The 2006 Round Table: Character Closure

After discussing Sarah Jane and K-9, things moved on. In terms of character development, Season 28/Series 2 took Doctor Who into new territory. In the past, only the principle companion had been even vaguely moved by their experiences with the Doctor, with only occasional exceptions such as Jo Grant and Turlough. How then, were Rose and Mickey treated by the writers, in 2006?

Anthony Dry: “The writers just seemed to want to make her a pain in the backside for the Doctor, whether it is being jealous, smart – assed, shoved to the sidelines or bossy.” Simon Mills thinks similarly, noting that “Such promise from the first series, frittered needlessly away in the second. She just turned into this gormless youth – surely by now she should have learnt to show respect for authority figures? And why was she winding up Queen Victoria? That’s just downright rude and disrespectful and didn’t sit well with me.”

Steve Preston wasn’t a big fan of Mel Bush or Ace back in the late 1980s. “I didn’t feel particularly attached to her character, she was just too goddamn ordinary – um – which I suppose was the point, but it just wasn’t my cuppa. Series 1 was good for Rose and Piper, giving her centre stage ahead of the Doctor and giving the series’ story arc to her in the shape of Bad Wolf. Series 2 promised much for Rose with new man David Tennant but it never seemed to work quite as well as Eccleston. The claustrophobic, clingy relationship that proved more tiresome than tantalizing did little to entertain.”

Nigel Parry is more positive, although he is more than aware of Rose’s failures. “She had begun to irritate some fans of the show. Her treatment of Mickey was sometimes harsh, she occasionally appeared over-confident. Her love of the Doctor was seen by some as over-sentimental.”

Smiling, Brian Terranova adds that he feels Rose was better used in Series 2, adding “Instead of being the star of the show, overshadowing the Doctor himself, she took the sideline role while still remaining enough in the spot light to show off her talent and popularity.”

Could it be love? Nigel clearly thinks so – “She loves the Doctor and he loves her. Billie is still immensely appealing even though her mischievous unpleasantness to Eddie Robson was a tiny bit smug and annoying.”

Daniel is eager to get in here, “I really didn’t like those romantic undertones in her relation with the Doctor. The Doctor never had any relationships with his companions (well lets just forget the TV-Movie) and I’m not sure he should have. Now that she is gone I don’t know if I should be happy or sad – perhaps both. I liked her character but maybe change is good…”

“Well,” begins Gareth, “the smugness and general smart-arsedness of the character at times really grated in the same way as Ace all those years ago. I guess they were aiming to portray a transition from teenage crush on your favourite teacher to a far more possessive, sub-relationship complete with saccharine we’re so in love dreamy moments.”

So, were Rose’s simultaneous development and regression down to the various writers? Steve Preston doesn’t go so far as to say this, however… “As series 2 progressed, so did the nagging feeling that we had a companion very quickly running out of steam, with the performance sliding out of favour. My lasting impression of Rose was that she was an interesting character slowly eroded not by grand gestures but by irritating moments. Billie Piper provided us with a well-performed companion but with the feeling that series 2 was more than enough for character ‘closure’.”

So what, then, of Noel Clarke’s character Mickey? He was definitely no longer “Mickey the Idiot” – but was he “Mickey Smith Defending the Earth”? Barnaby Eaton-Jones: “Using the ‘parking ticket’ joke after establishing Mickey as a wanted terrorist was a pretty pointless exercise in making both Mickey’s virtually identical. The point of it being a parallel world would have worked better if the alternative Mickey actually WAS a tough-talking, hard-hitting terrorist.”

In agreement with this point is Gareth, “I wasn’t overly convinced by the parallel incarnation, but that does seem more down to some very poor plotting by Tom MacCrae which sees Mickey go from London’s most wanted to a serial traffic fine dodger with an AK47 picked up from down the car boot.”

Barnaby continues: “Absolutely! The pivotal moment for me was his return in the last two episodes of the series – that was the point where he really showed how he’d matured and changed. Elsewhere it was just silly business as usual. Noel Clarke’s acting was certainly up to the challenge, but playing the idiot foil for nearly two series makes it less believable when he suddenly goes all macho and tough.”

Meanwhile, Anthony didn’t really follow this particularly character development… “I wasn’t paying enough attention to him, Mickey is just Mickey with a few funny lines, and I couldn’t grasp the sudden change of character from coward to hard man in Doomsday.” Daniel Böhm, on the other hand, appreciated that particular character development, believing that “Mickey’s character has grown much in this series. He became more and more important. Especially in Age of Steel he showed us what he’s capable of. I kind of liked his character and I was shocked to see him leave the universe forever and was even more shocked to see him return despite that.”

And Simon, too, is full of praise for the “Mickey plan” – “I really loved what they did with Mickey this year. From Zero to Hero, indeed! I’d have loved to see more stories with Mickey as full time companion – maybe without Rose tagging along and getting in the way with her doe eyes and pouty lips.”

Is there a psychiatrist available? Nigel Parry is feeling unwell… “Is it me, or did anyone think he was going to settle down with Jackie?” I hear a distant church bell; I hear the crashing of the waves upon the beach; somewhere, and eagle dives after its prey; and some lonely tumbleweed… well, tumble through the room. For once, chirpy Scouser Anthony Dry is speechless. Steve Preston is aghast – it really is one of those “I’ll get me coat…” moments. It doesn’t take long for Nigel to realise… “Just me then!”

As character development goes, Steve seems happier with Mickey than Rose. “To begin with, I thought the character was awful – but as the stories progressed, so did the character, and by the time we get to Boom Town, Rose’s offhand dismissal of her ex-boyfriend comes across as unpleasant, whereas Mickey’s forlorn final scenes are a triumph. The moment when I realized Mickey was finally vindicated his early series 1 feebleness was the scene in Rise of the Cybermen when the Doctor had to choose to follow Mickey or Rose, and Mickey’s honest response to the situation gave him gravitas whereas Rose’s selfish pursuit of her own interests further devalued her position.”

Anthony concludes the matter of Rose and Mickey… “I think its good when a companion gets more development but they pulled her in so many directions you actually couldn’t wait for her to leave which was a shame after series one. I think the main benefit from all this is the fact we don’t have to put up with the Tylers anymore…”

Next on the agenda? Daleks and Cybermen!

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