School Reunion

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Writer: Toby Whithouse

Director: James Hawes

Producer: Phil Collinson

Series: 2, ep. 4

Companions: Rose Tyler (Billie Piper), Mickey Smith (Noel Clarke), Sarah Jane Smith (Elizabeth Sladen), K-9 (voice of John Leeson)

Summary: While investigating a Krillitane invasion at a school, the Doctor is reunited with two companions from his fourth incarnation: Sarah Jane and K-9.

Review: This is one of my favorite stories from Tennant’s era.  I thought it was so great that Sarah Jane and K-9 were able to return.  The villains are kind of silly, but in a good way.   Anthony Michael Head is excellent here. (Note: no, I never watched the TV version of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I didn’t much care for the movie, so I never watched the series.

The chemistry between Rose and Sarah Jane is well done.  I love the scene where they argue about their adventures. It’s great to see Sarah Jane’s still got it.

K-9 is also a treat. Hearing John Leeson was like meeting an old friend once more. K-9 was one of my all-time favorite companions from Tom Baker’s era.

Overall Review: 10/10

Continuity: For the curious, here are the stories that Rose and Sarah reference in their argument:

Rose:

  • “The Unquiet Dead”
  • “Aliens In London”
  • “World War III”
  • “The Empty Child”
  • “The Doctor Dances”
  • “The Parting of the Ways”
  • “Tooth and Claw”

Sarah Jane:

  • “Invasion of the Dinosaurs”
  • “Robot”
  • “Terror of the Zygons”
  • “The Android Invasion”
  • “Planet of Evil”
  • “Pyramids of Mars”

Mickey Smith officially starts his run as companion in this episode.

Trivia: Anthony Stewart Head, who plays the principal, also played Principal Grimes in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV series.

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The Hand of Fear

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Writers: Bob Baker & Dave Martin

Director: Lennie Mayne

Producer: Phillip Hinchcliffe

Season: 14, ep. 2 (5-8)

Companion: Sarah Jane-Smith (Elizabeth Sladen)

Summary: The Doctor attempts to take Sarah home, but accidentally takes her to the Nunton Experimental Complex. In the wake of a rockslide caused by an experimental explosion, Sarah happens upon a possessed hand.  The hand is possessed by Eldrad, a tyrant from the planet Kastria. Eldrad forces the Doctor to take them to Kastria so he can reclaim it.

Review: I had actually looked forward to revisiting this serial when I planned my Remembering Sarah Jane event because it’s one of my favorite departure stories.

Eldrad is a great villain and to be honest, only needed one appearance to show how great a villain he/she is.  We don’t even get to see Eldrad until the second half, but we don’t need to because Sladen does a great job at being evil. When Eldrad finally does appear, the story doesn’t get weaker, it does practically the opposite.

Tom Baker is really at his best in this story, and it’s a shame to see Sladen go because the two of them had such great chemistry.  The final scene is still every bit as touching as it was back then, perhaps even more so now that Elizabeth Sladen is dead. I highly recommend this story.

Overall Review: 10/10

Continuity: This is the only story that features the additional console room in the TARDIS. Although Sarah Jane makes her departure in this story, she does make a guest appearance in “The Five Doctors” and we see her face among the companions calling out to the Fourth Doctor in “Logopolis” before he regenerates. She is also the only companion from the classic era to get spin-offs. “K-9 and Company” only managed to get a pilot, but in that pilot it is established that she now owns K-9 Mark 3, which we see with her in “The Five Doctors”.  Her second spin-off, “The Sarah Jane Adventures”, ran for four and half seasons, ending with her death in 2011, thanks to her appearance in “School Reunion”. Prior to her appearance in “School Reunion”, Sladen also played Sarah Jane in her  own range of Big Finish stories. Eldrad returns in the recently released Big Finish Fifth Doctor story “Eldrad Must Die”.

Trivia: Sladen and Tom Baker ad-libbed Sarah Jane’s departure. Also, prior to her death, Big Finish was actually planning to reunite Sladen and Tom Baker when they finally got him to participate in stories for them. However, because of her death, it was decided to reunite the Doctor and Leela instead.

The Ark In Space

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” Homo sapiens. What an inventive, invincible species. It’s only a few million years since they crawled up out of the mud and learned to walk. Puny, defenceless bipeds. They’ve survived flood, famine and plague. They’ve survived cosmic wars and holocausts. And now, here they are, out among the stars, waiting to begin a new life. Ready to outsit eternity. They’re indomitable. Indomitable.”

Writer: Robert Holmes

Director: Robert Bennett

Producer: Phillip Hinchcliffe

No. of Episodes: 4

Season: 12, episode 2 (5-8)

Companions: Sarah Jane Smith (Elizabeth Sladen), Harry Sullivan (Ian Marter)

Summary: The Doctor and companions are on the Nerva Space Station.  Thousands of years ago, solar flares have rendered Earth inhospitable. A group of selected humans have been placed in suspended animation aboard the station, so that when word is received that Earth is livable again, they can start the human race over. There’s just one problem: the station has been overrun by giant insects called the Wirrn, who’ve also taken over the station’s leader, Noah.

Review: I’ve been watching Diamanda Hagan’s review of each season of Classic Who.  In her episode for Season 12, she said the cliché “The Simpsons did it first.” should be changed to “Doctor Who did it first”, because many famous movie plots were actually done by Doctor Who long before they were movies.  “The Ark in Space” basically the same plot as Alien, but four years before the movie was made! (and on a smaller budget with bugs made out of bubble wrap) The story is one of Holmes’s best, with some great humor and pacing.

Sarah is well-written here and I love the scene where she crawls through the tunnels of the space station like they’re trying to do a classic Star Trek Jeffries Tube crawl.  Her feisty side gets some good laughs, especially with Harry’s slightly chauvinistic attitude.

This is a great story to watch, even with the now-laughable aliens.  Ed Wood, eat your heart out.

Overall Review: 10/10

Continuity: This story leads into “The Sontaran Experiment”. “Revenge of the Cybermen” is also set on Nerva, but a century before “The Ark in Space”.  Big Finish’s first Fourth Doctor story “Destination: Nerva” predates both of these stories.  “The Beast Below” is set in the same timeline as “The Ark in Space”.

Trivia: I wasn’t kidding, the slugs really were made out of bubble wrap.  Part One’s title sequence was tinted pink and green, giving it a brown background rather than the standard blue one. This was never done again.

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The Time Warrior

thWriter: Robert Holmes

Director: Alan Bromly

Producer: Barry Letts

No of Episodes: 4

Season: 11, ep 1 (1-4)

Companions: Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart (Nicholas Courtney), Sarah Jane Smith (Elizabeth Sladen)

Summary: A Sontaran named Linx crash lands in medieval England, catching the attention of the bloodthirsty robber baron Irongron. Irongron and his men have been attempting to take over King Edward’s castle.  Irongron agrees to let Linx stay in his castle because Linx has told him he can give him an advantage against Edward.

In present day, scientists and their equipment have been disappearing and the Brigadier confines them to a top secret location.  A reporter named Sarah Jane Smith has sneaked in, using her aunt as an alias.  The Doctor crates a machine that can track delta particles, which he uses to track the missing scientists.  When another scientist disappears. The Doctor investigates and takes his TARDIS to medieval England, unaware that Sarah Jane has sneaked inside.

Sarah Jane mistakes the Doctor as the one behind the disappearances. With Edward’s help, she captures the Doctor.  When the Doctor tells her what’s really happening, she’s skeptical at first, but changes her mind eventually.  Together, the two and Edward join forces to defeat Irongron and Linx.

Review: This is one of my favorite Pertwee stories, and not just because it’s Sarah Jane’s debut.  Irongron and Linx are great villains. Linx is played well by Kevin Lindsay.  He is a great overbearing warrior who wishes to stir up trouble and does not care as long as there is bloodshed.  Really, the only bad thing about Linx is the prosthetics.  The modern series has done a much better job making the Sontarans’ prosthetics better than the Classic days.

Sladen is almost instantly likeable as Sarah Jane. I’ve always loved her feisty personality, especially in her earliest stories.  She has her work cut out for her, since Jo Grant, her predecessor, was also a pretty good companion at times.  This is a great introduction to her character.

Overall Review: 10/10

Continuity: This is the first story with a Sontaran.  It’s also the first episode to mention Gallifrey.  Sarah Jane’s final episode in Classic Who is “The Hand of Fear”, with the Fourth Doctor. The Second Doctor was probably the first to meet a Sontaran, if you go by “The Two Doctors”, even though that occurs in the Sixth Doctor’s era.

Trivia: This is the first episode to feature the “tunnel opening”, which carries over to the Tom Baker era.