‘FAREWELL, SARAH JANE’ (SJA)
Please feel free to comment on my review.
Sarah Jane’s Final Adventure(?)
Really? This is Sarah Jane Smith’s final adventure?
In a time when most of us were stuck at home during the spring of 2020, ‘Farewell, Sarah Jane’ was released via the ‘Doctor Who’ YouTube channel on the 19th of April. This is classed as the official ‘final’ tale in ‘The Sarah Jane Adventures’; made specifically for the ‘Doctor Who Lockdown!’ event.
It was also made to coincide with the anniversary of Elisabeth Sladen’s passing since April 2011. Nine years later in fact. It was presented as a video webcast written by Russell T. Davies, narrated by Jacob Dudman and having guest star appearances of various actors playing characters via video clips.
When released at the time, many people praised ‘Farewell, Sarah Jane’ as a fitting tribute to the actress who played the beloved ‘Doctor Who’ companion. Many people still regard it highly to this day. Me however…(sighs) I’m afraid I have some major issues with the presentation of this webcast.
Now before I go any further. If you like ‘Farewell, Sarah Jane’, then that’s okay. I’m not going to judge anyone on whether they liked this webcast or not. In some respects, it is a heartfelt tribute to Elisabeth Sladen as well as to Sarah Jane by the man who brought ‘Doctor Who’ back on TV in 2005.
But I need to explain why I don’t like this webcast so much. And that’s not just with one issue. There are a number of other issues related to this. I think ‘Farewell, Sarah Jane’ could’ve been done better if it was a longer story and if it had more actors doing guest cameos in certain scenes of it throughout.
It also pains me to write this review on ‘Farewell, Sarah Jane’ since for the most part, I’ve admired Russell T. Davies’ writing. Yet there are things he includes in this story that make me question things. There are things left unexplored. I wish RTD established clearly what happened to certain characters.
First of all, let me talk about a few of the positives that I like about ‘Farewell, Sarah Jane’. I like Jacob Dudman’s narration of this tale and its good he’s come this far from doing ‘The Doctor Chronicles’ by Big Finish, playing the Tenth, Eleventh and Twelfth Doctor respectively. It’s pretty amazing that. 🙂
I also liked the appearances of the actors playing their characters via video clips when filming themselves in their homes. This includes Katy Manning as Jo, Sophie Aldred as Ace, Daniel Anthony as Clyde, Tommy Knight as Luke, Anjli Mohindra as Rani and Mina Anwar as Gita. Nice to see them! 🙂
Interesting fun fact! Anjli Mohindra filmed her scenes as Rani when she was living with Sacha Dhawan, who happens to be her boyfriend and he currently plays the Master in ‘Doctor Who’ with Jodie Whittaker. Huh! It explains why both Sacha and Anjli appeared in the same season – Series 12.
Now here’s the thing about Sarah Jane’s ‘final’ adventure. When the last ‘Sarah Jane Adventure’ was transmitted on TV, it had the caption “And the story goes on…forever”. Like with the Time War, I wanted Sarah Jane’s ending untouched so that we fans can know Sarah Jane is still alive somewhere.
So it was rather saddening for the webcast to begin with a funeral and with all the Doctor’s previous companions being there. It felt too soon to announce that Sarah Jane was dead ‘in-universe’. Maybe 20 or 30 years later would’ve been fine, but 9-10 years later after Lis Sladen’s passing, it just hurts. 😦
In terms of the past companions who attended Sarah Jane’s funeral, as well as Jo and Ace, there was also people from U.N.I.T. (including Kate Stewart); Tegan and Nyssa (more on them later); Ben and Polly; Ian and Barbara; Martha and Mickey (I’m still not buying them being together despite having a son called August); Dodo (again, more on her later); Grace Holloway; Liz Shaw; Victoria; Captain Jack and K-9 (MkIV that is). Now I do appreciate nods to past companions attending Sarah Jane’s funeral.
But there’s a question I have to raise here. Does this happen for every companion that gets dead and buried at a funeral? Do companions attend another companion’s funeral as well as Sarah Jane’s? I wonder if everyone will attend Rose’s funeral in the future, even though she’s stuck in Pete’s world.
Other people appearing in this are Sky Smith from Series 5 of ‘SJA’ as well as Maria Jackson; her dad Alan and Mr. Smith (voiced by Jacob Dudman, not Alexander Armstrong strangely). Another issue I have with the presentation of this webcast is that the tribute to Sarah Jane…well, I hate to say this…it does feel like she’s over-praised and it feels way over the top. 😐
And I don’t mean that it’s all overly teary-eyed and such. I mean, Sarah Jane seems to get more praise as a ‘Doctor Who’ companion than some of the others do. I know she’s a popular companion and I wouldn’t want to take that away from her, but surely other companions were as good as her.
The over-praise Sarah Jane gets, even in the writing of this webcast, overtakes the action-packed aspect of the tale when the Trickster and the Jackal of the Backwards Clock (whoever they are) cause trouble. We’re told the companions defeat the Trickster and his lot, but it’s done rather fleetingly. 😦
I would’ve liked the action scenes being told to us and how each of the companions defeated the Trickster and his lot rather than just have it told to us in a few sentences. That’s why I feel this webcast is too short to give us the full-blown tribute that Sarah Jane deserves concerning her end. 😦
Also, a lot of the fleeting nods to past companions don’t make sense. For example, Dodo Chaplet’s in this. Wait! I thought that she died in the book called ‘Who Killed Kennedy’. That’s what I gathered. How come RTD ignored that when it came to include Dodo as one of the companions at the funeral?
I’m getting an impression that RTD is ignoring events depicted in the BBC Books adventures of ‘Doctor Who’. You know, like when Jo happened to be divorced in the book called ‘Genocide’, which doesn’t turn out to be the case since she and Cliff Jones are still married by ‘Death of the Doctor’. 😐
And of course, this leads me onto the biggest issue I have with this story – Nyssa and Tegan happen to be a couple and are living in Australia. (cringes) Even a great narrator like Jacob Dudman can’t make that sentence delivery work. Where do I begin with this? Okay, let’s look at the implications. 😐
I don’t know if RTD meant it as a joke that Nyssa and Tegan are a couple living in Australia. You could argue that they’re simply just friends living together. That’s how I would interpret it, especially since I’ve thought of the two as being best friends. Older female couples can live together without romance.
But knowing RTD’s gay views and how he tries to incorporate them into his stories, I don’t think that’s the case. Many are going to take that seriously and I fear there may come a point where someone writes a story about Nyssa and Tegan being a couple before, during and after the events of ‘Farewell, Sarah Jane’.
Now these stories are open to interpretation and there could be a possibility Nyssa and Tegan are a couple in that sense. But my issue with this is that RTD didn’t need to make them a couple. And I’m very sure this goes against what Johnny Byrne originally envisaged Nyssa to be as his own character.
This just feels like RTD forcing his gay views onto people (including me) who have their own initial interpretations of Nyssa and Tegan as characters. I’ve always thought of them as best friends and not lovers. Heck, even Nyssa stated that Tegan was her ‘best friend’ in ‘The Emerald Tiger’. And that’s another thing! 😐
As far as I’m concerned, there haven’t been any stories told to us that Nyssa and Tegan are bisexual. So far, Nyssa’s romantic partners have seemed to be men, including Matthew from ‘Ghost Walk’, Andrew from ‘Autumn’ and Lastari from ‘Winter’, whom she later married. Nyssa even had two children, Neeka and Adric. Did RTD not know this?
To go further, Tegan’s had her own fair share of romantic partners that were men. This includes Joe Mazzini in ‘Serpent In The Silver Mask’, Kyle in ‘The Waters of Amsterdam’ and Michael in ‘The Gathering’. By the 2030s, Tegan married William Haybourne in the Short Trip called ‘Good Companions’. 😀
Again, this is all open to interpretation, but if Nyssa and Tegan were really meant to be a romantic couple, then why didn’t Tegan stay behind on Terminus with Nyssa? This approach by RTD just feels like a wish fulfilment of someone writing a fanfic who wanted Nyssa and Tegan to end up being gay.
It also doesn’t get explained how Nyssa ended up on Earth in the first place. Last time I heard from her, she was trapped in E-Space in ‘The Entropy Plague’. I assume the events of Nyssa in ‘Farewell, Sarah Jane’ take place after ‘The Entropy Plague’, but it’s not very clear here since it’s so very vague.
I appreciate RTD wanting to include gay characters in his stories, but he could’ve just done that with Luke as he created the character himself. Characters like Captain Jack, Bill Potts and Luke are meant to be gay because that’s how they were written. Nyssa and Tegan do not need to be like that here. 😐
This leads onto a theory I have about Nyssa’s character as well as perhaps certain characters featured. There’s a ‘Doctor Who’ book called ‘Asylum’ which features Nyssa after the events of ‘Terminus’, but it doesn’t connect to the Big Finish audios and Nyssa is an historical technographer. I think certain tales featuring Nyssa after travelling with the Doctor take place in alternative universes.
My theory is that ‘Asylum’; the older Nyssa stories where she ends up in E-Space; and Nyssa and Tegan ending up together in Australia take place in parallel dimensions. I’m not sure if that can be confirmed, but with the way Sophie Aldred did it in ‘At Childhood’s End’, I’d like to think that is the case.
It does complicate matters, but it’s the best I can come up with. I’ve touched upon it recently in a story I’ve written for the Divergent Wordsmiths called ‘Into the Death-Space’, which you can check out in the ‘Unbound Imaginings, Volume 2’ anthology. That short story has an alternative Nyssa and Billy in it. 🙂
Oh yeah, that’s another thing. I’ve been writing stories featuring Nyssa and Billy together and they’re a romantic couple. I don’t think Nyssa and Tegan being a couple could really be the case here. I might be proven wrong of course with my theories, but what RTD comes up with just feels lazily-handled and nonsensical. 😐
So yeah, ‘Farewell, Sarah Jane’ didn’t really please me when I watched it. At about 13 minutes in length, it should’ve been longer and made a meal out of Sarah Jane in terms of her ‘final adventure’. I found the ‘Our Sarah Jane – The Life of Elisabeth Sladen’ documentary on the Season 14 Blu-ray box set of ‘Doctor Who’ more fitting as a tribute compared to the ‘Farewell, Sarah Jane’ story RTD wrote.
Whilst it was nice to have appearances of Sarah Jane’s friends including Jo, Ace, Clyde, Luke and Rani, I felt very disappointed about certain aspects of the story that RTD introduced, including Nyssa and Tegan ending up being a couple in Australia. I know that I’ve said a lot about that aspect here. 😀
Again, I stress that if you still like ‘Farewell, Sarah Jane’ despite my criticisms about it, then that’s okay. I still love Sarah Jane as a ‘Doctor Who’ companion. At the time of this review, I hope to check out ‘The Sarah Jane Adventures’ properly on DVD soon, but this webcast wasn’t so satisfying for me.
‘Farewell, Sarah Jane’ (SJA) rating – 3/10
|The previous story
For Sarah Jane was
For Ian was
For Barbara was
For Dodo was
For Polly was
For Ben was
For Victoria was
For Liz was
For Jo was
For Nyssa was
For Tegan was
For Ace was
For Grace was
For Martha was
For Mickey was
For Captain Jack was
For K-9 MkIV was
|The next story
For Liz is
For Jo is
For Tegan is
For Captain Jack is
|Return to Sarah Jane’s Timeline|
|Return to Ian’s Timeline|
|Return to Barbara’s Timeline|
|Return to Dodo’s Timeline|
|Return to Polly’s Timeline|
|Return to Ben’s Timeline|
|Return to Victoria’s Timeline|
|Return to Liz’s Timeline|
|Return to Jo’s Timeline|
|Return to Nyssa’s Timeline|
|Return to Tegan’s Timeline|
|Return to Ace’s Timeline|
|Return to Grace’s Timeline|
|Return to Martha’s Timeline|
|Return to Mickey’s Timeline|
|Return to Captain Jack’s Timeline|
|Return to The Timelines of K-9|
|Return to The Companions’ Timelines Index|
|Return to Doctor Who Timelines|
|Return to The Nyssa Challenge|
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