"The Trickster doesn't want us helping Sarah, so he's separated us, trapped us in two different seconds."
IN THIS ONE... The kids help the Doctor stop the Trickster and Sarah Jane must give up her love.
REVIEW: If the Sarah Jane Adventures are meant to be wish fulfillment for kids who'd like to live in the Whoniverse, run off to a magic hideout after school, and save the planet without getting into too much danger - and I believe it is - then this episode is the ultimate bit of wish fulfillment as the kids meet the Doctor. And it's rather like it would play out in the real world, by which I mean to say it's scripted a heck of a lot like a special appearance by David Tennant, in-character, at some school or shopping mall. He barges in, empowers the kids (literally, in Clyde's case), does all his manic, shouty and "I'm so sorry" bits, lets them peek at the TARDIS, and leaves. I know it's not his show, and I don't really want him to steal the kids' thunder, but he could still have contributed a little more than this. He's totally dependent on the TARDIS which comes and goes as needed by the script, gets some help from Clyde pulling an Adric on the Trickster (convenient charged by artron energy which is just as conveniently "opposite" to the Trickster's), and tells Sarah she already has the answer to her dilemma, and she does. He's almost as much of an accessory as K9 or Mr. Smith are.
The solution is, of course, for someone to sacrifice themselves to save the timeline, or in this case, to destroy the potential timeline created if Sarah Jane gets married (it's pretty much the Doctor's from The Family of Blood). We've seen Andrea, Sarah's parents and now Peter do this to confound the Trickster, so no real surprises. Lis Sladen still takes us to that emotional place, however, from having her heart broken through betrayal, to understanding Peter meant well and that they really are in love, to having to ask him to sacrifice himself so that order might reign. The scene in which she stands at the altar alone, then leaves, packs a real punch, and her sitting alone in her attic before finally reactivating Mr. Smith speaks volumes. It's unfortunate that Peter comes off as a rather cheesy in his professions of love, though the sentiment is appreciated. Perhaps if their relationship had lasted longer - say, if he'd been introduced a couple of stories earlier - the strength he gained from loving Sarah would be more believable.
But though the emotional beats mostly work, there's no getting away from the Doctor's "special appearance" and everything seems to take a back seat to it. This is unfortunate because it soon turns into fan service, with everyone saying how amazing and unforgettable he is, by which they mean Tennant in the role. I'll only accept the self-serving "Don't forget me" because it echoes the fourth Doctor's goodbye to Sarah and THAT was a real winner. There's also some love lavished on the program's own characters, in case people finally tried SJA because of Ten's guest spot and needed dialog to convince them. Whatever. Ten's got so few stories in 2009, it's a shame so many of them are about celebrating his run rather than really adding to it.
REWATCHABILITY: Medium - The Doctor's appearance is, let's call it what it is, lame, stealing attention away from what should have been a powerful and emotional Sarah Jane story.