Outside the Government: Invasion of the Bane

(50 comments)

No, no, it's just that, you know, your profile picture made you
look... and, I mean, this isn't a criticism, but... less tentacular.

It is still New Year’s Day. Actually, we’ve moved backwards in time a few hours for Invasion of the Bane, the debut of The Sarah Jane Adventures. This is often called the pilot, which, in fact, it wasn’t - a pilot is an episode shot as a demo so that a full series can be considered. The first season of The Sarah Jane Adventures was already commissioned when this got shot, and it was, in reality, a New Year’s special for a series that hadn’t actually aired its first episode yet.

It’s worth rehearsing the development of the show, though it’s well documented enough. The BBC, following the success of Doctor Who, went a bit spin-off mad, commissioning Totally Doctor Who and Torchwood, then moving on to wanting a children’s drama featuring a teenaged Doctor on Gallifrey and, briefly, considering a set of annual specials under the name Rose Tyler: Defender of the Earth. The latter idea was quickly abandoned in the name of peace and sanity, The former, meanwhile, seems to have gotten about as far as Davies and Gardner laughing uproariously and then ordering some people killed.

Once the appropriate heads had been affixed to the appropriate pikes, Davies sent word back to the BBC that while he would not be doing Young Doctor Who, he was eager to do a children’s series focusing on Sarah Jane Smith, who he’d just successfully brought back in School Reunion. Because Davies was at one of those points in one’s career where he was invincible and allowed to do whatever he wanted, his plan to appeal to the youth of Britain with a show about a middle aged woman from 70s television was, in a rare burst of good sense from an entertainment industry that would usually respond to this much like Davies did to Young Doctor Who, enthusiastically approved.

There is an underlying tension here, and it’s one that never quite disappears from The Sarah Jane Adventures. On the one hand, it’s television aimed at people who were not actually alive when Doctor Who was originally on the air. On the other, more than any other show in the Doctor Who family The Sarah Jane Adventures is concerned with the material past of Doctor Who. I don’t just mean this in the sense that it features Sarah Jane, returns of three other 70s characters, and bunches of other moments that are overtly and consciously nostalgic for the past. (Really, it’s a wonder the Silurians and Sontarans didn’t make their returns in The Sarah Jane Adventures)

No, what’s really and oddly nostalgic about The Sarah Jane Adventures is that the show is set up to work like classic series Doctor Who, complete with half-hour episodes and cliffhangers. And even though Invasion of the Bane is an hourlong special, it’s still given the most familiar setup imaginable: exciting new technological object, mysterious goings-on, aliens are behind it and turn out to be evil. It’s Spearhead from Space, The Mind of Evil, The Claws of Axos, The Green Death, Robot, and, perhaps more importantly, everybody’s idea of what Doctor Who is “supposed” to do. There’s a self-conscious traditionalism here, marking The Sarah Jane Adventures as, in part, a series for people who can’t let go of a nostalgic image of what Doctor Who used to be.

This is, to say the least, something of a complex joke. On the one hand, of course, there’s some straightforward snark here: if you really want Doctor Who like you had it in the 70s, fine, but the resulting show really is only for kids. On the other hand, The Sarah Jane Adventures is self-evidently made out of a genuine love for the material it mimics. While Davies, at his most cynical, is surely capable of the Robert Holmes level of “fuck you” that pandering to the “we miss half-hour episodes, cliffhangers, and bog standard traditionalism” crowd via a children’s show entails, this is a script written by Gareth Roberts, who movingly represented what happens when he’s exposed to cynicism through the experience of the Cybermen in Closing Time.

Gareth Roberts writes exactly one sort of story: love letters to the idiosyncratic. This is not in any way a criticism of Gareth Roberts, because it’s an absolutely delightful niche to fill, but any given Gareth Roberts script is going to be an enthusiastic burst of squee punctuated by good jokes. And so it is with Invasion of the Bane, which is not even remotely a cynical redo of 70s Doctor Who tropes. Instead it’s a glossy, almost luridly colored whirlwind of a classic formula, done with glee and relish.

But this opens its own set of oddities. The Sarah Jane Adventures is a children’s show, yes, but Invasion of the Bane, at least, was not, strictly speaking, watched by children: 80% of the viewers were over the age of sixteen. So while on the one hand Invasion of the Bane is a children’s show, it’s very much the sort of children’s show that is “for adults,” in a sense that goes well beyond the “for kids but not intolerable to adults” approach pioneered by Sesame Street. This is often a position that people suggest Doctor Who occupies - that the show is in some sense for ten year olds, but this has clearly only ever been true as one of many audiences the show has been for, and one would be hard-pressed to find an era of Doctor Who pitched at children with mere concessions to an adult audience. Family television and children’s television are two distinct genres.

In one sense The Sarah Jane Adventures fits into a larger body of popular culture that exists to sell some object that was popular decades ago to children of today by playing off the fact that their parents like it. This is the logic that led to, for instance, the 2002 revival of Masters of the Universe, or the periodic revamps of Transformers, My Little Pony, and GI Joe. What’s key here is not merely reboot fervor, which had been going around since Alan Moore casually redid the entire concept of Swamp Thing and has been affecting Doctor Who since at least 1988, but the specific mechanism of using one generation’s nostalgia to sell something to another generation.

But this isn’t just reinvention either. The Sarah Jane Adventures is carefully positioned within the larger schema of the Doctor Who stable. Like Torchwood, the show basically presupposes that its audience watches Doctor Who. If anything, it’s even more dependent; where Torchwood sets up a mystery about its central character that at least pretends to be able to function on its own, The Sarah Jane Adventures is unequivocal about the fact that it is the adventures of a former Doctor Who companion, and that these are the secondary adventures of Sarah Jane, though not, it is quick to point out, the lesser ones. Indeed, what’s really telling is that the show goes out of its way to acknowledge that it’s in the same continuity as Torchwood by having Sarah Jane encounter an alien from the same species as Mary from Greeks Bearing Gifts. It’s one thing to put in a nod to a show that the target audience is assumed to watch, but the presence of a nod (and not the last one) to a show that the target audience actively shouldn’t be watching is telling.

A more accurate assessment might be that The Sarah Jane Adventures functions as an excuse for grown-ups to watch classic-style Doctor Who stories, though even this seems a bit thin, given that Doctor Who itself serves up at least one of these a season. Doctor Who isn’t for children in a way that suggests the exclusion of other audiences, but there’s yet to be a season of the new series that doesn’t have at least one episode that takes children as its primary audience, and Invasion of the Bane is firmly in the tradition of the monster two-parters that come early in each of the Davies seasons. So this isn’t an unfilled niche as such.

No, what Invasion of the Bane seems to offer is a piece of Doctor Who that is allowed to belong to children, unlike the proper series which is certainly made with them in mind, but which also does things like Love and Monsters or Father’s Day that are clearly aimed at an adult audience but rendered suitable for children. And this also explains the reverence for the past of Doctor Who. The Sarah Jane Adventures consists of Davies and Roberts (along with some other writers) saying “here is the Doctor Who we got to have as children, and we’re passing it on to you.” Grown-ups may watch, but it’s not quite the same as watching classic-style Doctor Who. It’s watching classic-style Doctor Who being given to a younger generation. To partake of The Sarah Jane Adventures as an adult isn’t to engage in nostalgia, but to engage in an act of giving away the past to the supposed future.

What, then, do we have in the specifics? First of all, the story’s centerpiece: a dystopic Charlie and the Chocolate Factory where the magic isn’t found inside the big corporate factory, but on a perfectly ordinary street. There’s the same focus on extraordinary spaces within mundane ones that Torchwood has, but here the focus is specifically on finding them in the everyday world (stressed in the voiceover at the start and finish). Whereas the grown-up world of businesses and factories is dangerous. A wondrous sort of danger, yes, but dangerous nevertheless. This is actually just a little bit self-defeating for Doctor Who, which, as a piece of corporate mass culture (albeit the BBC, which is a special case), seems more akin to Bubble Shock than to a random house on Bannerman Road. But if this is the case, it is clearly more accurately described as self-defeating than as hypocritical.

And, of course, there’s Elizabeth Sladen. If there is an aspect of Doctor Who that is beyond reproach, it is surely The Sarah Jane Adventures, for the simple reason that there is absolutely no way to begrudge Lis Sladen a late career renaissance without feeling like one might be a slightly nicer person if one just started punching babies in the face. That she’s no longer with us only intensifies this. Given my existing preference for redemptive readings, my desire to swim against this tide is essentially nil. I’m thrilled Sladen got one last generation of children. I’m made fundamentally happy by the fact that The Sarah Jane Adventures exists, even if I’ve not actually watched, erm, virtually any of it. (This seems a fairly standard state of affairs, at least in American fandom. Torchwood, on the other hand, is relatively acknowledged.)

Given this, then, the slightly stand-offish nature of Sarah Jane in this episode is interesting. The fact that she’s not standard television lead material is, in its own way, acknowledged by the episode, which has her spending most of it resisting letting Maria into her world. Some of this seems to be about not wanting to put her in any danger, but out of a sense that her world isn’t for children in some more fundamental sense. She’s wrong, of course - in reality children are the only people she can truly share it with. And this is, in the end, what ultimately unites the cast - the existence of secret knowledge that adults and people who listen to adults too much cannot know (to the extent that they deny the evidence of their senses if confronted with it) - is, of course, perfect for all of this, paralleling exactly the structure of the show itself. Adults old enough to have seen Sarah Jane and kids get who this is for, and their sharing of it becomes a secret knowledge hidden in plain sight. This, by any reasonable standard, is a wonderful thing.

Comments

Spacewarp 3 years, 7 months ago

On the button as always. SJA is often lazily lumped in with Torchwood as "a Doctor Who spinoff" when it's far and away a different beast. If anything it's status as a spin-off is almost irrelevant to the reasons for it's success. Similar to the way Doctor Who 2005 revitalized Family Telly, SJA has probably done the same for Kids TV. I'm sure "Wizards Vs Aliens" would never have been made if it weren't for the success of SJA, and that's not just because of RTD. In the same way that SF changed almost overnight after Star Wars, CTV changed after SJA.

Oh and as for "...even if I’ve not actually watched, erm, virtually any of it..." Man you really should!

Definitely not all of them (as yes, they are for children), but there are a few stories that transcend their Kids TV status and become something both poignant and beautiful. Oddly enough the four episodes with "Sarah Jane" in the title, the one with "the Doctor" in the title, and special mention must go to "The Empty Planet" and "The Curse of Clyde Langer" which both show what a good little actor Daniel Anthony is. I strongly recommend you give those the time of day. The rest quite frankly are enjoyable but derivative runarounds.

IMO of course!

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John Callaghan 3 years, 7 months ago

A friend of mine classifies Doctor Who fans as either Torchwood People or Sarah Jane people; everyone likes Who, but no-one likes all three. While I'm sure there are people out there who do manage that somehow, I'm definitely in the SJA camp (pun intended). It's worthy but jolly and daft, whereas Torchwood seems terribly ordinary and dull to me, like Dr. Who with all the fun taken out (although I acknowledge that it's popular, so fair enough).

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Lewis Christian 3 years, 7 months ago

I'm rather hoping Phil watches all of them (in order, when the time comes) to complete this blog and also to see just how wonderful SJA really is. I fully agree with you, Spacewarp - some of the SJA stories actually manage to feel more "adult" than Torchwood manages, which says a lot. It's actually quite weird, but good-weird, that here we have a "children's spin-off"... with a lead character who's 50+ and which tackles homelessness, death, growing up, isolation, rejection, relationships... it's very daring and also very, very brilliant.

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Lewis Christian 3 years, 7 months ago

(Minor comment: Typo with the spelling of Elisabeth.)

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Daibhid C 3 years, 7 months ago

I kind of like Torchwood, but I'd definitely rather watch SJA. Although I'd only watch Invasion of the Bane specifically if I could fastforward through every scene with Kelsey in it...

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Spacewarp 3 years, 7 months ago

Actually I may have been a bit disingenuous with my "runarounds" quip. There's a helluva lot more to like about SJA than those stories I mentioned. Unlike Torchwood it quite unashamedly wears its connection to Doctor Who on it's sleeve, and whenever it uses a Who monster goes out of its way to explore the funny side.

The Judoon in the Police Patrol Car ("Have Nice Day"), "The Last Sontaran" (the precursor to the fantastically comic Strax), and of course the Slitheen, who seem to work better in SJA (probably because the fart jokes are now pitched to the correct audience!).

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David Thiel 3 years, 7 months ago

I'm also in the SJA camp. While there were times during which I was acutely aware that I was watching kids' TV (I'm looking at you, "Mona Lisa's Revenge"), all in all I enjoyed the series.

It was great to Lis Sladen back on the screen, even if one did have to squint a bit to imagine her as she was back in the day.

Even better was the extent to which she was allowed to be a quasi-Doctor, with access to just enough technology (hello, sonic lipstick!) to prove a credible threat to would-be invaders.

There were times that it played like "Sarah Jane vs. the Leftover Alien Costume from Doctor Who," but still it was fun to watch her deal with Slitheen, Sontarans and Judoon. (The Slitheen worked especially well here.) Notably, they never imported a Dalek, presumably because even one RTD-era Dalek would've turned Bannerman Road into a blazing hellscape.

The one thing that bugged me about SJA wasn't the show's own fault: that it provided the sole modern-day outing for the Brigadier. Despite UNIT's many appearances in nuWho and even Torchwood, the Brig never received anything more than namechecks that must've been baffling to an audience unfamiliar with classic Who. So, as nice as it was to see Sarah and Alistair reunited, it bugs me that Nicholas Courtney never got to appear alongside David Tennant.

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Lewis Christian 3 years, 7 months ago

To its credit though, The Wedding of Sarah Jane was originally scripted to include the Brigadier. Unfortunately Nick's health meant he couldn't take part - so the intention was there, at least, for him to return *and* meet the Tenth Doctor.

Also notably, RTD states that if he'd had the budget, a whole host of former companions would've returned in Death of the Doctor. And he'd also planned the return of Ace, which would've also included a short-and-sweet flashback to the time Seven left Ace (newly filmed).

This all contributes to the magic of SJA, I feel. It incorporates a lot of classic elements (honestly, there are a good few flashbacks to the classic series and Jon and Tom) whilst handling them really well. They never take you out of the story much, and they never feel in the way. Everything's carefully crafted.

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Lewis Christian 3 years, 7 months ago

There are a few "romps"/"runarounds", but that doesn't mean they're in any way bad or less successful than those which tackle major issues or have more epic storylines. And I feel every story has *something* of merit, something properly great or magical.

I also agree about the Doctor Who monsters. I like that the Sontaran comes about after the events of The Poison Sky, I like that the Slitheen appearances tie into their DW appearances, I like that the Trickster mentions "the Gate" and the Key to Time, etc. Unlike Torchwood which tip-toes the "we're part of Doctor Who" line, SJA fully goes for it and it's all the better for it.

(It's even more special if watched in order, alongside Doctor Who due to all the ties and mentions etc.)

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Lewis Christian 3 years, 7 months ago

"This is often called the pilot, which, in fact, it wasn’t..."

A little surprised there's no nod back to K9 & Company which actually serves as a SJA-pilot... except for it being made many years earlier and definitely nowhere near as good as SJA. But it has the key elements - Sarah with K9, Sarah as the lead role, mentions of the Doctor, etc.

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The Lord of Ábrocen Landmearca 3 years, 7 months ago

SJA has some fantastic and emotional episodes, but I found myself getting really frustrated by the end of its run with the rut it had fallen into.

Plot "There's some kind of mystery, what could-"
SJ:"Aliens."
Plot: " BUt what-"
SJ: "Aliens! It's aliens>" *Weird, high pitched keening* "Alieeeeennnnnnsssss" *Runs off in a rage.*

It's not that I have a problem with aliens; far from it. My problem was that Sarah Jane simply stopped being able to comprehend an answer that wasn't aliens. It was always aliens. Her son is acting strangely? Aliens. Garbage pick-up was late? Aliens. It's Tuesday? Aliens.

Even tough she was always correct (given the nature of the show), it made her seem like a crazy person. Aliens should not be the logical shave of Occam's Razor, and it made SJ seem like a lousy journalist because she instantly jumped to a conclusion sight-unseen.

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Toby Brown 3 years, 7 months ago

It's such a good children's show that me and my mum (who doesn't watch Doctor Who itself) caught the first few episodes with my much younger cousin, and then ended up watching the rest on our own. Not only are the more 'adult' (for want of a better word) episodes such as all the '...Sarah Jane' episodes genuinely brilliant, being emotional and character based while still clearly being tv aimed at children, but even the more generic runaround episodes feel somewhat more justified than the episodes aimed at children that Phil identifies, being flagged as a children's show from the start, and actually just being very well written and executed.

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Toby Brown 3 years, 7 months ago

Also, this probably doesn't belong attached to this episode, but I'm not sure whether it would necessarily be brought up later since I don't know how common knowledge this is so...
CBBC and RTD had actually decided that were the show to continue, Luke would have had a boyfriend, which just shows how utterly perfect this show is. Not only would it have done so so much for helping children understand how being gay is normal (I can't imagine how much easier coming out would have been for me had a popular tv character made it clear that sometimes boys just like boys earlier in my childhood), but also that I imagine SJA would actually treat the issue of sexuality with more tact and thought than the supposedly more 'adult' Torchwood ever did with it's "Everyone's bi! Everyone's having sex with everyone! Sex alien! Sex!" attitude, since the only route SJA could really go with it would be "Hi mum, this is my boyfriend" then optional discussion about it then "Well that's delightful" and moving on with it.

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Mark Patterson 3 years, 7 months ago

I'd agree with your shortlist of highlight stories, with the small but significant addition of 'The Madwoman in the Attic' which goes to places one wouldn't ever expect from a children's show, even a very good and grownup-friendly one like this, and does so beautifully. It even manages to give the impression that its author may actually have read the original work from which the title is lifted.

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Seeing_I 3 years, 7 months ago

Yes, yes, a hundred times less. On its own terms, SJA was more successful than Torchwood by a mile and often beat Doctor Who at its own game as well. All the episodes mentioned here are just super. I really, unequivocally love this series. "Invasion of the Bane" is actually one of the least successful entries, to be honest. "Whatever Happened to Sarah Jane Smith?" is my pick for the absolute pinnacle of the series.

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Seeing_I 3 years, 7 months ago

Nah, sorry, your friend is wrong - I love all three shows and for different reasons.

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Seeing_I 3 years, 7 months ago

To be fair, they did lampshade this a bit in "Wedding" when the kids were convinced that aliens were behind Sarah's odd behavior, when it was just that she'd found romance (and, um, aliens).

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Seeing_I 3 years, 7 months ago

I totally agree Toby. The saddest part is that we lost Liz, of course, but I really hate that we didn't get that "Luke is gay" storyline. (Plus he's grown up into QUITE a cutie, so that doesn't hurt. Mmm, cute English genius with a robot dog, yes please.)

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Spacewarp 3 years, 7 months ago

Yeah I kind of know what you mean, but firstly in a 25 minute show there simply isn't enough time to mention all the mundane possibilities before concluding that it might be aliens again (especially since we know it's an SF/Fantasy show, so it quite obviously will be aliens).

More importantly suggesting the ordinary first is the role of a companion, and in an episode of Doctor Who it's OK for a bit of skepticism on Sarah's part. She can play the Scully card against the Doctor's superior knowledge (which we know will ultimately prove her skepticism wrong).

But in SJA she's essentially playing the Doctor role, and dramatically she has to jump to the (correct) alien conclusion immediately, leaving her companions Clyde & Rani/Maria to suggest that perhaps the explanation for Luke's odd behaviour is not alien possession but hormones, or Mr Smith's mysterious power fluctuations might just be down to the Electricity Board.

After all, how many episodes of Doctor Who have we seen where the Doctor immediately goes for the most fantastical explanation first?

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Spacewarp 3 years, 7 months ago

If you'd told me in 1988, when Clause 28 became law that only 20 years later the BBC would have seriously considered a gay teenage character in a prime children's TV show, I'd never have believe you. Shows how far we've come (and how backward Russia is).

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Galadriel 3 years, 7 months ago

I absolutely adore Sarah Jane Adventures and continue to be amazed at how complete the episodes are. "Mature" or "adult" aren't the correct terms, because of the automatic association with sex, but they tell stories about very significant topics without dumbing down to children at all.
It does point back to Classics in format, but I also appreciate the less-intense moments. Which is not to say the show doesn't have its terrifying or cliffhanger moments, but in the end, you know it will end well.

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Galadriel 3 years, 7 months ago

Also, the lack of SJA fans in the United States is partially due to the fact that only the first season aired (on SyFy) here, whereas Torchwood aired on BBCA and became a joint production with Starz for season four. Yes, DVDS are available, but the release was often delayed.
Personally, I would love to see PBS acquire rights to air it on Saturday nights alongside DW reruns.

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Triturus 3 years, 7 months ago

Spacewarp

Also, would anyone in their wildest dreams have believed in 1988 that one day a Conservative-led government would legislate for gay marriage?

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Lewis Christian 3 years, 7 months ago

Random comment:

I was thinking further about ties SJA has with Doctor Who, in relation to formula and format and this sprung to mind: "The X of Sarah Jane Smith" became a series-recurring title (by Gareth Roberts) and, each time, the Trickster appeared.

In a way, it was his own "X of the Daleks" - ultimately, you knew who'd be behind the story.

And then Series 4 flips it on his head and we have "Goodbye, Sarah Jane Smith" again by Roberts... and this time the Trickster doesn't appear. It's sneaky, and I was never too sure how I felt. I watched the story on broadcast waiting for him to appear and then, ultimately, I felt two things. I was happy because it was a sneaky twist and it was unexpected that he didn't show up, but then I was miffed because I felt like I'd been promised something which never quite happened.

It's kind of like having "Return of the Daleks", only for it to be a story featuring Adipose and Midshipman Frame - and no Daleks in sight.

(Also sad because as much as I love that we have a "Trickster Trilogy", I always wanted one final hoorah for Sarah Jane vs her main nemesis. Let's be honest - he's the biggie. Sontarans return, Slitheen return... but the Trickster is Sarah Jane's biggest foe. He's the Daleks of the SJA World. And it's also perhaps a shame he never crossed over into the world of DW, though there's a case to be made for him being The Black Guardian of sorts.)

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Philip Sandifer 3 years, 7 months ago

I will be doing all of them, yes.

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Philip Sandifer 3 years, 7 months ago

Well, the insect thing in Turn Left is said to be part of the Trickster's Brigade, so it's not a complete lack of crossover.

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Matthew Celestis 3 years, 7 months ago

I hope all you progressive people will be voting Conservative in the next election!

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sorrywehurtyourfield 3 years, 7 months ago

There's a significant resemblance between him and the Shadow from The Armageddon Factor, making me wonder if he could be another one of the Black Guardian's minions. After all, he's familiar with the events of Armageddon Factor in Wedding of Sarah Jane Smith...

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David Thiel 3 years, 7 months ago

Sure, but my point was that I was disappointed that the Brig never appeared in the parent series. He was defined solely by his absence. Was that also due to ill health?

The weird thing is that now we've got a recurring character who is explicitly the daughter of someone whom the nuWho audience never met. (Unless they watched either the classic show or the spin-off, neither of which can be assumed.)

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David Thiel 3 years, 7 months ago

While I think it would've been great if a gay character had been introduced, I don't think it would've been ideal to have it be Luke. If you're making the case that "being gay is normal," perhaps the character who was grown in a vat by space octopi isn't your best choice. (Though it would certainly argue for "nature" over "nurture.")

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eternaly relyneat 3 years, 7 months ago

It must be said, there is a magical inexplicable thing -something like a direct transmission of optimism and joy- that evenTorchwood almost comes close to once or twice actually and Doctor Who manages to touch on it lightly pretty regularly... anyway, a handful of stories from the latter seasons of SJA absolutely nail it better than either of the above. It really is more Doctor Who than Doctor Who is sometimes, in the best possible way. I.E. Worth sitting through all 4 seasons, I promise.

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Wm Keith 3 years, 7 months ago

For CBeebies viewers, he's also reminiscent of The Numbertaker from Numberjacks.

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Lewis Christian 3 years, 7 months ago

Yeah, I fired off on a tangent there! But at least there was an intention to pair Tennant's Doctor up with the Brig, even if in a spin-off. (Though, had Nick been well, I do wonder if they'd brought him into DW at some point. RTD has stated, IIRC, he regrets not bringing him back when he had the chance.)

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Lewis Christian 3 years, 7 months ago

However, Luke's story is that he "becomes" "normal". So to then make him gay would only serve to say, "normal people can be bi/gay too".

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Seeing_I 3 years, 7 months ago

I don't think the point of making Luke gay is so much "normal people are gay, too" but "people you like and care about are gay, too."

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jane 3 years, 7 months ago

I've only seen a few. Whatever Happened to Sarah Jane? and Death of the Doctor are particularly noteworthy for their esoteric themes. Especially the latter. I mean, it's right in the wheelhouse of Moffat's Who, especially that grand coffin escape.

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Wm Keith 3 years, 7 months ago

Triturus, you might equally ask who in 1804 would have predicted that Wellesley and Peel would lead a Tory government into Catholic enfranchisement. (But you might also point to the poverty maintained and created by each government's economic policies.)

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Triturus 3 years, 7 months ago

Wm Keith

Well, obviously. To quote that alternative-universe Great Intelligence / 8th Doctor buddy movie Withnail & I, even a stopped clock tells the right time twice a day. Doesn't stop it being horrendously wrong for the most part.

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Ross 3 years, 7 months ago

Hm. Reflecting a bit, it seems like whenever they want to do a story with a message of the form "You can X" or "It's okay if you X" or "Here's why you shouldn't X", they give it to Maria or Rani, and whenever they want to do a story with a message of the form "Here's a problem you might have yourself, and here's how to deal with it if you have a friend who does", they give it to Clyde. And when they want to do a story with a message of "Here's a problem you won't have yourself, but someone who you love might," that's when they give it to Luke. So Maria gets "How to deal with your parents divorcing," and Rani gets "Here's why you shouldn't drive your friends away", but Clyde's story about his father isn't "Here's how to deal with an abusive parent" but "Here's what to do if you have a friend with an abusive parent." And Luke has to cope with going off to college -- which is something that wouldn't be a factor for the target audience, but might be a factor for their older siblings.

More broadly, Maria/Rani tend to do things, Clyde tends to have things done to him and Luke tends to "be" things (That is, his plots tend to always relate back to him being "just inherently different")

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BerserkRL 3 years, 7 months ago

no-one likes all three. While I'm sure there are people out there who do manage that somehow

Hand goes up.

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Tallifer 3 years, 7 months ago

Perfect television, and perfect Doctor Who. This show embraced humour and wide-eyed wonder, such that I relive my youth each time I watch it. I think Clyde and Rani are my two favourite modern companions.

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BerserkRL 3 years, 7 months ago

Worth sitting through all 4 seasons

Well, 5. Well, 4 and a half. And a lizard.

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Lewis Christian 3 years, 7 months ago

Well, the insect thing in Turn Left is said to be part of the Trickster's Brigade, so it's not a complete lack of crossover.

True, and there's a namecheck to the Trickster in Miracle Day too somewhere!

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Clay Hickman 3 years, 7 months ago

There was a big Trickster-related Arc built into Series 5, but as the latter half was never made the references to it in the episodes we do have were snipped out before broadcast.

Even so, the big Trickster-y season finale would have come from Russell, not Gareth, as
Gar and I were writing a story called 'Meet Mr Smith' for the second half of S5.

Also, DW links-wise, the original idea for 'Secrets of the Stars' was that the energy force was the Mandragora Helix, and first Gary Russell, then Gar and I worked for a while on a story where the Metebelis III giant spiders returned, but we just couldn't make it work. We even storylined a prospective Christmas episode where we saw Aunt Lavinia in flashback, so 'K9 & Company' did get it's due! Actually, I think there was a line about Brendan in 'Wedding' which was cut. It's in Gareth's novelisation, along with a version of some of the Brigadier material which was lost.

There was a great DWM special not that long ago which went through all the unmade SJA stories so it's worth seeking out to see what might have been.

Anyhow, it's very cheering to see all the love for SJA and Lis on here from you guys. Can't wait to see what Phil makes of it all...

Love
Clay
X

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Seeing_I 3 years, 7 months ago

Hey Clay, lovely to see you here, and I just want to vote, if there's any voting to be done, for a spin-off line of continuing SJA novels!

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Seeing_I 3 years, 7 months ago

That's very apt, Ross! Never thought of it that way.

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Lewis Christian 3 years, 7 months ago

Echoing Seeing_I above: great to see you here, Clay!

I've read the SJA DWM Special and it's full of wonderful snippets and treats. I'd love for them to be realised in novel or scriptbook form some day. (I know The Thirteenth Floor has been adapted as a Wizards vs Aliens story, but I still wouldn't mind seeing the original version with Sarah and co.) Such a shame Lis never got to complete Series 5 - it's horribly cut short, though at least the series has 3 great stories to finish Lis' story on.

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Seeing_I 3 years, 7 months ago

Of course, we all know there are some books-on-CD stories out there, but I would love to see proper ongoing novel series (especially as books tend to be cheaper than CDs). I feel like there's a lot of love and longing out there, not only for Liz and her crew, but for the warm, witty and humane RTD era which has a lot of qualities the current few series have lacked.

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John Callaghan 3 years, 6 months ago

And in her defence, *I* blame aliens for Tuesdays as well.

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William Silvia 3 years, 5 months ago

I actually think "School Reunion" serves as the pilot to this particular series...

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