It's week three of my all 'Doctor Who' month, and in the words of Dr. Denis Leary YER ALL COMIN' WITH ME!
It's 1980's companions day, and you're welcome. By which I mean welcome to skim and move on. Let's begin with the final companions of the fourth Doctor, those three lovable scamps who showed up just in time to witness his regeneration and ride the fifth Doctor's beige coattails to the stars:
ADRIC- 'Oliver Twit' A brainy swamp urchin from the bogs of Alzarius in E-Space, Adric seems to have been a hyper-evolving marsh boy with a gift for math, quick healing, and body odour. The precursor to Wesley Crusher was even more irritating in retrospect, but at the time: I found it very easy to identify with the clumsy teen stowaway. His death when I watch it now seems deeply contrived and tacked on, but at the time- it was like they tore my damn heart out. OH, my GOD, they killed ADRIC! You BASTARDS! And so on. It's a time machine, Doctor, can we go back for him? Sadly, no, he's gone forever, dead with the dinos, part of history. Why? Don't ask questions, let's see if the next schoolboy will be a red-head...
NYSSA- 'Lab Assistant Barbie' Clever biologist-slash-fairy-princess from the planet Traken, a world held together 'by everyone just being terribly NICE to each other'. And Nyssa is nice, too, if unfortunately suffering from quiet middle child syndrome. Stuck between whining Adric and whinging Tegan, this poor lass who lost her father, her home planet, and everything AROUND her home planet for light-years to the machinations of THE MASTER, and thus actually HAS something to whine about, is just happy to gad peacefully about with the Doctor. Coming from tragedy and leaving in tragedy, Nyssa is brave, helpful, and wonderful, becoming a doctor herself on station Terminus. A delight as a solo companion in the audio adventures.
TEGAN JOVANKA- "Just a Mouth on Legs" Air hostess from Brisbane, Australia, stumbled aboard the TARDIS in 1981 and clung on like a tick all the while complaining about how she wanted to leave. OK, so it was a rough time, the Master killed her aunt, Adric died, and she got possessed by the Mara twice. This was not a barrel of koalas, or whatever they say down under. Plus, making her an Aussie did not pan out in viewing figures or in getting to visit Tegan's homeland like they'd hoped. Oh, well. I liked Tegan well enough and was sad to hear that by 2006 when the 5th Doctor bumped into her again she had contracted a terminal brain tumor. Brave Heart, Tegan.
VISLOR TURLOUGH- 'Schoolboy Assassin' Sly ginger-haired exile from the planet Trion masquerading as a Brit in the mid-80s. Ingratiated himself to the Doctor at the behest of the chaotic Black Guardian, who promised Turlough power and adventure and... uh, I dunno, girls, maybe, if only he would bump off the Doctor. Will the young lad in the very tight shorts become a man? And is knifing somebody in the back the best way to BE a man? He's looking out for number one. He's hiding something. Is that a Black Guardian transmission crystal in your shorts, or are you just plotting my downfall?
KAMELION 'Robots Should Be Neither Seen Nor Heard'- A shape-shifting android built by the Gelsandorans to invade Xeriphas, hijacked by the Master for some ludicrous scheme to replace England's King John and NOT sign Magna Carta! Ha! Take that, HISTORY! Anyway, the Doctor wrested Kamelion away from the Master and promptly shoved him in a TARDIS broom closet for a couple of seasons or something because the (real robot) prop didn't work all that well. And then the Master stole him back, and, well, the Doctor had to put Kamelion out of his misery. Too bad, in a lot of ways, because on the face of it, they had Commander Data & Constable Odo rolled into one right there. But he was NO K-9!
PERPUGILLIAM 'PERI' BROWN 'A Mouth Above Boobs'- If the Aussie girl didn't do it for ya, how's about a California girl? In a bikini! And when Turlough hauls her aboard (I saved her life, she nearly drowned! He showed off, splashin' around!), she's STILL in a bikini! And, uh, her American accent is totally radical! DAK-Tir! DAK-Tir! Kent Ya See AYm Bernin' Bernin'! OK, it's bizarro. She's a botany student, but her skills find no application here. Poor Peri is usually there to be the object of some grotesque freak-balls' lusts (remember Sil? Well, there's plenty of horny space-goblins hoping for a smooch with Perpugilliam.) She meets a terrible fate on Thoros Beta. Either you believe the Doctor's (probably faulty and implanted) memory of her death by botched brain surgery, or the (dubious) official Time Lord version in which she escaped somehow and married King Yrcanos (Brian Blessed!!!) of the Krontep. Which begs the question: which would YOU rather?
MELANIE BUSH "As boring as they come!"- Hey, that's the line they put in her mouth, not me. Mel is a computer programmer from Sussex whose skills find no application here. She's peppy, she's obsessed with aerobics, she's a quintessential eighties girl except she's not actually snorting crack on screen. I'm joshing you. Mel gets a lot of put-downs from fans, and I'm one of them. She's TOO chipmunk cheerful. (And this from a guy who thinks Squirrel Girl is the Bee's Knees!) Her arrival is never shown: Mel just shows up knowing the Doctor before the Sixth Doctor ever meets her, and then leaves with him (presumably so he can deliver her into the care of his own future self, then quickly leave and go meet her for the first time somewhere else... or... something...). Miss Bush has very little screen time with the Seventh Doctor: he arrives with her on a new planet, sends her on an errand, hangs out with some other spunky local girl, then meets up with Mel again when it's time to leave. It seems she took the hint, and takes the standard way out: she falls for some unlikely wastrel and toddles off into the sunset. In Mel's case, the wastrel was...
SABALOM GLITZ 'These Sideburns Cost Me 5 Grotzis!' A pirate some two million years in the future, probably one of those ICE PIRATES I've heard so much about. Glitz is a self-serving mercenary whose tall tales are as colorful as his wardrobe, and whose swash is firmly buckled in his own best interest. Not exactly a companion, but he seemed to show up a lot, or the Doctor showed up in his vicinity. A character witness at the Doctor's 'Trial of a Time Lord'. Think slobby space rogue Captain Jack Nuthatch. I like to think he and Mel deserve each other.
BEST 1980'S COMPANION: None of the above! Join me tomorrow in the year 2,001,987 to find out!