Archive for the ‘Sarah Jane Smith’ Tag
It is interesting to note that the three-episode arc of “Tooth and Claw,” “School Reunion,” and “The Girl in the Fireplace” has instigated more of my writing than anything else, anywhere, ever. (For example, this is the 4th post resulting from one conversation about one of the three episodes.) The reason for this I think is how much great character stuff happens in these three stories.
Across this arc we see the best and the worst of Rose. In “Tooth and Claw,” we see her compassion for the frightened maid, and her courage and leadership in helping the women escape the barn. But she’s also at her most callous in this story, provoking the Queen and joking with the Doctor in the face of others’ fear and grief. In “School Reunion” we see her petty jealousy, but we also see her overcome that jealousy for friendship and a unique bond with one of very few women who understands her experience. In “The Girl in the Fireplace,” we see the depths of her compassion and her commitment to help others, as she sets aside any feelings she may have about the Doctor in order to comfort and save Reinette.
This arc sets up Rose’s downfall. Rose spent S1 learning to trust the Doctor and herself, and expanding the boundaries of her own capability. In S2 she’s out to have a good time. She has stopped worrying about the risk, having perhaps too much faith in hers and the Doctor’s abilities. She never considers the real danger posed by the werewolf, and cares too little for Lady Isabel’s loss.
These three episodes are Rose’s last hurrah. Fans on rewatch can see the darkness gathering ahead. I don’t doubt the Doctor sees it too, though he’s happy to ignore it as long as he can. But not until “Rise of the Cybermen,” when she faces finding and losing her family all over again, when she loses Mickey, does Rose begin to understand the cost of her adventures. She’s young enough to think she’s invincible, and that the good times will last forever. After S1 she may even think she’s earned it. The balance of S2 serves as a nasty surprise.
Rose isn’t the only one who gets rearranged this season. “School Reunion” sees the Doctor face the consequences of his lifestyle. It sees Sarah Jane learn to accept what has happened to her, to see the good as well as the bad – setting her up for her own televised Adventures. “Reunion” and “The Girl in the Fireplace” set up Mickey’s final transition from idiot to savior of worlds. None of these characters is ever the same again.
There’s a quote from “The Doctor, the Widow, and the Wardrobe” that feels relevant here:
“Every time you see them happy, you remember how sad they’re going to be. And it breaks your heart. Because what’s the point in them being happy now if they’re going to be sad later? The answer is, of course, because they are going to be sad later.”
They’re going to be sad later.
This serial surprised me in a number of ways.
The pronunciation is “man DRA gora” not “mandra GORa” as I had foolishly assumed. Is it a British thing?
The opening scene reminded me of an image my sister once constructed, imposing Captain Kirk on a background of wine crystals shot with a macro lens. The shape of the crystals is roughly the same in both, though the colors are somewhat different.
This is the first appearance of the lovely wood-paneled console room!
The alien planet, and the alien itself, don’t look great. They look like what you get when you draw on photonegatives. Maybe that is what happened. Still, what brought out the howlers in the MST:3K crowd was the repeated burning of hay. What did the thing have against hay?
THE FACE ACTING. The three primary guest actors in the serial all have wonderful faces, and that Shakespearean stage magic that makes the ridiculous seem so natural. Federico, Guiliano, and Hieronymous are solid, believable characters. I enjoyed the practically-text subtext between Guiliano and his pretty ginger companion Marco – and I have to wonder, given the era, if such things could possibly have been intentional. We’re firmly in Hinchcliffe-Holmes territory here, not yet into the seething realm of JNT.
The story itself is remarkably gripping and well-paced. The MST:3K crowd had little to offer, and consequently I had no difficulty following the story – a nice shift, after “Spearhead from Space” was so roundly shouted down last time. A lot of it does have to do with the story, and possibly the lack of Pertwee’s clownishness. Baker’s clowning seems oddly sincere in comparison.
The Meetup organizer told me that he chose this story to accompany “The End of the World” because it (supposedly) includes the first mention – however off-hand – of the TARDIS translation circuit, which makes such a splash with Rose in the newer story. However, he’d have done just as well to pair them by Mysterious Dudes in Black Cloaks, which feature prominently in both.
Next time we’ll see “The Unquiet Dead” and “The King’s Demons,” a two-part story featuring Five, Tegan, Turlough, and the Master, and introducing the short-lived Kamelion. I can’t wait to find out what they have in common.
As I mentioned in my last post, Martha expresses occasional jealousy of the Doctor’s other women, for example in ‘The Shakespeare Code,’ ‘Human Nature,’ and ‘Utopia.’ But the biggest episode for jealousy in New Who is ‘School Reunion.’
It’s hard to say who starts it. Rose’s voice is a bit crisp when she asks ‘who’s this?’ of Sarah Jane. But Sarah Jane has venom on her tongue when she comments on Rose’s age, and it’s all downhill from there.
Rose knows little of the Doctor’s past, and nothing of his prior traveling companions. She hasn’t experienced much rivalry for him in the past – there’s a brief flare-up with Lynda in ‘Parting of the Ways,’ but mostly she has felt secure in her relationship with the Doctor. She’s startled to see Sarah Jane, but it isn’t until Sarah Jane attacks that the claws really come out.
And boy do they come out! Rose certainly has a ‘mean girl’ side. But she doesn’t unleash it until Sarah Jane has made two disparaging comments about her age and one about her relationship to the Doctor. Her guard was up, but she’s clearly not the one on the offensive.
And why does Sarah Jane attack? She’s delighted to see her old friend again. But once the glow has faded, thirty years of doubt and pain return. The Doctor abandoned her. She decided he must be dead, and mourned him, and got on with her life as best she could; admittedly, not well. Seeing him again, she realizes it was his choice not to come back. Seeing him with a younger version of herself highlights everything her life hasn’t been for the past thirty years. She got old; he not only stayed young, but replaced her with a younger model. She’s hurt, and she lashes out at Rose.
Rose too is hurt. She has traveled with the Doctor all this time, thinking – naively perhaps – that she was someone special. Now she knows she’s only the latest in a long line. Worse than that, the Doctor will likely leave her behind to be forgotten, just as he did Sarah Jane.
Fortunately, Rose quickly sees the ridiculousness of their predicament. She and her best friend only ever fell out over a man; she knows it’s a silly thing to do. She stops herself, and invites Sarah Jane to see what they really have in common instead. Sarah Jane leaps at the chance. The next thing anyone knows, the two are fast friends.
Of course, they have more in common with each other than anyone else either of them has ever met.
This experience effectively banishes jealousy for Rose. She has only compassion for Reinette, a woman admittedly in love. She admires Martha from their very first encounter. She grows up; she takes Sarah Jane’s advice; and when her heart breaks, she doesn’t let it stop her.
Yes, I mentioned Sarah Jane Smith.
I posted about her a couple of times on my other blog. I only vaguely knew who she was when the actress died of cancer at 65, in the midst of filming the fifth season of her highly successful comeback show, The Sarah Jane Adventures. I read some of the messages sent in to the CBBC by kids of all ages, and they absolutely made me sob. She meant so much to so many people, both when she was on Doctor Who in the 1970s and more recently. People who loved her when they were children watched her new show with their own children. One, at least, was moved to write a song for her:
‘Goodnight, Sarah Jane’ by Talis Kimberley
Personally, though she isn’t my favorite classic companion, I do like what of her I’ve seen. I enjoyed her comeback in ‘School Reunion,’ and I LOVE that she finally got a spinoff of her own – a sixty-ish woman headlining a sci-fi adventure show on her own, with no equivalent male co-star. Beyond that, though, she reminds me a little of my own mother. They share a birthday, just a few years apart; both have dark hair and light eyes, both love life with a passion. A sense of humor and adventure, an unwillingness to be held back or told what to do, a love of children and making a difference for the next generation, characterize them both. And then, both died far too young. When I hear Kimberly’s song, I think of my mother as much as Sarah Jane and Lis Sladen and Cady Coleman, and all the other women who have made it possible for me to be who I am.
Okay, I tried to resist but I can’t.
damn onion ninjas…
Some time ago I revised Murray Gold’s deplorable lyrics to ‘Song for Ten’ and posted them on my other blog:
Not perfect but definitely an improvement.
I also wrote DW lyrics to the Firefly theme song:
And of course I adapted Elton John’s ‘Candle in the Wind’ for Sarah Jane…
‘Goodbye, Sarah Jane’
Cuz I do that every now and then…