29th April 2006
The Doctor: Right; physics! Physics, eh? Physics, physics, physics, physics, physics, physcis. Physics! I hope you’re getting all this down.
Writers: Toby Whithouse.
Director: James Hawes.
Producer: Phil Collinson.
Starring David Tennant as the Doctor, Billie Piper as Rose Tyler, Elisabeth Sladen as Sarah Jane Smith, John Leeson as K9, and Noel Clarke as Mickey Smith; with Anthony Head as Mr. Finch, and Eugene Washington as Mr. Wagner.
Investigating a school, the Doctor meets an old friend: Sarah Jane Smith. Rose meets the Krillitane and finds out what happens when the Doctor leaves you behind.
What they thought:
School Reunion is a uniquely important serial to the show’s history, tackling – for the first time – what happens when companions leave the TARDIS. It was an obvious choice to bring fan-favourite, Sarah Jane Smith back.
Simon Brew notes for Den of Geek: “while there was some fear at first that the return of Sarah-Jane Smith and K9 had a bit of a gimmicky feel to it, by the end of the episode School Reunion, you had to admit they’d come up with something very, very special.”
Naming the episode one of the best of the new series, he adds: “Elisabeth Sladen is as grand as she always was, sadly showing up the limits of Billie Piper, while scaring the bejesus out of Rose by telling her that one day she’ll just be left behind. What’s also nice is the Doctor’s reaction to seeing Sarah-Jane again, that part melancholic look and low key ‘hello.’”
He concludes that “when you get episodes that not only respect the heritage, but dig into it and analyse it a bit, well – it’s enough to make a grown geek weep…”
Will Barber, for The Cult Den, agrees:
“Elisabeth Sladen stuns us as Sarah Jane Smith with her first return to Doctor Who since The Five Doctors. Sarah’s joy at seeing The Doctor again is evident. Sladen is brilliant in her face offs with Rose before they become friends. She is also excellent in the poignant scene where she reminds The Doctor that everything has its time and everything must end. Sladen’s return to Doctor Who as Sarah is the best return that the show has ever done and always will be.”
But, Barber says, Anthony Head’s Mr. Finch also shines in the episode: “He is so slick and evil you feel as though you could punch him. His casual manner when discussing his diabolical scheme is delicious. Head never over eggs the villain part.”
Ahsan Haque, in his review for IGN UK, says “the backdrop to the story is so off the wall and so obviously tongue-in-cheek that it somehow manages to come off as being wholly original, despite the obvious campy-horror influences,” but also notes that “the story is secondary to the actual reunion between the Doctor and Sarah Jane Smith.”
DVD (Region 2) Information:
- Released as part of the Complete Series Two box set.
- Also available as a ‘vanilla’ DVD, alongside Tooth and Claw and The Girl in the Fireplace.
- Writer, Toby Whithouse, has since written Vampires of Venice and The God Complex for the show.
- Sarah Jane got her own spin-off show, The Sarah Jane Adventures, which ran from 2007 to 2011.
- Elisabeth Sladen’s death was a huge shock to the Doctor Who community, but her legacy will always be remembered.
WATCH IT IF YOU LIKE… VAMPIRES OF VENICE.