Tuesday, October 4, 2011

This Pond Life

The sixth season of the new Doctor Who has just finished. So let us consider the problem of the Doctor's current companion Amy Pond as played by Karen Gillan. Her red-haired good looks make her a bit of a fan favourite, especially, you know, for the dads. But is she a good companion?

The original idea of a little girl who has a rift in time lurking in a crack in her bedroom wall was interesting. Her encounter with the raggedy doctor and then the timey-wimey stuff that led her to become the "girl who waited" was also fun and gave us a terrific introduction to Matt Smith's eleventh Doctor.

The thing about being a companion to the Doctor is that it changes the person somehow. It's not always clearly stated but we get the impression that after they leave the Tardis the Doctor's companions go on to do interesting or even great things. We know that Sarah Jane Smith carried on investigating strange events after she parted company with the fourth Doctor. She was still doing so when she encountered the tenth Doctor in School Reunion. Companions from the new series of Who have gone on to work for Torchwood and UNIT. Donna Noble even became a human-Time Lord hybrid for a short while before being reverted to human and having her memory wiped.

When the adult Amy Pond meets the Doctor she is working as a kissogram girl. During her time as a companion she encounters Daleks, Cybermen and the Weeping Angels. She gets married, has a bizarre concealed pregnancy, is replaced by a plastic doppelganger and is then conveniently moved out of the way to allow the Doctor to have another episode of just him and James Corden larking around. And what happens to her after that?

There is always terrific tension in the battle of wills when the Doctor encounters one of his greatest foes, Davros. It is their verbal sparring that really makes these meetings spark. In the Stolen Earth and Journey's End episodes at the end of the fourth season Davros memorably criticises the Doctor who refuses to use weapons himself but who "takes people and turns them into weapons". It was a telling blow and one that the tenth Doctor seemed unable to answer. It could even be seen as a criticism of the new Doctor Who itself. But what would Davros say about Amy Pond's character development? "You take people and turn them into ... perfume models."

That's what Pond has become after leaving the Tardis, a famous perfume model. I know I'm not the first Who fan to point this out but it's not exactly an impressive role-model career path is it? From kissogram to perfume model. Couldn't Steven Moffat have given her a job that reflected what she had been through better than just moving to another job that she got because she looks good?

And while we're on this subject what about her baby? Obviously the identity of who her baby turns out to become is a bit of a large spoiler. And I can understand that the timey-wimey stuff means that she has little control over the sequence of events. But do we really believe that Amy and Rory would just give up in the search for their abducted child? It would seem that the Doctor can distract them with a nice house, an E-Type Jag for Rory and a modelling contract for Amy. "Oh well, this is a very nice lifestyle. We'll give up the search for Melody."

Actually I preferred what they did with Amy in the episode The Girl who Waited. At least the older, samurai sword wielding Amy was cool. I assume Karen Gillan will be back for season seven, maybe Steven Moffat will do something better with her then.

1 comment:

  1. The problem I have with Amy is that I find her bossy, petulant, gobby, patronising and far too ready to accept everything she sees. At least Donna freaked out at the Ood (which we all would on first glance).

    That's not a reflection on Karen Gillan, who is a good actor and obviously performing what she's been given. In many ways she reminds me of Tegan - and I wasn't that fond of her either.

    She also falls into this New Who zone where the companion has to be the centre of attention, which still drives me nuts - and I do think that her whole storyline, although it started well, has gone way over the top and is one of the reasons I haven't really enjoyed this series as much.

    Oh well, I've no doubt that in years to come we'll look back on all the hoo-hah surrounding New Who and laugh...