"Nobody over 22 should be doing that in public actually at all."
IN THIS ONE... Sarah Jane meets the man of her dreams, so of course, he's a pawn of the Trickster.
REVIEW: As you know, I love coherent themes and metaphors in my adventure SF, so obviously, I'm all about this episode being about the anxiety felt by kids whose single parent starts dating. Heck, I used to BE one of those kids. Rani, either because she's a girl or comes from a two-parent household, sees nothing wrong with it once the truth is revealed, but is as curious as the boys to see what Sarah Jane's been doing with her time. The new boyfriend, Peter Dalton, manages to bond with Luke in a sweet scene, but Luke has never had a father figure to compare him to, and like his mum, has an ingrained need for a normal life. Clyde has a mistrust of father figures, for good reason, and he's the last one left to cry "alien". Peter isn't an alien, but he IS a tool of the Trickster who, dressed in wedding whites, convinced him he was an angel.
I do wish they'd shown us why Sarah Jane fell for this man, because he comes off as a bit tedious. He's attentive, certainly, and obviously kind, though he also takes delight in teasing her. They share a certain desperate loneliness, but that's not exactly an attractive trait. I think we just want more for Sarah Jane. If it weren't for the glowing engagement ring and the far-off sounds of the TARDIS in trouble, everything that happens and everything she says could be a taken as given. Just the kids imagining things. Nothing wrong at all. That's until she deactivates Mr. Smith, however. Sarah (at least, as she's portrayed in these Adventures) has a wistful need for normalcy, and under certain conditions, could certainly choose to chuck her alien-hunting life away. But not THESE conditions. It's a good thing it's made clear she IS under alien influence; the young girls out there watching have to know a woman's life and ambitions don't end, TOS Trek-style, when she gets married.
Though it looks like we're heading for broken hearts, writer Gareth Roberts injects a lot of comedy into Part 1. Gita embarrassing Sarah with wedding talk shows that Lis Sladen is really quite good at that sort of thing. K9 coming out of the house and the later hunt for the troublesome slug alien Sarah bought on eBay (after losing it in Mark of the Berserker) play as elements of farce. K9 and Mr. Smith obviously don't like each other, which makes them (ironically in the former's case) catty. I side with Mr. Smith; K9's abilities really are redundant here. Except he isn't deactivated and can be brought to the wedding, so... At least he's got a plot function. And of course there's that wonderful ending with the Doctor stopping the wedding at the best possible time. Classic. One might wish the guests were a bit more recognizable, but it's well explained how the people WE care about couldn't make it, and besides, it would have made Part 2 much too complicated. We can easily accept Sarah's accountant not intervening, but the old UNIT group? The Jacksons? (This is quite aside from the realities of production, of course.)
REWATCHABILITY: Medium-High - Always look forward to the next chapter in Sarah's conflict with the Trickster. Smart, fun and hey, it's one of the 10th Doctor's few 2009 adventures as well.