By Rob Roglev, Associate Director Online Design, DK Publishing
Whovians rejoice! That special timey-wimey time of year is once again upon us. As the new season of Doctor Who fast approaches, rumors regarding the fate of fan favorite "The Impossible Girl" Clara Oswald abound. The Doctor's companions have always had a profound effect on his character and even his wardrobe, so anytime there's a change in the TARDIS's passenger manifest, things are bound to go all wibbily-wobbly in short order. To help get a handle on who the good Doctor may find himself traversing the universe with next, it be-Who-oves us to take a quick look back at a few of his more notable companions from the last decade.
Who can forget what is perhaps the saddest farewell ever to grace basic cable? Rose Tyler, humble shop assistant turned time traveler, is sucked into a parallel dimension to live the rest of her days with a human clone of her beloved Doctor, spawned from the Gallifreyan's own severed hand! Yes, Rose's character arc has it all. Rose embodies all those qualities the Doctor covets in humanity: intelligence, empathy, bold enthusiasm, and a shining wit. It's no wonder he loves her, which makes the pregnant pause of their final parting all the more heartbreaking. (Tell her you love her dammit!) I may never look at a craggily Norwegian shoreline the same way again.
Rose's family-oriented, working-class roots find their opposite in the Doctor's next companion, the indomitable Martha Jones. A budding doctor in the more traditional sense (she only has the one heart), Martha quickly proves her worth as she not only rescues the Doctor upon their first meeting, but manages to save the Earth as well—repeatedly.
Like her predecessor, Martha too finds herself falling for this strange being with awesome hair, but alas, the Doctor's undying love for Rose eventually forces her to leave the TARDIS for good. Fear not fellow humans, Martha's alien hunting escapades continue with new love and husband Mickey Smith, Rose Tyler's jilted ex-boyfriend. Yes, this plot line has more twists than an Ood's tentacles.
The Doctor-Donna—now there's a mouthful. A crass loudmouth with rampant self-doubt and anger issues, we're first introduced to Donna Nobel when she's mysteriously transported from her wedding to the TARDIS just as our favorite Time Lord has come to grips with the loss of Rose. No real loss for the former, as Donna soon discovers her fiancé has been spiking her coffee on behalf of a huge red humanoid spider bent on world domination. (Note to self: when giant alien arachnids are involved, ALWAYS get a prenup.)
This rather ignominious and brief encounter soon becomes the basis of an unlikely friendship, as Donna reveals her compassionate side, saving the Doctor from his baser instincts. Sadly, having fused with the Doctor's severed hand in a bid to save the universe (I sense a pattern here), the now Doctor-Donna cannot survive with the totality of the Time Lord's knowledge and essence inside her. To save her life, the Doctor wipes her memory of him and sets off alone once again.
Little seven-year-old Amelia "Amy" Pond first encounters her "Raggedy Man" when the TARDIS crashes into her aunt's front yard. Having lost her parents to a mysterious crack in time, Amelia entreats the Doctor to investigate the rip, which manifests on her bedroom wall. A promise to return within five minutes and whisk her away for a ride to the stars has the Doctor missing the next twelve years of the young girl's life. (In his defense, that's how Time Lords roll.)
"The Girl Who Waited" grows up with a sense of abandonment not only from the absence of her parents, but from having to explain the "imaginary" man in a box to her family and a slew of psychiatrists. All becomes forgiven as a now confident and fearless Amy Pond accompanies the Doctor—along with Rory, her own companion and future husband—on many wild adventures, saving his life on more than one occasion, and even giving birth to his future wife. Timey-wimey indeed!
All of which brings us to "The Impossible Girl" Clara Oswald, who earns that moniker by sacrificing her very existence to rescue the Doctor by entering his time stream—splintering herself into infinite incarnations that come to the aid of the Time Lord in all way points of time and space. (Now THAT'S friendship.)
Like Rose before her, Clara also holds the distinction of being companion to a regenerated Doctor. It's always intriguing when the Doctor/Companion relationship is rebooted in this manner, as it brings a new energy to the narrative. Given there's much to learn from one another, I'm one who hopes "The Impossible Girl" sticks around a while longer.
Being a Blu-ray binging newcomer to the world of Doctor Who, I find my well-worn and dog-eared copies of DK's Doctor Who: The Visual Dictionary and Doctor Who: Character Encyclopedia invaluable as I navigate the rich universe of characters, places, and moments. If you don't know your Silurians from your Slitheen, and your inner Dalek just can't get into EXTERMINATing much of anything, these books will help you get through that next watch party with your geek cred intact. You may never be an actual Time Lord, but at least you can act like one.
BBC © 2015