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part of a small rebellion | by maryann johanson

‘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

viewed at home on a small screen

official site | IMDb | trailer
  • I have to thank the writers for nods to classic British Sci-Fi. Mr. Smith and K-9 harkens back to Orac and Zen from Blake’s 7 and then to have the Doctor and the kids running through the house while out of phase in the same moment of time recalled Sapphire and Steel (Series 6 I think).

    And there may even have been more. It was inter-generational one-upsmanship as the oldies showed those kids that they knew what they were doing, while the kids (particularly Clyde) showed the adults that they weren’t weak or cowardly.

    The Trickster’s Brigade had a brief appearance in “Turn Left” last year showing us Donna’s life under different circumstances.

    I so wanted the Doctor to go back in time to appear at the top of the stair and stop Peter from falling at the end of that two-parter. He wouldn’t be pushing him and Sarah Jane together, just opening the door to something if it was meant to be.

    Sarah Jane wasn’t sure that Peter would be able to accept her mad lifestyle. She’d not been honest with him, or with her teenaged friends. I’d like to think that was the Trickster’s influence rather than her judgment, but Sarah Jane has some old-fashioned ideas for such a forward thinking woman.

    It is the way the younger characters challenge those ideas that makes this show appealing to an older viewer like me. Sarah Jane has really opened her eyes to the idea that the old ways aren’t always the best and the younger kids have sometimes had to admit that newer isn’t always better at the same time.

    My wife (The Life-Long Whovian) likes it because the stories have more of the “classic” Who sentimentality of much of the earlier black and white shows. Although she does love her new Doctor Who intensity as well!

    This crossover was a delight for both of us.

  • I almost forgot! Was I the only one who was getting “Adric” vibes off of the Doctor and Luke?

  • Peter

    Sarah JANE! ;)

  • Barb

    I just loved the last line between Sarah Jane and the Doctor. He will definitely never ever be forgotten. And to think, this will be the last the two will see of each other in this incarnation (and that final look on his face just said it all). Really really gonna miss DT.

  • Pics of K-9 working the stairs or it didn’t happen.

  • allochthon

    K-9/Mr Smith sniping reminded me of Orac/Zen as well.

    I have to admit, though, I find the fact that Sarah Jane named her computer “Mr Smith” kinda creepy. She did, didn’t she? He didn’t come named that way?

    Gack, MaryAnn, the idea that DT might be regretting leaving just kicked me in the gut. I mean, I’ve heard so many interviews since that decision, and he’s never made any bones about missing it, but … Maybe it’s just because I watched WoM last night that I’m reacting that way…

    But hey, blonde John Simm makes my heart rattle, too…

  • I think every actor who played the Doctor quickly gets some regret about leaving (especially the ones shoved out the door, sorry Colin!), but the other thing is you shouldn’t overdo it… stay too long and you get to be a parody of yourself on your own show (rather than on Catherine Tate’s). And while a paying gig is never to be overlooked, Tennant has to know that he’s got bigger deals afoot with Hollywood and Bond villain roles. I can’t recall which one said to keep it to 3 years, but that gets to be about right… Tom Baker spoiled us, thas all, and you have to admit some of Tom’s weaker seasons were the ones between the Key to Time arc and Logopolis (well except for City of Death, but you didn’t have Douglas Adams writing every script). The other problem was that Chris Eccleston only had one season (considering how he acted the HELL out of that role in the brief time he played it: anyone ask him yet about any regrets he has?), so for some reason it feels as though Tennant hadn’t been a Doctor long enough to compensate.

    I ramble. Apologies.
    P.S. still waiting on K-9 pics. :)

  • Lisa

    I think he probably remembers how quickly he got over regeneration scenes himself when he was younger. He seems to have had a great time doing it – I read an article with an actress yesterday wherein she said that audiences can always tell, no matter what type of scene you are acting, whether you are enjoying yourself or not (she was rather wierdly talking about a rape scene but that’s a longer explanation!) One of the things I have always loved about Tennant is that you get that feeling from his performances, whether he is jumping about the Tardis like a loon or dying onstage as Hamlet, even then, there’s a kinda crazy joy inside of him.

    I think he was getting bored with it or was afraid of getting bored with it. He seems to be the type of actor who loves to work and loves to do a variety of things. He has so many opportunities open to him now, so he’s taking advantage of it. He has left the door open for a return either as part of a three doctor story as he mentioned on the radio the other day or as 10.2 with Rose (or Beta doctor, as I like to call him). He knows he can always come back to it. The BBC love him and throw him all the work they can altho they’re gonna be lucky if they can afford him soon. He has said he was severely tempted to stay on with Stephen Moffat but I think that the temptation of taking the Doctor in a new direction (see Waters of Mars) under RTD would have been too great a challenge. And wasn’t he great in it!

    I’m sure there’s some regret as he’s said he envious of Matt Smith but as he said in a interview a couple of years ago (he was Dr Who at the time), he always hopes his next job will be the best job ever. He seems to live in the moment so more power to him.

    “the people who are at UNIT, and the problems they have reconciling their jobs with the rest of their lives.”

    don’t we get enough of this in Torchwood? lol least Martha seems happy

    Sarah does have to choose between marriage (absolute happiness? – I’m not sure I’d go that far! It’s only what the Trickster has shown her, she’s under the influence at the time and she’s decorating the attic!) and saving the world on a daily basis (which is a pretty demanding job – like working in Unit or Torchwood I would imagine and look at how relationships in those organisations work out). She just fancies David Tennant and is not over HIM. But that attachment to the Dr and the way he left her, has not helped her in her relationships.

    I will miss David quite a lot tho and thought his final words in this episode were quite moving.

  • Gee

    David Tennant always wanted to guest on SJA but this was the first time they could actually manage the shooting schedules to accommodate it, and even then it meant changing the order of shooting as he had only one available week in which to film. I don’t think doing SJA immediately after DW reflects at all on his feelings about the decision to leave DW.

    I think DT, as he says, was sorely tempted but he certainly comes across as being content with his decision. He’s been popping up all over the place in the British media this week and he does sound truly enthused at having some new challenges – particularly Rex. Mind you, he is a good actor, so I guess we wouldn’t know even if he were having doubts!

    He did say one time that if he had agreed to carry on, he would have been 43 (42? something like that) when he finished, so I think that just a single extra season wouldn’t have been possible.

  • Lisa

    oh yeah and what is the Brigadier doing in Peru? has that got a rift like Cardiff?

  • MaryAnn

    I can’t recall which one said to keep it to 3 years, but that gets to be about right…

    Peter Davison has said that that’s what he told himself when he took the role… and then that he was sorry when the three years were up, because it was only in his last episode that he finally got a handle on the Doctor!

  • Jackie

    2 minute clip from the Christmas Special, just broadcast for Children in Need in the UK and already up on BBC America.


    Good Queen Bess :)

  • Keith

    Children are pretty smart. I suspect most of them would realize that Sarah Jane’s decision wasn’t really all that difficult. Agreeing to the Trickster would not have lead to lasting happiness (look at what was about to happen to the woman to replaced Sarah Jane in season 1). I don’t know any children who have seen this episode, but it would be interesting to find out what they think about it.

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