‘The worse it gets the more I love it.’ This one almost feels like it was written as a counterpoint to Midnight. That went dark, with the Doctor failing to hold together a small group of humans stuck on a stranded bus: he even makes reference to it: ‘humans on buses, always blaming me.’ By contrast, this could be called Midday, and not just because it’s set in the blazing dunes of Dubai. Other than the unnamed bus driver, who gets croaked early on to establish the danger of trying to pass through the wormhole unshielded, all the passengers live because they work together, don’t turn on each other, and trust the Doctor. After the darkness of the back half of Series Four, this looks like a return to bright, light comedy.
‘I think that was the most bizarre five minutes of my life.’ A Comic Relief episode, although it more or less functions like some of Series Two proper with a comedy legend menacing the Bannerman Road gang. Ronnie Corbett gets wonderfully into the spirit of it, and everyone just stands back to watch him do his thing as he cracks jokes about ‘the two Ranis’, name drops Brucie and Tarbuck, and begins one his infamous anecdotes nestled in a leather chair. Even the fart gags don’t seem out of place. K9 being clamped and then getting a Red Nose is adorable, as is Sarah Jane’s rousing declaration that they ‘save the world from an attic in Ealing.’ My only regret is that Corbett didn’t get to deliver a proper monologue.
Sarah Jane will return in Prisoner of the Judoon
Next Time: Planet of the Dead
‘I’ve got this wonderful journey in front of me where I’ve got this six months to build this Time Lord’. The feverish speculation about Tennant’s replacement meant that they couldn’t just announce the new Doctor in a press release. Instead, a special Doctor Who Confidential episode was broadcast three days into 2009 which, watched back, looks like as much an attempt to reassure viewers that the changeover is business as usual for the series as it is an introduction to Matt Smith.
‘Complete and utter, wonderful nonsense. How very, very silly.’ By the time this aired, David Tennant had made his bombshell announcement that he’d be relinquishing his Doctorate before they had to wheel him out of the TARDIS in a bath chair. As such, this arrived amid febrile speculation on who could possibly replace him. The episode title absolutely plays into this, as did a lot of the publicity which included interviews with David Morrissey demurring when pressed on whether he really was the next Doctor. In that context, this is possible the most on-point Doctor Who episode ever.
‘Sarah Jane Smith was the wet nurse. I am your mother.’ This isn’t quite as impressive as the first episode, largely because Wormwood and Kaagh’s detour to another derelict factory for a runaround gets in the way of the convergence at Whitebarrow’s standing stones. It does, at least, give Wormwood some time to get to know a little more of Luke’s abilities, and to start to view him as her son, the Prince to her Empress. In turn, this leads to a climax where Luke’s choice between nature and nurture, between the woman that bred him and the woman that raised him, is key. It also means we’re left with a hooded would-be Empress trying to tempt Luke to become her young apprentice before her current apprentice turns on her and together they plunge into a pit while lightning strikes about them. I wonder where I’ve seen that before.
‘Hello, Sir Alistair. It’s been a long time.’ Series Two has been consistently stronger than Series One, and the opening episode of the finale gives every impression of a show that’s found its own style and forged its own corner of the Doctor Who universe. It’s redundant to point out what a joy Nicholas Courtney’s return is, and how lovely that it should be in The Sarah Jane Adventures, reunited with Elisabeth Sladen for one last battle. It’s an even smarter move to do this in a story that also features Miss Wormwood and the Bane, and the Sontarans (or at least Kaagh), returning villains from the past of this show rather than its parent.
‘It was scary and brilliant all at the same time.’ Essentially, this plays out like Doctor Who: Father’s Day, but it’s hard to see what other options there are. It’s unthinkable in The Sarah Jane Adventures that one of our heroes would try to convince Barbara and Eddie to sacrifice themselves. I suppose the Graske might have travelled back through the portal and done the deed, but that would have robbed Eddie and Barbara of their heroism (and been a bit bathetic). So, Barbara does a Pete Tyler, works out Sarah Jane’s her daughter, and does what is necessary to save a world already unravelling around an old religious site.
‘What if this is it? My reward?’ Father’s Day for Sarah Jane, as she’s offered the chance to travel back to 1951 to meet – and save – her parents. Except, of course, it’s all a ploy by the Trickster to tempt her into changing history and gifting the future to him.
‘Please help my dad.’ A remarkable episode for a children’s TV show, taking time to focus on relationships between parents and children and ending with a scene that shows both Sarah Jane and Clyde at their most vulnerable. Its both Sladen and Anthony’s best performances in the series so far, getting across its point more directly and with less cynicism than either Doctor Who or Torchwood would be able to.
‘I bet Sarah Jane never does anything like this.’ A Sarah Jane lite episode and already Anjli Mohindra is becoming her heir presumptive, investigating mysterious goings on at Park Vale Comprehensive. It takes no time at all for Rani to work out Jacob’s mind control powers are linked to a mysterious, alien amulet, and she immediately spots that Clyde’s ne’er do well father has nicked it. She’s great, leading the show in Elisabeth Sladen’s absence. I can’t wait to listen to her further adventures from Big Finish.