RATING THE DOCTORS: The Best & Worst Doctor Who Companions Pt. 2 of 2!

While picking the companions I disliked was easy. Narrowing down my five favorite companions is a LOT more difficult, because in 30+ years there have been some great companions. On the whole the good companions far outweighing the ones I dislike.

So narrowing down all those great companions to my five favorite, very difficult, and very subjective. But as stated, having recently watched all 30+ seasons of the show, you can call my choices informed subjectivity.

So without further ado:

I have some issues with Russell T. Davies as discussed in my worst companions posting, but one thing you can’t fault him with is in building up the dynamic/relationship between the Doctor and his female Companion, and doing a great job of casting that companion role… well, and writing it… well.

I think one of the common complaints many actresses who played a companion to the Doctor had, was in the writing of their roles. Davies with the characters of Rose and Martha created companions who had it all, beauty, brains, guts, and adventuresome spirit, and a personality, an aura… magnetic. And roles that complemented the Doctor.

So while I really love a lot of the companions that have been in and out of the ship of time, the two I come back to the most, which is a way of saying the two who are great characters, brought to life by great actresses, and they have great stories under their belt, and a great complement to the doctor… in other words they have it all…

Martha Jones played by the stunning Freema Agyeman and Rose Tyler played by the effervescent Billie Piper. They get the one, two spot.

Sarah Jane- I don’t think any list of best companions would be complete without Sarah Jane, played by the fantastic Elisabeth Sladen, who brought such a caring, and humanity, and belief to her role, and whose tenure bridged both Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker.

Liz Shaw, played by Caroline John, acted opposite Jon Pertwee’s Doctor. And she brought beauty, brains, wit, sophistication to the role, and at the time they thought that was too much. She was too capable, and she was replaced in a single season, with a dumbed down companion Jo Grant(that’s not a kick against Kathy Manning, who played Jo Grant, she quite made that role her own, and made that dynamic work, and became a great, woman of action companion for the bulk of Pertwee’s run). However, it was still an unfortunate replacement because she was a fantastic companion. And you look back at the handful of stories she did and they all stand out as fantastic Doctor Who episodes.

The last spot is a tie between Leela and Ace.

Leela- I really liked the character of Leela, playing opposite Tom Baker’s Dr. Who. Played wonderfully by the beautiful Louise Jameson, I thought she was a very interesting character, but her relationship with Tom Baker’s Doctor, and seemingly Tom Baker himself, was seemingly frictious and dismissive. Possibly because she was such a strong and striking character, and a strong and striking actress, and Tom Baker at the time wanted no competition for the spotlight. But despite the less than stellar dynamic between them, they still were in 2 or 3 of the best story-lines in the history of the series.

And tying her for fifth place was Ace played by Sophie Aldred. Ace was just a fantastic companion, and had a great relationship/chemistry with Sylvester McCoy’s Doctor. And they were in some amazing stories together. Their REMEMBRANCE OF THE DALEKS being easily in the top ten of any list of best Doctor Who stories.

Honorable mentions are:

Ian Chesterton – played by William Russell from 1963 to 1965 with William Hartnell
Barbara Wright – played by Jacqueline Hill from 1963 to 1965 with William Hartnell
Susan – played by Carole Ann Ford from 1963 to 1964 with William Hartnell
The first companions, if they had failed, if their chemistry had failed, we wouldn’t still be talking about the show.

Jamie – played by Frazer Hines from 1966 to 1969 with Patrick Troughton
His chemistry with Patrick Troughton, was a great, almost vaudevillian dynamic.

Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart – played by Nicholas Courtney from 1968 to 1989 with all the “old” Doctors apart from Colin Baker.
While not a companion, Nicholas Courtney’s reoccurring role as Brigadier Stewart, head of the UNIT, was a great addition to the Who mythology, particularly during the earthbound Pertwee era. He’s just a fantastic straight man for the Doctor’s craziness.

Jo Grant – played by Katy Manning from 1971 to 1973 with Jon Pertwee. She took the ditzy role she was given, and made it into a courageous character who would risk anything for the Doctor.

Peri – played by Nicola Bryant from 1984 to 1986 with Peter Davison and Colin Baker.

Let’s be honest, Nicola Bryant was brought in, by hit-and-miss producer Nathan Turner, for T&A… to sex up the show in hopes of salvaging the lackluster Peter Davison years. She was brought in for her huge breasts, and they were paraded prominently.

(Oh come’on don’t get offended, we’re all adults here, and that’s absolutely the truth. They were real, and they were fabulous. :). Oh, I’m joking! )

With the exception of Davison’s last episode, the only thing that was watchable about his tenure, was Nicola Bryant. But surprisingly enough, she was more than just a pretty face and a stunning body, she was a solid actress, and she was exceptionally likable, and this became very obvious during the Colin Baker Doctor years.

Colin Baker off-putting pompous portrayal of the Doctor, only made somewhat palatable because of Nicola Bryant’s Peri. I quite liked her, and unfortunately she was saddled with questionable characterization by the writers of her and her Doctors. But despite that she does manage to be part of 2 or 3 stories that transcended those issues, to be quite entertaining.

So that’s it for this installment. Five favorite companions and the honorable mentions! Feel free to mention your favorite companions.

RATING THE DOCTORS! The best and worst of Doctor Who: The Most Annoying Dr?!!

Who…. is The Most annoying Doctor Who?

Hands down it goes to Colin Baker.

Wait, I do like Colin Baker, I thought he had promise; however his take, the take that was forced on him of that character… playing the role of Doctor Who, like a pompous, prissy, screeching banshee, for most of his run, tends to grate rather than be great.

And how he could act like that while zooming around with one of the most attractive companions, the lovely Nicola Bryant as Peri, is beyond anyone’s understanding. :).

But really it’s no mystery, he was obeying the increasingly more erratic directives of producer John-Nathan Turner, to include the producer’s insistence on that abomination of a costume he wore.

John Nathan for my money, while he had some good decisions, his bad decisions outweighed the good… by far. And he made bad decisions with three ‘Doctor Who’ actors back to back, Tom Baker (Poor scripts, unbearable later companion in Adric, courtesy of John Nathan Turner), Peter Davidson (saddled with that unbearable companion, and just seasons full of pouty, frowning, unlikeable people… courtesy of John-Nathan and the writers) and finally Colin Baker (who had some intriguing episodes, but he was just such an annoying, bitchy harpie, that his performance soured even well written episodes).

So definitely Colin Baker was led down the wrong road in his directive on how to play the character, but I think after those initial episodes it’s very much for the actor to fight for the direction of the character and have a voice in how he wants the writers to portray his character. However, Colin Baker (seemingly) blithely followed orders, bad orders, and like anyone who does that, you end up holding the bag.

Hence he, arguably the actor most willing to please the producer, ended up being the first and only actor to be fired from the role of Doctor Who.

And what we are left with is less than two seasons of pretty annoying and frustrating ‘Doctor Who’. Which is too bad because Colin Baker’s introduction to the show at the end of THE CAVES OF ANDROZONI (which is really one of the best episodes of DOCTOR WHO, easily the best Peter Davidson episode, who unfortunately, like Colin Baker, was saddled with some awful episodes/writing) is fantastic. And I initially was willing to overlook Baker’s crazy outfit and had hopes for his Doctor, unfortunately Colin Baker’s Doctor never grew beyond that annoying, foolish affectation, and indeed it got worse with time.

But there are gems in these season’s despite Colin Baker’s tantrum tossing Doctor. They are:

ATTACK OF THE CYBERMEN by Paula Moore, directed by Matthew Robinson- It’s a surprisingly dark episode, and quite epic, and has enough going on to keep the Doctor’s Annoying factor from going too high. In-fact it’s the coolest and most menacing/vicious the Cybermen have ever been.

THE TWO DOCTORS by Robert Holmes, directed by Peter Moffat- Robert Holmes was a writing God, and even lesser Robert Holmes writing, which this is, is more exciting and intriguing than just about anything else being written for the show. Yet another extremely mature, and slightly disturbing episode. Well performed, and impressive throughout.

And even the last two story arcs of that season, while flawed, are quite compelling and watchable,

TIMELASH by Glen McCoy, directed by Pennant Roberts

REVELATION OF THE DALEKS by Eric Saward, directed by Graeme Harper

I mean honestly, season 22, Colin Baker’s only full season as the Doctor (a truncated season, but he did all the shows) is the most well written the show had been in years, with the glaring (and unforgivable) exception… of the Doctor himself.

The show, responded to dire warnings, unfortunately with a whole season called THE TRIAL OF THE TIME LORD. Everything that was already bad about this new Doctor, this overlong story arc magnified a 1000 times. The single worst season in the 30+ year history of Doctor Who.

I think if Colin Baker had been allowed to play the Doctor, charming rather than churlish, it would have made all the difference.

However he was fired and that opened the door to Sylvester McCoy who is #1 on my next RATING THE DOCTORS post! How’s that for a tease?! :)

Doctor Who: Attack of the Cybermen (Story 138) (See all Sci-Fi & Fantasy Cult Movies)

Doctor Who: The Two Doctors (Story 141) (See all Sci-Fi & Fantasy Cult Movies)