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RandomWiki: Doctor Wat?

Updated: Jan 28, 2021

Content Writing Prompt: Katarina (Doctor Who)

(Hooo boy. I thought I was in over my head with monolithic metals.)

Katarina is not a real person. She is a companion of the First Doctor on the super-long running British science fiction show Doctor Who. That Doctor is referred to as the first because there have been 12 more subsequent doctors. And no, by companion we don’t mean (/shuffles feet uncomfortably) that thing. See, here’s the deal:

In the show, the titular Doctor (all of them) is a Time Lord. Time Lords are (by this day and age) a super-ancient alien species. They’ve mastered time travel technology and perceive time as non-linear. Hence the name. And being all that stuff, you’d think Time Lords would, by and away, be able to keep the drama in their lives to a minimum. But they can’t, because that would make for a very boring TV show.

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Enter the companions, regular humans like you and me (and Katarina) who go along with the Doctors on adventures. Since humans in the show (like you and me and Katarina) are NOT super-ancient aliens and perceive time VERY linearly, the companions act as convenient catalysts for enjoyable storytelling.

But the companions also serve another function in the Doctor Whos. Each also acts as a surrogate for we, the audience (that’s you and me but NOT Katarina).

Yes, each doctor has a companion each companion is a surrogate. Hang in there, okay? Because this here’s an interesting part:

Audience surrogates help we, the audience, place ourselves in a fictional situation and maintain our bearings. Chicken or egg, it’s why Joseph Campbells’ hero’s journey is such a powerful, omnipresent narrative tool. And not just for super-long running British science fiction shows.

Like a Doctor, if the heroes in our favorite stories started out fully-formed and uber-competent they'd be boring as hell. They need to go on a journey to GROW into the hero they're (often) meant to be.

Campbell spent a decent chunk of his life identifying this simple narrative device in cultures around the world. And it's spooky-cool to think how and why we all, as a species, all have this in common.

But, problem! The Doctors are these fully-formed, uber-competent characters. So, in THIS case, Katarina would enter a given Who story completely naïve to what’s going on, just as we would be. As she would rock around the universe with the First Doctor, she’d learn about the world (universe) around her, as we would, asking questions, just as we would.

So that’s interesting, and somewhat humbling, that even in a long-running, multi-Doctored, super-alien, super-British, science fiction show must still rely on some very basic, empathy-based storytelling tools in order to be successful.

Or, as the Doctor would say, “Would you like a jelly baby?”

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