When the cogs and chains of Doctor Who started groaning back to life in 2005, it was clear to everyone that some things would be different than the classic era and some would be the same. To this, there were two general questions- what would be different and would it be better than it was before?
Perhaps the most notable thing about Doctor Who is the man after which it is named. With each regeneration, something new and fantastic comes to the show, refreshing the audience and breaking their souls all at the same time. The Doctor is, perhaps, the single most important part of Doctor Who. However, there has been something notably different about the newer re-generations on Doctor Who – the Doctor has gotten hot.
Nine, Ten, and Eleven are all far younger than the Doctors cast in the classic era – in fact, Matt Smith is the youngest actor to ever play the Doctor. With youth comes good looks, and with that, an entire new question comes into play: should the Doctor fall in love with his companion?
The knee jerk response (for me, at least) is no. The Doctor most certainly should not be falling in love with his companion. Doctor Who is not about a love story between a man and a woman, Doctor Who is the love story between a man and his giant blue telephone box – that’s bigger on the inside. Yet somewhere between “Rose” and “Doomsday,” we fell in love with the Doctor and Rose falling in love. We watched Ten and Rose interact and watched them ache for each other and we knew that, inevitably, they were going to break each other’s hearts.
But that was okay. After all, it was just one time.
Then there was Martha. Martha is a strong, smart, confident, independent woman. And then the Doctor comes in and basically ruins it all. Sure, she’s still strong, smart, confident, and independent. But all of that is pushed aside because she is desperately in love with the Doctor (as everybody is, let’s be honest). What ends up defining Martha’s character is the fact that she cannot deal with being on board with a man who will never want her the way that she wants him. Ten, like the rest of the audience, is still mourning Rose. It causes Martha to throw everything away. All the places that she could go and the worlds that she could be seeing are taken away in an instant as she does what no other character in the new series has done – Martha walks.
After Martha comes the fiery, sassy, and independent Donna. From the moment her character is introduced, she is very clear about not falling in love with the Doctor. Thus begins one of the most epic bromances of the new series. With Ten and Donna, there’s no complication of will they/won’t they. There’s no waiting for them to kiss or wasting time watching them flirt. The two had a beautiful friendship, and that is why, whenever I ask many people who their favorite companions are, Donna is usually close to the top of the list.
Upon the arrival of Matt Smith, things changed once more. Amy was immediately sexually attracted to him, but she wasn’t the only one. Random characters started flirting with the Doctor and commenting on how attractive he is. This character became oddly sexualized, so much so that it occasionally became worthy of eye rolling. No matter where Eleven went, there was always some character lusting after him, including (but not limited to) Amy, River, Clara, and Queen Nefertiti. When Matt Smith became the Doctor, it felt like the writers assumed that he was so young and attractive that they had to make every female character fall in love with him.
Needless to say, it got wearing.
As each female character tumbled towards Eleven in her lust, love, and romantic intentions, many viewers became more and more annoyed with the female characters on Doctor Who. Mostly, they were annoyed that romance has seemed to take over this timeless show. By the time Clara came around to be the third legitimate love interest for Eleven, many people had grown tired of the pointless storylines. It wasn’t new and fun anymore, like with Rose. It was just old and felt forced.
So now, when Peter Capaldi is swoops in to take over the role, it’s no surprise that people are becoming confused by it. After all, Moffat has seemed to be setting up a love story for the two all this time, and many people feel that Whoffle cannot go on with a 55 year old man and a 27 year old woman. The Doctor is over a thousand years old, and this 28 year age difference should seem reasonably surmountable in comparison, but many shippers feel that this is the death of their ship.
The fact of the matter is, things on the show are, once more, changing. Yes, the writers have spent all this time developing yet another love story, this time between the 30 year old Smith’s Eleven and Coleman’s Clara. But with each regeneration comes a new Doctor, and one should not be thinking about whether he wants to ship the Doctor with Clara, but whether he wants to ship Twelve with Clara.
I’ve always had a rule (made necessary by the more recent series of Doctor Who) that each Doctor should have one love interest. For me, personally, it was Rose for Nine, Rose for Ten, and River for Eleven. Introducing a love triangle, for me, would take away much of the magic and appeal of the show. This is the Doctor. He didn’t borrow (steal) the TARDIS in order to go around romancing women and gallivanting through relationships. He borrowed it to have brand new and excellent adventures.
I’m not sure who I will ship Twelve with – whether it will be Clara, another companion, or anyone at all. What I am sure of, is that this fandom is more than ready to have another Donna. We are ready to bring back the bromance, the teasing that isn’t flirting, and the genuine relationships that do not have to revolve around romance.
After all, the Doctor is in love with the universe and the good people that reside in it. There probably isn’t much space left in his heart after that.
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