School Reunion

Tardisode: Mickey Smith goes to a cyber cafe to do some more of his l33t hax0ring, only to be stopped by a big flashing “Torchwood – Access Denied” message. You know, that super secret organisation that the Prime Minister isn’t supposed to know about. Of all the companions with the surname Smith to give us a bonus episode with…

* In the pretitles, Finch eats a child, and thinks he’ll get away with it because she’s an orphan from a children’s home. “No parents – no-one to miss you.” Pretty sure orphanages keep records of who lives there, and where they go to school.

* “Happy-slapping hoodies with ASBOs and ringtones”. Between that and the giant VDUs in the classrooms, I think I’ve just pin-pointed the moment at which the mid-00s became “the past”.

* But anyway, Sarah Jane. Brilliant brilliant Sarah Jane. She hadn’t changed a bit, really – a few years older, but instantly recognisable as the same character. Her initial meeting with The Doctor, where she doesn’t know who he is but he’s absolutely delighted, is beautiful, and then I got goosebumps as she stumbled upon the TARDIS. It’s easy to say in hindsight, but there really wasn’t anyone else they could have brought back, was there? The Brig is the only one who can match her, but the story required a direct parallel with Rose, plus Sarah’s departure was tragic and needed to be addressed. For most companions, it would be “yeeeeah, I really should have stayed with you instead of marrying that bloke I’d just met, shouldn’t I”?

* And of course, K-9. Weird to think that if it wasn’t for a failed spin-off pilot a quarter of a century earlier, Sarah and K-9 would never have met, and therefore he wouldn’t have been in this episode or the subsequent more successful spin-off. Understandably considering the other returnee, K-9 sort of got short-changed for screen time, but having now watched his original tenure, that’s kind of fitting. Leaving him in the car with Mickey is just like what the Fourth Doctor used to do with him whenever the adventure featured a location with an uneven surface.

* Why does the big confrontation between The Doctor and Tony Head take place either side of a swimming pool? I’m sure it seemed cool at the time, but it just struck me as odd watching it tonight. It’s also weird that all the Krillitanes can switch between human and bat forms apart from Finch – he’s the boss, genre convention dictates that he should turn in to some sort of giant megabat.

* I found myself fighting back tears when Sarah-Jane and The Doctor said goodbye and I’m not sure why. I know that they’ll meet again, and that I’ve got a hell of a lot more Sarah Jane still to watch, which I’m looking forward to immensely. Obviously, it’s partly to do with the wonderful Lis Sladen no longer being with us, but also I think that this is what long-term fans must have felt when this episode first aired.

Through the microcosm of one iconic companion and her life with and without The Doctor, it’s a small scale celebration of the classic series and a moment of closure – a chance to finally say goodbye, but to move on to something new. Sarah Jane Smith effectively passes on the baton to Rose Tyler, and that’s huge. When I first watched this episode, I loved it because it gave me a glimpse of what the old series meant to people. Now that I am one of those people, it gives me so much more.

* That said, The Doctor leaving behind a new K-9 for Sarah, revealed when the TARDIS
dematerialised… what if she’d have taken him up on his offer and decided to travel with him again? Was K-9 just going to be left on his own on 21st Century Earth? Poor bugger.

RATING: 9

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