Doctor Doctor Who Guide

And I thought I loved Sarah Jane already…

I need to get something of my chest, something I have been meaning to say for a long time. Elisabeth Sladen, I love you! It isn’t just her beautiful, definitive portrayal of Sarah Jane Smith but it is the woman herself. Have you heard her in interviews, she has a genuine love for the programme, a need to see her character treated with respect, someone who has a lot of time for the fans and their weird obsessions. Frankly, the only ever convention I went to was with Lis Sladen because I wanted to give her a hug. She deserved a place in the new series, just because of who she is and what she means to the fans of the programme. And by golly she’s beautiful, even after all these years.

School Reunion was another brilliantly packed episode of the series full of scenes of tension and menace, some great laughs and real emotional depth. Doctor Who had better watch out, it is giving most other television programmes a bad name! It was gorgeously put together by James Hawkes and featured another excellent score by the ever improving and dynamic Murray Gold.

Lets face it the Krillanite plot didn’t have a chance. And it’s good, its real good but (as usual) deserving of extra screen time but compared to the love story between the Doctor, Rose and Sarah it pales in comparison. I loved the idea of the Krillanites invading other worlds and taking the best of the people they conquer and absorbing it into their genetic make up, that’s a really nasty yet entirely original idea. And their plans for universal dominance is the sort of grandiose scheme we haven’t seen since the good old days of Doctor Who. Using kids’ souls as a part of a universal code breaker is obscene and yet hugely imaginative and the domestic setting sells the horror of the situation magnificently. Scenes of endless rows of kids staring at funky graphics on a screen should be utterly monotonous but thanks to some quick editing and inventive camerawork it is some of the scariest scenes we have seen from the new series yet, especially when you think of the implications. And you’ve got to love Anthony Stewart Head’s silky portrayal of the headmaster; so spooky with his softly spoken threats but turning on the scares in the last third when he bares his teeth.

As usual though there is an awful lot that we didn’t see which I guess is just a fault of comparing new with old. Investigate the aliens, discover their plan, stop them. That’s about all you can fit in 45 minutes but I would have loved to see more of these very interesting and well thought through monsters.

The Krillanites were another gloriously well designed monster and so convincing scratching their away along the school halls to feast upon the students.

Sarah’s entrance was no where near as dramatic and as exciting as I imagined it would be, a rather mundane scene with her chatting to the Head but suddenly she bumps into the Doctor in the faculty and my arm was attacked goosebumps. Was there a single Sarah scene that I didn’t like in School Reunion…not that I can think of. I think her story was handled sensitively and with just enough emotional depth to really hit home much we have all missed her. When the Doctor dropped her off (in Aberdeen!) I pretty much thought she had accepted the situation but it only hits home here when we realise how hurt she felt that he never came back for her. I thought the episode was going to descend into soap operatic but instead it is used to exquisitely explore the Doctor’s curse, living and living and living whilst his friends grow old and die around him. When the Doctor admits that to Rose you realise just how lonely the Doctor really is in the universe, even when he is surrounded by friends. It adds a delicious touch of sadness to Tennant’s jolly portrayal of the Doctor that I liked a lot. I loved how embarrassed that the Doctor was that he has never mentioned Sarah before, how they effortlessly fell back into their old relationship, how she was offered another chance to travel with him and how she demanded a proper goodbye this time, the pair of them closing their relationship and a warm and heartfelt cuddle. I was weeping my eyes off at that point, I never considered the new series an opportunity to tidy up loose ends from the classic series but when it can be done this effectively and satisfyingly I am not complaining at all.

But no matter how good the scenes between the Doctor and Sarah were, the scenes between Sarah and Rose were pivotal. Rose’s reaction frustrated me (I always hate jealousy plots…its just so clichéd and boring…I went of Red Dwarf when Kryten got jealous of Kochanski, I went of Voyager when Neelix got jealous of Tom Paris…) until the episode probed a bit deeper. Rose is terrified of being treated like Sarah was, being dropped off and forgotten and left craving the excitement and warmth he can offer. Also special is when we realise Rose thought she was the first person to travel with the Doctor, what they had was special but discovering the man you love has had these feeling before, possibly over and over and over, is heartbreaking. Sarah tries to appease Rose but her jealousy gets ahead of her and she starts to insult Sarah, and gobbing off about all the wonders they have seen together, climaxing in a hilarious bitch off about the monsters the pair have come up against. I adored the TARDIS scene with every fibre of my being because Rose clearly wants to offer Sarah what she once had but rather than taking the simple route and having Sarah accept she hugs Rose and tells her that if she ever needs her when her travels with the Doctor are over she knows where to find her. Beautifully done, and I love the image of Sarah and Rose investigating together with K.9!

Oh yes what about K.9? What is it about the series bringing back old robots in a state of disrepair (almost as if to say they look tatty before!) before sprucing them up and giving them some spanking CG effects. I have always enjoyed K.9 and was devastated when he heroically sacrificed himself at the climax, I was screaming “No! No! NOOOOO!” at the telly! It is ridiculous to feel such affection for a metal box but my reaction mirrored Sarah Jane’s, absolute horror that one of our series icons has been destroyed for good. So the last scene was doubly tear jerking for me…that last shot of Sarah and K.9 walking off together is just about the most perfect ending either of them could have had.

The performances were all fantastic but special mention must go to Sladen and Tennant who light up the screen with their chemistry. Sladen gets to go much further emotionally than she ever did before and her performance hits all the right notes for anybody who is terrified of getting old and forgotten. Tennant continues to impress, he gets another scene here where he gives a single warning before threatening to bring down his wrath on the enemy and I think this may be leading to something, some kind of retribution for being judge, jury and executioner of the entire universe. Piper and Clarke work superbly together as always and I expect some marvellous stuff next week, especially after Rose’s less than enthusiastic response to Mickey joining the TARDIS.

School Reunion is another favourite, series two rollicking along in fantastic style. I didn’t think anything could top last weeks spook-fest but School Reunion was every bit as good and (thanks to the longing to see Sarah again) possibly even better. The standard of this show just gets better. Lets hope the ratings reflect its excellence.

Filters: Television Series 2/28 Tenth Doctor