PLEASE NOTE: This review contains slight spoilers (if you have been remaining completely free of them) – this episode will be broadcast on BBC One, Friday 30th October.
Yesterday, in my review for part one, I foolishly suggested that a “A more heartwarming and life-affirming small screen half hour (or so) you are not likely to find this year”. Well, I probably should have realised that competition would come in the guise of part two, and by crikey it did. And it won.
But the heart-warming and life-affirmation will have to wait a while as Sarah Jane and the gang, now accompanied by The Doctor, have to to set the world right and get back together as The Trickster has returned to play one of his, erm, tricks. Those familiar with The Sarah Jane Adventures will be all too aware of just how dastardly, but at the same time awesome, this chap is. Indeed, he was even name-checked in the Doctor Who episode Turn Left.
Mores beside, The Doctor knows of this blaggard (calling him “an eternal exile who exists to wreak havoc”) and his cronies, The Pantheon Of Discord. The Trickster, of course, details The Doctor intimately; referring to his past in some detail (Tom Baker fans will get another chance to get all nostalgic) and his future (apparently ‘The Gate’ is waiting….). The no-eyed one has been waiting some time for a tete-a-tete with everyone’s favourite Time Lord and we get a delicious conversation between the pair of them.
But it’s not all time sensitive beings being pompously arrogant and self-referential. Nigel Havers has an achingly sad story to play out and is complimented with beauty by the effervescent Elisabeth Sladen.
And there’s laughs too! Writer Gareth Roberts perfectly matches the pain with mirth, most notably in a Steven Moffat-ish “I’ll explain later” comment from The Doctor just before he wields a football clacker (or whatever they’re called) as the kids won’t accept his Curse of the Fatal Death-esque answer. David Tennant revels in his role here, dancing from the light beats of humour to the heavier foreboding touches of his regeneration.
The goodbye scene between Sarah Jane and The Doctor is a poetic reply, if you like, to SJ’s farewell scene in The Hand Of Fear where she asked “Don’t forget me.” (As a side-note, look out for the cuddly Owl she held when she first left the TARDIS now sitting in the Bannerman Road attic during part one of this story.) Sarah’s answer is kitten-strokingly beautiful but also filled with pathos at the knowledge of what’s to come – Lizzy S and Davey T perform remarkably and if there’s a dry eye in your house then you must be a flippin’ robot.
The Wedding of Sarah Jane Smith is a joyous experience where the story itself takes a back seat to the wonderful performances, hilarity and the inevitable sadness. It’s packed with scenes that will make your heart fill up with wonder and cheer – witness as SJ and the gang enter the TARDIS (made me wish they popped off for another adventure). But more than that, it’ll reaffirm (if it were needed) that Doctor Who and its spin-off worlds are in safe hands and as groin-grabbingly good as ever.
And what’s more amazing about this episode is that Mr Smith booted up without the bloody fanfare – finally!