I realize I might get a lot of hate for today’s “Companion Award,” but I can’t help it. “Most Overrated Companion” goes to…
Captain Jack Harkness
Nicknames: The Face of Boe, Captain Cheesecake
Ever since Jack first flashed his toothy grin at Rose in The Empty Child, Doctor Who fans (especially the female ones) have been falling for it just as hard as she did at first. He’s so popular that he even has his own show now. But what is it, exactly, that everyone loves so much about this guy? He’s handsome, certainly, and his constant flirtiness is good for laughs throughout his time on the show. But let’s think back to when we first met Captain Jack, in the otherwise excellent Empty Child episode. He’s checking out Rose’s behind, through a pair of binoculars, as she’s dangling from a barrage balloon in the middle of a 1940s London air raid. Sure, he soon puts down the binoculars to go save her (hitting on a fellow soldier on his way out), but only because he thinks he can make some money off her–and do some more flirting. Clearly, this is not a man overburdened with moral principles.
True, by the end of the episode he gives up his con man ways and saves Rose and the Doctor from a bomb, but for the rest of the show he spends most of his time on screen flirting with every man, woman, robot, and blue insectoid alien he meets. In Bad Wolf, he sums up his philosophy of life pretty well in the words, “The pleasure was all mine. Which is all that matters in the end.” I’m still not seeing hero material here.
Finally, when he becomes the immortal Face of Boe, Jack seems to calm down a bit. One might even hope that, at the age of a billion, he might give up the wild ways of his youth. But we know from The Long Game that the Face of Boe has somehow been pregnant at least twice, so…maybe not. In fairness, when he finally did die, Boe did it pretty heroically, saving the people of New New York. But until then, he wasn’t exactly a role model.
There’s not necessarily anything wrong with having a character on the show who’s not admirable and only exists for laughs. The problem is that the show sometimes expects us to take Captain Jack seriously. And I, for one, cannot. Mickey summed it up the first time he met the guy: Jack is cheesy. Everything he says sounds like a pick-up line, even when he’s talking about the potential end of the universe. And it gets a little old after a while. Add to this the fact that he speaks British English with an American accent, which sounds totally wrong and is never explained, and you have the main reasons why I find him obnoxious.
I still like many of Captain Jack’s episodes, and I do think he’s funny sometimes, but I don’t think he deserves quite as much attention as he gets. In my defense, the Doctor didn’t think so either.