Tuesday, 30 June 2015

TGT Debate - Are Multiple Companions Better?

Last week we discussed whether more two-parters in series 9 was a good thing. 69% of you agreed that it was, while 31% preferred single episodes.

This week we're looking at the companions. With the news the Rigsy will be returning in series 9, this has led us to think whether multiple companions works better than single companions. So, let's find out.

"The Doctor needs a team!" argues Ben

Over the years, the Doctor has had many companions, sometimes travelling with two or three at a time. Let's look at a few examples.

Amy & Rory. This team worked so well, with the bossy girl that waited and the devoted centurion. As the series progressed, we lost Rory (several times) and saw Amy cope with this. Later in their tenure, we also saw what it was like for both of them living normal lives together and how their relationship struggled due to travelling with the Doctor. 

The Dinosaurs on a Spaceship gang. Although this was just for one episode, it worked. The companions were able to go off on their own mini-adventures, exploring the ship together. The fact that they were from different periods in time made the dynamic so much more interesting and added a lot of humour. This is also the case with Time Heist, with the group helping each other and working together.

It's not just recently we've had multiple companions. Back in the day, the Doctor would often invite several friends onto the TARDIS. The most notable being the very first set of companions: Ian, Barbara and Susan. The reason this worked so well was that you had the two humans discovering time travel together, as well as the Gallifreyan girl representing all the children watching the show.

Another memorable team was Adric, Nyssa and Tegan. Although there were three very different personalities, it never felt overcrowded. In fact, this again provided humour and more of a domestic setup in the TARDIS. 

I do understand that sometimes multiple companions doesn't work - Angie and Artie, I'm looking at you - but in general, the episodes with groups of companions have always seemed that bit more exciting to me.

"Just one companion will do!" argues Anna

In a show like Doctor Who, with such a variable cast, it often seems as if someone we only just met has suddenly finished their season and is gone forever. Because of this, I believe that having just one companion is better. With only so many episodes to work with per season, it’s trickier to properly develop characters when there are more of them. Companions are often the most harshly judged by fans, and a badly developed companion would have a huge negative effect on the whole show.

Another thing that immediately comes to mind when I think of multiple companions is Mickey and Rory, who were two of the most prominent new who “second companions”. Not many people seemed too crazy about Rory; he tried to look at the practical side of things, when everyone knows that Doctor Who is often far from practical. After a while, I think we all just got tired of watching him die again and again. In terms of Mickey, I have yet to meet someone made it past “p-p-p-pizza!” and stills thinks Mickey is cool.

Considering they meet new people practically every episode, I don’t think there really needs to be more than one companion. The one-time characters often act as second companions anyway. With so many people to keep track of per episode, I’d just go out of my mind worrying about them all; I mean, more characters for Moffat to kill off, right? Also, with more characters, they’d need more scenes to show what each person is doing, which implying the use of shorter scenes. This would just amount to a bunch of very short clips, which would end up being rather confusing and boring for viewers, as this style would be scattered and jumpy.

As Ben says, a second companion may allow for extra subplots or conflicts, but wouldn’t that just take away from the main plot? I much prefer having just one problem per episode, rather than having to worry about two separate issues. With multiple conflicts, the viewers would have a split focus, which wouldn’t allow them to become fully engaged in either dilemma, causing them to lose interest.

Overall, I think it’s best for extra companions to be kept to only one or two episodes, and for there to be only one main companion per season.

So, you've heard what we think, but what's your opinion? Should the Doctor travel with an entourage, or is he fine with just one companion? Vote in the poll and let us know your comments below.