For the second time in this year of Daily Doctor who, I’m relying on an old post to get me through the tough times.
(Daily Doctor Who #261)
A few years ago I spent time each week answering a “geeky question” courtesy of my friend Rod. Well, one day, he asked me this question:
What five Doctor Who companions would I select to be a special team assigned to assist the X-Files‘ Mulder & Scully in their ongoing battle against government conspiracies and aliens?
Here is my answer, written before I had gotten to know Graham, Yaz and Ryan from the most recent seasons. However, if I had written it later, I don’t think my answer would have changed.
The premise behind what Rod is thinking about here is that the Doctor (from Doctor Who), has essentially trained multiple people to be an anti-alien task force, and Mulder and Scully (the main characters of The X-Files) could really use some help, because in spite of their seminal coolness, they were incredibly inept at dealing with the Cigarette-Smoking Man, Krycek, the black oil, and aliens in general. So, if that’s true, than who would be on that team?
Now, it’s worth noting that while I’m quite familiar with Doctor Who and the minutia of its characters, I’m far less so than with The X-Files. I do know that that over the show’s original 9 year run (plus a couple of recent revival series) it built an elaborate mythology involving a lot of shadowy government conspiracies, an imminent extra-terrestrial invasion, a smallpox disease (or something) being released through bees, some semi-sentient alien black oil, and much more, though I don’t know if it all ever added up into a coherent picture. But that’s okay, for the purposes of this exercise, I don’t really need to understand it all.
So anyway, to do this, the first thing we have to do is identify exactly which Doctor Who characters are Companions and which aren’t (an increasingly difficult task). Fortunately, I have just done that, in this post. Of course it’s full of my opinions and interpretations, but that’s what we’re running with here.
And just for clarity’s sake, when we talk about picking Companions, my rule is going to be that person (or machine) is coming from a point in time immediately prior to the start of his / her / its final TV story as a Companion. So, for example, if I were to pick Rose Tyler, this would be Rose Tyler from just before Army of Ghosts began, because that’s part 1 of the story that marked the end of her time as a Companion. It doesn’t mean Rose Tyler from Turn Left / The Stolen Earth / Journey’s End, when she’d gotten all connected with big shot scientists and so on. Or if I choose Jo Grant, she’s a scatterbrained security agent / lab assistant from the start of The Green Death, not a scatterbrained grandmother social activist as we see in Death of the Doctor from The Sarah Jane Adventures.
Then you have to think about what sort of skills you want to have on your special task force. It’s tempting to say the we want our guys to be particularly cunning or stealthy or even ruthless, to deal with the sort of threats that Agents Mulder & Scully were used to facing. But, I’ve decided to not make that a priority. These are Doctor Who characters, trained by the Doctor himself for this mission. While the Doctor is certainly crafty and clever, he often is also incredibly forthright: you’re an evil alien tyrant intent on subjugating the masses? Well, the Doctor is the guy who is just going to stand up in the midst of your throne room and tell you that he is going to stop you. You may think he doesn’t stand a chance against your bred-for-destroying armies, but he won’t be shy in telling you that by the time he’s done, your armies will be defeated, your doomsday weapon blown up, and your slaves inspired to rise up hope again.
So for my guys, I’m going to emphasize courage, intelligence, and teamwork–sort of coming in the opposite spirit as the creepy conspiracies in the X-Files.
Anyway, let’s have a look at our candidates.
There are 40 of them, but a bunch will be rejected outright without a second thought (incidentally, it’s worth mentioning that I like a lot of these people as Companions, they are just not right for my special squad), including:
Susan, Vicki, Steven Taylor, Katarina, Dodo Chaplet, Polly, Ben Jackson, Victoria Waterfield, Tegan Jovanka, Peri Brown, Melanie Bush, Rose Tyler, Jack Harkness, Mickey Smith, Donna Noble, Amy Pond, Bill Potts
Many of these guys are brave and resourceful, some of them are good in a fight, and Steven Taylor can fly a spaceship, but they don’t really bring what I want to the table. Susan is Gallifreyan, so maybe there’d be some special ability there, but it’s not something we ever really saw during her time on the show. Melanie is meant to be a computer programmer with eidetic memory, but it’s not really enough to make me take her seriously. And it’s worth remembering that this is Mickey Smith just before he met the Cybermen in Rise of the Cyberman, not the gun-toting tough guy he turned into later on. Similarly, at this point Jack Harkness isn’t the immortal leader of a covert earth-protecting organization, he was just a charming con-man and former time-agent. Nothing really special for our purposes here.
Furthermore, I’m also going to be eliminating these guys:
• Turlough – He’s got cunning to spare and the advantage of extra-terrestrial knowledge, but he’s a bit of a coward and not really strong enough to be part of my group. However, he’d be a great guy to have in some sort of Companion-filled “black ops” group, which I guess is another post all together.
• K9 Mark I and Romana (1st Incarnation) – If I was going to pick either of these I’d go with their successors instead, K9 Mark II and the 2nd incarnation of Romana. The 2nd K9 was built by the Doctor himself and no doubt is an improved model, and 2nd Romana simply has the benefit of all of the first’s knowledge and experience, plus more.
But having said that, I’m not going to bring either of them along either.
• K9 Mark II has got a lot of useful abilities, but is also highly limited. He’s basically useless with water, or over stairs, or so on. Plus he doesn’t really bring the relational dynamic I’m looking for.
• With Romana (2nd Incarnation), it feels a bit like I’d be cheating. She’s in many ways a female Doctor (which is a funny thing to say now, now that we actually have a female Doctor). She’s knows a lot and is very capable, but I’m not confident she’d work effectively with the team. It seems like she’d be prone to running off and trying to do everything herself, which is not what I want.
• Jo Grant – She’s got a little bit of martial arts and spy skills, but really she’s usually pretty ditzy and confused about technical things. She does have an uncle who is connected to the United Nations, but he’d probably end up being part of the conspiracy and just a bigger liability. So, no Jo Grant.
• Kamelion – A shape shifting robot might be just the thing we need for fighting a covert menace like this, but probably Kamelion would end up just having his mind subjugated by some black ooze or something, and end up trying to kill us. So, no thanks.
So, who do I want? Let’s identify them by their specialty, by their role on the team. First of all, we need an investigator of some sort.
The Investigator: Sarah Jane Smith (Elisabeth Sladen)
Sarah Jane is a journalist…an investigative reporter. That capacity to dig up info, that’s going to be one of the most important skills that we could have in our team. Because though the truth, as they say, is out there, it’s going to take someone determined to ferret it out. And I’ll say it again, this is Sarah Jane when she was a gutsy 30 year old, not when she was later an adopted mother who went on missions to find aliens with the help of a supercomputer and a sonic lipstick and what not.
Next up, I want a fighter, someone who is good in a punch-up, who can take a hit and keep hitting back.
An option for this that occurred to me is little-known Companion Sara Kingdom, who is a security agent from the distant future, proficient with weapons and hand-to-hand combat, and with a lot of future-tech knowledge thrown in to boot. However, she was a bit of a loose canon, and not necessarily the person for the group dynamic I’m trying to create. Also, if I follow my own rules and take her from just before her last story began, than that means I’m taking her from before she debuted on the show, since she only ever appeared in one (albeit long) story! And when she first appeared, she was definitely an adversary, and not an ally, to the Doctor. So, no Sara Kingdom.
I also strongly considered Leela for this role, with her “savage” approach to dealing with the Doctor’s enemies. Plus I like Leela a lot. But she sticks out a bit, in a crowd, and though I don’t want to go fully “undercover” with this group, they have to have the ability to at least lie-low. And Leela’s degree of cunning as a hunter I think might make some of the others nervous.
A third contender for this job was Ace, the punk from the late 20th century who had a penchant for flinging herself into danger and blowing things up. But I felt like her actual fighting prowess was a bit more limited. So in the end, I went with the only other obvious choice.
The Fighter: Jamie McCrimmon (Fraizer Hines)
Jamie was a Highland Scot from the 18th Century, used to fighting for his land and for his clan against overwhelming odds. He knows both how to be sneaky and how to fight in open warfare. But with all of that, he’s also affable and friendly, incredibly loyal and resourceful, with the ease of manner that our team needs. Jamie was additionally capable of going “undercover” when the situation demanded, and unlike some others from “the past”, he never let his technological disadvantage get the better of him, learning easily what he needed to discover to help the Doctor and get things done.
And now that our fighter is settled, I’d like to bring in the opposite, a healer.
There are a few medical people amongst the Doctor’s companions. One was Harry Sullivan, a naval surgeon. Another was Rory Williams, a nurse. Neither of them, though, bring much else to the table aside from their medical skills.
(Now, a quick note on Rory–it’s true that he’s got the capacity to become a fearsome combatant–just witness the way he makes a whole fleet of Cybermen in A Good Man Goes to War cower at his presence (just before he blows them up). But this only seems to activate when his wife Amy is in trouble. So unless we’re going to bring Amy along as some sort of femme fatale / damsel-in-distress, I don’t think we’ll go with Rory.)
The Healer: Martha Jones (Freema Agyeman)
The reason I like Martha for this job is not only that she’s a doctor, but also an inspirer, and a coalition-builder. We see this in the way she manages to pull people together to help the Doctor to win in The Last of the Time Lords. She’s also highly adaptable, able to function easily in a lot of situations, including with the likes of UNIT and Torchwood (these both came later in her personal timeline, but we do know it’s something she’s capable of).
Another important contribution that Martha will bring to our team is that she’s “local” to the time-frame that The X-Files takes place in. Actually, if we set this whole scenario in about 1996, (around Season 4 of the TV show) that she’s actually from about 10-11 years in the future, but that’s closer than anyone else on our list. Sarah Jane is next, and she’s from about 15+ years in the past, so not as useful. I think having someone who is familiar with the local time and place and customs and so on would be really useful, especially someone as flexible as Martha is.
Another key role that I want to have fulfilled is the scientist. And since Martha is from contemporary earth, this will be an important complement to her basic medical knowledge. It’s critical that we’re not at a major disadvantage because alien technology is more advanced than ours.
Doctor Who has loads of “science-y” people, with many of them being scientists, or aliens, or from the future (where advanced science knowledge is now a standard part of ordinary children’s education, presumably). This includes people like Zoe Herriot, Liz Shaw, and Adric, but I don’t think any of them are what we want.
The Scientist: Nyssa of Traken (Sarah Sutton)
A survivor from a pacifistic culture, Nyssa had a genius intellect and a specialization in bio-electronics. Though her expertise in this field didn’t get mentioned on TV much, it seems to me to be sort of thing that’d be useful when dealing with the biological attacks that featured on The X-Files. She was also a bit of a healer at heart, having ultimately left the Doctor to help find a cure for a terminal space-disease. Nyssa was young and a bit naive about the ways of the universe, but she’d also experienced a lot of darkness (her family and eventually her whole world were destroyed by the Master) and came out relatively whole emotionally, so I think she’d be a useful addition to our team who are fighting against the darkness of X-Files conspiracies, combating not only evil plans but also evil ideals.
So that’s four, we have room for one more. I really wanted to include a leader, someone who I thought was capable of keeping the group focused and on track, and who could make the decisions necessary to move the team forward.
I thought of Clara Oswald for this role. She’s a recent companion who traveled with the 11th and 12th Doctors.
She grew to become one of the most independently capable Companions we’ve ever had, but her weakness was that she also became incredibly arrogant about her own capabilities. We’d be picking her up at the start of Face the Raven, which would mean she’d have been at her most headstrong, which might have ended up making her more of a liability than a strength.
My better pick for this role was Ian Chesterton, part of the series’ original cast. He often served as the leader of the team, back when the Doctor was a cantankerous old man who didn’t always seem completely trustworthy. He was confused and skeptical during his early travels, but we’d be picking him from much later than that so I think he’d fill that role well. He’d also add a bit of extra muscle to the team, to supplement Jamie, as he beat up an astounding number of people considering he was a high school science teacher.
Actually, if I could, I’d pick Ian and Barbara Wright, as Ian’s co-traveler was in a lot of ways more adaptable and perceptive than he was, and as such the two made a great team (and indeed a great marriage, according to every expanded universe story about them ever, and eventually to an episode of The Sarah Jane Adventures.
But, just when I was about to add Ian to the team, I thought of someone else, who had a skill set that I just couldn’t ignore.
The Tech Expert: Nardole (Matt Lucas)
I almost completely forgot about Nardole, one of the series’ most recent companions. Nardole is obviously some futuristic alien, so has some of same general knowledge that Nyssa probably does, but his real expertise is computers and technology. He could fly the TARDIS, use the sonic screwdriver, and most importantly, hack into every computers all over the UK. This is a skill that we really can’t ignore, if our enemies are shadowy government types. By the 1990’s, the internet is underway, and so I think Nardole will end up being an indispensable part of taking down our foes.
So that’s our team: 3 humans, a Trakenite and whatever Nardole is supposed to be. 3 women and 2 men. And incidentally, a Companion who featured on television in the 1960’s (Jamie), 1970’s (Sarah Jane), 1980’s (Nyssa), 2000’s (Martha) and 2010’s (Nardole). We’ve skipped the 90’s because Doctor Who basically skipped the 90’s as well. With the absence of a designated leader, I’m hoping that either Sarah Jane or Martha will rise up to the role, with perhaps Nardole serving as a lieutenant.
Either way, they’d better pull it together. Because the future of earth depends on it.