Doctor Who, series 2.4: “School Reunion” by Toby Whithouse


Toby Whithouse‘s “School Reunion” guest stars the inimitable Anthony Head as the malominous headmaster of a school with a new cook and a new physics substitute–Rose and the Doctor. In physics, the Doctor quizzes a boy with “knowledge way beyond planet earth.” Mickey has called Rose and the Doctor back to earth for an emergency–something suspicious is going on at the school.

Rose, a lunch attendant, witnesses some distressing things in the kitchen (some suspicious chemical being moved about), while one of the students is brought into a “special class,” where a teacher turns on a computer which seems to program the students. Meanwhile, a journalist named Sarah Jane Smith arrives, ostensibly to interview the headmaster for the Sunday Times. However, she may be more than a mere investigative journalist–she is also a familiar face to the Doctor Who universe. Sarah Jane Smith is a former companion of the Doctor’s (the third and fourth Doctors, specifically).

Recently I’ve been watching the classic Doctor Who episodes, and I’ve arrived at Sarah Jane’s episodes. I must say that this episode has much more of an impact after seeing the earlier episodes. I was not Sarah Jane Smith’s biggest fan when I first watched this series, but I’ve come around. It’s really rather touching to see this reunion. And then, in typical Doctor Who fashion, the warm moment is upended by some light rivalry between Sarah Jane and Rose. Then comes the introduction of the biggest joke from the original Doctor Who universe–K-9.

The school has been taken over by the Krillitanes–an organic, Borg-like species which absorbs characteristics of the races with which they come into contact. The Doctor must defeat them as they try to use the children’s souls and imaginations to unlock the keys to the universe.

I love that this explores the impact of the Doctor on a former companion. It always focuses on the Doctor’s journeys–he always moves on. But what of those he pulls into the time-travelling life? Sarah was just left, and she had to make a life out of what she had left.

From this episode, The Sarah Jane Adventures spawned. It was a show I never expected to want to watch, but I plan to now. This really, intricately connects the revived series with the classic. It’s heatbreaking to see what has happened to Sarah Jane in the intervening decades, yet it also serves as a metaphor for moving on after a disappointment–making something of your life.

Memorable Quotes:

The Doctor: “You can spend the rest of your life with me. But I can’t spend the rest of my life with you. I have to life on–alone. That’s the curse of the Time Lords.”

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