Friday, 5 August 2011

Sarah Jane Adventures: Death Of The Doctor


Originally Broadcast 25th-26th October 2011
Episodes 4.5 and 4.6 of ‘The Sarah Jane Adventures’

Written by Russell T. Davies

After UNIT informs Sarah Jane of the Doctor’s death, she attends the funeral, unwilling to accept the inevitable. With everyone doubting her, it’s the arrival of former companion Jo Grant nee Jones that helps get to the truth of the matter.

The Doctor’s second (and final) appearance in the spin-off is much better than his first, for a year previously it was Sarah’s wedding and all eyes were awaiting the Doctor, who we all knew was coming, but never turned up for half the storyline.
Well the same happens here, but the story is more forgiving as it’s all about the Doctor, therefore there’s actually a valid excuse for only using him for one of the two episodes.
Once he turns up, Matt Smith is on top form, RTD really nailed the writing style for the eleventh incarnation (let’s remember, he never wrote the Matt Smith lines in The End Of Time, Part Two), making this Doctor even more fun and brilliant than the episode was before he showed up.
Useless trivia here: Matt Smith had to change his shirt for this episode from those worn in series five as the patterns made the SJA cameras blurred.

"Come Along, Smith"
 Russell’s return to writing the Doctor and Sarah Jane was an accident as well, when the original writer fell through, and I’m glad it worked that way as, tragically, this is the last time Sarah will share the screen with her best friend. There are so many good moments and nods back for both the characters and for Lis Sladen herself, with things such as one of the Doctor’s introductory lines being “Hello Sarah Jane” in the style of Tennant’s School Reunion.
The same can be said for the next returning character from the world of Doctor Who, notching up her debut SJA adventure, it’s Katy Manning aka Jo Grant aka Jo Jones. I love how her character has developed; it really feels like the route Jo would’ve gone down, being inspired both by the Doctor and her husband (from The Green Death).
Mix this up with masses and masses of old footage as the creators raid the BBC Archives and this episode is a real winner, all fans love to see old clips from the show so this is like a fangasm, all appearing at once in quick succession. Adding to this, this is the only place where you can see not just one Doctor but six! (Dimensions In Time doesn’t count!) Hartnell, Troughton, Pertwee, T. Baker, Tennant and Smith all whiz around our screen.

Enough of the love aside (we also get fantastic stories of past companions including the inevitable loving truth that Ian and Barbara got married) and we’ll finally move onto the story, which, really, isn’t that great. The fact is, the episode is so wrapped in fan-things and comebacks and the Doctor that we don’t care, but underneath it is a pretty naff storyline, full of clichés. I think if we took out all of RTD’s overused plot devices, there wouldn’t be enough to fill fifteen minutes.
He also tries to hammer the point across to us about petitioning and not seeing parents and how hard it can be, which proves very tiring by the end of forty-five minutes. Russell also manages to stretch Tennant’s already overlong regeneration to even more ridiculous levels as the Doctor announces he looked back on all his companions when he was dying (damn you, Wilfred!). So if he did do this, he managed to cling to life long enough to say goodbye to around forty companions from the show plus all the ones from the novels and adventures we’ve not seen (if you class them as canon). A little bit ridiculous, although it did pave the way for some nice acting from the three Who legends.


To conclude and sum up the episode, it’s not very good, the music really needs to be toned down and used less, the script needs to be better and less obvious, but none of care about that. The episode is absolutely fantastic despite all this, because it has three amazing people on screen; Katy Manning, Matt Smith and best of all, Elisabeth Sladen, who all look like they had a fantastic time. To be honest I’d like to think of this as the final Sarah Jane Smith adventure, as it really sums up just how fantastic a person she is and how much she’s done for the show we all love.

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