Farewell, Sarah Jane Smith
Ah, what a bittersweet day of viewing Doctor Who. At this point I have lost track of how many companions I have seen come and go. Some left huge impressions, like the original trio of Ian, Barbara, and Susan. Some came and went easily enough, like Dodo Chaplet. The most difficult to leave behind up until now was Jamie, but his departure was swept up all in one package with the Doctor regenerating and the format of the show changing to color. This one, though, hurts. At the end of today's viewing the Doctor dropped Sarah Jane back home before leaving to face Gallifrey alone, and I have to admit I teared up a bit. Maybe it was just sweat dripping in my eyes after fifty minutes on the treadmill.
Let's talk about it.
The Hand of Fear - Parts 3 & 4
(TARDIS Data Core recap)
Before getting to the departure, there was a fair bit of story to resolve. The first big swerve comes in the third episode, when Eldrad emerges from the nuclear reactor fully formed in a female humanoid body. She convinces the Doctor and Sarah that she was the victim of treachery and only wants to save her people. And so, the Doctor agrees to take Eldrad to her home world of Kastria although a hunger dred and fifty million years have come and gone.
The second big swerve comes when Eldrad is apparently destroyed by traps set on Kastria, but then re-emerges in a fully regenerated male form and reveals that, in fact, his people had attempted to disintegrate him because he was a power-mad tyrant. Not only that, but Eldrad intends to raise a new army of subjects and rule the universe, starting with Earth. Oops. Not surprisingly, that doesn't work out so well and Eldrad winds up at the bottom of a bottomless pit, never to be heard from again.
Which is when the Doctor gets the call from Gallifrey to return home, and this happens:
Apparently when Elisabeth Sladen first decided to leave the show, the character of Sarah Jane was going to be killed off. Fortunately, that did not happen. Ultimately her final scene was largely written by Sladen and Tom Baker themselves, and it is just sweetly perfect. In terms of seasons, Sarah Jane was the longest running companion (although in terms of episodes Jamie McCrimmon wins that title easily because the seasons were so much longer in his era). Beyond that, Sarah Jane was just a brilliant character who was smart and brave and treated every bit as the Doctor's friend instead of just as a screaming damsel in distress. Although my heart will always belong to Barbara Wright (who is a Goddess) as the Platonic Ideal female companion, there is no denying that Sarah Jane Smith was and is the classic Doctor Who companion.
I know I get to look forward to seeing her again in The Five Doctors and then again sometime next year when I reach the Tenth Doctor's era. Once I wrap up this main project I will be moving on to the various spin-offs, which means I will get to watch the entirety of The Sarah Jane Adventures. So I do have that much to look forward to, although the last of it will really only serve to remind me of Elisabeth Sladen's untimely passing in 2011.
Today's viewing, then, truly does mark the end of an era. The next story makes a complete break on multiple levels, but I will get to that tomorrow. Tonight I will raise a glass in memory of Elisabeth Sladen and Sarah Jane Smith. She truly was the best of what Classic Who was all about.
Companion(s): Sarah Jane Smith
Episode(s): The Hand of Fear - Parts 3 & 4
Steps Walked: 7,064 today, 1,491,925 total
Distance Walked: 3.56 miles today, 741.98 miles total
Weight: 257.14 lbs (five day moving average), net change -50.16 lbs