Tuesday, 5 April 2011

The Sarah Jane Adventures: The Wedding of Sarah Jane Smith

Part One

“Where would I send the invite? Metebelis 3?”

This is the only appearance by David Tennant I hadn’t seen until today! Reminds me how close I am to the end. From now I’m going to try and really up the pace. I’ll hopefully complete my Marathon before the new series starts. I’ll then continue (why not?) with SJA series 4 and A Christmas Carol, this time in a part of the forum more appropriate for non-Marathon stuff. That should feed straight in to my reviews of the new series, which should be up-to-date after a couple of weeks. Nothing can possibly go wrong. Right?

Anyway… K-9 is still back. Yay! The first few minutes are such fun with all the spying and subterfuge being played for laughs, and the bickering between K-9 and Mr Smith looks like the beginning of a beautiful friendship. Clyde’s reaction to two middle-aged people kissing is priceless. And no one plays nice-but-dim quite like Nigel Havers. The tone is set; there are some serious themes, yes, but this is a nice light-hearted story from the pen, or whatever, of Gareth Roberts.

The first theme is secrets, of course; Sarah Jane is keeping Peter a secret from the gang, but she is of course also keeping some extremely big secrets from him, leading to some rather good slapstick. Some of which, rather nicely, involves Gita. I like Gita. She’s lovely. Did I mention that?

It’s great having K-9 back. I’m reminded of all the things I love about him when he says “Activating stair-negotiation hover mode!” and then proceeds to do so off-screen. Just like the good old days of rampant inflation, punk rock, Lady Adrasta and Count Grendel. Halcyon days. And we’re getting all self-referential, too: the Brig’s in Peru again, eh?

But isn’t this the greatest cliffhanger ever? The traditional wedding cliché of “Speak now or forever forsake your peace!” may never have actually happened at any of the many weddings I’ve ever been too, but it’s got great cliffhanger potential, used here at last. And it’s the Doctor! And the Trickster!

Part Two

“I assume everyone knows what the TARDIS is? Unless you’ve really not been paying attention!”

The Doctor’s “met” Luke before, of course, but not in person, and now he’s meeting Clyde and Rani too. The dynamic between the four of them is brilliant. I love the Doctor’s riposte to being told that Sarah Jane doesn’t like being called “Sarah”: “She does by me!” Perhaps it’s the novelty of seeing the Doctor in another show, but David Tennant really is great. Naturally, as soon as he appears they all start running a lot. What else?

All this is a little bittersweet, though. As soon as the Doctor utters the line “You two, with me. Spit spot.” I recall reading in an issue of DWM that this was David Tennant’s last ever line as the Doctor.

So apparently the Trickster is one of the “Pantheon of Discord” and some kind on “Eternal exile”. Isn’t that nice? I love this kind of tantalising non-explanation with just enough continuity soft porn.

What’s great about this second episode is that it has exactly the same plot as The Temptation of Sarah Jane Smith. This means we can just let it chug away in the background without a lot of exposition while we concentrate on the fun stuff. Oh, there’s some very real emotional stuff between Sarah Jane and the genuinely nice-but-dim Peter, but it’s all too reheated for the emotional stuff to spoil all the fun. We have Clyde casually realising we’re in a spatial loop, Castrovalva-style, because “Well, we’ve been doing this for a while now. I have taken notes. “We have the Trickster recalling that the Doctor “once held the Key To Time in his hands”. This is heady stuff. Best of al, we have the Trickster saying to the Doctor: “Who are you, the man who has lost everybody, to talk to me of loneliness when the gate is waiting for you?” Ooh. Knock. Knock. Knock.

It all ends in the predictable way (not a criticism- the perfunctory nature of the plot is a plot here), the gang get to run around in the TARDIS, and we get an ending which contrasts nicely with School Reunion. This time it isn’t goodbye forever; it’s implied they’re bound to meet again. This signals that Sarah Jane has changed. She’s no longer so lonely and in need of a proper goodbye. But when the TARDIS door shuts, the Doctor is alone…

Good stuff. 4/5.

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