PLEASE NOTE: This review contains slight spoilers (if you have been remaining completely free of them) – this episode will be broadcast on BBC One, Thursday 29th October.
And so it here it is, the moment that David Tennant returns to the small screen, after an interminable break, as The Tenth Doctor. But don’t get too excited just yet. As many of us guessed after seeing the promotional pictures from the first episode, the Time Lord takes his flippin’ time to get to the wedding of the year. But more of Gallifrey’s finest later.
The Wedding of Sarah Jane Smith kicks off, as usual, with a mystery but this time Luke, Clyde and Rani are investigating Sarah Jane herself. She’s been secretive about her activities and the gang are so suspicious that they employ K9 and Mr Smith (who turn out to be quite the comedy double act) to discover she’s seeing a bloke! Hilarity ensues as our favourite threesome take a peak into the adults’ date and witness, wait for it, a kiss! Clyde’s response is priceless.
Peter Dalton, the bloke in question, is as suave as his Bond surname would suggest and is played pitch-perfect by the adorable Nigel “Nice Sermon Vicar” Havers. Not to mention he’s a thoroughly good egg to boot. So thoroughly good, it would appear, that Sarah Jane agrees to be his wife pretty sharpish. (Well, at her age, why not?)
The denouement of the first episode is the event itself and we get fan-pleasing references to Metebelis 3, The Brigadier and Sarah Jane Adventures alumni Maria Jackson before the nuptials kick off. Rani’s parents, for the first time, are gifted a number of gigglesome moments and add an appropriate degree of levity to Sarah’s big day. But the levity is about to take a turn for the worst as a familiar wheezing and groaning (whoaning? grozing??) filters through the air.
Here the sound of the TARDIS materialising becomes very sinister, as if it’s heralding a disaster (which, of course, it is). We hear the time machine’s noises a few times during the episode and this builds the tension alongside the ongoing proceedings and suspicions (from Clyde and Rani) of SJ’s new fella. The cast are wonderful and the ‘kids’ Anjili Mohindra, Daniel Anthony and Tommy Knight continue to impress with their magnificently rounded performances.
Predictably, David Tennant make his entrance at the exact moment that I think we’re all expecting but it’s played out so damn perfectly that you’ll be too busy cheering with glee (or wiping away tears) to care. A truly amazing television event with a cliffhanger worthy of Who itself.
Indeed, writer Gareth Roberts has packed so much warmth, character and, as always with the Gaz-man, humour. I won’t list every gag for you but K9 steals many of the laughs; notably the line “Activating stair negotiation – hover mode.” One scene in particular, the ‘box’ scene, has so much hilarity going on that it even manages to cover up a FDCGA (that’s a “Fairly Dodgy Computer Generated Alien) with chuckles and LOLs.
And that’s the only flaw (and in no way did it impair my enjoyment) in this utter gem. So good actually that you’ll not even mind that The Doctor isn’t there for the majority of this installment. A more heartwarming and life-affirming small screen half hour (or so) you are not likely to find this year.