The Sarah Jane Adventures 4.5-6 – Death of the Doctor (parts one and two)

I hate myself for doing it, but I just can’t stop looking at Doctor Who stories and wondering whether plans might have been changed along the way, and something dropped for some budgetary reason or other. One of my favorite examples in the whole continuity is Russell T. Davies’s completely delightful and huggable “Death of the Doctor,” in which a rogue UNIT colonel, allied with some alien undertakers with a memory machine and the stolen TARDIS, get Sarah Jane and another classic companion, Jo, together. Their machine will turn their memories of the TARDIS’s key into a real one, and the villains can hop off into time and space.

So it ends with all of their memories overloading the machine, which is the sort of thing that happens in action-adventure shows, and there’s a big explosion, largely offscreen, as you expect. But I swear this script was building up to Sarah Jane and Jo remembering something jointly from their travels together and bringing that into the room with the baddies. True, they both met the Daleks, but bringing one of them into the situation would just make things a lot worse. However, in episode one, they specifically telegraph that they both went to the planet Peladon and met the royal beast, Aggedor. I might love this story, but it’s conditional love. I’d love it even more if they’d remembered Aggedor back into being and it chased the villains out of the room into the arms of some UNIT soldiers who weren’t bent, and then the Doctor calmed the beast down by singing “Klokeda Partha Menin Clatch” to it.

Of course, the kid loved it to pieces. I gave him the gentlest of heads-up that he was due for a big surprise, but it’d take him a minute. And yes, Katy Manning returned, kooky as ever, and it took him a few seconds, but then his eyes widened and he smiled real big and facepalmed as Jo babbled away. It helped that he’s rewatched a couple of her adventures – “Carnival of Monsters” and “Planet of the Daleks” – pretty recently, and she hadn’t been forgotten. And Matt Smith is here, delivering one of my favorite lines: “Have you been telling people I’m dead?!” Our son cackled even more loudly than I did.

I really love the revelation that there was a lot more to the Doctor’s farewell trip than the reality of TV production let us see in part two of “The End of Time”. The Doctor tells Jo that while he never looks back, his sentimental old tenth self checked up on all of his old friends before he died, and so he knew that Jo was, in 2010, happily married with seven children and twelve grandchildren – thirteenth on the way – and the whole clan is endlessly busy protesting and fighting corporate greed around the world. The show ends with Sarah Jane noting that Tegan, Ben, Polly, Ace, Ian, and Barbara are all still active and doing good work in 2010. She also mentions Harry Sullivan in the past tense, suggesting that he has passed away.

UNIT’s come up in the world, again. Not content with the helicarrier seen in series three and four of Who, this time we learn they’ve got a moonbase, where Liz Shaw, another former companion, is working, and they’ve got this grand thing built into the side of Mount Snowdon in Wales. Sorry to be such a traditionalist, but I kind of prefer the country houses of the seventies.

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