Timestamp Special #13: Farewell, Sarah Jane

Farewell, Sarah Jane
(Doctor Who: Lockdown: April 19, 2020)

Timestamp S13 Farewell Sarah Jane

On the ninth anniversary of Elisabeth Sladen’s untimely passing, in the midst of a global pandemic, we were offered a chance to say goodbye.


It was a beautiful and fitting tribute to the character and the woman who brought her to life. Russell T Davies did an amazing job, especially with his bridge between the classic and revival eras. He also put the cap on his vision for The Sarah Jane Adventures which had been considered impossible in 2011.

I, for one, want to experience that adventure with Ace, Sarah Jane, and the Diamond Wolf Clan.

Until then, farewell, Sarah Jane.


UP NEXT – Doctor Who: The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe

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The Timestamps Project is an adventure through the televised universe of Doctor Who, story by story, from the beginning of the franchise. For more reviews like this one, please visit the project’s page at Creative Criticality.

Timestamp #SJA28: The Man Who Never Was

Sarah Jane Adventures: The Man Who Never Was
(2 episodes, s05e03, 2011)

Timestamp SJA28 Man Never Was

Slave trades and work simulations.

At Serf Systems, an office cleaner named Adriana Petrescu does her job as an advertisement for the new SerfBoard computer plays on overhead screens. A strange noise draws Adriana to the elevator. When she investigates, she’s pulled inside.

The Bannerman Road Gang is hard at work in the attic as Sky expresses her anxiety about meeting Luke for the first time. Luke notes that his room is no longer his and pops up to the attic for a reunion. He greets Clyde and Rani with the new pet name “Clani”, then has an awkward meeting with Sky. Luke had to leave K9 at the university as the robotic dog is backing up the entire Bodleian library. Mr. Smith is ecstatic at that news.

As the team muses about the SerfBoard launch, Sarah Jane breaks the news that she’s covering it as a journalist. Unfortunately, she only has enough passes for herself, Luke, and Sky. Once there, they meet Lionel Carson, Sarah Jane’s former editor and close friend. As the dress rehearsal begins, Sky tells Luke that she feels a strange buildup of electricity.

Each of the attendees gets a free SerfBoard, a device that sways the normally technophobic Lionel. Sky and Luke also note that Joseph Serf, the president of the company, glitches during his presentation. Luke stays behind after the rehearsal while Sarah Jane and Sky review the footage with Mr. Smith and the gang in the attic. Mr. Smith’s research indicates that, after an accident, Serf became a recluse. Serf also never holds anything.

Mr. Smith commences a deep scan of the SerfBoard while Sarah Jane arranges a rare personal interview with Joseph Serf. Sarah Jane takes Sky along as Clyde and Rani wait for the scan results. The interview is supervised by Mr. Harrison, Serf’s assistant, and Serf refuses to shake hands due to a supposed allergy.

The deep scan comes up with nothing special, so Clyde and Rani investigate the SerfBoard with a great deal of humor. What they find is a typical low-spec budget computer.

At Serf Systems, Luke and Sky discover a sub-basement occupied by Jawa-like aliens who are controlling Serf like an automaton. The controllers get overwhelmed by the complexities of the interview, eventually providing an opportunity for Sarah Jane to spot the glitches for herself. The controllers attempt to hypnotize her, but she sees right through it. As Harrison pulls a weapon on Sarah Jane, Luke and Sky are discovered and surrounded by the cyclopean controllers.

Luke and Sky are surprised when the aliens tell them to run. Sky saves Sarah Jane from being shot by manipulating the controls, but Harrison punishes the aliens. He also spots the intruders on the monitors as Sarah Jane is apprehended and has her sonic lipstick confiscated.

Harrison takes Sarah Jane to the sub-basement and punishes Plark, the lead alien. He reveals that the beings are Skullions that he bought on the black market in Central Asia. The Smiths are astonished at the slave trade, uncovering that Harrison’s plan is simply to make as much money as possible on the SerfBoard launch. Sarah Jane is locked in a storage room with Adriana while Luke and Sky are confined elsewhere. Sarah Jane and Adriana become friends and break out in short order.

Luke and Sky try to befriend a Skullion who brings them food and water, but the being is too fearful. We also learn that the Skullions are allergic to water and thrive on citrus juice. Sky devises a plan to use K9’s dog whistle to signal Mr. Smith. Meanwhile, in the attic, Rani comes up with a plan to crash the launch party as journalists. K9’s whistle, in Morse Code, signals Clani to steal Harrison’s pen.

The Smith family is soon reunited and they enter the Skullion control room. Sarah Jane signals Mr. Smith to arrange a rescue mission for the Skullions while Clyde and Rani snag Harrison’s pen. Sarah Jane and Adriana shepherd the Skullions to the roof while Luke and Sky monitor the control room. Unfortunately, Harrison retreives his pen so Luke and Sky have to drive the Serf simulation.

After some humorous Toy Story-infused hijinks, Luke and Sky use the hypnotic power to secure the pen and destroy it. They also tell everyone at the party that the SerfBoard is garbage before ending the simulation. Harrison arrives on the roof just in time for the Skullions to leave. Harrison inadventently jumps into the transmat beam and is taken for an intergalactic ride.

With the day saved (an Adriana referred to UNIT for a job), the Bannerman Road Gang retires to the attic. Luke has decorated Sky’s room with a custom banner, a signal that he fully accept her. Sarah Jane muses about the adventures she and her found family have shared in a farewell montage.

“I’ve seen amazing things out there in space, but strange things can happen wherever you are. I have learned that life on Earth can be an adventure too. In all the universe, I never expected to find a family.”

And the story goes on…. forever.


The story is a good take for a children’s show on slavery and greed and the cruelty associated with both. It also closes the loop on Luke and Sky, bringing the whole family together for one last adventure on Bannerman Road.

The discussion on slavery is not a new one for the franchise and this take still packs a lot of weight. I also really enjoyed the twists of the puppet president and the enslaved Skullions looking out for the Bannerman Road Gang.

The special epilogue was unexpected and brought several tears to my eyes. In its short span, it covered beautiful milestones of Elisabeth Sladen’s journey with Doctor Who, from The Time Warrior to Journey’s End and The End of Time, as well the scope of her wonderful adventures on Bannerman Road.

Rating: 5/5 – “Fantastic!”


UP NEXT – Sarah Jane Adventures: Series Five Summary

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The Timestamps Project is an adventure through the televised universe of Doctor Who, story by story, from the beginning of the franchise. For more reviews like this one, please visit the project’s page at Creative Criticality.

Timestamp #SJA26: Sky

Sarah Jane Adventures: Sky
(2 episodes, s05e01, 2011)

Timestamp SJA26 Sky

Welcome back to the attic.

Sarah Jane observes the star-filled sky and reminisces about all of the wonderful things that she’s seen. In that night sky, a meteor crashes into a nearby junkyard, startling a homeless man as a metalloid creature emerges from the wreckage. The newcomer scans the area before cloaking and walking away.

Sarah Jane muses about her found family as the Bannerman Road Gang talks to Luke via video. Sarah Jane misses her son, but finds solace in Rani’s assurance that he’ll be home soon. The next morning brings a doorbell in the early hours. Sarah Jane finds a baby girl abandoned on her doorstep, a baby girl who has the power to blow every light on the street with a cry.

Sarah Jane calls in Rani and Clyde, asking for her help as the Chandras muse about ley lines and electrical disruptions. The teens are hesitant, as is Mr. Smith, but Clyde soon settles the infant with a bottle and a cuddle.

At the Summerwell Nuclear Power Station, an orb of energy appears amidst arcs of electricity around the switchgear – an emergency that the nearby nuclear worker should have called away immediately! – and delivers a mysterious woman onto the plant floor. She is Miss Myers, she is looking for her child, and she enraptures the power plant workers. Miss Myers finds out that the baby is on Bannerman Road.

The Bannerman Road Gang attempt to get away but are intercepted by Gita Chandra. They find out about the meteor strike and inadvertantly name the baby Sky. Rani and Sarah Jane investigate while Clyde remains with Sky at the house. With the help of Professor Rivers, they find the homeless man and an eyewitness account of the metalloid creature.

By the way, that being is also headed for Bannerman Road.

The conflict reaches Clyde and Sky as the the metalloid being attacks them. They are rescued by Miss Myers and taken to the power plant. Rani and Sarah Jane chase after them with help from Mr. Smith. Miss Myers tells Clyde about the conflict between Metalkind and Fleshkind, but his skepticism forces him to run.

Everyone comes together at the power station. It turns out that Sky is a weapon, and as the baby primes herself, she transforms into a pre-teen. Sky then launches a lightning bolt at the Metalkind but refuses to finish off her oppponent. The girl is frightened and seeks solace in Sarah Jane’s arms.

Miss Myers reveals that she created the girl in a laboratory. Sarah Jane and the Bannerman Road Gang escape with Sky, returning to the attic. There, Mr. Smith determines that Sky – who enters the scene hesitantly, without fanfare, eager to protect his circuits – is a bomb designed to destroy all of Metalkind across the entire universe and end a centuries-long conflict, an act that would kill Sky in the process.

Sky remembers everything from the moment that she met Sarah Jane. She bonds with Rani as she learns about Sarah Jane, Luke, and what it’s like to be a girl. She later learns about her true purpose and returns to the power plant with the Bannerman Road Gang. Miss Myers is the only person who can defuse the bomb.

Sarah Jane confronts Miss Myers alone while Rani and Clyde shelter Sky at the car. Miss Myers has connected the Metalkind being to the station’s electrical systems to act as a beacon drawing the entire species to Earth. This will force Sarah Jane to surrender Sky to fulfill her destiny since the bomb is programmed to detonate upon contact with the Metalkind.

Sky, Rani, and Clyde enter the plant and find Sarah Jane. Sky believes that she must do what she was created to do in order to save Earth. Sky runs off and Sarah Jane gives chase, tasking Rani and Clyde with shutting down the reactor and removing power from the Metalkind beacon.

Rani and Clyde play a video game to operate the plant – which is not how any of it really works, but let’s roll with it… – while Sarah Jane tries to stop Sky. Luckily, they do the thing and shut down the beacon, forcing a blackout in the surrounding area because the UK apparently doesn’t have any other electrical power facilities.

Sky is knocked out from the effort, but she recovers after the energy backlash reprograms her genetic code. She’s no longer a bomb. The galactic politics removes itself from Earth as the Metalkind grabs Miss Myers, opens a portal, and teleports them off the planet.

The nuclear workers are released from their trance. The Bannerman Road Gang leaves without a word.

Returning home, they are greeted by the Chandras. In return, they get a story about a mix-up between two children at the foster agency. Sky Smith will be staying for the foreseeable future. The gang heads to the Attic where they find the Captain and the Shopkeeper, the servants of the universe who left Sky on the doorstep because she would be safest with Sarah Jane Smith. They teleport away leaving Sarah Jane confused.

The adventure ends with Sky’s introduction to pizza.


Doctor Who and its spinoffs are no strangers to nuclear power, spanning at least The Daleks, The Tenth Planet, Doctor Who and the Silurians, The Hand of FearBoom Town, The End of Time, and Exit Wounds. Science fiction, in general, takes a lot of shortcuts with nuclear power and the plants that generate it, and this story is no exception. It hits every trope in the sci-fi writer’s guide, from strolling around plants like a public park and being able to walk right into reactor containment to treating operations and control rooms like video games.

My nuclear operations background was screaming during this story. Electrical arcs would be called away as an emergency, access would be restricted by badge-locked doors, unauthorized personnel would be intercepted almost immediately by security officers wielding military-grade weaponry. Moving control rods is not like playing Super Mario Bros. and the electrical grid is powered from more than one power source.

At least the main gate guards were somewhat on the ball.

All of that to say this: Since the treatment of nuclear power and operations is so far off-base – it’s hardly ever in the same ballpark, really – I roll my eyes at it but don’t let it sour my opinion of a good story.

Thankfully, this story has a lot of heart. The ongoing theme of The Sarah Jane Adventures is found family, and it continues here with a new member in the Bannerman Road Gang. Sky picks up Sarah Jane’s nuturing, particularly compassion for everyone, and lets it shape her early on. Her wide-eyed innocence takes us back to the first series and almost pushes a reset button on the group dynamic. It suits the franchise well.

It was also supposed to bring the Eleventh Doctor back to the title in a story arc for Sky. Since he couldn’t balance this and A Christmas Carol, Matt Smith was replaced by the Captain and the Shopkeeper. Sadly, the story arc will be abandoned by the premature end of the series.

Rating: 4/5 – “Would you care for a jelly baby?”


UP NEXT – Sarah Jane Adventures: The Curse of Clyde Langer

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The Timestamps Project is an adventure through the televised universe of Doctor Who, story by story, from the beginning of the franchise. For more reviews like this one, please visit the project’s page at Creative Criticality.

Timestamp #SJA25: Goodbye, Sarah Jane Smith

Sarah Jane Adventures: Goodbye, Sarah Jane Smith
(2 episodes, s04e06, 2010)

Timestamp SJA25 Goodbye Sarah Jane Smith

Who could ever replace Sarah Jane Smith?

A meteor hurtles toward Earth. Mr. Smith redirects the threat into the forest and the Bannerman Road Gang rushes to the scene to deal with a potential pathogen. When they arrive, they find the pathogen neutralized by a stranger who dresses and acts like Sarah Jane Smith.

The team returns to Sarah Jane’s house to discover that the woman has moved in across the street. Clyde sets the car’s hand brake (which Sarah Jane apparently forgot) and the gang confronts the new arrival. She doesn’t receive them well, but we find out that her name is Ruby White. She came to Ealing after hearing about the alien activity, including the Trueman incident, the Bubble Shock! factoryrhinos driving police cars, and alien plant life. Sarah Jane tries diplomacy, but Ruby shows her the door.

Sarah Jane mentally drifts as the team discusses Ruby. She also forgets that Luke is away at university, leaves the front door open, and forgets K9’s name upon calling Luke only two hours after the last time. Rani stops by to check on her friend and suggests Sarah Jane take a break to visit Luke. A red alert interrupts their discussion as the Dark Horde fleet heads for Earth.

Mr. Smith redirects their teleport beam to an uninhabited area. Since transmissions are jammed and UNIT is unreachable, Sarah Jane hands weapons to her teammates and they confront the intruders. Unfortunately, Sarah Jane forgot her sonic lipstick so the weapons are useless. Just before the Horde kills the group, Ruby arrives and saves the day with alien technology and her own AI supercomputer. Sarah Jane and Ruby reconcile from their first meeting and the new arrival joins the gang in the attic.

Clyde and Rani depart as Sarah Jane and Ruby express their pleasure at having adult friends to share alien encounters with. Sarah Jane recalls meeting the Doctor when she was 23, but had trouble with the Time Lord’s name. She later thinks about the memory lapse and asks Mr. Smith for a full medical scan. He determines that she has brain tissue deterioration. She believes that she’s finally too old to defend the Earth, and Ruby slowly moves into her position on the team.

Sarah Jane offers leadership of the Bannerman Road Gang, along with the house and its contents, to Ruby. Ruby accepts and Sarah Jane transfers Mr. Smith’s command to Ruby. Once it is done, Ruby reveals that she is responsible for Sarah Jane’s condition. Sarah Jane is teleported to a secret cellar which houses Ruby’s stomach, since the new arrival is a Qetesh, a creature that devours peoples’ thrills and emotions. Ruby was fascinated by Sarah Jane’s exciting and adventurous life.

Ruby has her AI spoof a farewell message from Sarah Jane while the Qetesh’s stomach begins devouring our hero. Ruby gloats as the planet is undefended. It will make an excellent feast for alien species across the universe.

Clyde and Rani watch the spoofed video and lament the news. Clyde storms out and calls Luke after blaming Rani for putting the idea of a vacation in Sarah Jane’s head. Later, Mr. Smith tries to warn Clyde, but Ruby shuts down the computer and teleports Clyde to her orbiting ship. The ship was her prison until she reprogrammed the game console what was her only entertainment. That console took her from planet to planet as she consumed each one. She decides that Clyde is too smart for his own good and leaves him to suffocate in her prison cell.

After talking to her mother, Rani tries to call Clyde. She opens her door to find Luke (with K9 on video conference). K9 tracks Clyde to the orbiting ship and analyzes the Qetesh. Together, they discover that the Dark Horde invasion and the meteor strike were holographic simulations and they devise a plan to reboot Mr. Smith.

Meanwhile, in orbit, Clyde records a goodbye message.

Rani distracts Ruby as she puts the plan into motion. Ruby realizes that it is a ruse, but she’s too late. Mr. Smith is restored, Clyde is teleported to the attic, and Ruby is trapped in a containment vortex. The team locates Sarah Jane and as Clyde and Rani rush to the rescue, Luke arranges for Ruby to be trapped on Earth. Ruby breaks free of containment and confronts the team as they release Sarah Jane.

Luke enters the cellar and warns Ruby to leave Earth. When Ruby refuses, Luke tells her console to initiate his own custom distraction. The console broadcasts a simulation of meteor strikes to the entire world, overwhelming the Qetesh with a meal she cannot handle. The stomach overloads, restoring Sarah Jane’s mind and splurting Clyde in the process (as is customary).

Sarah Jane returns Ruby to her prison cell. The Qetesh vows revenge as the ship rockets into the deep dark. Back in the attic, the team finds that Mr. Smith and K9 have finally become friends. Sarah Jane cherishes her friends and treats them all to a night off in celebration of their victory.


This story is bittersweet. It was the last serial of the series to air before Elisabeth Sladen passed away from cancer, making the title and the plot ironically poetic. The question presented in this story – “Can Sarah Jane Smith be replaced?” – is answered by the giant hole Elisabeth Sladen’s absence has left in the Doctor Who universe. She’s still sorely missed.

I understand that her daughter, Sadie Miller, has taken up her character in the recent Big Finish line. I may need to track down that story.

As far as this story is concerned, I really enjoyed it. I love stories where the companions get a chance to shine, and the Rani-Clyde team did not disappoint. I especially loved how Luke and K9 came back as well to help save Sarah Jane. If there is a fault to be found, it would be the overdramatic scenery-chewing from Ruby’s side of the house, but there is a certain charm in an over-the-top melodramatic performance in an otherwise solid story with a fun villainous twist.

The two big franchise mythology ties that I loved in this serial were Clyde’s anger and anxiety over Sarah Jane abandoning him like his father did and the use of “Contact!” when K9 and Mr. Smith link up, echoing back to The Three Doctors.

All told, this was a great way to end Series Four, and a fitting episode to mark Elisabeth Sladen’s departure from this plane.

Travel well, Sarah Jane.

Rating: 5/5 – “Fantastic!”


UP NEXT – Sarah Jane Adventures: Series Four Summary

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The Timestamps Project is an adventure through the televised universe of Doctor Who, story by story, from the beginning of the franchise. For more reviews like this one, please visit the project’s page at Creative Criticality.

Timestamp #SJA20: The Nightmare Man

Sarah Jane Adventures: The Nightmare Man
(2 episodes, s04e01, 2010)

Timestamp SJA20 The Nightmare Man

You can’t get him out of your head.

Luke starts the story with a warning that the end of the world is approaching, that it is his fault, and the Nightmare Man is coming for him.

One year earlier, Luke confides in Sarah Jane that Mr. Chandra has given him permission to take his A-level exams early. This will enable him to go to Oxford University. Their discussion is interrupted by the fact that they are chained to a bomb, but fortunately Rani, Clyde, and K9 arrive to defuse the bomb and stop the Slitheen behind it.

Of course, in show tradition, everyone ends up covered in exploded alien goo.

Some time later, Luke passes his exams with flying colors. Some time after that, Luke watches Rani head to school while he packs his room and confides his nervousness in Sarah Jane. Sarah Jane tries to console him with scrambled eggs for breakfast, but ends up setting the kitchen on fire. Rani and Clyde hear about this on their way to school as they lament Luke’s departure.

Sarah Jane presents Luke with her old VW Beetle. She tells Luke that he gave her something to live for in an existence of loneliness. She promises him that Bannerman Road will always be his home and that she will miss him.

Later that night, Luke is awakened by laughing and overheads Sarah Jane and K9 talking about how they can’t wait for him to leave. Turns out that it was a nightmare, and as Luke startles awake he hears laughing. Luke shouldn’t be able to dream due to his genetic makeup, and while Rani suggests that he tell Sarah Jane, he decides against it. He also confides that he hasn’t seen Clyde for a while, and Rani pressures him to visit Luke.

Luke has another nightmare, this time with Clyde and Rani at the school. He meets the Nightmare Man, an entity that feeds on fearful dreams. He tells Sarah Jane about his nightmare and Mr. Smith scans Luke but finds nothing. He receives a text from Clyde and ends up at a surprise farewell party. The friends have a quick chat and Luke suggests that Clyde dance with Rani. After that, he inadvertently falls asleep and comes face-to-face with the Nightmare Man, but is told that he cannot speak the entity’s name. He is woken up by Rani and Clyde and taken back to the dance floor.

Later that night, Luke is sending a message to Maria but still cannot tell anyone about the Nightmare Man. He falls asleep and dreams about Sarah Jane replacing him with a new boy named Josh. His family throws all of their memories of him into a barrel and lights it on fire. The Nightmare Man tells him that one more nightmare will allow him to enter the real world and terrorize everyone.

On the final day before Luke leaves for Oxford, the Bannerman Road Gang throws him a farewell bash. Clyde and Rani keep Luke company but they fall asleep. Luke records the video that we saw in the opening sequence, sidestepping the rules by speaking to the camera and not to a particular person. He orients the camera to capture the events as he falls asleep. The Nightmare Man materializes shortly thereafter, but Luke is trapped in an echoing empty void.

The entity disappears as Sarah Jane enters the room and picks up the video camera. It materializes next to Rani and Clyde and begins to attack Rani as Sarah Jane watches Luke’s recording. Rani’s nightmare involves being pulled into the television by the BBC’s (completely fictional) Louise Marlowe. The Nightmare Man moves on to Clyde as Sarah Jane summons K9 and Mr. Smith to help combat the threat.

Mr. Smith identifies the entity as a Vishklar from the Seretti dimension as Clyde has a nightmare about being a fry cook and being berated by Sarah Jane for his lack of success. Rani’s dream continues as she takes the role of a newscaster being forced to tell the secrets about Sarah Jane Smith.

Sarah Jane and her cybernetic companions use a sentient concrete and a power boost to connect Luke with K9 inside his dream. Luke is able to connect with Rani and Clyde through the dream universe and rescues them through their focus. The Nightmare Man extends his influence onto the rest of Bannerman Road, but Luke, Rani, and Chandra stifle his power so he materializes in the attic, disables K9 and Mr. Smith, and turns his attentions on Sarah Jane.

Sarah Jane isn’t afraid of the Nightmare Man, but the entity is unwilling to send her into the dream. Instead, he materializes in the dream and threatens the team. Luke confronts him, emphasizing his love for Sarah Jane and his friends. The power of their friendship overwhelms the Nightmare Man and pushes him into a nightmare of his own. A nightmare where the elderly Sarah Jane Smith tells him all about Luke’s successes for all time.

The trio awakens as Sarah Jane brings K9 and Mr. Smith back online. Sarah Jane decides to send K9 with Luke. The next morning, they all gather to say farewell to Luke and K9. After hugs and tears, Luke leaves Bannerman Road in the yellow Beetle, eager to face the adventure ahead.


This is a pretty straightforward story, told in a fractured style, that has ties within both its series and year of production. Alongside Amy’s Choice, this was the second story in 2010 to involve a dream universe. It was also the second premiere to serve as a farewell for a series regular, the former being Maria’s departure in The Last Sontaran.

Tommy Knight had previously reduced his involvement in the show to focus on his schoolwork, but when his studies became much more demanding he decided to bow out. The other character to leave the show, the very good boy K9, was written out due to the Australian K9 spin-off. Thus, only Elisabeth Sladen remains from the roster of original full-time regulars that started the show.

This episode played well on both of those fronts. The anxiety and apprehension surrounding Luke leaving the nest is scripted nicely, and is sold by Elisabeth Sladen’s performance. Similarly, I loved the talent exercise of elderly Sarah Jane. We also got a touching and humorous farewell between Mr. Smith and K9, adding a beautiful dimension to their friendly rivalry.

All told, the story was good as both a welcome back and as a farewell.

Rating: 4/5 – “Would you care for a jelly baby?”


UP NEXT – Sarah Jane Adventures: The Vault of Secrets

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The Timestamps Project is an adventure through the televised universe of Doctor Who, story by story, from the beginning of the franchise. For more reviews like this one, please visit the project’s page at Creative Criticality.

Timestamp #SJA19: The Gift

Sarah Jane Adventures: The Gift
(2 episodes, s03e06, 2009)

Eat your vegetables before they eat you.

The Bannerman Road Gang chases a disguised Slitheen with a stolen matter compressor into a warehouse. The plan is to compress the planet’s carbon into a giant diamond. When the Slitheen gets away, Sarah Jane calls K9 to act as a bloodhound.

The gang ends up in a standoff with the Slitheen agents, but the world is saved when two orange-skinned Slitheen materialize and apprehend the bad guys.

It turns out that they are Blathereen, another family from Raxacoricofallapatorius. The planet holds many families, but only the Slitheen are criminals. These two Bathereen, Tree and Leef, wish to show their appreciation with a dinner party, and Rani offers her home as a host.

The dinner party goes off without a hitch. The Blathereen talk about Raxacoricofallapatorius and how it was once the jewel of the Raxas Alliance until the Slitheen destroyed the reputation. They offer a gift, a pot of rakweed, which is supposedly a staple food on Raxacoricofallapatorius. They want Sarah Jane to act as an ambassador to end starvation on Earth with this single plant.

Sarah Jane and Rani are skeptical, and Clyde is suspicious. After the dinner, Sarah Jane asks Mr. Smith to analyze the plant but he finds nothing harmful. The gang heads to bed to prepare for their upcoming biology test. Clyde hasn’t studied, so he hatches a plan to borrow K9 to cheat on the exam.

The next morning, Luke searches for his tie in the attic and discovers that the rakweed has released harmful spores into the atmosphere. When he inhales the spores, he gets sick. That’s a first since the Bane made him the vision of perfect health. 

Luke stays home from school while Rani heads in and discovers Clyde’s plan. He has K9 transmitting him answers via an earpiece, and the plan makes Rani furious and fearful.

Sarah Jane and Mr. Smith discuss the rakweed’s mutation. The plant hunts its victims and drains their energy. The plant is spreading, and reports indicate that people are collapsing with black and red marks on their skin. At the current rate of propagation, the plant will have seeded the whole of London within hours, and the Earth within a week.

The rakweed issues another burst of spores and Mr. Smith saves Sarah Jane by using his cooling fans to divert the spore cloud. His energy is depleted as a result, but he’s still able to commence work on an antidote. Unfortunately, it won’t be ready in time. Sarah Jane puts the plant in her safe to block any further spores.

The rakweed spores infect Clyde and Rani’s teacher, sending the students into a panic. Clyde, Rani, and K9 are trapped in the school. By chance, while trying to escape the school, they determine that the sound of a bell causes the plant’s destruction.

Sarah Jane traces the Blathereen teleportation trajectory to Antarctica and follows them to their ship where they are gloating about their conquest of Earth. The trip is a one-way event, but Sarah Jane takes a Super-Soaker filled with vinegar and demands their help.

Unfortunately, the Blathereen trick and restrain her. She finds out that the rakweed is addictive and the Blathereen intend to use Earth as a farm to corner the galactic market. Leef and Tree reveal that they are descended from both the noble Blathereen and the criminal Slitheen, products of an interclan marriage. 

Sarah Jane learns that the plants require communication to survive, then escapes and teleports home. While she checks in on Luke, K9 amplifies the school bell and eradicates the plants within the school building. Clyde connects with Mr. Smith via K9 and shares their knowledge. Mr. Smith uses every electronic device in the affected area to transmit a signal at 1421.09 Hertz. The plants are destroyed and the infected are cured.

Saved by the bell, eh?

Furious, the Slitheen-Blathereen teleport to the attic and prepare to murder Sarah Jane. Mr. Smith activates the signal again, causing the rakweed in the alien stomachs to react quite negatively. The aliens explode in a burst of orange goo, covering the entire attic.

Thank goodness that this is the season finale. Cleaning that set is going to be a pain in the ass.

Clyde cleans the attic and the gang settles in for a nice picnic lunch and Sarah Jane muses on the possibility that one day some alien races will want to help humanity. That through friendship, the Earth could become a shining example to the entire universe.


The idea of breaking the Raxacoricofallapatorian monoculture is great. All too often in science fiction and fantasy, the cultures that we meet are one-note. Doctor Who is no exception. The big failing here is that we don’t break that tradition, and while we see an open door for non-villainous Raxacoricofallapatorians to exist, we continue the stereotype that all of them are nefarious.

That’s a lot of lost potential. The story could have been a great analogy for accidental introduction of invasive plant and animal species, cultural miscommunication, or even imperialism and colonial politics. The Blathereen gift could have been a legitimate olive branch given Sarah Jane’s galactic reputation, a miracle for any other planet but Earth, and the door of friendship could have been opened by having these two disparate groups working together.

Alas, no. Instead we have the evil aliens trying to take over Earth and our heroes finding the solution completely by chance.

The story does play with established mythology again, introducing the Raxas Alliance with Raxacoricofallapatorius, Clom, Raxacoricovarlonpatorius, and Clix. We also get mentions of several UK locales including Ealing (first mentioned in Ghost Light and Survival, but returning throughout Series Four), Perivale (from Ghost Light and Survival), and Chiswick (first seen in The Runaway Bride, but featured in Series Four).

The discussion of Sarah Jane Smith’s tendency to improvise was a nice callback to the Third Doctor in The Five Doctors, as was her lament that there should have been another way aside from violence to save the world, ala Warriors of the Deep. A fun (but disgusting) callback was Clyde’s “why does this always happen to me” when splattered with goo, which happened twice in Revenge of the Slitheen and Enemy of the Bane.

Finally, I find the K9-Mr. Smith rivalry to be pretty humorous. Two supercomputers who cannot stand one another… wacky fun.

But really, this story ends up fairly average and a little disappointing given its lack of original thought the pure amount of luck involved. It could have been so much more.

Rating: 3/5 – “Reverse the polarity of the neutron flow.”


UP NEXT – Sarah Jane Adventures: Series Three Summary

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The Timestamps Project is an adventure through the televised universe of Doctor Who, story by story, from the beginning of the franchise. For more reviews like this one, please visit the project’s page at Creative Criticality.

Timestamp #207: The Waters of Mars

Doctor Who: The Waters of Mars
(Autumn Special, 2009)

Is there any way to slake your thirst in the dust of the Red Planet?

Adelaide Brooke, the commander of Bowie Base One on Mars, tries to call home but loses contact. While her scientific teams have some fun on the planet’s surface, the Doctor arrives in the TARDIS.

He’s soon found and held at gunpoint by a flimsy robot named Gadget as a trespasser.

Once inside, Brooke demands to know his name, rank, and intention. He replies “The Doctor, doctor, fun,” before asking that she lower her gun and trust him. Brooks wonders if he’s a spy from a rival space agency, but the Doctor realizes that this mission is the one fated to end in a mysterious explosion with all hands lost. Unwilling to break the laws of time and subvert a fixed point in history, he apologizes with all of his hearts and tries to leave.

In the hydroponic farm, Andy Stone and Maggie Cain encounter a problem. Stone is infected by a mysterious life form and turns into a zombie-like creature that gushes water and attacks Cain.

As the crew investigates the mystery, the Doctor is forced to help Brooke when she locks up his spacesuit. As the crew walks to the hydroponic dome, the Doctor muses about robots – Gadget is controlled by Junior Technician Roman Groome – and asks Brooke if the mission is worth it. She says yes, with what the Doctor calls “starlight in her soul.”

They discover Cain and call for medical help. She is alive and taken to isolation while Brooke, physician Tarak Ital, and the Doctor look for Stone. Cain has no idea what happened to her, but she’s required to be isolated for twenty-four hours. Meanwhile, Ital finds Stone and is infected. Cain turns soon afterward.

Cain, controlled by the mysterious lifeform, discovers that Earth is mostly water. They should like that world.

Brooke and the Doctor find Stone and Ital. Talking to them fails, so they run for the airlock. Stone shoots a stream of water at the airlock door but none enters the chamber. Instead, both infected crewmen start probing the airlock door with water. They break through and continue the chase through the tunnels, hijacking Gadget along the way to act as a supercharged go-kart. The three of them return to the central base, but the Doctor warns her that water is patient and always wins.

Back in the base, they check in with Cain in the infirmary. The Doctor tries speaking in ancient North Martian, to which Cain reacts positively. He surmises that the ice fields, the source of the colony’s water, is contaminated. El Gold convinces Brooke to evacuate the base and the remaining crew start preparations. The Doctor reminds her that, since they’ve all been drinking from the same supply, they may all be infected already.

Swayed by his argument, Brooke leaves to investigate the ice fields. The Doctor debates leaving again, but joins her. Cain is left alone in the medical dome and immediately starts breaking out. With a scream, she sends a message to her infected comrades.

At the ice fields, the Doctor muses about the Ice Warriors and hypothesizes that they may have frozen the virus as a means of defeating it. Brooke asks why the Doctor is so keen to leave and he explains what a fixed point in time is. Brooke tells him about her inspiration: When she was ten years old, the Earth was stolen and moved across the universe, and she saw the Daleks from her window. She knew that she would follow them to the stars.

The Doctor tells her that, in doing so, she has created history. Brooke’s granddaughter, Susie Fontana Brooke, will be inspired by her story to pilot the first lightspeed craft, paving the way for generations of her descendants to explore the galaxy, with one even falling in love with an alien prince and creating a whole new species.

But the tale is only a consolation.

The moment is broken by a log entry from Stone. A filter was broken earlier in the day, allowing the virus to enter the water supply. Since the water isn’t available yet for the crew, the survivors are able to leave for Earth. While they continue preparations, the Doctor debates whether or not he should leave.

The crew discovers that Stone and Ital have scaled the base, surviving the elements, and are burrowing into the ceiling. It’s now a raise against time, and the Doctor knows that the fixed point has not changed.

He considers leaving. After he’s suited up and standing in the airlock, Brooke locks the system until he explains what happens next. He asks her to imagine Pompeii and how any action she took would only precipitate the event. He tells her about her destiny, how she destroys the base for reasons unknown but her sacrifice saves Earth, but Brooke refuses to die. She asks for help to change the future, but the Doctor refuses. He wonders if the Dalek knew when it saw her so many years ago.

Brooke releases him with a whispered “Damn you” and rushes away as the water enters the base. The Doctor listens as the crew tries to fight it… as Steffi Ehrlich plays a message from her daughters as she succumbs to the virus… as the shuttle is prepped for departure but fails as Cain breaks through… as Roman falls from one drop on his face… as Ed destroys the shuttle to prevent an incursion on Earth…

It’s the tragedy of a Time Lord. Of knowing everything and being powerless to change it.

But the Time Lords no longer exist. Their rules are gone forever. Nothing remains to restrain the Doctor. He can make his own rules.

So he decides to change it.

Knowing that the end of his song will be heralded by four knocks, he returns to save the crew, proclaiming that the laws of time are his and that they will obey him.

The environmental controls are destroyed. The spacesuits are damaged. The infected are breaking the ice. But the Doctor has a funny robot.

Using Gadget, the Doctor tries to bring the TARDIS to the crew as Brooke starts the self-destruct countdown. Gadget enters the TARDIS and sets the controls, piloting the time capsule to the base as the nuclear device explodes.

The TARDIS materializes on a snow-covered street. Brooke, Bennett, and Kerenski, and Gadget have survived, but the robot shuts down as it loses its control signal. Bennett can’t handle the stress and runs off. Kerenski follows while Brooke confronts the Doctor with the consequences of his actions. The future the Doctor told her about will be broken, but she tells him that no one should have that much power.

The Time Lord Victorious is wrong.

Brooke enters her house, but as the Doctor walks away, she commits suicide with her laser pistol. Bennett and Kerenski will still tell the tale of how she bravely saved Earth. The future is saved.

The Doctor realizes that he’s gone too far, witnessing a vision of Ood Sigma as he wonders if his time has come.

The Cloister Bell sounds. His time is near. But with a defiant “No”, the Doctor sets the TARDIS in motion once again in an effort to outrun his destiny.


What we see here are the depths of the Doctor when unrestrained by neither the conservatism of the Time Lords nor the humanity of the companions. We’ve seen the darkness of the Doctor before – the Tenth Doctor’s rage manifested in The Runaway Bride, the Sixth Doctor let it slip through in post-regeneration psychosis, and the Fourth Doctor displayed how easily he’d wield absolute power in the absence of companions – and we know just how important it is that the Doctor be tempered.

The maxim is true: Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

That is one of the Doctor’s weaknesses. Another is love and compassion, which is played in concert with the temptation of power, resulting in this excellent character study of someone who wants to do so much.

It certainly earned that 2010 Hugo Award. The story was competing against its own, of course, but I’d side with this one.

Taking a look at the franchise’s history, this is the second time that the TARDIS has heralded the Doctor’s regeneration through the Cloister Bell. It did this in Logopolis, but in that instance, the Fourth Doctor was willing to wait for the inevitability whereas the Tenth Doctor pretty much fears the coming milestone.

The nod to K9 was amusing, owing to the Doctor’s long-standing love for his canine companion.

We also have quite the focal point in the mythology here. By live action standards in 2009, the next story is Tennant’s finale, The End of Time. Come 2013, The Day of the Doctor would get wedged in between the two, and if we expand to the animated specials (which we do on the Timestamps Project), Dreamland is also on the table.

This story’s placement gets even more complicated this year with the Time Lord Victorious multimedia event, which (naturally) incorporates this story into its narrative.

Finally, there’s an important companion note related to this story and actress Lindsay Duncan. As of this story, she became both the oldest actress and oldest individual to travel in the TARDIS. She’ll forfeit the latter title to Bernard Cribbins in The End of Time.

Rating: 5/5 – “Fantastic!”


UP NEXT – Sarah Jane Adventures: The Gift

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The Timestamps Project is an adventure through the televised universe of Doctor Who, story by story, from the beginning of the franchise. For more reviews like this one, please visit the project’s page at Creative Criticality.

Timestamp #SJA18: Mona Lisa’s Revenge

Sarah Jane Adventures: Mona Lisa’s Revenge
(2 episodes, s03e05, 2009)

Timestamp SJA18 Mona Lisa Revenge

The art is so lifelike.

The Bannerman Road Gang is enjoying a moment in class while Clyde sketches K9. Mr. Chandra comes in with an important announcement, revealing that Clyde has won a chance to see the Mona Lisa at the National Gallery. Clyde never entered the competition, but Luke did it for him secretly. Clyde doesn’t mind given the occasion.

At the gallery, Lionel Harding and Phyllis Trupp examine the newly arrived painting. Phyllis longs for Harding, but as he ignores her overtures, the panting comes to life.

Luke arrives home to a furious Sarah Jane. She’s upset about the state of his room, and Luke is upset because she expects perfection just like the Bane did.

The next day, the class arrives at the gallery. Per the rules, they turn in their phones before perusing the facility. Luke confides his troubles in his friends and they start the tour. Luke picks up a Chinese mystery box and Clyde chastises him for handling the exhibits. They’re soon introduced to Harding and Trupp. Phyllis finishes preparing the exhibit hall and, upon confessing her feelings to the painting, is attacked by the Mona Lisa.

Clyde finds his own work in the gallery and his classmates celebrate. Harding praises his work, which Clyde later admits to his friends is inspired by their adventures. When the class is taken to see the Mona Lisa, they find Phyllis in the picture instead. After the class is ushered out of the exhibit, the gang sneaks back in to investigate.

Back at Bannerman Road, Mr. Smith checks in with Sarah Jane and her distracted state. She’s feeling depressed because Luke is growing up so quickly and that she’ll be alone again. Mr. Smith notifies her that the Mona Lisa has been stolen, and despite a lack of obvious alien activity, she decides to investigate because the kids are involved and the circumstances are so weird.

On their way to the exhibit, Rani notices that one of the guns is missing from Clyde’s painting. Hardin arrives to retrieve the kids and  Mona Lisa emerges from the shadows, armed with a Sontaran blaster. After a brief discussion with her hostages, she declares that she wants to have fun and opens fire, sending the gang running.

They find the police officers and museum staff trapped in the museum’s paintings. Meanwhile, Mona Lisa remembers Harding from his multiple trips to the Louvre and requests his help to free her brother from a painting of her same vintage. It so happens that the painting is in the museum.

The gang spots Sarah Jane’s car in the parking lot. While they look for her, Sarah Jane finds her way to the Mona Lisa exhibit gallery and hides as Harding and Mona Lisa arrive. Sarah Jane is taken hostage by Mona Lisa, who recognizes her from Luke’s discussion with his friends. Mona Lisa nearly shoots Sarah Jane, but stops when she hears a grumbling from her brother.

Mona Lisa puts Sarah Jane in a picture, drawing the gang to the gallery. They demand that Sarah Jane be released, but Mona Lisa refuses. Luke tackles Mona Lisa and the gang runs with Sarah Jane’s painting, so Mona Lisa releases William Bonneville’s Dark Rider from the painting of the same name.

And the chase commences. Mona Lisa and Harding continue their search while the Dark Rider pursues the gang with unlimited ammunition.

During their search, Mona Lisa sees a window and asks to go outside. When she reaches beyond the building, her arm reverts to its painted form. Furious that she’s trapped in the museum, she storms into a unfinished section. Clyde overhears as Mona Lisa details her plan to release her brother and conquer the world, but he is soon captured by the Dark Rider.

Clyde is forced to join the hunt for The Abomination, a painting by Giuseppe di Cattivo crafted from paint derived from sentient rocks that fell to Earth. The same paint was used to craft the Mona Lisa. The painting drove the artist insane and he crafted a puzzle box to make sure no one ever saw the painting again. Luke and Rani find this same information in a book from the gift shop.

The quest takes Mona Lisa and her group to the museum’s vaults. They find the painting, but the case is locked and the puzzle box is missing. In the gallery above, Luke realizes that the puzzle box he examined earlier is the key, but Mona Lisa arrives moments later to retrieve it. Harding tries to stand up against her, but after he smashes the box, Luke saves his life by promising an alternate method of opening the lock.

Everyone is unhappily reunited in the vaults. Luke asks Clyde to draw a new puzzle box so Mona Lisa can manifest it in the physical world. When she tries to, however, she also manifests K9 from Clyde’s sketchbook. When Mona Lisa opens the lock, K9 blasts the Abomination and destroys the alien pigment. This breaks Mona Lisa’s link on the physical, forcing all of her manifestations to revert to their true forms.

The world is saved once again.

The gang reunites with Sarah Jane and Luke makes amends while Sarah Jane praises his ingenuity. Meanwhile, Harding reunites with Trupp, but Trupp wants nothing to do with him after his dalliance with Mona Lisa.


The Mona Lisa is not a stranger to Doctor Who, having appeared before in City of Death alongside a Chinese puzzle box. There’s also another link with faces and time: An artist in City of Death painted Romana’s face as a clock, and one of the paintings in this story’s classroom setting was titled Face of Time.

That classic callback aside, this story was not particularly engaging. The villain had simple motivations, but the acting and thin plot were not compelling. The character moments with Sarah Jane and Luke felt forced for the story and didn’t seem to naturally evolve.

On the plus side, it was good to see Clyde happy about his craft. His joy was palpable, both in seeing his work in an actual museum and in his friend secretly submitting him for consideration.

I also like how he adores K9. I do too.

Rating: 2/5 – “Mm? What’s that, my boy?”


UP NEXT – Doctor Who: The Waters of Mars

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The Timestamps Project is an adventure through the televised universe of Doctor Who, story by story, from the beginning of the franchise. For more reviews like this one, please visit the project’s page at Creative Criticality.

Timestamp #SJA17: The Eternity Trap

Sarah Jane Adventures: The Eternity Trap
(2 episodes, s03e04, 2009)

Timestamp SJA17 The Eternity Trap

Spooky fun.

Professor Rivers has returned, this time with the story of a haunted house. In 1665, Ashen Hill Manor was inhabited by magician Erasmus Darkening, who promised to replenish Lord Marchwood’s fortunes through alchemy. Marchwood’s two children, Elizabeth and Joseph, spied on the magician one night and vanished for eternity.

The professor tells this story to Sarah Jane, Clyde, Rani, and her assistant Toby. Sarah Jane is covering the story as Rivers studies the estate, and Luke remained home just in case something went wrong. They find out the estate has been plagued by other disappearances over the years.

It’s a beautiful home. It’s also haunted.

Sarah Jane doesn’t believe in ghosts. While the team roams the halls, they hear a series of church bells but cannot find the source. Clyde and Rani wander outside find a shed and a fountain while Sarah Jane examines a bookshelf. The books shuffle on their own, the fountain cycles on and off, and wet footprints appear in the shed as children giggle and music plays.

They hear a young girl crying, but it stops as Clyde pulls the sheet off of a mirror. The magician appears in the mirror and Clyde and Rani return to the house.

Everyone convenes around a lantern and talk about what they’ve all found. Toby gathers everyone’s mobiles after the gang calls home, and Rivers starts the experiment. The camera monitors flicker with the magician’s face before the nursery camera shorts out.

Meanwhile, Rani finds the magician’s face in the history book Sarah Jane was reading. The book had flipped itself to the right page. The gang returns to the control area as Rivers vanishes in the nursery and electromagnetic readings spike throughout the house.

The gang investigates only to find echoes of Marchwood’s children and the toys come to life. Rivers begs for help over the walkie-talkies, but the team can’t reach her. A message appears on the chalkboard: “GET OUT.”

Instead of getting out, the team tracks the energy and, against Sarah Jane’s better judgment, splits up.

Sarah Jane finds the echoes of Marchwood’s children. They warn her to leave before Erasmus takes her too. She ventures outside to discover a being with red eyes that is vanquished by the spirit of Lord Marchwood.

Rani and Clyde explore and find a secret passage to Erasmus’s lab. The discover a computer, which should not exist, along with Erasmus Darkening (who claims not to be a ghost). Before they are captured, they are rescued by Marchwood and his children.

Sarah Jane returns inside and hears the voice of Professor Rivers again, asking for help by name. She’s reunited with Rani and Clyde, then all three of them find Marchwood who beseeches them to leave. Sarah Jane reiterates that the curse doesn’t result in ghosts, and the gang meets up with Toby at the staircase in time to see all of the people who have disappeared in the house except Rivers. When Erasmus arrives, they all vanish.

Erasmus promises to come for the team and reveals that he is not exactly human. Sarah Jane and Toby seek out the computer while Rani and Clyde distract the so-called magician.

Toby tells Sarah Jane about a a creature that used to come into his room and watch him sleep. Meanwhile, Rani and Clyde are chased into the game room and watch as the pool table comes to life. They eventually run outside and are locked out of the house. They seek solace in the shed from the red-eyed being.

Sarah Jane and Toby find the computer and surmise that the house has been transformed into a portal to another galaxy, the pathway home for an alien who was stranded on Earth three centuries ago. The machine has malfunctioned and trapped the disappeared between dimensions.

Erasmus confronts Sarah Jane and Toby, preferring the eternal life of the accelerator over death in isolation. The red-eyed creature came through the portal, and Sarah Jane realizes that her friends are in trouble. After Lord Marchwood rescues Clyde and Rani, they are all reunited with Sarah Jane and Toby. Toby’s ghost-hunting technology inspires Sarah Jane.

After Erasmus took Marchwood’s children, the lord sought revenge and inadvertently damaged the device. Lord Marchwood uses that information to lure Erasmus into a trap that dissociates him into pure energy. The “ghosts” have all vanished and Rivers has returned, and Sarah Jane destroys the computer once and for all.

As the gang says farewell to Professor Rivers and Toby, they debate the existence of ghosts. Sarah Jane remains firm that ghosts don’t exist, but hesitates when she sees Marchwood’s family watching from the window.


This was a fun little romp that took advantage of actor Tommy Knight’s school exams to get the gang out of the house. For the first time, Luke, Mr. Smith, and the Bannerman Road house do not appear in the series.

The setting was quite beautiful. This location, Hensol Castle, was previously seen in Forest of the Dead and is used as a wedding venue in South Wales.

The story itself, which was quite relevant for the lead-up to Halloween for this publication, was an amusing ghost hunting expedition, but quite average otherwise. The spin on the haunted house story by making the menace a trapped malevolent alien was a good one.

Rating: 3/5 – “Reverse the polarity of the neutron flow.”


UP NEXT – Sarah Jane Adventures: Mona Lisa’s Revenge

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The Timestamps Project is an adventure through the televised universe of Doctor Who, story by story, from the beginning of the franchise. For more reviews like this one, please visit the project’s page at Creative Criticality.

Timestamp #SJA16: The Wedding of Sarah Jane Smith

Sarah Jane Adventures: The Wedding of Sarah Jane Smith
(2 episodes, s03e03, 2009)

 

Till death do they part.

Sarah Jane sneaks out of the house for a “traffic report meeting”. It’s the fifth time this month that she’s made an odd excuse like that, so Luke summons the gang and uses Mr. Smith to track her whereabouts.

She stops at a house and freshens her lipstick, nearly using her sonic instead. The gang follows her while K9 is left to verbally banter with Mr. Smith. What they find is a date in progress, but as they leave, they hear the straining engines of the TARDIS.

Sarah Jane returns home to find the gang acting strangely. Mr. Smith and K9 spill the beans and Sarah Jane is angry at first, but happily explains that she’s seeing Peter Dalton. She forgives the gang as she ushers out of the attic, briefly consulting K9 before saying goodnight to Luke. She jokes that she might have to tell Peter about aliens and her adventures, which was her barrier to finding love before.

As the lights go out, Luke hears the TARDIS engines again, but has no idea what it means.

Three days later, Peter stops by to meet Luke. Rani, Clyde, and Gita spy on the meeting as the gang saves her from an awkward parcel. The parcel opens to reveal a mischievous multi-eyed creature, and as K9 runs to wrangle the alien, Luke passes if off as a toy.

Sarah Jane, Luke, and Peter head to dinner. Rani and Clyde call for help with the alien – a Travast Polong – and Sarah Jane directs them on how to have Mr. Smith transmat the being home before returning to the table. Luke and Peter bond quickly.

Two days later, Clyde and Rani investigate Peter and find his home virtually deserted. Meanwhile, Peter proposes to Sarah Jane in a restaurant and she accepts. As the patrons applaud, the engagement ring glows red.

Clyde and Rani try to convince Sarah Jane that something is wrong, but the ring glows as Sarah rationalizes the information. She places Mr. Smith into shutdown as the computer detects an anomaly. She placates the gang as she starts planning. After all, the wedding is only two weeks away.

She shuts the door on the attic, perhaps for the final time, as a sinister laugh echoes.

The wedding day arrives and the guests assemble except for Maria, Carla Langer, and the Brigadier. Luke wonders why none of Peter’s family is in attendance, but Peter says that he has no living relatives. Sarah Jane arrives in a white limousine, bridesmaid Rani as her escort, and Luke walks her inside as the TARDIS chitters around them.

Clyde asks K9 to scan the area, which angers Luke because the robot dog should not be there. As the wedding commences, the officiant asks if anyone objects.

As the TARDIS lands, the door bursts open and the Doctor yells, “Stop this wedding now!”

The room shakes and spins as the Trickster arrives in angelic robes. As the Doctor protests, Sarah Jane, Peter, and the Trickster dematerialize. The assembled guests vanish moments later.

Luke, Clyde, and Rani regain consciousness and meet the Doctor. Along with K9, they are the only people left in the hotel. They have been left in a temporal bubble at precisely 15:23:23, with that one second repeating over and over again. They rush to the TARDIS, which is trapped between universes in a temporal schism and unable to materialize.

They’ve been left there to stop them from helping Sarah Jane. To use them to leverage against her.

The Doctor explains that the Trickster is the personification of the Pantheon of Discord, a group of aliens from a different universe thriving on chaos and trying to break into this universe. He starts following temporal traces as his sonic screwdriver starts blipping.

Sarah Jane wakes up with Peter, who asks her to say, “I do” so they can be together. She quickly realizes that the engagement ring has been controlling her and tosses it aside. She searches for the Doctor and discovers that the temporal bubble is split into two seconds. Sarah Jane and Peter are trapped in the other half.

As the inhabitants of both seconds run in search of each other, Peter explains that the Trickster came to him as an angel when he had been fatally injured after falling down the stairs at home. The Trickster offered him his life and the love he never had, but it was a ploy to capture Sarah Jane. If she marries Peter, she’ll forget her entire life in exchange for a life of paradise. If she doesn’t, she and her allies will remain in the void forever.

The Trickster shifts seconds to confront the Doctor. He speaks of ice and fire and the Key to Time. He also remarks that “the Gate” is waiting for the last of the Time Lords.

The Trickster returns to the other second. Shortly after, the TARDIS partially materializes and the Doctor is able to get aboard before it vanishes again. In that moment, Clyde is charged with artron energy, which the Doctor explained can be used to fight the Trickster.

Clyde summons the Trickster and promises to join him. It’s a ploy, of course, which enables Clyde to attack the Trickster with his new power.

The TARDIS partially materializes in Sarah Jane’s second, and the Doctor confers with her. He reminds her that there is only one way to end the deal, and tells Peter that he is a good man. And that he’s sorry.

The Trickster and Clyde appear, and Sarah Jane takes advantage of her weakened enemy to plead with Peter. Although it will cost him his second chance at life, he needs to break the deal to save them all. It’s the same thing that happened with Andrea Yates.

Peter withdraws his agreement, throwing the ring at the Trickster and vanishing in a shimmer of light. As the temporal schism merges with the normal timeline, the Doctor vanishes as Sarah Jane and the Bannerman Road Gang return to the exact moment that they left. With Peter gone, Sarah Jane cancels the wedding with tears in her eyes.

The gang assembles in the attic to console Sarah Jane. The Doctor joins them, allowing everyone a look around the TARDIS, as he reminds Sarah Jane just how important she is to the universe.

She asks if this is the last time that she will see him. He doesn’t know, but asks her not to forget him.

She says that no one ever will.

 

This story was beautiful. It was fantastic to see Sarah Jane in love, even if it was all a dirty trick. While the gang tried their best to save her from yet another Trickster temptation, when it comes to temporal traps, you call in the Doctor.

The teenagers were still instrumental in saving the day, which is good because the last thing you want is the guest star sucking all the oxygen out of the room and dominating the story.

Of course, this being a story from 2009, it’s part of David Tennant’s farewell tour, so it lays hints about the road ahead while questioning if this is the last time that Sarah Jane and the Doctor will cross paths. The reflection on their first parting was beautiful.

Sure, the solution was a re-use of the first Trickster story, but the story itself more than made up for it.

The other nods to history aside, we also had a mention of Metebelis III and the return of the football rattle.

 

Rating: 5/5 – “Fantastic!”

 

UP NEXT – Sarah Jane Adventures: The Eternity Trap

 

The Timestamps Project is an adventure through the televised universe of Doctor Who, story by story, from the beginning of the franchise. For more reviews like this one, please visit the project’s page at Creative Criticality.