A New Adventures Companion
Anji Kapoor... number one! by Joe Ford 17/6/02
Let's be honest the signs were not good. Our latest companion turned up at the end of the greatest arc since The E-space trilogy, her debut not only being the weakest of the arc but one of the weakest Doctor Who novels ever published. She was brought to life by a soap writer and had all the trademarks… a failing relationship, bored with her life, blah, blah, blah… and to top it all of she works in the trade market, surely the worst occupation a time traveller could have! But I am not here to bury Anji Kapoor in the ranks of Mel, Adric and Dodo, no I come to praise her as the greatest companion to travel with the Doctor yet (despite a certain Mr Miles’ opinion).
Escape Velocity started us off on the wrong foot admittedly but the wonderful Jac Rayner worked her usual magic and transformed a one dimensional character into somebody I would love to travel through time with. Earthworld takes on her vigorous emotions after losing Dave and her reaction to her new life and dominates this whacky comedy. As soon as she took the piss out of the TARDIS exterior I knew we had a winner. After the mad antics of the story (which took her mind of her dead boyfriend) the Doctor takes her to giant garden in the TARDIS and she experiences ‘new life’ and breaks down on his chest. It provides a superb emotional climax.
In Vanishing Point she is confident, assured and helpful, the three greatest attributes for a companion. She’s not exactly a major character so I’ll move on.
Eater of Wasps shows she is coming to terms with the whole time-travel (she admits all she wants is a hot bath after this adventure and NOT to go home) and has developed a fine relationship with Fitz (with the wonderful line “ Thanks for stepping in. Anymore of that rubbish and I think Fitz would have biffed her one”). It also starts of her growing mistrust of The Doctor and has new found violent ways. They have another great closing scene where this is addressed. Already this is a relationship far, far better than the angst re-born Ace and Doc 7 from The New Adeventures.
The Year of Intelligent Tigers steps up things a bit. Not only an excellently written drama but also a continuing exploration of the Doc’s and Anji’s turbulent relationship. When our favourite Time Lord chooses to side with the enemy and actually steps over the body of one of the dead humans she is utterly appalled by his ‘alien’ ways. It is a shocking scene “Don’t give me that! It’s not good enough! You can’t put on the sad face- oh I’m so sorry- after the fact! You had your chance to be human and you stepped right past it!” It is this clash of cultures that has made their relationship such an endearing one. Later on Anji shows she is just as human as the rest of us as she has the very dark thought of being glad the Doctor loses a friend too. At the close of the story she admits leaving the Doctor and Fitz behind would be like losing her family (albeit a pair of brothers that drive you crazy!).
She is sidelined for much of Dark Progeny but once again the Doc and Anji cap of the tale with a thoughtful moment.
I loved Anji in City of the Dead and not only for the awkward semi-romance she has. There is a beautiful moment in there where Fitz and Anji both consider what it would be like to date each other (thanks to the romantic ambience of the New Orleans setting). It shows me that Justin Richards is serious in making these rounded characters without descending into the soapy sex scenes we had endure with Ace, Benny, Chris and Roz. A major development. There is also a great scenes near the end where Anji feels upset about certain developments and Fitz doesn’t know how to comfort her bar offering her a cigarette. It’s a really sweet moment between the two blossoming friends.
To be honest Anji is the only reason I would read Grimm Reality again. Vain to the point of aloofness, her bitch contest with Captain Christina is hysterical. Also worthy is the fabulous bit where she whips the Doctor and Fitz into shape (hands on hips) to their disgust! (Fitz: “Can’t she see we’re manly men? The Doctor: “Muscles and everything! When did she get so bossy!”) which certainly raised a big smile. Already they feel like old friends.
Since then Mad Dogs and Englishmen used her sparingly but perfectly, her adventures with a talking poodle in seventies Hollywood are really funny. She also brings up the very valid point that the Doctor can steer the TARDIS when he wants to but doesn’t seem to be able to get her home.
Hope is the most Anji-heavy book since Earthworld and she shines, as usual. It comes to a choice between betraying the Doctor or the man she loves…and her choice is shocking indeed. What I love about this character is that she doesn’t do anything lightly, she considers the options and always manages to justify her actions as she does here. With yet another dramatic confrontation with the Doctor she never backs down, not for a second and it makes for very tense reading.
Anachrophobia is a wonderful book. Tense, exciting, scary… and Anji is put through sheer hell. It is one of those claustrophobic stories Doctor Who does so well and all of Anji’s best qualities shine through as she is pushed to testing limit! Her strength of character, her wit, her ability to support Fitz, help the Doctor, stand up to him too( in another shocking scene involving the continuing Dave plotline) and use her financial and logical mind to think out the situation. All the qualities that make her so damn readable.
Our latest book, Trading Futures is a marvelous James Bond pastiche and Anji is right in the thick of the action, more so than even the Doctor. She thinks up an ingenious way to get the Doctor free of a building he is trapped in (which must be the best end of chapter moment yet!) and has some tense and intelligent exchanges with mastermind Baskerville.
Intelligent, resourceful, funny and very human, Anji makes for compelling reading. She is a fine foil for The Doctor and Fitz and seems to add a new layer to every story she is in. That such a generic (at the beginning) character has become my favourite companion is all down to the superb quality of the writing in the range. Long may Anji continue… I for one will be devasted when she leaves.