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23 December 2014 @ 07:34 pm
NuWho Rewatch: School Reunion  
I think there must be a fannish gene of some kind. Even with limited knowledge of who Sarah Jane Smith is, NLSS Child absolutely bought into the fannishness of this whole story.

As I've mentioned before, the cousins had a liking for the Sarah Jane Adventures so NLSS Child had seen some of them, though her memory and understanding were somewhat hazy. However she knew enough to know that Sarah Jane was a former companion. What was interesting was to see how much she enjoyed all the fannish moments - their first meeting, the reveal of the TARDIS, Mickey comparing himself to K9, she thought there were all great even though this was her first real introduction to Sarah Jane, and certainly the first time she had been at all invested in the character.

This is the first story, I think, to really emphasise the "lonely god" characterisation of the Tenth Doctor. When Anthony Head's schoolmaster tempts the Doctor with the Skasis Paradigm he explicitly draws attention to the fact that it will, effectively, make the Doctor a god and that it will allow him to end his loneliness. It's an interesting scene. One's assumption is that it is a trap, but it is played in a away that allows the possibility that the offer is genuine. Of course, if one really could solve the Skasis Paradigm with a few dozen kids and magic chips one does rather wonder why it hadn't been cracked long ago - but then that is Who Science Logic for you.

The return of Sarah Jane is a lot of fun but I'm not keen on the "wife and the ex" analogy that the story uses. Sarah, in particular, should have had plenty of time to adjust to the idea that she is not the only companion the Doctor has ever had so the mutual initial animosity seems overdone. I really dislike the reconciliation scene. It feels like, in the plot outline, it said "Sarah and Rose bond over the ridiculousness of travelling with the Doctor" but in the event the writer couldn't actually think of anything particular to drive that and the scene falls a bit flat, at least for me.

However, mostly I like School Reunion. It was the first time the show explicitly signposted that it was genuinely continuing the classic series and that pleased my fannish heart, and much of the script is constructed to keep fans happy. I don't entirely like some of the way the companions were portrayed, but that is a minor niggle for a fun story.

This entry was originally posted at http://purplecat.dreamwidth.org/134526.html.
 
 
 
bookwormsarahbookwormsarah on December 23rd, 2014 08:08 pm (UTC)
School Reunion has my favourite shot in New Who, possibly my favourite shot in recent television: Sarah Jane sees the Tardis, backs out, and the camera pans round as she turns and sees...the Doctor. Absolutely beautiful. The story suffers for me because of Rose. I don't like Rose and the tenth Doctor, and I really didn't like the companions-in-love-with-doctor trope. I do love all the scenes with Sarah Jane (when Rose isn't being jealous) and I like Mickey and K9.
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on December 24th, 2014 11:01 am (UTC)
It is a lovely moment!! It's not good story for Rose though and I think she pulls Sarah Jane down a bit. Though as someone's pointed out in t'other place, part of the problem is the show's idea, at this point, that the Doctor is kind of the ultimate unbeatable boyfriend.
daniel_saunders: Leekleydaniel_saunders on December 23rd, 2014 09:49 pm (UTC)
hat was interesting was to see how much she enjoyed all the fannish moments - their first meeting, the reveal of the TARDIS, Mickey comparing himself to K9, she thought there were all great even though this was her first real introduction to Sarah Jane, and certainly the first time she had been at all invested in the character.

If you look at eighties Who there is a similar dynamic - people are supposed to respond to Cybermen, the Master, the Brigadier etc. even though they hadn't been seen for years and a sizeable portion of the audience must have grown up without seeing them.

Regarding ridiculousness, you should see the spoof version of the reconciliation scene in Doctor Who: The Completely Unofficial Encyclopedia, where Sarah and Rose bond over bad effects and giant green phallus.
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on December 24th, 2014 11:02 am (UTC)
There must be something fairly strongly coded into the way these scenes are written and framed that evokes that reaction even when the original connection is absent, because NLSS Child was lapping it up.
shivver13: Ten with kittenshivver13 on December 24th, 2014 07:20 am (UTC)
I particularly love this episode because of the final confrontation between the Doctor and Brother Lassar. Lassar's offer is actually genuine: they want the Doctor's guidance when the Paradigm is cracked. The danger is that the Doctor isn't strong enough to wield it without becoming corrupted. He's tempted and about to give in, but Sarah Jane saves him. It's the same theme - the companion saving the Doctor from himself - that's revisited many times from different angles all throughout Ten's run, but is so beautifully done here.
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on December 24th, 2014 11:04 am (UTC)
I agree it appears genuine, but Who codes strongly against villains making genuine offers. It also seems, to me, like Lassar is not typical of the other krillitane who fall much more strongly into the mindless thug mode. I still really like the episode, but in retrospect, a lot of what it is trying to do looks a little clumsy. It's worth noting that the companion saving the Doctor from himself also goes back to at least Dalek, so it's not just a Ten thing - in lots of ways I think Nine and Ten form a fairly continuous arc (unsurprising given the production team involved).
shivver13: Ten with kittenshivver13 on December 25th, 2014 07:07 am (UTC)
As a complete coincidence, I just finished the novel "The Krillitane Storm" a few days ago, and while yes, it was written after the fact and therefore introduces concepts that might not have been intended in "School Reunion", it implies very heavily that Lassar's offer was genuine. The Krillitane are a religious species ruled by a priest-king, but they're vicious and unconcerned with the killing of sentients. A splinter group who wants to evolve them beyond their animalistic nature breaks off, and without spoiling anything, it's that set of Krillitane that the Doctor encounters at Deffry Vale. While they're still hunters, they're trying to become better by cracking the Skasas Paradigm. (It's a very enjoyable novel, by the way.)

I do prefer to think that the offer was genuine, if only because I like the idea that the villains are more complex than just your everyday, power-hungry aliens. And yes, I love that underlying theme of the companion saving the Doctor from himself throughout Series 1-4, especially it's really Nine and Ten who really dealt with the consequences of the Time War.
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on December 26th, 2014 11:23 am (UTC)
That does sound interesting. I will add it to the Amazon wish list!
dm12 on January 7th, 2015 02:14 pm (UTC)
This one had several very powerful scenes in it. The first was when Sarah Jane encounters the TARDIS, backs away, turns around and sees the Doctor. Her rebuke to him about thinking he'd died really hurt.

Then came the scene with Rose, when he basically had to tell her she wasn't his first and won't be the last. "You can spend the rest of your life with me, but I can't spend mine with you. You (humans), you wither and die, and I have to go on... alone." I think this may have been the first time Rose fully realized that this wasn't just some human with alien technology, but a true alien. He told her he was over 900 years old, and she thought she was his first and only companion?!? He may look really good for 900, but still...

Lastly was the scene, as mentioned, when Brother Lassar offers the Doctor godlike status, control of everything. He's very tempted, then Sarah Jane puts a halt to it and saves him from himself. "Everything dies, everything has its time..." That is what a good companion does, stops the Doctor cold when he's going off the rails. S/He doesn't encourage his failings; rather encourages when it's needed, pushes him to be his best, complements his efforts, and stops him when he needs it. In short, a partner, not a fan club over-awed by him.
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on January 8th, 2015 12:15 pm (UTC)
That is what a good companion does, stops the Doctor cold when he's going off the rails.

In NuWho certainly, I wouldn't say it was traditionally the companion's role to any real extent. In Genesis of the Daleks - which we're watching at present - Sarah's moral certainty is in contrast to the Doctor's own doubts about the rightness of their mission. School Reunion wanted it, obviously, because part of what it was doing was emphasising the continuity between Rose and Sarah.

It's certainly a good episode though.
dm12 on January 8th, 2015 12:28 pm (UTC)
Well, for sure, Rose didn't fill that role, I will grant you that. Neither did Martha. Both became too enamored with the Doctor to contradict him on the important stuff. Sure Rose argued with him, but not necessarily on his behalf.

It certainly offered the idea of continuity between classic and Nu Who.
louisedennis: Doctor Wholouisedennis on January 8th, 2015 01:49 pm (UTC)
You can argue about the execution, but Rose is clearly intended to fill that role (see Dalek) and its a point that gets referenced frequently in Davies' version of Who that the Doctor "needs" someone to hold him in check and its strongly implied that that is the job of the companion.