The Wedding of Sarah Jane Smith

Posted in Episode by - September 05, 2022
The Wedding of Sarah Jane Smith

Aired 29 – 30 October 2009


When Sarah Jane begins to act suspiciously, Luke, Rani and Clyde with the help of K-9 are set to investigate in ‘The Wedding of Sarah Jane Smith’ by Gareth Roberts. Sarah Jane has a new boyfriend, Peter Dalton, and they are set to be married almost immediately. The wedding is anything but a happy occasion, however, and the Doctor must traverse distorted time to try to stop this momentous affair and to save the world from the clutches of the Trickster.

In any episode of a spin-off in which a character from the parent series appears, it must be assumed that at least a portion of the audience will be experiencing the spin-off for the first time as viewers follow that particular character. Yet while many writers may have given into temptation and had the Tenth Doctor present for Sarah Jane’s big day from the very start, Roberts wisely withholds the arrival of the TARDIS until the cliffhanger ending of the first episode, allowing the scene and each of the main characters to fully develop naturally. This is, of course, no more important than for Sarah Jane herself, a beloved character who has been explored in almost every aspect over the decades but who has finally found love. Even though she has become much more willing to open up to those around her on Bannerman Road, it makes a certain sense that she should still want to keep her dating life a secret. Indeed, she has stated that she has turned down potential suitors before because of the hectic and unpredictable lifestyle she leads, affirming just how much she cares for Peter even though the developing relationship is progressing so quickly and offscreen.

Sadly, Sarah Jane is destined to be alone in love even as she is surrounded by such a strong core of friends, and even with the Trickster’s eventual involvement revealed, what makes Peter’s appearance so devastatingly effective is that his love and actions were entirely his own and made the love between Sarah and him completely genuine. Nigel Havers is wonderful in this role alongside Elisabeth Sladen, and while it would have been immensely satisfying to see this relationship furtively build over the course of a few episodes, that love is utterly believable and all the more tragic when visions of a happy future together are negated by an entirely selfless act of sacrifice that defines true love and that the Trickster could never understand even as he realizes that Sarah longs for nothing more than a normal life.

Of course, David Tennant makes an instant impact once the Doctor arrives and boldly proclaims that this wedding must be stopped. Separated from Sarah Jane with just Luke, Rani, and Clyde as companions, he quickly assumes control without ever speaking down to or demeaning this young group. Quite the opposite, in fact, he takes the time to listen to them and to include each of them as he thinks through the scenario and how to fight back against the Trickster, and while he does have to silence their enthusiastic proclamations in a most unexpected and humorous manner, his graciousness and resolve here are a testament to this incarnation. The Doctor and Sarah have such a long past together, and while Sarah knows that it is the Doctor’s style to quickly depart once the problem is solved, it’s poignantly fitting that he should return to ensure his friend is coping following these events, providing a fitting coda to both ‘The Hand of Fear’ and ‘School Reunion’ in the process.

This is a children’s show that has never been afraid of introducing and exploring very mature themes, and while romance, hope, and loss are very natural and inescapable emotions within life, ‘The Wedding of Sarah Jane Smith’ also tackles the unique mixture of emotions swirling within Luke as a child of a single parent who has never had a father figure and who is trying to come to terms with the excitement and nerves that Peter’s arrival entails. For his part, Clyde is sure that something is off about Peter from the beginning and is keen to investigate without Sarah’s knowledge, the empty flat portending that he is right even if he doesn’t yet understand how. Just as importantly, however, is that he is unafraid to stand up to the Doctor and refuses to be sidelined, his actions against the Trickster by using artron energy from the TARDIS a distinctly heroic moment for a character who continues to grow in confidence. With Rani again the sentimental yet assertive heart of this young trio, The Sarah Jane Adventures continues to impress with the incredible acting talent involved, and very mature writing interspersed with needed levity continues to provide brilliant results for a programme that is willing to explore every aspect of the human condition in every possible circumstance.

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