Doctor Who: Meet Jamie McCrimmon at Comicpalooza
This weekend Houstonians will have the chance to meet the one and only Frazer Hines, who played the Second Doctor's longtime companion Jamie McCrimmon when he's in town for Comicpalooza. Jamie obviously comes from a very early time in the show's history, and also from a point when so many episodes have been lost and never recovered. For that reason he is sometimes overlooked in favor of other companions like Sarah Jane Smith, Ace, and the modern additions like Rose Tyler.
That said, Jamie was a truly remarkable man, and this is a rare opportunity to hear from him exactly what it was like to travel with The Doctor on more episodes than any other person in the show's history. Annie Bulloch, co-owner of 8th Dimension Comics, will be hosting question and answers at the convention.
"I like him," said Bulloch. "He seems to have good sense in general, at least as far as the story would allow. Somebody has to do something dumb to move the story along sometimes, but he was clever. He likely wouldn't have survived to adulthood in 18th Century Scotland without solid survival instincts! His sense of humor is compatible with the Second Doctor's, so they make a good team."
McCrimmon was a Scottish piper in the Jacobite rebellion, and met The Doctor, Ben Jackson, and Polly Wright when they landed thick in the middle of the Battle of Culloden. The Doctor managed to escape and in the process shut down a slave ring, but invited Jamie, now a wanted man by the British, to join the Tardis crew.
Being from a much earlier time, Jamie had little knowledge of things the then-contemporary companions Ben and Polly took for granted like telephones and trains. Nonetheless, he quickly established himself as the backbone of the adventuring team. He wasn't especially bright, but his loyalty and bravery often made up for it.
"I take orders from no one but The Doctor," he says defiantly in "The Macra Terror."
Whenever Jamie was confronted with high technology such as the many times he aided The Doctor he was always quick to accept whatever explanation was offered, even if he clearly didn't understand it. His job was to serve as an able and competent right hand, and perhaps no single companion has ever done so quite as well.
The thing that made him so fun to watch was the wonderful dynamic he developed with Patrick Troughton. Troughton was so brilliant a physical actor and an improvisation artist that he really suffers from having so many episodes lost. A lot of what made him great is very difficult to recreate in prose or audio form, and that includes hundreds of little moments he would secretly prepare with Frazer Hines.
My favorite of these in "Tomb of the Cybermen" when The Doctor and Jamie both think they're taking Victoria Waterfield's hand as they enter the tomb, only to have an awkward hand-holding moment themselves. It doesn't sound like much, but it showed off how perfect the two could work off each other to create small, unforgettable moments.
"There's a great moment in 'Tomb of the Cybermen' where something mysterious has happened because Jamie pushed some buttons and pulled some levers, and he's the only one who knows exactly how," said Bulloch. "They need to recreate the mysterious event, but the room is full of people, so the Doctor says something like, 'This could be very dangerous, so anyone who wants to leave the room should.' He's not even done saying it when Jamie turns right around and starts to head out. The Doctor stops him, like, 'Not you!' - it's a quick, throwaway gag, but it's timed really well and it cracked me up. Frazer Hines and Patrick Troughton nailed it, and I like how nicely it illustrates that Jamie's not cowardly, but he's not stupid, either."
Jamie would travel with the Second Doctor in all but a single adventure, his first in "Power of the Daleks." When The Doctor was finally forced to enlist the aid of the Time Lords to defeat The War Lords, he was punished for his interference with time by being forcibly regenerated and exiled to Earth. Jamie was sent back to his own time as a hunted man with no memory of The Doctor.
Or so we were told. Jamie was able to overcome the Time Lords mindwipe and even joined The Doctor on several more trips through space and time. He never forgot his friend, and indeed was enlisted on last time by the Sixth Doctor to stop the Cybermen from using a device called the Worldshaper in a Grant Morrison comic story. Jamie McCrimmon met his end as a hero, destroying the Worldshaper with his claymore and dying in the resulting blast.
Jamie represents everything the modern series could use in a companion these days. Only Captain Jack has ever come close to fulfilling a similar role, what with Rory Williams being eternally along for the ride because of his wife Amy. It's Captain Jack who echoes the spirit of Jamie during the Battle of Satellite Five when the Daleks attempt to sway him against The Ninth Doctor and he only replies, "Never doubted him. Never will."
We could also use a historical companion. Clara Oswald was supposed to be her Victorian incarnation not another modern London girl according to Neil Gaiman. Every single major companion of The Doctor in the reboot has come from a single decade. Where's the equivalent of Leela, or Zoe, or hell why not pick up someone from the last fifty year who might have seen The Doctor before. "The Name of The Doctor" proves that inserting new people into old episodes isn't hard.
Jamie McCrimmon is, for my money, the best companion in the whole history of Doctor Who, a marvelous man that Frazer Hines brought to unmistakable life. I look forward to meeting him this weekend.
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