Tuesday, August 28, 2012

I don't hate Rose Tyler....but Sarah Jane Smith trumps everyone, ever!

I try to avoid fandom controversies. Even if I don't understand why people like the film version of Prince Caspian or ship Zuktara, I attempt to remain quiet. Yet I have my own preferences, especially when it comes to the Whoniverse, and two factors brought out my defensive side:
a BBCA America poll to determine the greatest woman of Who (Rose won 53-47) and this tumblr post:

To which I say:

Oddly enough, I was more upset about the BBCA poll than the Tumblr post. If someone said that Rory, Donna, or Romana was the best companion, I could see where they're coming from. If someone claimed Leela, Tegan, or Martha, I'd ask for an explanation. If it was Jack, Turlough, or Mel (classic series), I'd back away slowly before saying something I regretted. But the name "Rose Tyler" has me gearing up for a fight.
Just because Sarah Jane is my favorite companion doesn't mean I don't appreciate others. I love Amy and Rory (planning to bawl my eyes out during Angels Take Manhattan) and am looking forward to Jenna Louise-Coleman's debut at Christmas. And fresh off a Third Doctor marathon, I adore Jo Grant, even if she is a little flustered at time. Yet my favorite companion is and always will be Sarah Jane Smith. No companion is likely to match her record of bravery, persistance, amiability, curiosity, friendliness, courage, and spirit of adventure. And if some nineteen-year-old blonde dropout beats her in a poll, I will retaliate. (Interestingly, Sarah Jane Smith defeated Rose 61 to 39 in Britain, while the US went to Rose, 58-42.) I realize that some who voted might not have seen Sarah Jane in the classic series, but her episodes ARE available on DVD, even some on iTunes. If you can find NuWho, you can probably find the 3rd and 4th Doctor's era.
I have already stated my perspective on Rose Tyler here. But if you want to stay on site, I will analyze my dislike of her again. Only a small portion it is due to her actions. I'd say 20% her personality, 25% her clingy behavior, 30% post-season two reasons, and 15% shipping. When she first joins the Doctor, she enjoys the wonders of the universe, as anyone would, but doesn't seem to consider how her extended absence affected Mickey, much less her mum. This wouldn't be such an issue in the classic series, where families are rarely seen, let alone mentioned, but considering how much Jackie shows up, you'd think Rose would care about her more.
Secondly, she is extremely clingy. This is exemplified in her reaction to Sarah Jane in "School Reunion" and how she assumed she was the first companion he'd ever had. To be far, she can imagine herself in Sarah Jane's place sometime down the road, and hates the idea, but he tries to make it all about her.'
Third, post -season two reasons. These can be divided into two "r's"--reaction and return. The Doctor has had companions leave before: Jo Grant, Tegan, even his own granddaughter. He's had companions left in alternate universe(Romana), stolen (Peri) and die (Adric). But he reacts to Rose's departure as if he really did expect to spend forever with her. For all of season three, he keeps bringing her up, mopping over his lost and getting emotional every time her name was mentioned.
That could be excused if the writers hadn't brought her back. True, everyone came back for Stolen Earth/Journey's End, and the clips in other season four episodes are forgivable--I even enjoyed the clips of Ten's companion in Let's Kill Hitler. The scene in End of Time part two was gorgeous. The problem is that it ruins the final parting in Doomsday. If he burnt up a sun to say goodbye and couldn't come through because two universes would collapse, it strains credibility to have her return. Not to mention her reaction to Donna and Martha. Martha especially--at one point, she explicitly says "I was there first!"And she got a Meta-crisis, a clone with no real foreshadowing or plot-necessity, to stay with her. If that's a not a bone to shippers, I don't know what would be.
And that leads to the final reason: the shippers. Rassilon, the shippers. Everyone, it seems, has an opinion on the ship Doctor/Rose--primarily 9/10, but I've seen Rose/Eleven (which makes me sick), and even Rose/One (which is just odd). In the spirit of full disclosure, I am a Eleven/River shipper with a taste for Doctor/TARDIS as of season six, but even before season six, I did not think Doctor/Rose a healthy relationship. And yet so many people insist she's his twu wuve, his only twu luve, and are rabidly critical of any threat, real or imagined. I know that not every Doctor/Rose shipper is rabid, but the plethora of them turn me off.
I realize that some of my criticisms could be aimed at Sarah Jane, particularly regarding returns, but there are several differences between Sarah Jane's return and Rose's. First of all, when Sarah Jane was dropped off, it was because the Doctor couldn't take her to Gallifrey. He might have planned to pick her up afterwards--we can't say--but there was no heartbreaking, forever goodbye. As far as viewers knew, she was back in Croydon, safe and sound.
Secondly, Sarah's first return, in The Five Doctors, had her reuniting with the Third Doctor via Time Scoop, and it is debatable whether she even remembers it. The nature of the event left her unable to resolve any unfinished business. Her second reappearance, around thirty years later, was by accident--she was investigating a UFO sighting, with no expectations of meeting him again. When they did, the sheer amount of time made it clear things had changed between them, and they needed to address those changes. As for Journey's End, it was another day on the job for her. (The Doctor's appearance on Sarah Jane Adventures will be addressed later).
While some people may imagine the classic companions as screaming women, nothing could be further from the truth. Leela had her Janis thorns, Vicki poisoned Nero (accidentally) and Romana was a Time Lord. As for Sarah Jane herself, she attempts to capture the Doctor in her first story , believing him to be a villain. In The Brain Morbious, she, while temporarily blinded, attempts to find the Doctor and warn him of treachery. She faced down giant robots and Davros with steely resolve, refusing to give in. Far from blindly following his orders, she frequently bantered with him:
Sarah Jane: So providing we don’t burn up on re-entry and aren’t suffocated on the way down, we’ll probably be smashed to a pulp when we land.
The Doctor:
Exactly! Sarah, you’ve put your finger on the one tiny flaw in our plan.
Sarah Jane:
Our plan? It’s your plan!
The Doctor returns the favor, referring to her as "my best friend" in "Seeds of Death." The only other characters I know of to be referred to this way are Donna Noble and Malcom Taylor. And Malcom was an incredible in-universe fanboy--it was the best way to get him to shut up.
Her reappearance in NuWho further employed the stellar acting talent of Lis Sladen, who managed such wonderful moments as Sarah's reunion with the Tenth Doctor, her terror at the Daleks' return, and her reaction to his impending regeneration. Furthermore, her return sparked the CBBC series "Sarah Jane Adventures," which received numerous awards and set viewing records for the channel. The slow character development from the "ice woman" of Invasion of the Bane to the mumsy, caring figure of later episodes is a beautiful thing to see. Her relationship with adopted son Luke (and his friends) is one of the most wonderful mother-son pairs I've seen in media, especially notable because sci-fi is not known for family connections.
The "crossover" episodes, where the Doctor appears in Sarah Jane Adventures, are brilliant. The Wedding of Sarah Jane Smith is a tearjerker of the highest quality, and Death of the Doctor offers the return of Jo Grant as well as Matt Smith's only appearance alongside Elisabeth Sladen. Other five star episodes include The Lost Boy; The Temptation of Sarah Jane Smith; Goodbye, Sarah Jane Smith; The Curse of Clyde Langer; and The Eternity Trap. Even though it's a "children's show," the Sarah Jane Adventures tackled topics such as Alzheimer's, divorce, homelessness, and child soldiers in its four and a half season run before the death of Elisabeth Sladen.
Another difference between Rose and Sarah Jane comes in their reaction to other companions. While one could compare their reactions in School Reunion, a more reasonable example comes from Jo Grant's appearance in Sarah Jane Adventures. Sarah Jane is delighted, and the two immediately begin discussing Peladon and other planets. Sarah even steps back to allow Jo some time to clear matters up with the Doctor when he appears.
Two quotes that summarize this difference are below:
The first nineteen years of my life, nothing happened. Nothing at all, not ever. And then I met a man called the Doctor
--Rose Tyler, "Army of Ghosts"
I saw amazing things, out there in space--but there is strangeness to be found, wherever you turn. Life on Earth can be an adventure too... you just need to know where to look!
--Sarah Jane Smith, "Invasion of the Bane"

Rose sums up her life before the Doctor as "nothing," but Sarah, even after her adventures in outer space, affirms that life on Earth can be wonderful and exciting. That is one of the things I like best about the Sarah Jane Adventures; it reminds me that I can do exciting things on this planet too.

But I have been rambling, and I appreciate you for sticking with me this far, especially if you're a Rose fan. Feel free to comment--I will reply respectfully.


  1. What did I just read? I love Sarah Jane, and I wouldn't insult her in a million years. But you've put in the position where I will ALWAYS defend the defender of the earth. I hope you'll read the link below (and ignore some swearing).
    As to what you choose to go out with, that was the first time Rose had to stay on Earth after meeting the Doctor. Sarah Jane had trouble with those feelings, too. Anyone else recall, "You WERE my life"? What about when Rose ends up in Pete's World, then chooses to stay there with a human instead of a TARDIS? How is that writing off Earth as boring?
    There are a plethora of Doctor/River shippers, too, but they only annoy me if they as individuals are annoying. (Why should shipping Rose be any different?) Usually, you're not one of the annoying ones, and I really really like you and your writing a lot, but I'm going to be frank and say this post made me angry. Of all the fights to pick, why would you pick THIS one? Rose and Sarah Jane are friends, not rivals. Sheesh.

    1. Yeah! Actual discussion, not just agreement. This should be fun in an awkward sort of way...not that I like arguing; I just like discussing.
      First of all, I was suffering from repressed fandom urges--couldn't watch any DW videos because of blocked sites---and hormones at the time I originally wrote this, and may not have polished all that out. At another time, these triggers may have only warranted a paragraph or so.
      As for your response to my closing lines, I agree that Sarah Jane had a hard time adjusting to life on Earth, but she had time to make that adjustment. If we had been given a chance to see Rose work out some of those issues, I might like her better. As for the Metacrisis and Earth, she said "He's still not you." Not to quibble, but she didn't really have a chance to choose--she started snogging Handy (understandably) and the Doctor took off without her. It wasn't her choice

      (and I just lost half my reply to a tab closure :(

      I agree that any ship can have annoying proponents, but the Rose/Doctor ship is also tied up in Tennant-as-longest-Doctor thing (in NuWho, technically). I admit it's hard to see actors you love leave the roles, but the show is about change. And I've seen quite a few posts on Facebook/Tumblr that want to single Rose out as his only love, ever, and it kind of grosses me out.

      Okay, anybody with the Doctor is gross agewise, but I also feel like maturity level should be taken into account. I don't expect a nineteen-year-old to act like a 60-yr-old or even a 30-yr-old, and I have no romantic experience to judge Rose on. I just felt like she needed more time to grow up. The Doctor has seen wars and violence and death, lost friends and loved ones, and no matter who that person is, I don't think ANYONE should come along and say "He's not alone, he's got me." It comes off egotistical, like he only needs one person, ever. But as someone who didn't really have friends until college, I also think that one mark of a good friend is the willingness to introduce a new friend to your other friends. Am I making any sense?

      I just get this feeling that if the Doctor told Rose everything--everything, mind you, how many people he traveled with, who he's lost, what the Time Was like--she wouldn't have the ability to focus on what this meant to him. She'd try, but what would there be to be said except cliches? It takes someone who has been lonely, who has lost friends, to know that the best thing to do is listen.Of the new series companions, I don't know who could fill that role. Jack, maybe, as much as I dislike him, and definitely Rory after that lone centurion stint. Or possibly Amy from being the girl who waited--and Wilf knew to listen in End of Time.

      (And I'll reply to the blog post in another comment.)

    2. I promise that whatever is said we will still be friends. *crosses hearts*

      Rose did say, "He's not you," and /then/ they explained how he was, and /then/ he said what the Doctor never could, and /then/ she chose him. At least, I've always seen snogging him as choosing him, even though the Doctor ran out in the middle of it. Granted, I think the Doctor put her between a rock and a hard place, but I've always seen that kiss as accepting John.

      (Gosh I hate tab closures. I hope you remembered most of what you wanted to say. My internet's really annoying in that if I click the X accidentally it doesn't ask me, "are you sure you want to leave these tabs?" Blah.)

      There is a balance between the show being about change, changes of companions and Doctors and scenes, and the fact that the Doctor is the same man. Always. I do agree that people should NOT say Rose is his only love. (Soon Matt will be the longest Doctor in New Who, btw. He's been signed on for yet another season and I AM EXCITE INCARNATE.)

      Ehhhh, the age thing with the Doctor doesn't really bother me. At this point, anyone he's going to be the least bit happy with (romantic or platonic) is going to be much younger than he is. I'm fine with that. And I think one reason he fell in love with Rose is that she was his breath of fresh air - something so young and alive and innocent and wholly unconnected to the Time War. You're making sense, but Rose doesn't say "He's not alone; he's got me" to get other people away from him or to keep him from making more friends. She says that TO him, when he's heartbroken, to remind him that someone cares about him. She may not understand the whole of his loss from experience, but she knows that he's hurting, and that he's afraid to be alone, and she wants to fill even the tiniest bit of that hole. There's a lot to suggest that saves the Doctor; he needs that.

    3. Blog post reply: Her appearance,social class, intelligence, and relationships with men are irrelevant in my mind. I don't criticize her on those grounds.

      Relevant elements:
      Clingy. Granted, I haven't rewatched one or two much, but I'm still not convinced that she wasn't. To be fair, I have never had a romantic relationship, so I don't know what unclingly looks like, but...okay, I'll reconsider that next time I do a rewatch.

      Selfish Treatment of Jackie and Mickey
      Mickey isn't much of a prize, true. And well...it's just that she's the first companion whose homelife the viewers interact with.

      Treatment of Sarah Jane:Rose’s jealousy over the Doctor having other companions is totally justified. The Doctor keeps so many secrets and him having others before Rose was one. Sorry, but I disagree. I can see that she was rightly angry about the secret and wondering if that could happen to her, but assuming you're someone's first love is ridiculous, especially since he told her back in Aliens of London that he was 900. Most people don't get to 19, much less 900, without having some kind of crush on someone.

      Rose's relationship with the Doctor: Yes, I agree that they needed each other. But I don't think it was simply romantic. To quote my Rose blog post
      As for why he lets her stay, I think that's because it feels right. Even when the Time Lords exiled him to Earth, he had others to hang out with, mostly young women, but sometimes men (Ian, Ben, Jamie, Adric, Turlough). With someone runnning around, asking questions, sometimes being clever and sometimes needing to be rescued, it felt like old times again. He wasn't alone anymore, he could pretend that the Time War never happened.

      While I'm not a psychologist, I think the Doctor has some codependent tendencies with Rose, as well as what TV Tropes would call Morality Chain or Living Emotional Crutch. That's not her fault--but in simple terms, I believe a romance should be between two emotional stable, mature people. The Doctor may be mature, but emotionally stable? Hardly. But I don't want to get into the characterizations of Ten.

      Season Four Return: I'm annoyed because it diminishes her initial farewell, not because of anything in particular she does. If someone is in an alternate universe and can't come through without it collapsing, he/she had better stay there. If she was going to return as a surprise, find another way to have her leave, okay?

      TenToo: I'd be shocked in that situation too, and unable to make a response that sounded decent in any way. It just felt like a trick pulled out of a hat, with too little foreshadowing, as a way to let Rose have a Doctor without bringing her back as a full time character. Writer fumble there.

      Fans: Sorry. I admit that you're not all like that, it's just a few vocal people. But it's the same problem as with Twilight--a few vocal, rabid fans can turn me off something even if I might have liked it on my own

      And if you still have more to say, I'll be back in a half-hour or so.

    4. I knew not all of that was applicable to you. I'm glad that some of it did make you reconsider.

      I don't think Rose ever said she thought she was his first /love/. But as far as she knew, he lost everyone he loved in the Time War. He never talked about other human companions. I will say that I don't think jealousy is ever "totally justified," unless it's God's, but I do think it's often understandable.

      If we're going there, River and Eleven are hardly emotionally stable either. I don't hold that against them or the ship (I've come to board that ship as well, thank you madis hartte). The Doctor is a damaged man. I wouldn't deny him love because of that, although I would say I don't think any of his relationships are totally healthy.

      I believe Rose crossed over to tell him about the stars going out, not because she Had to Have Her Man and Hang the Walls of the Universe. And if she hadn't, "Turn Left" would have been permanent. Personally, I don't think it ruins "Doomsday," but I completely see where you're coming from. Just difference of opinion.

      Oh, yeah, RTD's magic fixit came out of the blue there. But I think if you take it as is, it still makes enough sense.

      I hope I'm not like that!
      You would've liked Twilight on your own?!

    5. Reply to second comment: It's also maturity, not age. And I think a lot of the classic companions were more a mature than the classic series, even if they had other concerns. For example, a quick run through Four's era shows Sarah Jane, Leela, Romanas I and II, Adric, Nyssa, and Tegan. Of those, Adric is the only childish one, thought Leela is uneducated and Tegan's a bit brash for my taste. I don't mind character flaws--they make people more realistic, but I do want them to be reasonably reliable, developed people.
      In NuWho, there's Rose, Martha, Donna, Amy, Rory,River, and Jack. Of which I'd probably label Rory as the most mature--he's got a steady job, is reliable, and is well-rounded without being too perfect.

    6. To take the last part of comment three first, "No!" I would not have liked Twilight on its own merits. But I think I would have liked Rose better if I was not aware of how some people view her.
      River and Doctor aren't stable either, but ...well, let's save that for another post, shall we? This one is already getting too crowded.
      And further regarding TenTwo. I do have a fic in progress (about nine sequential chapters and a few more random ones) where they basically have to hash out: okay, we have each other. and no TARDIS*. Now what?
      *at least, not for a very long time

    7. What I got out of that was, "I NEED TO WATCH MORE CLASSIC." *siiiigh*
      'S all right if you don't find her flaws sympathetic, or think she's not reliable (although I disagree for aforementioned reasons), but please don't call her underdeveloped.

    8. Okay, phew. Because Twilight has seriously messed up things. All due respect to cassjaytuck and madis, but YUCK.

      I kind of have one of those fics in-progress too. Mine also has 11, Amy, and Rory and I'll probably never finish it. So far, it looks as though I ship Rose/10.5, 11/Rose, 11/River, AND 11/TARDIS. Yeeeah, I’m still not sure how all that happened.

    9. 11/Rose? *shuts mouth* did I ever explain my view of 11/Rose to you? I can't remember.
      And yes, watch more Classic Who. While the production values aren't as good, sometimes I think the storytelling is better.
      And as for "underdeveloped," that's not quite the word I'm thinking of. Something like "undercooked," maybe? No, that doesn't sound good either. But she needs more time to develop as a person and consider if she's more interested in the Doctor or traveling with him.

    10. Oh, yes. I know it makes you utterly sick. However, I don't think there's a good way to put both of them in a story without some shippiness, and did you miss the 11/River AND 11/TARDIS bit? But you'll probably never read it, even if you wanted to, so don't worry about it.
      I really need someone else interested to watch it with me. If I try to do it alone, I get distracted by the interwebs between ten-minute clips... and it takes me days.
      *puts up hands* Hey, he started it...
      Oh, one more thing. You did insult Rose's appearance/education at the beginning: "And if some nineteen-year-old blonde dropout beats her in a poll..." You may not have been totally serious, since it didn't come up again in our friendly discussion, but... just be careful?

    11. As for the "blond dropout" I thought it was an improvement on "blond twit" and "blond chick..." but that's probably the hormones talking

    12. I don't think "chick" is an insult...
      Be happy, eat chocolate.

  2. *yawn* See you in the morning. Pleasure discussing this, although I wasn't expecting it to be. I'm not angry at all anymore.