This was a good reason to pull an all nighter.
The Sarah Jane Adventures: The Death of the Doctor
That was an incredibly choppy way to watch an episode. I don't recommend it, but I stuck to my principles. Belatedly, it occurred to me that if I was ever going to acknowledge Eleven's existence, SJA would be the perfect place to make my introductions, being nearly as ignorant of his new personality as Sarah Jane. It would be authentic to throw myself in without context.
HOWEVER! I am just not ready to go there. So I sacrificed half of Jo's fabulousness, feeling distinctly crabby that both she and Sarah Jane got to spend all their time day-saving with The Imposter when Sarah Jane and Ten exchanged like three sentences pre-ending in the previous season. My only relief came from the fact that at least he didn't get to bring his Companion(s) with him.
Breaking this into categories now, I think:
Luke: slightly existed in this adventure! I was not expecting to ever see him again, really, so woohoo for surprise video calls (and ripping Clyde's heart out as a joke. Fantastic!). Could you possibly borrow him for a couple of days to record a bunch of those sorts of calls and then sprinkle him throughout the season?
Shansheeth: Awesome alien vultures, nearly as cool as the Judoon, and a large part of what lured me into this episode.
Tia Karim: fantabulous. Clearly misunderstood. Deserving of redemption, not a fireball! This is 98% Primeval love for Sarah coming out, and I don't care. Oh look! I found her redemption in fic form: Rest In Peace.
Jo Grant Jones: Oh, I flipping LOVE her. If there is anyone who can almost match Sarah Jane's awesomeness, it's Jo. In fact, I rather propose that Manning take over in a new spinoff called The Jo Jones Investigations. From literally the second she showed up, I was dazzled and enchanted, and then she and Sarah Jane formed this insta-friendship that rivals how much I like Sarah's chemistry with Rose and may in fact be my favorite interpersonal relationship she's ever had with anyone other than Luke -- including the Doctor. And that bit where they were sharing family histories and Sarah Jane was so proud to recount Luke's recent departure to uni? I squee'd like a silly thing.
I did not take kindly to being punched in the heart when Jo learned that Sarah Jane had not only seen the Doctor again, but seen him multiple times. I already went through this once! I cannot take it again! And even if Jo wound up with the complete opposite of Sarah Jane's frosty and isolated life, of course it's a slap in the face. There's no way for it not to be. I'm hazy on how that was dealt with later -- I gathered from the internet that he said something about how he doesn't look back*, but the last time he was dying he looked back on each and every one of them, which I liked -- but I just can't imagine it made up for this.
(*although it does, as always, make me feel better about Ten at his most mopey, because even without Rose and after Donna, he was spoiled silly for choice when it came to finding friends -- he clearly just enjoyed the self pity)
Oh! And for as much as I had to miss about their adventuring, it was worth the price of admission just for the running hand-in-hand that kicked it off. That, and apparently there were no fewer than five hugs between them. To quote one site, "Having Jo about ups the Hug Quotient enormously."
IN CONCLUSION: JO > ALMOST EVERYONE. Oh, and even better, her awesomeness is clearly genetic.
Santiago: It is my default feeling to hate any new kids I spot on this show, but turns out it took him roughly eight seconds to win my heart with his awesomely fluffy curls and wee little Face O' Wistfulness/parental abandonment. Can we keep him? Please please please? I already like him more than Rani and Clyde.
Failing that, I will need to read a boatload of fics featuring the terrestrial but nevertheless awesome adventures that Santiago's crazy hippie grandmother gets him into.
The Other Kids: was very hard to concentrate on the Junior Investigative Bunch, but I really liked Rani's unexpected Hug Glomp with her dad. I've been known to do that from time to time after bad dreams and whatnot.
Remembering The Doctor: I loved the setup for the adventure title, because after all, the Doctor is dead. For all practical intents and purposes. Weep for him, peoples of LJ. Mourn his loss. The universe did feel darker that fateful night in March last year when I buried him. I loved Sarah Jane in full-on Denial mode, and the kids giving each other uneasy looks behind her back, and even the way she said she always thought that she'd just know if he ever died, no matter when or where -- because wouldn't that be heartbreaking if she really didn't? I can even still use the moment at the funeral were she realized she probably didn't even know what he looked like. "The last time I saw him, he didn't say a word, he just looked at me as though..."
(insert rageful break about how that was really the perfect farewell and Eleven's stupid face is ruining its poignancy. This is my Journey's End!)
(insert second break to watch that last goodbye, with the most piercing segment of "Vale Decem" ringing through it, and wail like a lost puppy. Especially because that's just going to lead to the Verity Newman goodbye, and his face after she asks if he was happy in the end is still so much harder to watch than anything else. ...not that this will stop me from crying when I hit the Rose goodbye. SOMEONE TAKE YOUTUBE AWAY FROM ME.)
Classic Who: those clips were great. First ones I've seen, actually, other than what was part of the Timeline feature on the SJA DVD. Upon realizing that Jo was with my theoretically beloved Three, my impetus to watch that section of Classic Who just got eight times stronger (so the desire is now roughly the size of a golf ball).
Other Past Companions: It seemed like quite a closure-providing treat when Sarah Jane mentioned where all the others had ended up. I of course can only appreciate insofar as recognizing the names from stunt_muppet's journal, but I'm a lot more appreciative of that than stupid Eleven.
More Meta: I liked that line about how the Doctor will never really die. Replace "friends" with "fandom," and you've got that right. I shouldn't besmirch Eleven so. (BUT I WILL. I ALWAYS WILL.)
Final Conclusion: that was actually a better plot than The Wedding of Sarah Jane Smith, even though it couldn't reach its full potential. I am appropriately jealous.
P.S. Brain Bleach Nao Please: I stupidly clicked on the first episode review link I found, which amidst its generally bad-spirited snark thrust upon me the most horrifying non-explicit nude Katy Manning photo possible. A Dalek was involved. Whyyyyyyyyy!
As for The Empty Planet: Could there be a less compelling set of people to support an adventure? No, there could not. Less one precious hug at the beginning and one even more precious schoolboy cheek kiss (oh, you kids!), and maybe one additional hug, I had little to no use for the Rani & Clyde + Boring Sidekick Show (remember what I said about default-hating kids).
But I do enjoy Haresh -- favorite Chandra family member by far -- and any and all father/daughter stuff they want to throw at me, so I'm OK. It was a pretty good idea for a plot, and I freely admit that my hamster brain is so small it could not connect the dots even on a children's show until the answers were spelled out for me, so the script should get some credit. It's amazing how hard you cling to Sarah Jane's every word when you're by and large deprived of her, though.
My favorite part was the brief AU I spun off my head when, based on years of crime drama experience, I would in no way have been surprised to have Rani stumble upon the gruesomely murdered bodies of her parents. Cue bloodcurdling screaming, running across the road for help long before she thinks to pick up a phone, and a crossover with Scott & Bailey or Law & Order: UK, whatever the dice roll.
In conclusion, can the remaining adventures please blow me away? Just because things have gotten better doesn't mean I am not experiencing my usual "this season was not as good as the last one" feelings. But the preview looks super exciting, so hope lives again in my heart.
And although this in no way fits the pure and innocent theme of this post, lemme throw in my Pretty Little Liars thoughts:
Hmm. I had some real-time thoughts, but I think I lost them when my computer rebooted itself. No matter. They mostly consisted of my eyeballs being scarred, because stuff like that burns the same way whether it's canon or a dream sequence.
I am actually holding out hope that the dream sequence means we've paid our sleazy-time dues and can get away with mere implications when it happens for real. I suppose you have to deal with that unpleasant aspect eventually, but I don't need to be around for it. In the immortal words of Jordan Sullivan, "Do what you have to. Don't wake me."
The internet just informed me the Glee concert movie I was so interested in seeing is done entirely in-character. Um, WTF and why? TWoP offers the reasonable explanation that you should think of it as a collective dream sequence, but even so, this makes no sense. The kids are doing a very real tour in The Real World, the one where Kristin Chenoweth and Neil Patrick Harris live and are not graduates of William McKinley. I would actually like to hear from the actors about the touring experience. People keep saying it works this way, but does it really? I cannot imagine how. I am still curious (maybe even more curious), but prepared to check my anticipation at the door.