Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

It was probably a fluke, but this final season achieved what I've been hoping for in these reviews for years - a return to the high standard of the first one.

For me, the first two stories have been okay, and the final one pretty good, but what's really stood out this year has been the style.

The characters have displayed a lot more subtlety, nowhere more so than in the last story. It's a credit to author Gareth Roberts that this higher standard has generally noticed in his scripts over the years, at least in their opening episodes.

New character Sky didn't get long to establish herself, but just about scraped through. K-9's absence has been a disappointment, most notably because of the opportunities for him to cameo with Luke.

Given the brevity of this series - well, half-series really - it's a surprise that each episode's opening trail of shots from upcoming episodes was not only retained, but elongated, despite the shortage of material. Nowhere did this do greater damage than in the final episode, where it subtracted from the amount of time available for the farewell montage at the very end.

It's infuriating that there aren't six more episodes of this. However if there had been, chances are that they wouldn't have been as good as these six. Alas, but after six such great episodes, we were now due the season's usual six turkeys.

I do think it was a mistake to broadcast these (on BBC1 at any rate) in the recent twice-weekly pacing. With only half the usual episodes we needed these spaced out to make it feel like a full 6-part series. I'm very pleased that that's the way we watched them in my house.

I'm alternatively surprised that they weren't reworked as hour-long Christmas/Easter/Christmas specials.

Myself, I hope that that is the end. I have no wish to either watch Luke and Sky dealing with their mother's death, or hear any more about Clani. I admit that by the end of the show's run - specifically in the final story - they just made it to being a gang worth watching, but given the show's track-record, future scripts would be unlikely to maintain this standard. Even if they did, thanks to the all the argy-bargy music, I doubt that we would be able to hear them.

I actually find myself wondering whether Rani will make the transition to full-time Doctor Who companion. (let's not kid ourselves about the others) Thanks to the writers, and not least actress Anjli Mohindra, she's already fully-qualified there. She even has the usual family established. However despite how nice it might be to see more Rani stories, I really hope this doesn't happen. There is just no way of pulling that off without constantly reminding us of Sarah Jane's off-camera absence. Sadly, I think the TARDIS' navigation system has to now draw a very thick circle on its internal map around Bannerman Road, Ealing.

All the same - to everyone in Sarah's whanau, whether they were in that rushed closing montage or not - K-9, Mr Smith, Maria, Luke, Clyde, Rani, Sky, Alan, Maria's mum, the tenth Doctor, the eleventh Doctor, Haresh, Gita, Professor Rivers, the Captain, the Shopkeeper, the Brigadier, Jo, Santiago and you Sarah Jane Smith - I'm telling myself that I'll see most of you later.

After all, I trust that in years to come, you'll be seeing much more of each other.

Individual episode reviews:

The Curse Of Clyde Langer
The Man Who Never Was

(my own tribute to Elisabeth Sladen here)

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