Wednesday, February 9, 2022

Sarah Jane Smith Binge List

This month would have marked the 76th birthday of Elizabeth Sladen, who played fan-favorite Sarah Jane Smith alongside seven different Doctors and got her own spin-off Sarah Jane Adventures (SJA) during the early years of Modern Who. In honor of her birthday, I wanted to highlight some of her best stories that I want to rewatch someday soon.

Third Doctor Era (Season 11)

The Time Warrior - Naturally you need to start with her first appearance. She snuck into UNIT and teamed up with the Third Doctor, almost by accident.

Invasion of the Dinosaurs - This was my favorite of Sarah Jane’s early stories. To say the special effects are dated would be an understatement, but the story is solid

Planet of the Spiders - Sarah Jane’s first experience with the Doctor regenerating (also the first time “regeneration” was a canon term). It also gave us the only TV appearance of the Hermit.

Fourth Doctor Era (Seasons 12-14)

Robot - Can’t talk about Sarah Jane without addressing the beginning of the Fourth Doctor and the introduction of Harry Sullivan.

Genesis of the Daleks - One of Sarah Jane’s iconic stories, featuring Davros for the first time and the backstory of the Daleks.

The Android Invasion - In some ways, this one was freakier than Blink. But that’s just one Whovian's opinion.

The Hand of Fear - After her final adventure with the Fourth Doctor, it was sad to leave Sarah Jane behind, especially since she was left in the wrong place.

A Girl’s Best Friend - It was supposed to be a pilot for a spin-off series, but Sarah Jane wouldn’t get that spin-off until the modern era. But this Christmas special did get Sarah Jane her K-9, who would keep on reappearing.

Fifth Doctor Era (20th Anniversary)

The Five Doctors - Sarah Jane only had one appearance during Peter Davison’s run. She teamed up with the Third Doctor in the Death Zone, before returning to her home again. She would not be seen again in the Classic era.

Tenth Doctor Era (Series 2-4, SJA Series 1-3)

School Reunion - The Tenth Doctor, Rose, and Mickey teamed up with Sarah Jane and K-9. I would love more episodes like this, bringing Classic companions back for one-off stories.

SJA Series 1 - The first installment of the Sarah Jane Adventures introduced Luke, Maria, and Clyde. If you were to only watch a couple stories from this season I’d recommend  “Invasion of the Bane”, “Revenge of the Slitheen”, and “Whatever Happened to Sarah Jane?”

The Stolen Earth/Journey’s End - Sarah Jane and Luke guest star in this epic Doctor Who crossover, along with the companions of the main series and the team from Torchwood. 

SJA Series 2 - This season said goodbye to Maria and hello to Rani. Some of the must-sees from this period include “The Last Sontaran”, “The Day of the Clown”, and “The Temptation of Sarah Jane Smith” (which explains why she was raised by her aunt).

SJA Series 3 - This season took place during the year of Tenth Doctor specials. Without a companion, he showed up in the Sarah Jane Adventures. “The Wedding of Sarah Jane Smith” saw him team up with Sarah Jane and her friends.

The End of Time - Sarah Jane and Luke only briefly show up during the Tenth Doctor’s farewell tour, but this heartbreaking scene is still worth watching.

Eleventh Doctor Era (SJA Series 4-5)

SJA Series 4 - With Luke off for early admission at Oxford, Sarah Jane had a smaller team. But that didn’t stop her from facing off against her alien foes. Highlights for this season are “The Nightmare Man”, “The Empty Planet”, and of course “Death of the Doctor”, which featured the return of Jo Grant and the appearance of the Eleventh Doctor.

SJA Series 5 - This season was cut short, due to Elizabeth Sladen’s passing. In “Sky” she adopted a little alien girl (named “Sky”) and “The Man Who Never Was” gave her a loving tribute at the end.

Sometime after this, Sarah Jane Smith reportedly died. We don’t know how she died, but some speculated she had been taken by the Doctor again. Her funeral was attended by many of the Doctor’s companions and her team. Her funeral was described in a webcast in 2020. A beautiful goodbye to a beautiful companion. We miss you, Sarah Jane. We miss you, Elizabeth Sladen.

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