The Companion Exit Strategy

Traveling with the Doctor changes lives. History has shown us the many natures of such a change: lives that open to a new awareness and sense of purpose in a larger universe; lives that are reminded of the value and comforts of home; lives that end abruptly, or even tragically. As viewers, we may identify with certain companions over the seasons, and when the time comes that they leave the program, we might react positively or negatively to the way in which that departure is written.

This week, joined by Mike Solko of the TimeScoop podcast, we walk the list of modern Doctor Who companions, and discuss how fitting (or unfitting) their exit from the program suited the character. We agree on a few (Donna), disagree pretty emphatically on others (River), but as it happens so often on GPR, we gain a broader perspective of the impact these characters have on the audience, and how much the show has really come to mean to us all.

BONUS: We go around the room, and choose how we would want to leave the TARDIS, if we were companions ourselves. (Ah, fandom.)

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Our 200 Episode Diary

200

From the early recordings of two American fans of Doctor Who ecstatic over the just-aired episode, to the live recordings at Whovian conventions joined by listeners from far and wide, the GPR studio has grown from an extracurricular activity to a critical part of our lives. (I’m speaking personally at the moment, here, but as you’ll hear in the cast, the sentiment is shared.) Five years and 200 installments later, we have made more friends than we can count within this vast, complex, and impressive fan community. We’d say we owe it all to the Doctor, but in truth: we owe it all to you.

Join the GPR trio as we reflect on 200 episodes of our modest Doctor Who podcast, the impact that creating and producing the cast has had on each of our lives, and the profound respect and thanks we have for all those who have contributed, supported, and listened to us for the past half decade. Cheers, mates.

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A Wise Person Once Said…

198

There once was a campaign in the United States for an investment broker, where the tagline read, “When <company> talks, everyone listens.” You may not have an iota of interest in the stock market, of course, but when the Doctor steps forward, takes a strengthening breath, and begins an oration, the viewing audience joins the supporting cast in rapt attention to what is about to be said. It may even be argued that within the past 3 series, the opportunities for and occurrences of these monologues are steadily increasing — much to our fascination.

This week, Keir and Haley tour a series of the Doctor’s most impactful speeches, from short but sweet consolations to a distraught listener, to the arms-wide, sermon-on-the-mount powerhouses that hold armies at bay, and give would-be gods reason to take heed. We discuss the apparent rise in the breadth and content of these speeches, and the adept way that Doctor Who writers have historically written to the strengths of each actor portraying the titular role.

Some referenced moments for your research:

  • First Doctor to Susan, in “Dalek Invasion of Earth”
  • Second Doctor to Victoria, in “Tomb of the Cybermen”
  • Third Doctor to Jo Grant, in “The Time Monster” (thanks to Ian for the suggestion!)
  • Fourth Doctor to Sarah Jane, in “Genesis of the Daleks”
  • Sixth Doctor to the Valeyard and Inquisitor, in “Trial of a Timelord”
  • Ninth Doctor to Rose, in “Parting of the Ways”
  • Tenth Doctor soliloquy, in “The Waters of Mars”
  • Eleventh Doctor to the assembled armada, in “The Pandorica Opens”
  • Twelfth Doctor to Bonnie, in “The Zygon Inversion”

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Let It Be Written

Doctor Who Writers

We are appreciators, enthusiasts, and fanatics of certain television programs due in no small part to the captivating nature of the stories they tell. They are the creators and builders of worlds, the artists that add color, detail, and depth to an audio-visual experience that captures our imaginations, stimulates our minds, and often touches our hearts. With over 250 televised stories within Doctor Who, how does each writer put their individual and unique mark upon the tale being told? Can a producer or showrunner look to a repertoire of wordsmiths, knowing which ones can fulfil certain wishes or needs for the program’s trajectory in a given season? What aspects of fledgling writers stand out to make them ideal candidates to be given a first opportunity to write for the program?

This week, we look at the contributions of a series of beloved Doctor Who writers, classic and new, veteran and freshman. We discuss the nature of their individual craft, what impact their stories had upon the DWU both within their respective seasons and beyond, and what adept skills many of them demonstrate when penning a script for the Doctor. From the prolific Robert Holmes, to the acclaimed Paul Cornell, to brilliant newcomer Sarah Dollard, the pen so often proves mightier than the sonic screwdriver.

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Continuity Concerns

The 1980 UNIT Problem

If you were to take on a writing prompt asking you to compose a five-line scene where two well-known literary characters address a mundane event like a car that won’t start, and then asked another writer to do the same, the odds are extremely high that very little of those brief compositions would bear any resemblance other than the components that adhered to the original guideline. Even within such a microcosmic scope, the number of variables that define a fictional story is so large, the possible results are virtually infinite. Scale that variance to the n-th degree, now, and consider the 52-year, multiple-media realm of Doctor Who lore (and dare we say, canon). The breadth of established content is massive, growing larger by the day, and any writer saddled with creating an engaging and entertaining story that remains true to the characters and respectful of that canon is in for a Herculean effort. Add a dash of critical and prolific curative fans on forums and social media, and the analogy of the writer ‘under the microscope’ (dare we say, miniscope?) intensifies.

This week, the GPR staff looks at efforts by Doctor Who writers and producers to adhere to continuity in a program based on time travel, pseudo-science, and identity change. We look at the walls between canon and creative freedom, the perils of paradoxes, and whether or not it’s worth worrying about writing your successors into a corner.

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