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May 03, 2006

See Me

Tachyon TV is proud to present an exclusive TARDISode set immediately before the events of School Reunion:

INT: The Krillitane Homeworld The Royal Palace is busy with worker Krillitanes converting really, really tall doorways into really, really wide doorways so they can fit their new wings through them. An agitated foreman can be heard muttering: "I'd wish they'd make their bloody minds up".

Srunion2_1We pan slowly towards a large table where a meeting is taking place between the Krillitane King (played by some CGI and voiced by Nicholas Briggs) and a Krillitane War General (who is played by that bloke who used to be in the Gold Blend adverts).

King: How go our plans for universal domination, Brother?

General: Not bad, your Majesty. I'm currently looking at another way to crack the Skasis Equation so we can become Gods. I now believe that -

King: Oh, for the love of Krill! It's a load of old bollocks! You can't become an omnipotent being by beating a bloody computer game - how many more times must I tell you this??

General: But that beardy bloke from Logopolis swore blind -

King: He was having a laugh, you idiot! Now concentrate your efforts on destroying the Quarks; I can't wait to have legs made from Lego and some new pointy bits on my bum.

The foreman sighs loudly in the background.

General: But this time my plan can not fail, your Majesty! This time we'll take over a small comprehensive school on an insignificant planet called (in his best Peter Wyngarde voice) Earth...

King: Right...

General: We will feed the children copious quantities of our oil -

King: Would that be the same oil we're allergic to?

General: Yeah. You'd have though we'd have cracked that by now, wouldn't you? It's a right pain in the arse.

King: Tell me about it! It happened after our first planetary conquest you know, when we decimated a race of hominids who were allergic to their own sweat. They weren't much cop to be fair. Especially on sunny days.

Srunion1_1General: Anyway, we'll feed the young children the oil and this will make them a) pass an upcoming OFSTED inspection and b) this bit is obscured by a Murray Gold sting.

King: But why use children? Why not scientists and mathematicians?

General: We'll need the children's souls to crack the code, your Majesty. Only a child's imagination can decipher the hidden meanings contained within the numbers. It says so on the back of the box. Plus, the code looks a lot like something called Tetris, a game that earth children simply can't get enough of. Our technicians are porting the Skasis Equation to the XBox 360 as we speak. (The King is shaking his head in despair but the General remains unperturbed). I'll need a crack team to infiltrate the school, of course.

King: You'll need some humanoid Krillitanes, I take it?

General: Nah, just some of the regular man-eating bats will do. I'm sure they'll blend in just fine. A dozen troops should be more than sufficient - just as long as they can cook chips or are familiar with the work of Jane Austen; Emma is on the A-level English Literature syllabus, I believe.

King: Very well. But this is your last chance, General.

General: Don't worry, your Majesty, I won't let you down.

King: Just make sure you aren't detected when you arrive on the planet.

General: (hurt) Do I look stupid?

We now return to our scheduled programming:

OK, so the plot is a stinker. The logic is flawed to the point of surrealism and it makes me question RTD's opening statement in this week's Confidential where he proudly boasted that this episode doesn't just revolve about the return of two icons from the show's past - it all starts with a good story. Pull the other one, Russell!

If, like me, you watched this episode last Saturday and you blubbed your eyes out and you felt those shivers running down your spine, then don't watch it again. Trust me on this. Savour the emotion of the moment and don't get caught up in the crap that surrounds it.

Srunion3_1It didn't really bother me the first time round. I mean come on, it's K9! And Sarah Jane Smith! They could have set the whole episode in a chip shop and I still would have forgiven them. And I do.

OK, so the spin-off novels are now categorically non-canon and it makes The Five Doctors even more of a mess than it already is, but it was all worth it just to see Liz Sladen again. I admit it,  I cried. It touched me on a fundamental level (that probably has everything to do with my age) via some truly beautiful moments: Sarah stumbling on the low-angle TARDIS, the achingly sad "what did I do wrong?" line, K9's self-sacrifice, the final goodbye. Pure fanwank. Pure bliss.

The rest of it is just a blur of strangely familiar CGI (mini-reapers anyone?), corridor sprinting and a plot that defies belief at each and every turn. I'd list all the problems with it but a) I don't have enough bandwidth and b) I just want to remember the good times. Maybe this episode effected me more deeply than I first suspected?

But I can't leave without stating the bleeding obvious: Anthony Head is utterly wasted. It's a crying shame that he didn't turn out to be the Master; he's just too good to be sidelined like this. His Sergio Leone stand-off with the Doctor is a genuine SJS-free highlight, but how can you take a villain seriously when he gets approx 10 mins of screen time? And a naff plan? He does get the best line of the series so far, though: "Forget the shooty dog thing!"

Srunion4_1Tennant and Piper are great (as usual) and Noel Clarke's Mickey is threatening to become truly likable all of a sudden. I was even happy to see him joining the TARDIS crew - it actually wiped that smug look from Rose's face for a split second. Trouble's brewing...

But the episode belongs to Sarah and K9. Off to fight druid covens in the Home Counties again. All together now - awwwwww....

Final marks:

Plot: 2/10
Characterisation: 9/10
Execution: 6/10
Bibliography: 8/10 (marks off for not including the novels or the 20th anniversary special)

Plus an extra point for including a song by Joy Division.

Anyone got a calculator?

The Bumper Book of Made-Up Doctor Who Facts has this to say about 'School Reunion': this episode will come with an exclusive box of Who-branded tissues when it's released on DVD in June.


Damn you - you pointed out all the things my subconscious was blotting out thanks to the whole SJS and crying into my mug of tea stuff.
Why aren't we script editing this series? We'd keep all the good stuff and make sure the BLEEDIN' OBVIOUS stuff is nicely tied up.

You'd think if you're intelligent enough to conquer whole world's you might have the brains to do the sums yourself. Better still, why not conquer Earth the way you did all the others? Did those other races not have kids?

But again, all that aside, I still enjoyed it and it kicks ST:TNG's ass anyday.

Oh look - I said 'stuff' three times in that comment. What's another word for 'thesaurus'?

"Big Book 'o Words"?

I wouldn't say that the spin-off books are non-canon yet, I'm sure the continuity cops are working on it at we speak. Give them three days and few beers and they'll have it sorted. David A McIntyre's already retconning that SJS didn't die in Bullet Time, it was all a ruse. Paging Lawrence Miles, Larry, where are you?

I heard that a lot more Doctor/SJS/K9 stuff was filmed than was broadcast, the cafe scene in particular was longer. Look for it on the series DVD boxset in the autumn, providing they don't go and do something silly like, you know, LOSE the deleted scenes. But of course that couldn't happen in this day and age. Could it Russell?

Is it just me, or am I the only one who read the last chapter in Bullet Time where 7 meets up with SJS AFTER the events of the novel, and she's still bloody alive? Was I on really odd drugs reading that, or was that added to a later printing?

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