

We'll open with two runners-up who did not quite make this list.

Adric: I actually don't hate Adric. He wasn't great, but he wasn't terrible either. He had a good relationship with the Fourth Doctor, and a bad one with the Fifth,

and I even feel a little sympathy for him. Every awkward introvert wants to be Rose, making the tough choices, being brave and saving the Doctor through your own ingenuity, where it's more likely that most of us would wind up closer to Adric. He just wanted to be liked, but he didn't know how, and the skills that made him stand out on Alzarius were common coin in the TARDIS,  He even gets what's probably the best death scene of the original series. (Sorry, Katarina. Second place again.)

Roz Forrester: One from the novels. She's a deeply nasty person, who, when on the sidelines of a murder investigation in The Also People, decides she'd rather hamper the investigation and take cheap shots at the victim. When marooned in Earth's past, she decides to murder one of Lincoln's ancestors, in hope that the act will draw the Doctor's attention. I hated her as an individual, but found her interesting as a character. I was never bored when I was reading about her.

The Ten Worst Companions in Doctor Who

And these polka dots, man.
It looks like she's trying to show up the Sixth Doctor.
Mel: Unfortunately, the same can't be said for Mel. I have nothing against Bonnie Langford. She's a child star who managed to transition into adulthood, and experienced success after her run on Doctor Who. So, good for her.

 I liked her in the One Doctor, one of the funniest audios, and she was decent in He Jests at Scars.  But she was rubbish on TV, When her memorable traits are "Screams on key" and "Loves Carrot Juice", she just never had a chance.

No caption could make this picture more ridiculous
Kamelion: Ha ha ha. His love is real, but he is not. Nobody seems to be able to think of Kamelion without smirking. I know I can't. You'd think that he'd be pretty extreme, seeing as his creator mispelled his name with a K, but no, he sucks.

I recall hearing a story that the operator who ran him died suddenly without leaving instructions, and nobody could figure out what to do with him. (You'd think that they'd be able to work around this limitation, seeing as he can look like anybody, but no dice.)

Also, he apparently killed a bunch of people.

Goodbye Kamelion. You still had a better run than Katarina.

Charlotte Pollard: Ugh. Charley is just the worst. She's a magnificently sanctimonious hypocrite with a psychotic lack of empathy. Whenever the TARDIS materializes in a locked room with a dead body, and Charlotte picks up the bloody knife just in time for the dead man's friends to see her standing over the corpse with the murder weapon in hand, her only response is a monumental tantrum of pissy indignation that they might have some a few questions for her.

She had a tenure of about eighty-five years with the Eighth Doctor, and just when we thought we were rid of her, she starts travelling around with the Sixth. Apparently she also has her own adventures after he ditches her, but you couldn't pay me to listen to them. Charlotte is just the worst.

Susan: Oh, you named the TARDIS did you? What a load of shit. Remember that time when you saw a monster and all you did was collapse and scream? And the other time?And the time after that?

The one good thing I'll say about Susan is that her relationship with the Doctor gives Whovians something to talk about when we're bored.

There is a Big Finish audio play called "An Earthly Child", which is pretty clever (though the best punning title of a Classic Doctor Who story is "The Horror of Glam Rock"), but that's not enough to make Susan cool.

Susan is just the worst.

Sock it to me!
Polly: The best thing I can say about Polly is that she's portrayed by an actor named Anneke Wills, which is a really cool name. She was almost unimaginably generic, and yet she's featured in nine stories! That's as many as Ace or Leela! What kind of world do we live in?!

Apparently, Anneke Wills played Charley's mom in a Big Finish Production, which seems apt. Polly is just the worst.

Nine stories. Christ.

Dodo: Dodo is the one character who unites all the various factions of Doctor Who fandom, in that we can all agree to hate her. The writers who chronicled her adventures after she left the TARDIS certainly did. She had a nervous breakdown and was killed by a mad gunman, but not before contracting space gonorrhea. This is after her last televised appearance, where she wandered away after being mind controlled by a malevolent AI, and the Doctor shows absolutely fuck all interest in her well-being.

Were she anyone else, I would feel kind of bad piling on to the mountain of hate she already receives, but seeing as it's Dodo, I'm just going to make the obligatory "Dead as a Dodo" joke and move on.

Yearbook photo:
Most likely to suck.
Ben Jackson: Man, the First Doctor sure had a lot of shit companions, didn't he? Ben is a seamen (heh heh). I first saw Doctor Who when Tom Baker was the Doctor, and when Harry Sullivan and Sarah Jane were his companions. I thought Harry Sullivan, naval surgeon renowned far and wide for his astounding blandness, was the most amazingly boring companion imaginable.

I envy my youthful naivete. Harry Sullivan is the improved version of Ben.

Ben was just the worst.

Flip Jackson: Speaking of companions named Jackson. Ugh. She's Rose Lite. I actually appreciated Rose a lot during her early run. She was a great audience surrogate, she had guts, she didn't do as she was told, she asked the smart questions. She did what the viewer would have done in her place.

The Parting of the Ways would have been a great capstone to her adventures with the Doctor, except that it wasn't. She went another twenty seasons with Tennant. RTD certainly loved her, didn't he? It was like watching the prophecy from the Lego movie"...And be the greatest, most interesting, Most important person of all times. All this is true, because it rhymes."

Now this is Flip, not Rose, but you'd be hard pressed to tell the difference. She has the same background, same personality, same origin story, right down to kissing her boring boyfriend right before she leaves him behind to adventure with the Doctor.

I don't really like Rose, but she gets a pass for the purposes of this list because she was a great introduction to the show for new, lapsed or casual viewers. I'd be extremely surprised if this wasn't deliberate, as Rose remains extremely popular.  However, we don't need that kind of audience surrogate in the audio plays, where Flip appears, which have been ongoing for more than ten years and hundreds of stories.

Flip is just the worst.

Take it from me, Peri. Your duck face will
kill it in the future.
Peri: I've often said that a no-budget show like Doctor Who, noted as much for its engaging writing and memorable characters as it is for its shoddy visual effects was ideally suited for the audio play format. I've always loved the title theme, and it has a number of great song effects as well, the TARDIS, the voices of the Cybermen and the Daleks, the Dalek's death rays, just to name a few. Even from the very beginning, the audio elements of Doctor Who have been excellent. There's nothing wrong with how the show sounds.

Unless they're trying to do an American accent. John Barrowman can pull it off, because he grew up over here, but no one in any way affiliated with Big Finish can manage even a slightly convincing accent. It's awful.  Even when they do manage to dig up someone who remembers how we pronounce our Rs, they just don't seem to know what words we use. Dear Doctor Who writers, no American has ever said, "I got out of my lorry and ate a biscuit whilst I rode the lift up to my flat." It's not some obscure tribal dialect! Hugh Laurie can do it! It's not that hard! Just pronounce the words the way they are meant to be said!

Where's Henry Higgins when you need him?

Nicola Bryant has been playing the role since 1984. That's more than THIRTY YEARS! And yet her accent, so called, is no better than it was back during her original press tour when she claimed to be an American.

Peri has nothing to redeem her, and is just the worst. Except for...

River Song: The monkey's paw version of Romana II.

(Urkel voice): "Did I do that?"

Steven Moffat is an extremely talented writer when given proper supervision. Unfortunately, when he doesn't get it,  he's a boorish, sexist hack with a profound lack of knowledge of, and respect for the source material, who writes everything like a spec script for Coupling. Barring Mary Whitehouse, it's hard to imagine a less suitable showrunner.

Moffat did not understand that the Hark A Vagrant Strong Female Characters strip was not intended as a guidebook.

She starts out a great character in an excellent story. I was like "Hey, it's an actress older than 23! Hey! It's that lady from ER!" I loved her first appearance, and loved someone who had a relationship with the Doctor on her terms.

She dies in that story, but I hoped we'd see some of the earlier (from her perspective) adventures. But by the time she returns, Moffat is firmly in charge, and like George Lucas before him, he does not wield his total creative control responsibly, but more like Chris Farley treats potential sales in Tommy Boy

She started out as a great character, and ended up as the Queen of the Mary Sues, one step up from a Nibovian Wife, one of the countless legions hopelessly besotted with the Doctor.

I think that's why I hate her so much. She had so much potential to be a great character in anyone else's hands. Moffat says he has a fetish for powerful women, and his critics (rightly, in my opinion), say that he has a fetish for powerful women being brought low, and there is certainly a great deal of support for this point of view in his body of work. It's a shame that the character that River could have been was instead sacrificed on the altar of his spank bank.

River really is the worst.


  1. I'm glad I'm not the only one who hated Charley. She's so obnoxious. She's also an idiot with no sense of self preservation. I started hating her in Minuet in Hell where she had zero objections to being forced into human slavery, or being made to dress like an S&M sex slave to the devil. Either she didn't care, or she cared and is so boring you'd never guess.

  2. Ugh, Minuet in Hell may be the worst Big Finish production of all time, full stop.

    Someone over on the Big Finish forums recently posted a poll on the best BF Doctor Who companions. Evelyn had a commanding lead when I voted, but I was surprised to see how many people liked Charley.

  3. I love Charley. She's a hell of a lot better than Rose, as far as I'm concerned. As I see it, the New Who was so concerned with not turning Billie Piper into a Barbie Doll that they moved too far in the other direction and made her into Wonder Woman. It wasn't any more believable, and was grating much of the time. As far as Flip Jackson is concerned, I think she's awesome--accurately described as "Rose Tyler done right."

    1. I disagree, but that's kind of what I love about Doctor Who fandom. It's a big tent and people who like entirely different things about it can each be lifelong fans.