Saturday, October 31, 2009

My Review of The Sarah Jane Adventures 3x03: "The Wedding Of Sarah Jane Smith"

Written by Gareth Roberts
Directed by Joss Agnew

Sarah Jane: “You came all this way for me?”
The Doctor: “You’re so important, not just to me. The Trickster wanted the end of your story but it goes on. Things you’ve done, Sarah, they’re pretty impressive. Oh, the thing you’re going to do.”

As appearances, The Doctor’s on this show has been a long time coming. Ever since “Invasion Of The Bane”, Sarah Jane’s talked of her former mentor so much that actually having him in the show was the natural next step. Except that you have to wait halfway through the story for him to actually appear.

In a way, it’s a smart tactic. You need those twenty five minutes or so to establish many events before The Doctor can make his entrance (and it’s definitely an entrance). Namely, a certain Miss Smith all of a sudden having a love life for beginners.

Unlike Clyde, I do not object to people over 22 kissing in public but Sarah Jane suddenly getting a nice posh bloke in Peter was always going to be suspicious. Her attempts of concealing the relationship from the kids had them using Mr Smith to spy on her. Even Sarah Jane later pointed out that she’s made them unable to trust anyone.

However after getting uppity for a few seconds on the gang spying on her, she was positively happy to dispense with the details. Even Luke got to poke some good natured fun at his mum for having a love life when he was grappling with the idea of relationships to put it mildly. Something tells me that Luke will end up getting a love interest if this show makes it into a fourth season. Judging by the ratings and affection for the series, I’d be shocked if it didn’t.

In terms of casting, Nigel Havers (last seen in Brothers And Sisters and Lunch Monkeys) is a good fit for the role of Peter. He’s got a convincing debonair about him that could explain why Sarah Jane found herself compelled to seek him out and his like of Luke seems very genuine. Of course, Clyde would have to be unconvinced.

One of the kids needed to be genuinely sceptical and maybe it made sense for Clyde to be that kid. He got Rani to come with him to break into Peter’s place but after from an overflow of letters in an empty gaff, Clyde didn’t actually have much to go on. Even Luke told him not to ruin the big day.

Yes, what totally made Peter suspect was his instant proposal to Sarah Jane, her ready acceptance and a ring that had the woman under his control. It doesn’t exactly sound like the most ideal start to a marriage. Also it didn’t take long for both Haresh and Gita to suspect something not right with Sarah Jane marrying in haste.

That being said, no wedding is complete without someone there to ruin the big day in TV land. Sarah Jane got twice the trouble with The Doctor bursting into the hotel demanding the wedding to stop and the Trickster also popping up quick enough to separate the last Time Lord from his greatest companion on her big day.

So, after much hyping aside, is The Doctor any good in this story? Yes, actually he is. For the most part, he’s seperated from Sarah Jane so that meant him having to bond with Luke, Clyde, Rani and K9 in his frantic bid to get everything back to normal and there are some wonderful moments with them all. I have to hand it to the Trickster, he can certainly does live up to his name.

Here he trapped Sarah Jane and Peter in one second and The Doctor and the gang in another. Both sides were determined to best the Trickster and the Trickster was determined to get a final victory, something which he happily goaded The Doctor about as well.

In the past stories with Sarah Jane, the Trickster used Andrea and her parents to get his own way. Peter is a lot like Andrea. At the brink and forced into an agreement but overall, he’s not a malicious man. He wanted to live and fall in love with the right woman. The Trickster more or less gave him that chance. The only problem lied with Sarah Jane.

She’s had enough experiences with the Trickster to do a better job at resisting temptation. She might love Peter as much as she claimed to but it’s obvious that she’s not going to let the Trickster win. It seems that if Sarah Jane agreed to marry Peter, she’d live a normal life and the Trickster would be able to go about creating chaos more successfully.

As schemes go, it’s pretty satisfying. I don’t know if the Trickster actually hates Sarah Jane. I almost get the impression that he doesn’t. Sarah Jane obviously poses a great threat to him given the number of stunts he’s pulled to get her out of the picture. He even chastised The Doctor for not realising hoe special she was.

Of course the silly thing about the Trickster was his reckless underestimation of Clyde Langer. Naturally, Clyde would have to have been the one to soak up some artron energy and he certainly didn’t have any problem in using the stuff on the Trickster. For a second, it did look like Clyde’s days were surely numbered. Not today though.

Still while it was Clyde who was able to injure the Trickster, it was up to Peter to defeat him. Although we had already seen this in “Whatever Happened To Sarah Jane?”, I did feel bad for Peter and for Sarah Jane. Both Elisabeth Sladen and Nigel Havers knocked out of the ball park when Peter sacrificed himself to stop the Trickster.

The pain didn’t end there. Sarah Jane still had to stand in front of everyone when time was restored and call of the wedding. That only added to the sadness factor of the story. At least The Doctor had the sense to come back to see her attic in Bannerman Road.

As a story between The Doctor and Sarah Jane, arguably we should’ve seen more scenes of them together but the end bit made up for it. The Doctor’s current incarnation is on borrowed time and he knows it. The Trickster himself so much as said when referencing the gate. The Doctor even asked Sarah Jane not to forget him. A line that may come back to haunt him in the next two months.

But the scene with Sarah Jane and the gang in the TARDIS however was a delight. From a sentimental standpoint, it’s hard not to love those little moments with everyone soaking up the majesty of The Doctor’s TARDIS. As for him and Sarah Jane seeing each other again, I bloody well hope so.

Also in “The Wedding Of Sarah Jane Smith”

Because of David Tennant’s appearance in this story, the ads on BBC1 were certainly more prominent.

Mr Smith: “I am able to complete that function, Clyde. There’s no need to consult the dog.”
K9: “Sticks and stones.”

Can I just say that The Odd Couple banter with Mr Smith and K9 is wonderful? Both are given great lines by Roberts here.

Sarah Jane (re Luke/Clyde/Rani): “I should be angry. Why am I not angry?”
K9: “Mistress I detect you are experiencing a heightened emotional state. Alpha waves high, heartbeat fast, increased Serotonin.”
Sarah Jane: “K9, always the romantic.”
K9: “Affirmative.”

Clyde (to Rani, re Peter’s house): “Look at this place, I knew it. Lair of the Living Dead.”

There was an amusing subplot in the first half of the story with Clyde and Rani having to send a Travist Prolong (from “The Mark Of The Berserker”) alien back home. Peter admiring K9 was funny as well.

Gita (to Peter): “It can’t be worse than our honeymoon. Total disaster.”
Haresh: “Um, I enjoyed it.”
Gita: “Brussels. There’s nothing there.”

The Doctor: “Trickster, let her go.”
Trickster: “Too late, Time Lord. You’re mine, Sarah Jane Smith. Mine forever.”

Funnily enough, there’s a novelisation of this story out at the start of November. I’m tempted to buy it.

Clyde: “I hope you’re as good as Sarah Jane says you are.”
The Doctor: “Well, you know journalists, always exaggerating but yeah, I’m pretty amazing on a good day.”

Sarah Jane: “The one time I fall in love, the one time everything goes right and it’s a trap. I thought I loved you but you aren’t even real.”
Peter: “You do love me. I’m here, flesh and blood.”

The Trickster is a member of the Pantheon Of Discord but was defensive when The Doctor noted that it was alone. Also, what exactly is The Gate?

Trickster: “At last, Doctor. I can feel this moment reverberating back through the ages. The meeting of the Pantheon Of Discord and the last of the Time Lords.”
The Doctor: “I’ve known the legends of the Pantheon since I was a little boy. I fought your shadows and your changelings. I never thought we’d meet.”

Sarah Jane (to Peter): “I love you but I can’t love you. You said you’d do anything to save me. You know what you have to do.”

Interestingly enough, they didn’t put David Tennant’s name in the opening credits with Elisabeth Sladen. There were also mentions of Maria (exams), Alan (tied up at work) and the Brigadier (in Peru) in relation to their absences.

Sarah Jane: “Is this the last time I’m ever going to see you?”
The Doctor: “I don’t know. I hope not.”
Sarah Jane: “Bye Doctor. Until next time.”
The Doctor: “Don’t forget me, Sarah Jane.”
Sarah Jane: “No-one’s ever going to forget you.”

Parts of that harkens back to “The Hand Of Fear” as well as the Storybook 2010 as well. Unsurprisingly we got hints of what to expect in the last three specials of Doctor Who this year.

“The Wedding Of Sarah Jane Smith” was always going to be an accomplishment. The show’s writing has increased in quality, the performances were wonderful, nostalgia references were finely timed (Metabelis 3 anyone?) as well as a foreboding sense of something else. By far one of the best stories from the series and a guaranteed fan favourite for many years to come.

Rating: 10 out of 10.

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