‘Farewell, Sarah Jane’ (SJA) (Webcast)

‘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

  • ‘Judgement Day’ (SJA) (Audio)

For Ian was

  • ‘Susan’s War’ (Audio)

For Barbara was

For Dodo was

  • ‘Who Killed Kennedy’ (Book)

For Polly was

For Ben was

  • ‘The Love Invasion’ (Comic)

For Victoria was

For Liz was

For Jo was

  • ‘The Infinite Today’ (ST/Audio)

For Nyssa was

For Tegan was

For Ace was

For Grace was

  • ‘The Flood’ (Comic)

For Martha was

For Mickey was

For Captain Jack was

For K-9 MkIV was

  • ‘Goodbye, Sarah Jane Smith’ (SJA) (TV)
The next story

For Liz is

  • ‘When to Die’ (P.R.O.B.E.) (Film)

For Jo is

  • ‘Jo Grant vs the Autons…Again?!’ (Blu-ray)

For Tegan is

  • ‘Good Companions’ (ST)

For Captain Jack is

  • ‘Month 25’ (TLOCJ) (Audio)
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
Return to Doctor Who
Return to Sci-Fi

6 thoughts on “‘Farewell, Sarah Jane’ (SJA) (Webcast)

  1. Media Lover

    Evening Tim.

    I like how your review has been constructed and I believe you have made good points in regards to Nyssa and tegan in this story. I wanted to accept what RTD had done but I just can’t. That being said, things like this have been done right in the past. Liz Shaw has had male and female fiances, including that of Patsy Haggard for B.B.V. Unlike Nyssa, Liz Shaw hasn’t been known to have had children although it is said that she had a granddaughter so she may have had children. It at least for me didn’t ruin this webcats for me but it is still a blot and actually, even Janet Fielding, as far as I know, was sceptical of it.

    As for Dodo, it is said that her fiancee travelled back in time and averted her death although her death in that timeline is unknown so her appearance might still be a plot hole.

    All in all, if you ignore all of this the webcast is decent. I’m anxious to hear what you think of what I have just said.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Tim Bradley Post author

      Hi ML,

      Very pleased you enjoyed my review. I’m glad you agree with the points I’ve made about Nyssa and Tegan featured in this story. Like I said, I have my theories about the post-TARDIS travelling stories featuring Nyssa taking place in alternative universes and the same can be said for Tegan. I’ve even included the theories in my ‘Into the Death-Space’ story. I’m disappointed with how RTD has included Nyssa and Tegan, since it feels like he hasn’t addressed how they ended up together at Sarah Jane’s funeral and how they’re living in Australia without mentioning previous Big Finish audios. Again, it’s hard to fit that into a 13-minute story, which is why I think the story should have been longer.

      Interesting what you’ve said about Liz Shaw. I’m still in the process of watching the ‘P.R.O.B.E.’ episodes by BBV. and haven’t come across the fiancées and the granddaughter she’s meant to have. Yes, I’ve sort-of come across Janet Fielding’s opinion on the matter via Twitter somewhere. I don’t know if this aspect of Nyssa and Tegan in ‘Farewell, Sarah Jane’ will be addressed again in a future story like what Sophie Aldred did for Ace in ‘At Childhood’s End’. I’d like to think all the stories are interconnected with each other. If it ends up being like the multi-verse idea I have, it’ll be intriguing if not head-scratching to get my mind around.

      I’ve not come across many stories featuring Dodo after her travels with the Doctor, so I can’t be sure if she actually died or survived somehow. It depends whether the new series stories take place in an alternative universe once the Eighth Doctor escaped from the Divergent Universe or the Time War or something.

      Many thanks for sharing your thoughts about this story. I enjoyed reading them.

      Tim. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
      1. Media Lover

        Thanks for your thoughts Tim. A longer than 13 minute story would have probably been the way out of this hole.

        I haven’t actually seen anything of Dodo and I think it is more than likely that I will see Jackie Lane’s Myth Makers beforehand.

        P.S. I never knew you used Twitter.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Tim Bradley Post author

        No problem. Thanks ML.

        I’ve seen Jackie Lane’s Myth Makers already. It’s very good. You can check it out in ‘The Doctors: The William Hartnell Years’ DVD which I’ve done a quick review on already.

        I don’t use Twitter, but I have been able to access links to Twitter posts by people like Janet Fielding. Mostly it’s links on Facebook, but somehow I have limited access to those Twitter posts. 😀

        Tim. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Media Lover

    I own the Hartnell years dvd so I will once I have finished the Peter Purves interview.

    P.s. just to mention, I don’t know much about RTD but I would say that he didn’t have any malicious intent.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Tim Bradley Post author

      Oh I’m glad you have the William Hartnell years DVD already. Well done! I hope you’re enjoying it!

      Yeah, I’m sure RTD didn’t have any malicious intent with the way he wrote Nyssa and Tegan into ‘Farewell, Sarah Jane’. Like I said, these things are open to interpretation especially when it’s vaguely indicated in the story. I’m glad I’ve been able to touch upon my Nyssa multi-verse theory in ‘Into the Death-Space’ recently.

      Thanks, ML.

      Tim. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply

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