Opinion Amy Pond

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

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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?

Evolution of the Daleks

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

Eleventh Doctor Day of the Moon

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:

Katee Sackhoff

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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!

Emma Stone

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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?

Michael Weatherly

NCIS

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?

Zooey Deschanel

zooey-deschanel-1

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

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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.

Now I turn to you, dear reader. Have I missed the mark here? Is there someone else you’d rather see from the US take a trip on the TARDIS? Or do you like the list above? Please let us know!

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About the Author

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“That’s bacon! Are you trying to poison me?” And from that line on, I’ve been unable to stop watching, reading, musing about the Doctor. As a recent transplant to the Whoniverse, I’ve been trying to soak up as much Who-related knowledge as possible. That journey has taken me from the Tenth Planet to the Fields of Trenzalore and gently set me at the edge of my seat for what’s next. It’s an honor to be here and I plan to bring a unique perspective. I hope you’ll enjoy the journey alongside me.




33 Responses to KasterViewPoints: American Doctor Who Companions

  1. avatar AndromedaX says:

    Peri, anyone…?

  2. avatar CosmicDebris says:

    Kind of surprised there was no mention of Peri. While Nicola Bryant was not actually American, she did play the character as an American companion.

  3. avatar Dana Butler says:

    Pretty sure this is why the world thinks we’re full of ourselves. American’s can always make things better; yet most of our programming lasts one or two seasons and then gets shelved. I see nothing wrong with an American companion but the settings where The Doctor lands in the US is so much less than where he lands on another planet or in Europe. Sure they could be X-Pats but that’s probably the most reasonable solution.

    • avatar Nick Kitchen says:

      Pretty sure the point wasn’t that “Americans” make everything better. We have too many flops to make that blanket statement. I’m arguing that with the right casting and writing, an American companion does have value and has been practically non existent. Peri doesn’t count, in my opinion, because she’s not an American actress.

  4. avatar S. M. Brewer says:

    Michael Weatherly, for sure. And how about Sean Murray, NCIS’s geek.

  5. avatar TonyS says:

    The two lessons we should learn from Peri are these: 1) Don’t cast an actress from Surrey; 2) Don’t create an American companion just to get a co-production deal, or to get free flights to Australia (oh, hang on).

    As for who, let’s have the character first and then cast accordingly. Don’t cast (for example) Katee Sackhoff based on the character she played in Battlestar Galactica.

    • avatar Nick Kitchen says:

      I agree, which is why I think Sackhoff makes a fit because she’s a great actress. I’ve not actually seen much of the remake series of Battlestar Gallactica. Based more on what I’ve seen of her in other roles.

    • avatar CosmicDebris says:

      Yes, exactly. If there ever is an American companion, it should be only because the writers thought of a really great story and character relationship that would work out best with one, and no other reason. I guess you could kind of count Captain Jack Harkness, even though he’s not an American actor or even American as a character, but he does speak with an American accent just fine.

      On another note, I don’t think people need to get all uptight about the article topic. It’s just meant to be fun, nobody is trying to say they SHOULD or NEED to have an American companion.

      • avatar simon magellan says:

        John Barrowman, though Scots by Birth, is American. He has dual citizenship, having lived in the US since he was a child.

  6. avatar rickjlundeen says:

    The worst part about Peri was that the lazy writers of the day never bothered to research American speech patterns for her character. Her accent was tolerable but she certainly didn’t speak like an American.

    As for new American companions, that’s fine, just make sure the dialog and speech patterns sound right and I’m good. And unknowns usually work better, although an occasional pro like Catherine Tate is a wonderful addition.

    Also, Zooey Daschenal is a ditz. Just sayin’.

    • avatar TonyS says:

      “Zooey Deschanel is a ditz”

      Except her portrayal of Trillian in the dire HHGTTG movie.

      I think it may just be the characters she has portrayed rather than Zooey herself.

    • avatar simon magellan says:

      The award winning, critically acclaimed, singer-songwriter Zooey Deschanel, you mean?

      You know, it’s really easy to be rude and unpleasant online – how about trying not to be?

      • avatar MWRuger says:

        You do know you are on the internet right?

        People believe it is a god given right to act an ass on the net and if you object to rudeness you are stifling them.

        • avatar TonyS says:

          And we are going to tolerate that? Let’s try to change that particular ethos, shall we?

  7. avatar TimeChaser says:

    I was unsure of Michael Weatherly, until the connection to Ian Chesterton was made, and that made me stop and think that he could actually be decent as an older male companion for a more elderly Doctor.

  8. avatar losinthetardis says:

    I feel like giving a change to the modern British companion might be a good idea, but that doesn’t mean it needs to be American. I would love to see a historical era companion or a far future companion again. Like they had in the classic series. An American companion would be OK..but if they did iwould hope three they would be from the 1960s or something.


  9. There has been too much americanisation of Doctor Who as it is.
    The Yanks ruined Torchwood, they ruined the Doctor Who movie, and now they want yet another American companion! You’ve already had Peri and Captain Jack – if we’re going for a foreign companion lets have a French or Italian one for a change.

    • avatar CosmicDebris says:

      Who is “They?” Nobody here is asking for an American companion. It’s just a hypothetical “what if/who would you pick” for the sake of conversations.


  10. FYI: Emma Stone is a natural BLONDE!
    Barrowman has dual citizenship, grew up in Indiana and IS an American!
    Peri Brown was Californian by way of Brighton, and sounded it to actual Americans!

    You want an American companion? Nicole Kidman! ( Born in Hawaii!)

  11. avatar drewboynton says:

    As a wish list, I like it (especially Stone and Deschanel)! But practically…they’re all too famous (except for maybe Rickards?)! A list like this is hard to do, because if a person came up with a list of unknown or under-appreciated American actors that really could have a chance at getting a companion role on DW, no one would probably know who you were talking about and wouldn’t be interested in reading the article. (?). If I had a US casting wish list, Oprah (of course) would be both the Doctor and the companion! :)

  12. avatar Christine says:

    I would be in favour of trying something different from the contempory British setting, but just pointing out that an American might do the job seems to be a bit short sighted (no insult intended). Couldn’t it be an Australian Companion, someone from New Zeeland or perhaps a Canadian? It’s a long time ago we had Tegan on board. Or someone from a different European country with a slight accent? By the way, an historical or future figure would also be a nice (I liked that suggestion) change. It’s really been too long ago that we had one of those. Of course such a one shouldn’t be too backward to even “get” the whole time and space travel thing, but as I recall Jamie handled that quite well despite some quirky reasoning behind it all. The Doctor managing to pull out a nice Time Lady from the pocket universe in which Gallifrey currently resides, would also be something…though not Romana III as that would be taking it a bit too far along the nostalgic route. And, yes, why not an American, although there are many more possibilities in somewhat changing the mould than automatically going for that particular option. Others have allready said that it all depends on the character and that is very true. And care must be taken that the show itself remains British at the core. But it might be fun having the Doctor knowing certain British customs better than his companion does!

    • avatar simon magellan says:

      A foreign, scientifically minded, historical character would be a nice change – someone like Tesla for example, that model.

  13. avatar Cynthia says:

    I missed the “American Doctor” post so I’m just going to mention it quickly here. I would say “No” to an American Doctor as those fake timey-wimey scientific terms sounds better in British anyways. One of the reasons why I am drawn to the show is the strong “Britishness” of the character, I don’t even know how to explain lol.

    As for an American companion, I am all for it. Peri, in my opinion, was somewhat of a failed choice. She may have (unsuccessfully) played an American accent but she lacked the American cultural identity. I saw her as a British companion with an American accent lol. I probably would’ve liked Peri more if she were just plain British.

    With that said, it doesn’t matter where the companion is from – each of their own cultural/time period identity helps bring some interesting viewpoints (when written properly) into the Doctor’s adventures. They really should bring back more companions from the past, future or another planet (Victoria, Steve, Zoe, Nyssa, Adric, Turlough etc. were fun characters). The only “potential” companion that I can remember from the reboot who is not from the “present” time was Kylie Minogue’s character (forgot her character name lol).

    Finally, when I saw the connection made between William Russell’s Ian Chesterton and Michael Weatherly I was like “YES!” and he is the only person from this list that I will consider a potential. Another male companion that loved that I was sad he only had a short stint was Harry Sullivan, who also somewhat reminded me of Ian Chesterton. I do hope they bring back characters like that. I love companions who challenge the Doctor :)

  14. avatar james says:

    Anna Kendrick.

    • avatar Nick Kitchen says:

      Oh God, yes! But only if there’s a clause that says she has to sing in at least every other episode.

  15. avatar Ranger says:

    It could be amusing to have a non-British companion (whether American or another nationality) to contrast with the British Doctor. However, I would prefer a companion not from Earth at all – then you would get lots of cultural differences.

  16. avatar Nick Naselli says:

    never, never, never use Zooey Deschanel for anything, shes like silly cardboard hat. fun at parties im sure but totally useless at all other times


  17. As long we’re wish-listing: Mary Lynn Rajskub (Chloe O’Brian on “24″), either Jewel Staite (okay, so she’s Canadian) or Summer Glau, Nicole Beharie (from “Sleepy Hollow”). Struggling to come up with some men. Sorry.
    I agree that if there’s going to be an American companion, s/he needs to have the right dialogue. I liked Peri for eye candy and Nicola Bryant’s accent didn’t bother me as much as the missed colloquialisms. Maybe getting an American writer as a dialogue/culture consultant would be a better idea. There are British actors who can pull off brilliant American accents. I thought Jamie Bamber was American until I saw L&O UK.


    • I thought Hugh Laurie was from New Jersey!


    • Okay, so to add to the wishlist, men: Aldis Hodge (Alec Hardison in Leverage), Neil Grayson (Another Canadian. He was Douglas Fargo in Eureka).

  18. avatar quigonj2014 says:

    Hey if the leads on Longmire and Defiance can hail from the Australia and the UK, I see no problem with having a decent North American genre actor show up on Doctor Who as a regular.

    I have two nominees…

    Devon Sawa: First, I would nominate someone else from the CW. Devon Sawa’s first real introduction to US audiences was in the original Final Destination film, but his best role to date is Owen/Sam from McG’s remake of Nikita. Owen was a cleaner for Division who killed Nikita’s lover, and then got a taste of his own medicine when his girlfriend was killed in the same way.
    He showed a great range of emotions in the show, from grief to comic relief, and he’s a fun actor to see on-screen. Like Rory Williams, he’s a bloke. Like Jamie, he’s acerbic, smart and likeable, plus he’s manly enough that we’d know he and the Doctor are friends, and not a plus one, as it were. And Cynthia, he is a Canadian.

    Jasika Nicole: I almost picked Allison Scagliotti from Warehouse 13 as my second choice, but then I decided her role as Claudia on Warehouse 13 was almost note for note the same as any companion we’ve had in the past ten years. So I decided to nominate Jasika Nicole. Jasika spent five years on Fringe as Astrid Farnsworth, an assistant to the very Doctor-like Walter Bishop, well, if the Doctor had a thing for LSD and did Master like experiments before having a change of heart. Jasika played the role very differently than we usually see. She was funny, smart and capable, but sweet. Maybe a non-feisty but three-dimensional companion would make a nice change of pace.

    • avatar quigonj2014 says:

      Yes, I know Australia does not need a “the” in front of it… oops.

  19. avatar Zontar says:

    Zooey Deschanel does have an indirect, possibly disjointed connection to Doctor Who, as mentioned above
    In the Hitchhikers movie (which did suffer from not being British enough-but Zooey wasn’t the problem) she played Trillian-who in the Tv version was played by the wife of the fifth Doctor & the mother of the Doctor’s daughter.
    That doesn’t mean she’d be good in Who, but I think her acting style & persona woul work

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