Doctor Doctor Who Guide

School Reunion was a thoroughly enjoyable episode, but not I’m afraid due to the rather hurried plot(the fact that the Who team are already in place and investigating from the start speaks volumes for the time constraints the programme is under these days) but for Anthony Head’s sinister and memorable portrayal of Mr Finch, the return of K9 and most significantly of all the return of Sarah Jane Smith.

I cannot commend Elisabeth Sladen highly enough really for this performance. She has always been my favourite companion anyway, so to speak, and set against that rather lofty background you always wonder, and worry, how older characters will fare when placed in the modern era. Sladen however is so competent, so professional, so obviously caring and protective towards her character that her scenes are a genuine pleasure to watch. Yes this was an unashamed nostalgia trip for us oldies but I hope younger viewers will be able at least in part to glean why Sarah holds such a special place in our affections and won’t be too upset that Sarah won the little bitch war with Rose!The scenes between the Doctor and Sarah in the sun-drenched park at the end were too much for me I’m afraid and this soppy old git wept a little.

I’ve always been slightly bemused by the latter day close association of Sarah with K9 because K9 featured in precisely none of Sarah’s stories in the 70’s. They did of course appear very briefly in the Five Doctors and prior to that in the one-off K9 and Company. And what of the old robot dog?I loved the fact that John Leeson was asked to do the voice as only he can, and that the dog itself was only used sparingly and to maximum effect when he was, mustering just enough energy to zap a Krillitane or two and then to zap the vat at the crucial moment, much to Finch’s disgust!

Given the longevity of Sarah’s travels with the Doctor and the close rapport between the two, particularly with the Fourth Doctor- the departure scenes between Tom Baker and Elizabeth Sladen at the end of the Hand of Fear were particularly well handled as I recall-I have no problem with the suggestion that Sarah has suffered, despite a brief meeting with the Doctor subsequently, a good deal of emotional turmoil both in relation to the realisation that she has been dumped and the need to re-adjust to mundane Earth life after witnessing so many amazing things. She urges Rose to seek her out one day if she needs to-admirable advice. So yes despite the fact that Sarah’s tenure on the programme was pre-RTD and therefore pre the kind of emotional intensity that people either love or loath about the show these days, of course Sarah will have questions that need answering and will need closure by urging the Doctor to bid her a proper farewell. And that is the ingredient, plus Sladen’s incredible performance, that lifts this story from being mildly enjoyable to being memorable and-dare I say it-tear –jerking. After such a fitting finale, I hope in the nicest way that Sarah isn’t brought back, except perhaps if we see Rose seeking her out when her time on the show is done, though I’m sure Elisabeth Sladen is more than capable of deciding what’s best for her rightly cherished character.

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