Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Doctor Who: 2006

Episode 713: School Reunion
First broadcast 7.20 pm on Saturday 29 April 2006
<< back to 2005

Rose and Sarah Jane
School Reunion
School Reunion is the only episode of Doctor Who to have made me shed tears. I know a few burly, tough chums who were also left in pieces because of what happens to K-9, but that's not the bit that affected me.

It's a brilliant episode, perfectly playing to two audiences at once. For younger viewers, there's evil teachers, jokes about chips and an awkward kid who becomes a hero by rebelling at school. For older viewers, it's about the awful longing to recapture the past, the fact that we can't go back and that none of us are getting any younger. By bringing back former companion Sarah Jane Smith, the series lets Rose (and us) know that she's not the first girl in the TARDIS - and, implicitly, that she won't be the last, so neatly laying the ground for her departure at the end of this season.

At the time of broadcast, I'd just got back from a holiday and the next big event in my diary was my 30th birthday. That milestone had quite crept up on me. Plus, while I'd been away a member of my family had taken a sudden turn for the worse.

So the following scene, perfectly played by Lis Sladen, seemed harrowingly, bleakly true. I blogged at the time hot it got in my head. Looking back now, with Sladen gone, it is all the more haunting.
Think of it, Doctor. With the Paradigm solved, reality becomes clay in our hands. We can shape the universe and improve it.

Oh yeah? The whole of creation with the face of Mister Finch? Call me old fashioned, but I like things as they are.

You act like such a radical, and yet all you want to do is preserve the old order? Think of the changes that could be made if this power was used for good.

What, by someone like you?

No, someone like you. The Paradigm gives us power, but you could give us wisdom. Become a God at my side. Imagine what you could do. Think of the civilisations you could save. Perganon, Assinta. Your own people, Doctor, standing tall. The Time Lords reborn.

Doctor, don't listen to him.

And you could be with him throughout eternity. Young, fresh, never wither, never age, never die. Their lives are so fleeting. So many goodbyes. How lonely you must be, Doctor. Join us.

I could save everyone.


I could stop the war.

No. The universe has to move forward. Pain and loss, they define us as much as happiness or love. Whether it's a world, or a relationship, everything has its time. And everything ends.

Toby Whithouse, Doctor Who: School Reunion (2006).
A very young 10th Doctor,
staring into the abyss.

Next episode: 2007

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