The Companion Departures - #32 Ace
As we wait for the next season to begin, we hope you will enjoy this countdown of the most effective departures of companions from Doctor Who. The plan is to run down from least satisfying to most satisfying exits that companions made from the show. For the purposes of this countdown, I am only including television companions (apologies to the audio’s, books and comic strips, but the list is long enough as it is). I am also not including the Brigadier, Sgt. Benton, Captain Yates, River Song, Jackie, Grace, Kamelion or Adam - these characters didn’t really serve the traditional companion/assistant role and/or they weren’t regulars in the series. Basically I am using the traditional classic series companion list and updating it with the companions from the new series. Also the point is to try to look at each exit from a dramatic/narrative and characterization point of view - ie. was the departure effective dramatically and did it make sense for the character to leave in the way that they did? This not going to be an exercise in “I hated Mickey therefore his departure was the most effective because I was so glad to see him go”-type comments.
In last place, with the all-time least effective departure from the show is Ace, and that’s purely by default. She unfortunately never got a proper departure in the classic series - and not only was she deprived of a departure scene (as some of the others were) she didn’t get a proper ending in the series in terms of the audience knowing what her fate was or why she left the TARDIS. Her original departure in Set Piece (the New Adventures novel) was pretty effective and satisfying. If that story had been filmed for the tv series she would be much higher up on this list. But as I alluded to earlier, for the purposes of this series of posts, the spin-off’s don’t count. If they did, we’d be in a right conundrum with Ace because the various spin-off’s have each gone their own separate ways in explaining what happened to Ace. She leaves in the New Adventures with her health intact. The DWM comic strip, despite earlier featuring New Adventures continuity in its pages, went its own way and killed Ace off. The audios had Ace leave in the “Season 27” missing episode season (made to reflect what was going to happen if the classic series hasn’t ended with Season 26) but then brought her back later in the season. A spin-off tv series (The Sarah Jane Adventures) does suggest a possible fate for Ace in returning to Earth and running a charity (“A Charitable Earth”), although its explicitly stated that this is based unverifiable research on the internet, so that even then the viewer of the spin-off is not obliged to take that seriously if the viewer doesn’t want to. The overall point is, Ace’s departure has never been definitely told or even agreed upon in Doctor Who. That’s a shame for the character, and something that I think only the modern-day tv series proper can really address (but I’m not holding my breath waiting for that to happen). As such, Ace, through no fault of her own, takes up last place by default.
In our next installment though, we’ll find out who has the least satisfying on-screen exit.
Posted by Luca on Sunday, March 15 at 9:14 am