Technicolor Commentary
1Feb/11Off

Battle Royale: Martha vs. Donna

This week I want to bring a new series of posts to the TCC table in which two figures in fiction are pitted against each other in a battle royale of nits and picks. Who wins is pretty much determined by whoever

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argues better. To start things off, I figured I would pit two Doctor Who titans against each other: Martha and Donna!

Personally, I find Donna atrocious based on the acting choices of Catharine Tate and despite all the good Donna as a character does for the Doctor, the fact that it's Tate ruins the whole thing for me. In fact, Martha did a much better job at trying to dig at the Doctor's wall and managed to not be shrill or "just another hottie."

What say you?

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Posted by movieguyjon

  • http://www.the-frame.com/blog Jandy

    I love Martha pretty unequivocally – she’s smart, witty, doesn’t take crap from anybody (including the Doctor). She might be my favorite companion, though Amy’s giving her a run for her money.

    Donna – I will admit that I like the way Donna is written, and I like the arc of Season 4. But Catherine Tate is annoying as hell, and even though I can see what people mean when they say they like her (it was nice having a companion who wasn’t even remotely a love interest, and I did like the way the character grew over the season), I mostly just wanted Tate off my screen and out of my sound system.

    So…Martha, then.

    • http://www.hilarioushenry.com movieguyjon

      Whenever I diss Donna, the arc is the first thing her defenders go to. And it’s not like I discount that as a vlid argument either. I much like the way she was written as well, and I also REALLY like that she wasn’t a love interest AT ALL. But…Tate. She was a hard pill to swallow for the season and by the end I was mostly tired of her ish.

      • http://www.the-frame.com/blog Jandy

        I vote we remake Season 4 with a different Donna and see what happens.

        • http://www.hilarioushenry.com movieguyjon

          I am in full support of this plan. 🙂

        • http://www.hilarioushenry.com movieguyjon

          I am in full support of this plan. 🙂

  • http://www.the-frame.com/blog Jandy

    I love Martha pretty unequivocally – she’s smart, witty, doesn’t take crap from anybody (including the Doctor). She might be my favorite companion, though Amy’s giving her a run for her money.

    Donna – I will admit that I like the way Donna is written, and I like the arc of Season 4. But Catherine Tate is annoying as hell, and even though I can see what people mean when they say they like her (it was nice having a companion who wasn’t even remotely a love interest, and I did like the way the character grew over the season), I mostly just wanted Tate off my screen and out of my sound system.

    So…Martha, then.

    • http://www.hilarioushenry.com movieguyjon

      Whenever I diss Donna, the arc is the first thing her defenders go to. And it’s not like I discount that as a vlid argument either. I much like the way she was written as well, and I also REALLY like that she wasn’t a love interest AT ALL. But…Tate. She was a hard pill to swallow for the season and by the end I was mostly tired of her ish.

      • http://www.the-frame.com/blog Jandy

        I vote we remake Season 4 with a different Donna and see what happens.

        • http://www.hilarioushenry.com movieguyjon

          I am in full support of this plan. 🙂

  • http://amberspence.org Amber S

    Is this Martha vs Donna or Freema vs Catherine, Jon?

    • http://www.hilarioushenry.com movieguyjon

      I don’t really like Donna or Catherine, so it’s both. I like that she’s not a love interest for the doctor, but Martha/Freema was better for me on pretty much all counts.

    • http://www.hilarioushenry.com movieguyjon

      I wonder if I would appreciate Donna more if someone else played her. But at the same time, I feel like they could have just covered all that ground with another season of Martha. Donna seems like change for change’s sake to me.

      • http://amberspence.org Amber S

        I could have been down with a second season of that being Martha, but that arc wouldn’t have worked with her. It had to be someone who you hated in the first place and only Tate pissed anyone off enough to come back as her. Then again Tate was cast in the first special she was in for being grating, and probably gave him the idea for that storyline.

  • http://amberspence.org Amber S

    Is this Martha vs Donna or Freema vs Catherine, Jon?

    • http://www.hilarioushenry.com movieguyjon

      I don’t really like Donna or Catherine, so it’s both. I like that she’s not a love interest for the doctor, but Martha/Freema was better for me on pretty much all counts.

    • http://www.hilarioushenry.com movieguyjon

      I wonder if I would appreciate Donna more if someone else played her. But at the same time, I feel like they could have just covered all that ground with another season of Martha. Donna seems like change for change’s sake to me.

      • http://amberspence.org Amber S

        I could have been down with a second season of that being Martha, but that arc wouldn’t have worked with her. It had to be someone who you hated in the first place and only Tate pissed anyone off enough to come back as her. Then again Tate was cast in the first special she was in for being grating, and probably gave him the idea for that storyline.

  • greenpixi

    Okay… I guess it just comes down to personal opinion in the end, but I will state -mine- for the record.

    Donna is my favorite companion of the new series. I haven’t watched the old stuff enough to compare. But either way, I don’t find her shrill at all, not since Runaway Bride.

    Mind you, when I first heard she was going to be the Series 4 companion, I was none too pleased, but I decided to give her a chance. It’s not just the way that she grew over the arc of the season, which I was very pleased with. It was the way she interacted with the Doctor.

    To me, what makes a good companion is someone who is strong, can mostly take care of themselves, has a curiosity and wonder about ‘what’s out there’, and most importantly, is able to reign the Doctor in and see things in ways different than him.

    Donna shone strongly in all of those aspects. Martha was lacking in some. Most importantly, challenging the Doctor. She was so busy making moon eyes and pining her unrequited love that she wasn’t able to challenge him. She ended up as shop girl and servant in different episodes because of this.

    I started liking her a lot more after she left the Doctor and started working for UNIT. She started having her own opinions and not blindly following what the Doctor said. She became more in charge of herself in general, not just running around the galaxy on the brink of being overwhelmed.

    • http://www.hilarioushenry.com movieguyjon

      Nothing wrong with having your opinion, as that’s what I’d like to get out of posting these versus matches. I never found her role as the servant girl more than the disguise needed to keep a watchful eye over the doctor. Or at least it didn’t strike me as a position that was merely her being cast to the side. I certainly agree that Donna evened out as season 4 progressed and she was nowhere near as horrifying as she was in The Runaway Bride.

      Still, I found myself distracted in many episodes by Donna and I feel that’s more of what Tate brought to it. At the end I was able to accept her a bit more. Still, I feel like all the problems you had with Martha would have ironed out in another season and she would have found her footing against the Doctor.

      • greenpixi

        Out of curiosity, are you a fan of Amy?

        • http://www.hilarioushenry.com movieguyjon

          Quite a bit, actually. Her infatuation with the Doctor was well-founded since he’s been a part of her life since childhood. And I like that she’s married and her husband is just as important a companion too. I think she was able to grow in ways that Martha couldn’t until UNIT.

          • greenpixi

            I see we disagree again. I haven’t found her to have grown very much at all. In fact, she’s regressed a bit, I’d say.

            In the first few episodes, The Beast Below in particular, she was brilliant. If that was the Amy we kept, it would be wonderful.

            But once Rory became a companion, she became a lot of the things that you claim Donna to be. She’s shrill, overbearing, bossy, and honestly even after she “owned up to her feelings” concerning Rory and the Doctor, she still treats him largely like a piece of crap. She ignores what he has to say or how he feels about most things, even to the point of talking about running off into the bushes with the Doctor when he shows up at her WEDDING RECEPTION, in front of all the guests. You can look at it as playfulness and moxie, but to me, it’s thoughtlessness and brashness. She seems largely unaffected by how her actions might impact those around her. She’s honestly borderline abusive towards Rory.

            Mind you, I love Rory. I kinda wish we could get Rory without Amy, or without the double onslaught of him being treated badly by both Amy AND the Doctor…

          • http://www.hilarioushenry.com movieguyjon

            I would say that playfulness and moxie doesn’t have to be mutually exclusive to thoughtlessness and brashness. We just see those aspects in a different light. 🙂

            But I think you do sell Amy short some on her turn in Amy’s Choice as well as Vincent and the Doctor. I can’t claim to understand the quirks in people’s relationships, but it never seemed like a stretch that there would be a light dom-sub banter thing between her and Rory. I mean, at one point after the Doctor crashes the wedding, he points out that Rory is being led around on a leash and the sheepish “Yeah” from Rory kind of says it all. If Amy’s abuse was of any serious nature, I’d venture that he wouldn’t have watched over her in the Pandorica all those years or be nearly as devoted as he was.

            On the flip side, I would say that Moffat handled Amy the best in terms of writing her and keeping her from being a one-note shrill-fest.

            Also, it could just be that my bias in this whole Martha vs. Donna debate boils down to the choice in actress. I imagine if anyone else had played Donna and followed the exact same path, I’d be singing a slightly different tune.

            But yeah, we may have to agree to disagree. 😛

          • http://amberspence.org Amber S

            There are plenty of people that have been in abusive relationships that would have parked in front of the Pandorica, but I still love Rory. I agree with greenpixi in that Amy waters down as we go along.

          • greenpixi

            Part of my problem, I suppose, is that the -very- same qualities you say you didn’t like about Donna (shrillness, bossiness, etc.) show up in Amy. You can say Amy’s Choice and Vincent and the Doctor, I say Planet of the Ood and The Stolen Earth (the moment and look on her face when she gestures towards Rose is beautiful).

            I’m not saying this is what’s going on with you, but just give this a thought: I’ve started to think that some of the reasons why people will dislike Donna but still love Amy can be traced to sexism/ageism. The qualities are acceptable in the young, hot red head, but are frowned upon in the older, a bit plain redhead.

            And I never really thought of Donna as shrill. And definitely not a “one-note shrill-fest” which by your writing, you insinuated she was. DEFINITELY loud, no question. The Doctor said it himself: “Screaming at the world”.

            But then again, if you don’t like Donna, you don’t like Donna. I guess I don’t quite get how you can dislike Donna but like Amy.

            I just come from the standpoint of not being able to STAND what Amy ended up being by the end of the season. I really hope they iron her character out through series 6. Otherwise I’ll just have to spend my time waiting for River and Rory moments.

  • greenpixi

    Okay… I guess it just comes down to personal opinion in the end, but I will state -mine- for the record.

    Donna is my favorite companion of the new series. I haven’t watched the old stuff enough to compare. But either way, I don’t find her shrill at all, not since Runaway Bride.

    Mind you, when I first heard she was going to be the Series 4 companion, I was none too pleased, but I decided to give her a chance. It’s not just the way that she grew over the arc of the season, which I was very pleased with. It was the way she interacted with the Doctor.

    To me, what makes a good companion is someone who is strong, can mostly take care of themselves, has a curiosity and wonder about ‘what’s out there’, and most importantly, is able to reign the Doctor in and see things in ways different than him.

    Donna shone strongly in all of those aspects. Martha was lacking in some. Most importantly, challenging the Doctor. She was so busy making moon eyes and pining her unrequited love that she wasn’t able to challenge him. She ended up as shop girl and servant in different episodes because of this.

    I started liking her a lot more after she left the Doctor and started working for UNIT. She started having her own opinions and not blindly following what the Doctor said. She became more in charge of herself in general, not just running around the galaxy on the brink of being overwhelmed.

    • http://www.hilarioushenry.com movieguyjon

      Nothing wrong with having your opinion, as that’s what I’d like to get out of posting these versus matches. I never found her role as the servant girl more than the disguise needed to keep a watchful eye over the doctor. Or at least it didn’t strike me as a position that was merely her being cast to the side. I certainly agree that Donna evened out as season 4 progressed and she was nowhere near as horrifying as she was in The Runaway Bride.

      Still, I found myself distracted in many episodes by Donna and I feel that’s more of what Tate brought to it. At the end I was able to accept her a bit more. Still, I feel like all the problems you had with Martha would have ironed out in another season and she would have found her footing against the Doctor.

      • greenpixi

        Out of curiosity, are you a fan of Amy?

        • http://www.hilarioushenry.com movieguyjon

          Quite a bit, actually. Her infatuation with the Doctor was well-founded since he’s been a part of her life since childhood. And I like that she’s married and her husband is just as important a companion too. I think she was able to grow in ways that Martha couldn’t until UNIT.

          • greenpixi

            I see we disagree again. I haven’t found her to have grown very much at all. In fact, she’s regressed a bit, I’d say.

            In the first few episodes, The Beast Below in particular, she was brilliant. If that was the Amy we kept, it would be wonderful.

            But once Rory became a companion, she became a lot of the things that you claim Donna to be. She’s shrill, overbearing, bossy, and honestly even after she “owned up to her feelings” concerning Rory and the Doctor, she still treats him largely like a piece of crap. She ignores what he has to say or how he feels about most things, even to the point of talking about running off into the bushes with the Doctor when he shows up at her WEDDING RECEPTION, in front of all the guests. You can look at it as playfulness and moxie, but to me, it’s thoughtlessness and brashness. She seems largely unaffected by how her actions might impact those around her. She’s honestly borderline abusive towards Rory.

            Mind you, I love Rory. I kinda wish we could get Rory without Amy, or without the double onslaught of him being treated badly by both Amy AND the Doctor…

          • http://www.hilarioushenry.com movieguyjon

            I would say that playfulness and moxie doesn’t have to be mutually exclusive to thoughtlessness and brashness. We just see those aspects in a different light. 🙂

            But I think you do sell Amy short some on her turn in Amy’s Choice as well as Vincent and the Doctor. I can’t claim to understand the quirks in people’s relationships, but it never seemed like a stretch that there would be a light dom-sub banter thing between her and Rory. I mean, at one point after the Doctor crashes the wedding, he points out that Rory is being led around on a leash and the sheepish “Yeah” from Rory kind of says it all. If Amy’s abuse was of any serious nature, I’d venture that he wouldn’t have watched over her in the Pandorica all those years or be nearly as devoted as he was.

            On the flip side, I would say that Moffat handled Amy the best in terms of writing her and keeping her from being a one-note shrill-fest.

            Also, it could just be that my bias in this whole Martha vs. Donna debate boils down to the choice in actress. I imagine if anyone else had played Donna and followed the exact same path, I’d be singing a slightly different tune.

            But yeah, we may have to agree to disagree. 😛

          • http://amberspence.org Amber S

            There are plenty of people that have been in abusive relationships that would have parked in front of the Pandorica, but I still love Rory. I agree with greenpixi in that Amy waters down as we go along.

          • greenpixi

            Part of my problem, I suppose, is that the -very- same qualities you say you didn’t like about Donna (shrillness, bossiness, etc.) show up in Amy. You can say Amy’s Choice and Vincent and the Doctor, I say Planet of the Ood and The Stolen Earth (the moment and look on her face when she gestures towards Rose is beautiful).

            I’m not saying this is what’s going on with you, but just give this a thought: I’ve started to think that some of the reasons why people will dislike Donna but still love Amy can be traced to sexism/ageism. The qualities are acceptable in the young, hot red head, but are frowned upon in the older, a bit plain redhead.

            And I never really thought of Donna as shrill. And definitely not a “one-note shrill-fest” which by your writing, you insinuated she was. DEFINITELY loud, no question. The Doctor said it himself: “Screaming at the world”.

            But then again, if you don’t like Donna, you don’t like Donna. I guess I don’t quite get how you can dislike Donna but like Amy.

            I just come from the standpoint of not being able to STAND what Amy ended up being by the end of the season. I really hope they iron her character out through series 6. Otherwise I’ll just have to spend my time waiting for River and Rory moments.