Doctor Doctor Who Guide

Crikey. What an episode! Again thin on plot but luckily, for once, plot wasn't the point. It was a character piece and that character was most definitely Sarah Jane Smith.

Like a lot of US TV the episode started with our heroes already on the scene, having skipped the tedium of an old episode 1, which would have introduced things a slowly and allowed us to actually get to know the kids in the school. Still, who gives cares about them, we want to see Sarah...

Which is true. Let's face it, although we should have given a damn about the Krillitanes plot, who can really hold their hand up and say they actually did? Not me, and I'll cheerfully admit it.

Funnily enough, I do care about having a coherent and sensible plot and yes, I am critical about RTDs seeming inability to put one together. Toby Whithouse's debut script for Doctor Who didn't have the greatest plot either (monsters using schoolchildren's imagination to unearth the secrets of a device that would give them control over creation - *yawn*) but it did have some of the strongest characterisation seen in the series so far. The dialogue was sharp and witty, the scenes between the Doctor and Sarah were super-charged with emotion and drama, as were the few scenes between Tennant and Anthony Head, and Mickey continues his progression into better companion material than Rose.

Its difficult to give a fair review of the episode though, as all fans of the show were waiting for the moment where Sarah meets the Tenth Doctor. And it wasn't disappointing in the slightest. Sarah is arguably the companion most memorable in the eyes of both fans and the general public and its hard to imagine any other past companion being re-introduced as successfully. Lis Sladen has aged beautifully over the last thirty years and it felt as if she'd never been away. I think my favourite line has to be:

Sarah: "You look amazing."
Doctor: "So do you."
Sarah (shakes her head): "I got old."

And this is where we discover that she has no family ("There was this man I travelled with. He was a hard act to follow."), she never got over him not coming back for her - and Rose realising (finally) that she's not the big deal she thought she was. There have been others in the Doctor's life that have meant as much to him as she does - and that he constantly moves forward by necessity rather than desire.

Rose has, for me, become less and less likeable over time. She's selfish, manipulative, insanely jealous, rude, stroppy and demanding. Yes, she's a "real" person but a fine line was drawn in this episode with her attitude to Sarah and, interestingly, Mickey. Who'd have expected the Doctor to accept Mickey as a companion before Rose did? Her expression said it all and her possessiveness of the Doctor is extraordinarily irritating, particularly as she's been so uncaring towards Mickey and owes him more respect than she seems prepared to give. However I get the impression we're leading up to a big event later in the season - something that will forever change her and the Doctor's relationship - and hopefully teach her a few harsh lessons about the life of a time-traveller. Queen Victoria mentioned their attitude to consequences in Tooth & Claw, and I wonder whether the whole "tin-dog" analogy will result in a self-sacrifice by Mickey that mirrors K9's...?

As usual, the episode wasn't faultless but there seemed far less to pick over this time than in previous weeks. The children were ciphers and I couldn't have cared less about them if I tried (don't even get me started on the token fat kid). I still think that 45 minutes is too short and that the relentless pacing is too much. I know a lot of people will say that I'm out of touch, that's how TV is these days, or that I'm a grumpy old fan who wants to live in the past. None of these are true, as I enjoy the new series a lot. I just feel that for all the time and effort going into the production, the stories need to be allowed to develop. An extra fifteen minutes could make all the difference. I'd rather have 10 episodes a year, all running to an hour if it gave us that extra time.

But despite this, I did love School Reunion and the last five minutes had me, like everyone else, blubbing like a five-year old. Pitched absolutely perfectly, David Tennant and Lis Sladen took me back to when I was a kid, blubbing that Sarah had been left behind by the Fourth Doctor!

Tennant IS the Doctor and gets better each week. He is Troughton to Eccleston's Hartnell and I accepted him immediately. My faith was not misplaced and this season feels like Doctor Who to me more than last year. It feels as though the confidence of the production team is much stronger and as a result the quality has been ramped up several notches. Now if we could just have a few more two-parters which would allow some plot and character development then I would be a truly happy fan.

Things I Loved: Elisabeth Sladen, Rose as a dinner lady, Mickey, the scene by the swimming pool, Elisabeth Sladen, the scene outside the cafe between the Doctor and Rose, Elisabeth Sladen, Anthony Head, the last five minutes inside and outside the TARDIS. Oh and did I mention Elisabeth Sladen?

Things I Didn't Love: The wafer-thin plot (again), Rose's attitude towards Sarah and Mickey, the schoolchildren (particularly the "stupid fat kid" cliche), 45-minute episodes...

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