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maryann johanson | watching movies at home

‘Doctor Who’ blogging: ‘The Sarah Jane Adventures’: “The Wedding of Sarah Jane Smith”

(tons of spoilers! don’t read till you’ve seen the episode! and no comments from party poopers — this is a love fest only / previous: Season 4a, Episode 2: “Planet of the Dead”)

No, not “The Water of Mars” yet, but that’s coming as soon as possible…
I don’t usually blog about The Sarah Jane Adventures, because it’s mostly simply not jammed full of the same subtext and sidewaystext as Doctor Who, and hence doesn’t bear ripping apart. But with the Doctor himself appearing in this episode, it qualifies as Doctor Who, so here we are. (My look at Season 1 of SJA is here; I may do a similar overview of Season 2, now that it’s on DVD [Region 1] [Region 2]. This story is from Season 3, which will wrap up this coming week on CBBC; who knows when it’ll arrive in the U.S.)

This is what I think: I think David Tennant is sorry he stepped down as the Doctor. Even though “Wedding” aired before his final episodes of Doctor Who will air, this was shot after his finale as the Doctor was completed. Which means that as soon as he finished shooting the show he had quit, he went and immediately stepped into the Doctor’s Converse again for this. You don’t generally do that for a job you’re looking to be done with. You might do it years later, if you’re getting nostalgic for the past. Doing it right away says, to me, “Oh, crap, I shouldn’ta quit.”

And just look how exuberant he is here! He gets to play with K9:

He gets to play with the sonic screwdriver:

He gets to be lord of the TARDIS:

He gets to use his very very angry, very very calm face:

And he gets to rush in at the very last moment, at the “if there’s anyone here who knows why these two should not be joined” moment, to stop the wedding of his beloved friend Sarah:

Okay, this all happens at the end of the first episode — the Doctor doesn’t appear till then — and in the second. Before that, it’s all Luke (Sarah’s adopted son) and his friends — who are also Sarah’s little posse of investigators and troublemakers — spying on Sarah as she goes off to meet her new boyfriend, Peter, because they don’t know about Peter and think she’s fighting aliens or something. But it seems Sarah took her own advice at the end of “School Reunion” and decided to get on with her life instead of waiting around for the Doctor.

She says some very intriguing things when finally explaining about Peter to Luke: “Men were interested before, but then I thought, How can a relationship go anywhere with my bizarre life?” Which made me think, What, there were no interesting men at all at UNIT, where she wouldn’t have to hide anything about her life? And maybe there weren’t, and that’s fine. But it makes me want to write more fan fiction about the people who are at UNIT, and the problems they have reconciling their jobs with the rest of their lives.

It is sort of sad that Sarah seems to have no adult friends, that her teenaged pal from across the road has to be her bridesmaid when Peter proposes marriage and they rush into it. (There’s alien-influence reasons for rushing, something about a being called the Trickster whom Sarah has encountered before, but that’s not really too important to my commentary.) There’s mention of “her oldest friend,” the Brigadier, but “he’s back in Peru” and so cannot attend the wedding.

But the really insidious thing, the thing that makes me suspect that it’s a think bomb now lodged in the brains of, at least, the little girls who watched this episode, is the notion that marriage, for a woman, means giving up everything else about who you are as a person. Sure, it’s all science fantasy, how, from the moment Sarah puts on Peter’s ring, she’s entirely in the thrall of Peter, who is entirely in the thrall of the Trickster, who wants to prevent Sarah from doing any more of her work to stop beings like the Trickster from wreaking havoc on Earth, but still… Sarah is forced to choose here between marriage and Peter and absolute happiness, and her work fighting aliens and keeping the Earth safe since the Doctor isn’t always around to do so (and doesn’t it make more sense for an Earther to be doing that work anyway?).

That’s pretty shockingly subversive for a kids’ show.

And so much for Sarah getting on with her life, and I don’t just mean that she does, in fact, give up Peter and marital bliss in order to protect the planet. She’s obviously not gotten over the Doctor — oh, the way she looks at him:

And my goodness, why not?

God, he really is the best Doctor ever, isn’t he?

Random thoughts on “The Wedding of Sarah Jane Smith”:

• K9 and Mr. Smith (Sarah’s supercomputer) carping at each other in the beginning of Episode One is pretty hilarious; you don’t often get to listen in on computers getting snippy.

• The box containing the weird little alien thing — that is “not evil, just trouble” — that gets delivered to Sarah in the mail? I love that Sarah bought it on eBay. That’s perfect.

• Peter has been dead and reanimated the whole time Sarah’s known him? Eww…

• Great quotes:

“Activating stair negotiation…” –K9 (if the Daleks can hover now, so should K9 be able to)

“I thought you might want for the Doctor to give you away.” –Luke
“I need somebody reliable. Besides, where would I send the invite, Metebelis 3?” –Sarah

“Sarah!” –the Doctor
“Sarah Jane. She doesn’t like being called Sarah.” –one of the kids
“She does by me.” –the Doctor, with a sniff

“I hope you’re as good as Sarah Jane says you are.” –one of the kids
“Welllll, you know journalists… but yeah, I’m pretty amazing on a good day.” –the Doctor

“We can use the TARDIS… I assume everyone knows what the TARDIS is. Unless you’ve really not been paying attention.” –the Doctor, to the kids

“Who are you, the man who has lost everybody, to talk to me of loneliness?” –the Trickster, to the Doctor

“Don’t forget me, Sarah Jane.” –the Doctor
“No one’s ever going to forget you.” –Sarah Jane (that’s for sure)

(next: Season 4a, Episode 3: “The Waters of Mars”)

MPAA: not rated

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