BUT MOFFAT IS SUCH A GoOD WRITER GUISE.
I mean, how many companions can really pass this test?
Name one thing about Rose’s that doesn’t involve the Doctor, her mom, her dad Mickey, or her job when she met the Doctor. I’m drawing a blank.
When she was sixteen she dropped school and moved out because she was in love with Jimmy Stone, which resulted in her never getting her A-levels. He later broke her heart and she returned to live with Jackie.
Is that enough?
RTD may have his flaws when it comes to writing (nobody’s perfect anyway) but at least he made the effort to give us glimpses of the life the companions had before meeting the Doctor. Moffat doesn’t care because that’s obviously not that important.
To be fair, we know about her best friend Mels, but only when it’s suddenly sprung on us in “Let’s Kill Hitler” that the daughter we met and lost was in fact named for a mutual best friend (Rory doesn’t blink at “Melody,” which I would think he would—either “You named our daughter after that troublemaker?” or “Aww, yeah, Mels.”
I would say the face that we know about the parents of every single RTD Whovian is pretty significant. The point for me isn’t how many details we know, but that the companions have a coherent life outside of the plotlines of the show. Questions I’ve asked in this regard:
- Doesn’t Rory have parents? Where are they?
- We fought so hard to get Amy’s parents back. What’s going on there?
- Do either of them maintain a relationship with their parents? Do their parents know why they disappear for months on end? Do they know about River?
- Did they have any other close friends besides Mel? Their hometown is really small, wouldn’t people notice they were gone? Wouldn’t that make people ask questions?
- What about Amy’s horrible aunt? Did she just disappear?
- Does Rory have any siblings?
- Is Rory still a nurse? Was he studying to become a doctor, or did he want to be a nurse (little decisions like that tell us a lot about a character)?
They’re little things, sure, but things that tell us a lot about a character—that build a whole world. How much do we understand about Donna because we’ve seen her family situation, because of the few details we get about how she gets along with friends and coworkers? Martha’s characterization makes so much sense when we think about her family and her job. With Rose, we didn’t just get a character, we got a whole community in the Powell Estates and one minute with Jackie tells us a whole lot of what we need to know about who and why Rose is Rose.
There’s life outside the Doctor, and what we see of the lives of the RTD companions emphasizes that. It builds the specific character and the world and deals with some of the real consequences of what it would mean to travel with the Doctor. It was an elegant feat of characterization on the part of RTD and his writers—tiny clues that, if you’re paying attention, build up a whole world.
This may not have been the case with classic Who so much. But after 4 years of a very coherent contemporary London world full of people with lives and consequences, the very lack of information we know about Amy and Rory’s admittedly smaller community feels (to me, at least) like something is missing.