...a blog by Richard Flowers

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Day 1943: Doctor Who: SCHOOL REUNION


I enjoyed this episode a LOT because K9 was very CUTE. Almost FLUFFY. Anyway, here is what Daddy Richard has to say:

Almost bizarrely, Russell T Davies has gotten in a new writer this week for the fanboy-pleasing one. And yet, in so many ways, this was not so much a story about the ‘kisses to the past’ (©Philip Segal of Paul McGann movie fame) it was about the future, specifically Rose’s future as in ‘life-after-the-Doctor’.

This all turns out to be a horrible development for the character of Rose, in another terrific turn from Billie Piper, as she suddenly realises that not only has there been a “last one” but there is inevitably going to be a “next one”. It’s an interesting new take on the Time Lord, the lonely curse of the immortal. Very Anne Rice.

Which brings us to the Vampires. I’m sorry, that’s Krillitanes. Riiight. Interestingly, this series has run episodes one, two, three with zombies, werewolf and now, er, bat people. And everyone knows that Cybermen are the Mummy, don’t they. Is anyone else thinking gothic horror era, Philip Hinchcliffe and ooh, Sarah Jane again.

But really, this is an episode about the guest stars.

There are so many reasons for choosing Sarah Jane for this story. I mean, obviously because she is the companion for the Russell T generation, but also she was the companion left most abruptly, shockingly and not to the traditional ‘happy-ever-after’ romantic step out but because the call to Gallifrey came. Oh, and she’s the only one with a robot dog.

The first time the Doctor meets here, she doesn’t know who he is but he is so delighted, so very delighted to meet her and his love (or David Tennant’s) shines out so bright it’s almost neon: “my god, you’re Sarah Jane!”. There’s a near perfect mirror in the scene that night when she does know who he is, and she’s… appalled that he is suddenly back in her life, right in front of her: she looks like she’s seen a ghost… and thanks to the director and the lighting, so do we.

And Elisabeth Sladen is simply perfect. It’s not just like she’s never been away, it’s like she has been away and has been hurt by that and that she’s living her life without the Doctor because she has to, not because she wants to. She’s still a strong woman, but she’s also got a vulnerability. She so nearly agrees to go with the Doctor again at the end, and she’s so strong that she can let him go because it’s what he needs. He has to explain it to Rose, but Sarah knows. Ah, at least he leaves her another robot dog.

Ah, the tin dog: Mickey Smith. Noel Clarke has done so much to bring Mickey on from “Rose” to the present and he so much deserved to be promoted to “full companion”. Although quite what Mickey will make of adventures in time and space. And of course it neatly turns the episode on it’s head: after the Doctor is caught between “the ex and the misses” now it’s going to be Rose’s turn. As she realises all to clearly from that roll of the eyes.

And then there’s Tony Head. You know, I’m telling myself that (enormous explosion aside) we don’t know for sure that he died when the other Krillitanes got the gloop. Because he was marvellous. It was a wonderfully precise villain, and very smooth and charismatic. Like he’s been waiting all these years to say: “No, Joss, this is how a Vampire Master should be played.”

How compelling was that scene at the swimming pool? And David Tennant really stepped up to match him. Two aliens of enormous power facing off, and the Doctor this time really taking on the mantel of all the Time Lords. Perhaps because Sarah reminded him of that: everyone else died and now he has to be there.

Still, the story of this Krillitane Brotherhood and their intended apotheosis is secondary to the real story of the Doctor and Sarah and Rose. Which makes the triumph of blowing them up secondary to the tragedy of Sarah left behind.

Heavy stuff for a Saturday night.

Dragons live forever, but not so little boys. Or girls.

Oh all right, yes I cried.

Next week: France, frocks and freaky clockwork robots.

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