Gareth Roberts does it again with another winning story for The Sarah Jane Adventures! The story starts off easily enough. Luke, Clyde, and Rani all notice some unusual behavior with Sarah Jane and they want to know what’s going on. They find that she is dating a guy for at least a month! How easy and light-hearted! They investigate but can find nothing wrong. The bulk of episode one goes by without any threat to speak of and instead goes heavy on comedy with everyone gawking over the new man in Sarah Jane’s life. Peter and Gita cause a light chuckle. The lack of anything, at all, in Brussels causes a chuckle. We even get some witty humor with Mr. Smith and K-9 and a fun reappearance of that little creature we last saw in Mark of the Beserker. The only sign of trouble is a ring that glows and that wonderful well-known wheezing, groaning sound that we hear from time to time. In the last third of the first part, things come to a head as we hear the laugh of the Trickster. Just as Sarah Jane is about to be married, the Doctor bursts into the room saying the wedding should be stopped and I realized immediately that I’d be watching part two without breaking.
There are a lot of things that I feel really enhance a show. It’s often very subtle touches that get me, like Clyde noticing the smell of a Judoon’s breath, for example. In this story, Rani is pouring what appears to be lemonade for herself and Clyde. She compares the glasses, notices which one has more, gives Clyde the other one and the story goes on. There’s a sense of realism to a simple act that can be totally ignored but it adds so much to the characters. I also appreciate the emotion that comes out when Luke misunderstands Clyde’s concern and says “just because your dad turned out bad, doesn’t mean mine will.” First, it demonstrates Luke’s lack of understanding about what makes a dad (since he was genetically created, this is no surprise) but it also shows how he interprets Clyde’s genuine worry over Sarah Jane. Lastly, I love continuity, like when Sarah Jane asks where to send an invitation to the Doctor, “Metebelis III?”
Those are just brush strokes that make the painting more detailed and meaningful. The main admiration is the fun we have with the Doctor, but also watching as the Doctor realizes that Sarah Jane has her own TARDIS crew. His admiration is addictive and we realize how much we like this cast too. To add to the episode, this series has done a great job with morality and it hits the mark again here. It’s down to Peter to save the day (ironic considering Pete Tyler has to sacrifice himself in Father’s Day) and it’s love that gives him the strength to do it. Though Sarah Jane leaves heartbroken, she gets another visit by the Doctor in her attic. He allows the kids to check out the TARDIS and it’s as much a moment for us as it is for them! Yes, you get “the feels”, as they say in modern parlance! (See, I’m hip!) He tells Sarah Jane “you’re so important. And not just to me. The Trickster wanted to end your story. But it goes on!” Every time I think about it, it breaks my heart: Lis Sladen died in 2011. But her story goes on. She’s as alive for us today as she ever was thanks to our shows. It’s true of the show and it goes on for the fans. In this little corner of the Junkyard, we still honor her and love the impact she had on our world. This show is just a reminder of it with each and every episode, and I’m so glad to be revisiting it now. ML