Doctor Who (2006): “School Reunion”

When I started watching Doctor Who, back in the day, much of its magic came from the show’s long and fascinating history. I was intrigued by the old Doctors, his companions and their old adventure. It made the whole enterprise feel like it had an interesting past, something that came before the sometimes cheesy adventures that I enjoyed. Much like how I was fascinated with the Marvel universe’s past when I started reading comics, so too was I fascinated by the past of the Doctor.
The third episode of the second season of Doctor Who is all about that feeling. If you haven’t heard, old companions Sarah Jane Smith and robot dog K9 are back in this charming episode. And yeah, it’s the same Sarah Jane that the 4th Doctor left back on Earth over 25 years ago. (or is it 30? Holy cow!) Her reconnection with the Doctor is so charming, so interesting and thoughtful and funny and funky that this episode is just pure magic to me. And seeing cute little K9, with not a rivet changed on his little metal head (aside from some very clever aging) was an equally wonderful touch.
What seperates this run of Doctor Who from its previous incaranations is, in part, that it deals the ramifications of the Doctor’s actions. Just as the Doctor was called to task when drinking tea with a Slitheen, in this episode the Doctor is held to task for his thoughtless actions with Sarah Jane, leaving her behind in England while he galavanted through the galaxy. The writing does a nice job of painting Sarah Jane as a forerunner of Rose, as a woman who had her entire life changed when she met the strange Time Lord, and whose seperation from the Doctor creates a gap she can never fill. There’s literally nothing that Sarah Jane can do to fill the gap in her life left from her seperation from the Doctor, and the script does a wonderful job of showing that pain and frustration.
Oh, and there is a plotline in this story, too. Something about vampire aliens who want to conquer Earth, I think. I suppose that worked as a main plot, since it didn’t detract from the main point of the episode. And actually, Anthony Head, who played the lead alien guy was rather good, I thought, all menacing and cold a he slithered along the hallways. The scene in the swimming pool room where the Doctor and the alien talk to each other about their lives was actually rather wonderful.
But what made this story special was the reunion. In the 30 years of Doctor Who, the only companion we’ve ever revisited was the Brigadier. Now we have another old friend to add to the list, and this episode was a wonderful way to make her acquaintence once again.

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