This special was a little different from the previous one, because it was less ‘exploration of sciencey things’ as much it was ‘a bunch of actors (including the Fifth Doctor!) and stuff saying their opinions about women in Doctor Who’.
What did they all like about the women? Well, there are almost never screaming helpless women; the parts for women are often better than the parts for men; it’s “not sexist at all”; the women are always really smart and are never passive accessories to the male lead.
Hit the jump to see who they talked about and what the commentators thought about all of them!
The order they presented the ladies in made very little sense, but I have them listed as they were talked about.
Rose—Although they focused a little too much on the romance and that she was attractive for my tastes, everyone thought she was kickass and a great first companion for the reboot.
Martha—Everyone gave her mad props for having the guts to leave the Doctor, but didn’t say much else about her except that she was generally awesome.
Yvonne (The snooty Cyber-upgraded Torchwood One lady)—A lot of people thought she got what was coming to her for thinking she was smarter than the Doctor, which, despite being somewhat true in terms of the narrative, is sort of a shitty way to think. She was an asshole for sure, but no one deserves to be Cybermannified.
Idris—Everyone adored her. They described her and the Doctor as brother and sister or “a spiritual love story”. All the commentators were surprised and pleased by how she looked, and everyone was heartbroken by the “I just wanted to say… hello, Doctor. It’s so very nice to meet you” scene. (Damn, I’m tearing up writing about it.)
Donna—She has an amazing comedy background. She was one of the best if not the best Companion of modern Who, and certainly the best platonic one. Everyone was distraught at her leaving.
Sarah Jane—Everyone waxed poetic about Sarah Jane, who was a hardnosed reporter from her debut in classic Who and the first real badass of the Companions. She is generally thought of as the best companion, and her return was very emotional. She and the Doctor have a genuine eternal friendship.
River—One guy described her as a “female Indiana Jones”, which is pretty fitting. I disagreed that she got more interesting when we learned more about her, though (I thought she got more confusing, but the episode’s peanut gallery disagreed). Everyone thought her big reveal was perfectly timed and properly shocking.
Lady Cassandra—She was just kind of interesting to people in a trivial way. She helps illustrate the question “what does it mean to be human?” She somewhat exists to showcase the difference between Nine and Ten in how they deal with her—Nine lets her die by not helping her; Ten was more sympathetic.
Joan Redfern—She was a very sympathetic and beautifully human character, perfect for the human Doctor. She was tragic because she was not in love with the Time Lord Doctor, refusing him because she thinks he’s selfish and flippant.
Jenny—They didn’t deal much with the fact that the Doctor was somewhat disgusted with her at first. Everyone mostly just thought she was awesome, and were amused at how she is all wrapped up in timey-wimey in real life. (The actress is the actual daughter of Peter Davison, the Fifth Doctor, and played the daughter of the Tenth Doctor, and is married to David Tennant.)
Amy—She was the last companion to be sexy, and the first we meet as a child. She is the Doctor’s groupie, but is strong-willed and makes her own choices regardless of anyone else. She’s the first to just blatantly proposition the Doctor, no strings attached; people had mixed feelings about that scene.
Who did they leave out?
I’d have liked to see Madame de Pompadour, Harriet Jones (Prime Minister), Mrs. Moore from Pete’s World, Nancy (gas mask boy’s Mummy), the women of Martha’s family, Jackie Tyler, Agatha Christie, Sally Sparrow, Chan-Tho, Rita from ‘The God Complex’, Lady Christina, Liz Ten, Madame Kovarian (the eyepatch lady), and the Silurians, especially Madame Vastra. But it is rather a testament to how female-inclusive this show is that they can squish eleven awesome women into an hour and still have over a dozen more memorable ladies left over.
Quote of the episode: One of the commentators, on the women of Doctor Who: “They have their vulnerabilities, and it’s perhaps because of those vulnerabilities that Doctor Who can experience human emotion a bit more.”
Tune in next Saturday at 9 to catch The Timey-Wimey Stuff of Doctor Who!