Published on July 9th, 2014 | by Nick Kitchen
KasterViewPoints: American Doctor Who Companions
Well, hello there, Dear Reader! It is time to again to gather around and present the second installment of the KasterViewPoints series. Our inaugural piece looked at the benefits of having an American actor in the titular role of the Doctor, and as expected, the results were mixed. An American playing Britain’s most iconic character? It’s as controversial a proposition as a British actor playing Superman… oh wait.
All humor aside, the dialogue was fantastic and has led us to this new question: if an American Doctor is too much to swallow, what about an American companion? Are there obvious benefits to bringing an American actor aboard the TARDIS with the Doctor? And who would be the ideal actor/actress to consider? All these answers await! Let’s begin in our quest to find Doctor Who companions from the US of A!
A New Perspective
The one major attribute that connects all of the modern era Doctor Who companions together (with the exception of potential romance with the Doctor… I digress) is how thoroughly British they are. Rose was a London store associate, Martha was an English med student, Donna a temp from Chiswick, Amy Pond was a Scottish kiss-a-gram, and current companion, Clara Oswald, is a school teacher in Shoreditch. Each with their own unique take on the modern Brit, but ultimately it’s the same perspective. A unique brick in the same wall, so to speak. While it certainly hasn’t become stale yet, it’s ultimately a variation of the same mold.
An American companion changes this. Watching an American character interact with the quintessential British icon would make for interesting exchanges and situations. While we share the language, the differences between American and British culture is vast. An American Doctor Who companion allows us to experience that dissonance without Americanizing the Doctor.
A Trip to the Rockies, Anyone?
With the exception of New York and a few jaunts through the US in the Series 6 two-part opener, the majority of Earth based stories take place in London (and surrounding locales) or Cardiff. There is little wrong in that, but perhaps a new Earthly setting is in order? Imagine a story set in Kentucky during a Civil War battle (with Cybermen, of course!). Or maybe something with the Rocky Mountains as the plot’s background? Perhaps the Doctor deserves a trip to Hawaii after 50 long years of traveling through space and time on our televisions. New opportunities abound! Of course, this could be accomplished without an American companion, but the context is sweeter if the people involved have ties to the locale, especially a family.
A Wider Audience, Redux
When we discussed the idea of an American Doctor, we said that his/her fans from their previous work would also follow to see them in their new role. The same can be said of the American companion, especially if they’ve made a name for themselves in other American based roles. American fans, especially those fans of genre shows, have fierce loyalty to those who played the characters they love the most. The right casting assures viewers for Doctor Who that may have never given the show a chance before. This usually turns into binge streaming royalties and product purchases. After all, Doctor Who is actually the most addictive substance known to mankind.
Who is Worthy?
Let us take a look at some potential candidates for the job, shall we? Some may seem obvious, others may be head scratchers, but all of them have the chops for the role:
Sci-Fi aficionados will certainly know her from the role of Starbuck in the uber-popular Battlestar Galactica remake, but she has also shown great growth as an actress in her current role as a small town deputy sheriff in A&E’s Longmire. She also has a Who connection, having co-starred with former companion, Karen Gillan, in the feature film Oculus. It’s also been a little too long since the Doctor has had a companion who could look after herself in a more physically imposing way. Sackoff could fit that bill perfectly!
The Doctor and Amy Pond theorized that the proposed children of Amy and Vincent Van Gogh would be the “ultimate ginger.” That’s a reasonable supposition. However, I’d propose that the “ultimate ginger” (and occasionally mega blonde, when Marvel and Sony come calling) is already walking among us. That’s right, we’re talking about the gifted actress, Emma Stone. While most widely known for her turn as Gwen Stacy in the Amazing Spider-Man franchise, she’s also shown incredible amounts of comedic timing (Superbad, Zombieland, Easy A) and has reasonably serious drama chops as well (The Help). The Doctor has already matched wits with the ballsiest ginger Scotland has to offer; I wonder how he’d fair against America’s?
Of all the male companions the Doctor has had, there is none more noteworthy than his first, Ian Chesterton, played to perfection by William Russell. While not as old as Hartnell’s Doctor, but older than his fellow companions, he often exuded an air of gentlemanly confidence not seen since. If you miss those days and that kind of companion, I offer you the chance to return to that: enter Michael Weatherly. You’ll know him best as senior field agent Tony Dinozzo on NCIS, but also has a genre background working on cult classic Dark Angel. It also feels like a choice from out in left field, and that’s a good thing. We upped the ante with a more mature Doctor this series. Isn’t it time to do the same for his companion?
As I typed out that name, I nearly hesitated. Not because the actress isn’t worthy of the spot, but because many will only associate her with her current role as Jess on New Girl. That would be a grave mistake. Before Deschanel gave us the slightly off kilter Jess, she was (and to a degree still is) Hollywood’s indie film darling. She also played Jovy in Elf. Everyone loves Elf. Elf had the humor in Will Ferrell, but its heart resides with her performance. Funny, charming, beautiful, and moving; how could she not fit in on the TARDIS?
Emily Bett Rickards
Unless you also love the CW’s Arrow, there is a good chance you’ve never heard of her. That is also a shame. Rickard’s role as Felicity Smoak was only ever meant to be one or two episodes, tops. Her performance and chemistry with the series regulars won her a permanent spot on Oliver Queen’s team and even has a mass following of ‘shippers’ wanting to see her character and Oliver Queen hook up. A performance of that magnitude cannot be ignored. What if she turned her craft towards a role as a companion? We may no longer talk of the greats as Grant, Smith, Piper, or Pond. Rickards might have what it takes to be the best the Doctor has ever seen.