The return of Sarah Jane Smith and K-9 Mark III, who (on screen) last appeared in "The Five Doctors
" in 1983. This episode pretty much singlehandedly spawned The Sarah Jane Adventures
, giving another generation of children the gift of Elisabeth Sladen
So there's a certain Perfectly Ordinary Comprehensive
whose Perfectly Ordinary Students are absolutely whomping
the competition in the school ratings, with enough time left over in the school day to calculate pi to infinity, invent time travel, etc. They're led by new headmaster Anthony Stewart Head
, whose hobbies include looking Obviously Evil
, cackling maniacally
, Chewing the Scenery
and chewing on the kids.
Sensing high weirdness afoot, the Doctor has gone undercover as a Perfectly Ordinary Substitute Science Teacher, dragging Rose along to serve as a Perfectly Ordinary
Dinner Lady. Rose is a bit miffed that she pulled kitchen duty, but consoles herself with the happy thought of all the chips she can eat. In fact — childhood obesity epidemic be damned — at this P.O.C., school lunches are free
, but also mandatory
's weirdness detector has pinged, too: Intrepid Reporter
Sarah Jane Smith (Elisabeth Sladen
), companion to the Third and Fourth Doctors, has turned up at the P.O.C. to see what's afoot. It's been thirty or so years since she left the Doctor, in her timeline, and several hundred years in his. He recognises her doesn't give himself away, only to come clean when Sarah Jane sneaks into the school at night and finds where he's parked the TARDIS. Here the picture goes all swimmy and blurry for some reason
By the time it clears up again, the Doctor has provisionally identified the cafeteria's chips as the source of the kids' mysterious intelligence. K-9 (pulled out of Sarah Jane's car boot, and fixed by the Doctor) identifies the frying oil as "Krillitane Oil", which identifies the baddies as Krillitanes, a bunch of nefarious shapeshifters.
So, ok, villain identified — but what's up with making the kids smarter? Why, so they can solve the Skasis Paradigm, of course! The Skasis Paradigm is a grand unified theory of everything that can rebuild the universe and space and time. The Doctor is eye-rollingly annoyed at yet another
group of beings who want to take over the universe and remake it in their image... but then the head Krillitane surprises the Doctor by offering him
the top job. It really shouldn't surprise you that he turns it down flat.
Also, Sarah Jane tells the Doctor that she spent the last few decades waiting for him, unable to fall in love again, unable to forget him, unable to trust and unable to live happily as a normal human. The Doctor mumbles something almost resembling an excuse as Rose looks on in horror at what apparently awaits her. Noticing what the Doctor now means to Rose, Sarah Jane gives Rose some pointers on having "a relationship" with the Doctor, and the two bond after some initial awkwardness. Meanwhile, Mickey gets acquainted with K-9 and realizes that he's not much more than the team's "tin dog".
With the Villain of the Week
appropriately vanquished by K-9, having blown up the Krillitane oil and a portion of the school as well as himself, the Doctor prepares to once again make his departure without so much as a proper goodbye. Sarah Jane isn't having any, and finally gets the goodbye for which she's been waiting three decades.
Sarah Jane: No, say it. This time, please, say it.
The Doctor: Goodbye - my Sarah Jane.
Here he picks her up off her feet in a hug for the ages, and for a moment, we catch a glimpse of a much younger Sarah Jane Smith...No, whacking the screen is not going to make it less blurry.
He vanishes again, but leaves his beloved Sarah with two things: badly-needed closure, and a new K-9 model. However, this isn't the last we've seen of Sarah Jane, and she'll return in series 4.
- Actor Allusion: We have Anthony Stewart Head once again working at a creepy school.
- All There Is to Know About "The Crying Game": This is "The One Where Sarah Jane Comes Back". Any other details are inconsequential.
- Beware the Nice Ones: The Tenth Doctor effectively sums up the direction he will be taking this regeneration in a single sentence.
: I'm so old now. I used to have so much mercy. You get one
warning. That was it.
- Big Damn Heroes: K-9, of all things, saves everyone by application of laser blasts.
- Brick Joke: A brick thrown thirty years ago finally lands; when we last saw Sarah Jane, she suspected the Doctor had left her in the wrong part of Britain. Turns out that, in fact, he had.
- Buffy Speak: "Forget the shooty dog thing." Said by Giles.
- The Bus Came Back
- Butt Monkey: Lampshaded, as Mickey compares Rose to Sarah Jane, and himself to K-9 in their relationship with the Doctor...
Mickey: (realization dawns) I'm the tin dog.
- Car Fu: As K-9 so aptly put it...
K-9: We are in a car.
- Cargo Ship: Mentioned by Sarah Jane.
Sarah Jane: Tell me, does he still...stroke parts of the TARDIS?
Rose: Yes, yes! I'm like, "Do you two want to be left alone?"
- Cat Fight: Not the physical Fanservice-type, but Rose and Sarah Jane engage in a verbal pissing contest through much of the episode. It leads to a subversion, as the girls end up coming to a (very giggly) compromise when they start comparing the things about the Doctor that bug them which in turn makes the poor Doctor wonder if them getting along isn't even worse for him, since now they seem to be in conspiracy against him. As Mickey so aptly puts it:
- Continuity Cavalcade: Sarah Jane and Rose trying to one-up one another. Sarah Jane wins.
Sarah Jane: I saw things you wouldn’t believe!
Rose: Try me.
Rose: (Stunned) Seriously?
- Computer Equals Monitor
- Creative Sterility: the Krillitanes
- Cut the Juice: After getting inside the school, Mickey finds all the kids typing away. After being unable to get their attention, he finds the plug, looks around as though expecting a more dramatic solution, and then just pulls it out. He gets a few sparks thrown at him, but that's it.
- Deadpan Snarker: K-9 gets one very epic snark; it's made more awesome by the fact he's a robot dog and not meant to show emotion at all.
Finch: You bad dog.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: The Doctor's relationship with his companions is horribly deconstructed, with Sarah Jane hammering it into his head that he takes young women across the universe, shows them all the wonders of creation... and then he "dumps" them back on Earth. Although to be fair to the Doctor, Sarah was one of the few who was actually 'dumped' (which no doubt coloured Sarah's view of the situation somewhat), and as is also noted in this episode (as well as several later ones), it's more often the case that they leave him.
Doctor: You can spend the rest of your life with me. But I can't spend the rest of mine with you. I have to live on, alone. That's the curse of the Time Lords.
- Enforced Method Acting: To get Billie Piper and Elisabeth Sladen to laugh uncontrollably, David Tennant drew a ridiculous moustache on his face with a marker pen. That's why the shots of Rose and Sarah Jane laughing are distinctly different shots from those of The Doctor's befuddled reaction.
- Evil Teacher: Mr Finch and the new staff.
- Failed a Spot Check: Mickey.
- Fandom Nod: A reference to the Fandom debate over whether those who travel with the Doctor are "assistants" or "companions". The media largely used "assistant" during the classic series, although, since the reboot, this is hardly heard any more.
Sarah Jane: I can tell it's been a long time, your assistants are getting younger.
Rose: I'm not his assistant!
- The Good Old British Comp: Deffrey Vale.
- Heroic BSOD: Mickey upon realising that he's their "tin dog".
- Heroic Sacrifice: Poor K-9...of course, he recovers.
- Hilarious in Hindsight / Harsher in Hindsight: When Sarah Jane mentions that the Doctor has regenerated, he says he's done it "half a dozen times" since he last saw her. At the time the episode was broadcast, it was taken to mean that the last time he saw her was when she left the the Fourth Doctor in The Hand of Fear, which people considered odd, given that she met his fifth incarnation in The Five Doctors. Following the reveal of John Hurt's War Doctor during the show's 50th anniversary, that line takes a whole new meaning.
- Infant Immortality: Averted. Within the first two minutes of the episode, Finch kills and eats an orphaned girl no older than thirteen.
- The Knights Who Say Squee: Sarah and the Doctor's reaction to seeing the other once again. David Tennant even admitted the reason he's grinning like a madman throughout the episode is because he got to act along side Elisabeth Sladen, who he grew up watching on the show.
- Meaningful Echo: In The End of the World, the Ninth Doctor said of Cassandra "Everything has its time, and everything dies". The line is repeated almost word-for-word by Sarah Jane to the Doctor in this episode.
- The Missus and the Ex: Trope Namer. Sarah Jane's is the Doctor's former companion, Rose is the current one.
- Poorly Disguised Pilot: Averted Trope. It's important to remember in the wake of The Sarah Jane Adventures that this actually wasn't a PDP for that show. In fact, Sarah Jane's appearance wasn't supposed to lead to a spin-off, but was more to link New Who with the old show (to show that it was an extension of the old show, not a new version of it). The fact that the episode was successful and RTD decided to create a Sarah Jane spin-off was just a very happy accident.
- Reality Warper: What Mr Finch seeks to become through the Skasis Paradigm.
- Screw Learning, I Have Phlebotinum!: The Krillitane oil apparently doesn't just make the kids smarter, it also dumps a load of knowledge into their heads. Like how to travel through time. It's also possible that those computers they are mesmerized by are teaching them.
- Stock Ness Monster: During the argument between Sarah Jane and Rose over who endured the most "space stuff", Sarah Jane mentions she went up against THE. LOCH NESS. MONSTER!!!! Rose couldn't top it.
- Utopia Justifies the Means
- We Can Rule Together: Mr Finch gives the Doctor a sales pitch Mephistopheles would be proud of.
- Wham Line: When Mr Finch catches the Doctor off guard, instead of planning to keep all the power for himself, he offers to share it with the Doctor:
Mr Finch: Think of the changes that could be made if this power was used for good.
The Doctor: What, by someone like you?
Mr Finch: No. By someone like you.
- Who Wants to Live Forever?: This episode was the first time the series openly questioned why the Doctor leaves his companions (or lets them go):
: "I don't age. I regenerate. But humans decay. You wither and you die. Imagine watching that happen to someone you... Rose
: What, Doctor? Doctor
: You can spend the rest of your life with me. But I can't spend the rest of mine with you. I have to live on, alone. That's the curse of the Time Lords.
- You Look Familiar: Anthony Head played warlord Grayvorn in the Big Finish Doctor Who "Excelis" Story Arc, meeting the Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Doctors (as well as Iris Wildthyme and Bernice Summerfield).
- Zeerust: K-9's dated look is lampshaded by Rose as "disco". The Doctor finds this very offensive.