Authors Need Editors: Doctor Who as Author, Companions as Editors

David Tennant: The Tenth Doctor

Today I’m going to stress the importance of authors utilising editors by using references to the modern-day Doctor Who series. I will be talking about the David Tennant version of the Doctor (the tenth doctor), though, because Christopher Eccleston (the ninth version) only had one season and quite frankly it wasn’t as well written as Tennant’s Doctor. Also, I haven’t seen enough episodes of the Matt Smith (the eleventh Doctor) version. Fear not, that will be rectified as my partner bought the Matt Smith DVDs for Easter and we’re about to start watching them.

Last night as we were watching The Waters of Mars 2009 special episode, I realised just how important it was for the Doctor to have a companion. Specifically, he needs a human to help guide him through tricky situations such as Pompeii and the Mars issue.

When the Doctor and his red-headed companion Donna Noble went to Pompeii, the Doctor was convinced there was absolutely nothing he could do to save the people: of course, it was written into history that the volcano would erupt and poison everyone and cover them with ash etc, but the natural disaster was such an enormous event that even the Doctor couldn’t prevent it. He, in effect, chose to sacrifice Pompeii to save the world: which is a fair choice, when you look back on it. But when he wasn’t even willing to save a small family, that’s when Donna stepped in. Through her begging, the Doctor eventually decided to turn back and rescue that family.

Donna Noble begging for the lives of a Pompeii family

Now in the parallels I’m going to draw here, you have to imagine that the Doctor is an author, and his companions are his editors. If the Doctor had his way, he wouldn’t have saved that family. He needed his companion/editor to convince him to change, to make things better, to make himself and the world and all of history. The same goes for an author’s work. An author needs an editor to help make their manuscript better.

And it was. I’m not sure I could have forgiven the Doctor if he’d let that family die.

The next episode I want to talk about is the first David Tennant special of 2009, “Planet of the Dead.” In this episode, the Doctor meets a woman called Lady Christina de Souza who is, in every aspect, a complete and perfect match for him. She is a better fit than any of the previous companions we have seen. She gives as good as she gets, and there’s even a hint of sexual tension. She and the Doctor make the best team out of any female companions we’ve seen so far, even better than Rose and Martha and Donna. However, the Doctor is still stinging from his loss of Donna, his best mate, so he refuses to take Christina with him as his companion, even though she’s so up for it.

The Doctor, Lady Christina de Souza and a fly alien thing.

In this parallel, I want you to think of the Doctor as going it alone in his publishing endeavour and foregoing an editor alltogether. Although Christina is his perfect match, he refuses to bring a new companion because he’s sick of losing them. He endeavours to travel by himself forever. Christina is, understandably, devastated. If you’ve found the perfect editor, you need to be able to take a blow to your pride by accepting that your manuscript can always be improved. At this point in time, the Doctor thinks his manuscript can’t be improved.

The Doctor and Captain Adelaide Brooke

Stay with me as I move on to the next 2009 special, The Waters of Mars. The Doctor doesn’t have a companion in this episode, as he’s just forbidden Christina to travel with him. So he faces this entire episode alone. There’s a major moral choice for him to make, and without the presence of a human companion, eventually he kind of goes insane with his realisation that he’s the last Time Lord and that he can do whatever he wants to history and no one is there to stop him. He tries to change history in a major way, and quite frankly, I really don’t like him at the end of the episode.

"I'm the last Time Lord." There is no one to police him.

So think of it this way: without his usual companion/editor, the Doctor makes a major mistake in trusting his own supremacy. An author will always need an editor to help make them better. No author’s manuscript will ever be as good as it can be without an extra pair of eyes going over it, correcting mistakes and making suggestions. In “The Waters of Mars”, the Doctor doesn’t have a companion/editor, and he’s not as good as I want him to be. He makes a bad decision that would not have been made had he had a good companion/editor with him.

The realisation that he does, in fact, need a companion.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why authors need editors!

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3 thoughts on “Authors Need Editors: Doctor Who as Author, Companions as Editors

  1. Kate says:

    I think what is prodominately taking over Doctor Who is the mystery surrounding River Song. Amy just pisses me off, but River and Eleven so openly flirt that it’s just plain comical. Matt Smith is slowly growing on me as a new doctor, i do think that the River story has helped him so much in his developement.
    After loving David Tennent so much in the seasons and specials that he was apart of, i can now see that he really brought the whole concept back to life. There was the complete lifetime of his tenth regeneration, from carefree and bouncy with Rose, to the more serious and scientific with Martha and the friendship with Donna, he became so lonely and alone which i agree with you, points out who much he needed a companion.
    The thing about Matt Smith is that he did have such big shoes to fill so to speak, it’s taken him a while but he has managed to make the role his own and remind us all that the Doctor does change with each regeneration.
    But like i said to begin with, River Song is the storyline that keeps me wanting more. Its being linked through so many episodes and you can’t help when you see her in next weeks preview going, ‘ooo River’s back, whats going to happen now?’ on the edge of my seat to find out who Steven Moffat progresses. Very intriguing. oh well it’s on ABC tonight ( day of the moon) YAY!

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    • Lissa says:

      I didn’t talk about Matt Smith/Eleven because he’s accepted that he needs a companion (or two, or three). I haven’t seen enough of his episodes to comment on his performance.

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