though it was (nice to see Sarah and K-9 again), the recent
Doctor Who episode School Reunion implies that
the Doctor and Sarah Jane Smith haven't met each other since
The Hand of Fear. This is not the case.
leaving the TARDIS in The Hand of Fear, Sarah met the
Eighth Doctor in 1996 (in the two-part novel Interference)
and the Seventh Doctor in 1997 (in the novel Bullet
Time). She made her peace with him in the Seventh
Doctor comic strip Train Flight (Doctor Who Magazine
issues 159-161). Even if we dismiss these licensed products
as unofficial and non-canonical, a post-Hand of Fear
Sarah met the Third and Fifth Doctors in The Five Doctors,
so why didn't she air her grievances then?
does she wait until she meets the Tenth Doctor before berating
the Time Lord for never coming back for her, and why does
the Doctor claim he has regenerated "half a dozen times since
we last met"?
back at my previous Sarah Jane nit-pick, "Strangers
on a train flight", I see that I have learned a
few things since writing that. Rather than holding "no apparent
bitterness towards the Seventh Doctor" in Train Flight,
as I claimed then, she initially takes a distant attitude
towards him. As the story progresses, the Doctor apologises
for his treatment of her in The Hand of Fear and they
make peace with each other. Evidently Sarah elects not to
resume her travels in the TARDIS following this adventure.
Doctor and Sarah's respective journeys (emotional, that is,
rather than via public transport) in this comic strip are
remarkably similar to what eventually takes place in School
Reunion. So what happened to cause the repetition?
Sarah's first reunion with the Doctor post-Hand of Fear
occurs in The Five Doctors. She may indeed berate the
Third Doctor (off screen) for having left her behind, but
this Doctor would no doubt point out that there is little
point in discussing such matters, since the event has not
yet taken place as far as he is concerned. Indeed, revealing
information about his future might be dangerous. Sarah doesn't
get much of a chance to interact with the Fifth Doctor, though
there is a hint of bitterness and a possible reference to
her having been "dumped" in her comment to the Brigadier:
"Drag you through time and space without so much as a by-your-leave,
then leave you out when things get interesting."
Sarah and the Third Doctor meet again in the 1993 Children
in Need special Dimensions in Time. However, many
fans have dismissed this story as a nonsensical pastiche,
and in any case the "Sarah" that we see here is probably one
of the Doctor's other companions (Ace or - according to The
Discontinuity Guide - Romana) in an altered form.
1996, Sarah encounters the Eighth Doctor in Lawrence Miles's
Interference. She is a little cynical, but appears
not to have any great emotional issues with the Time Lord,
possibly because she has embarked upon a relationship with
a man named Paul (whose surname is probably Morley - according
to the novel Christmas on a Rational Planet, by the
same author, Sarah gets married around 1998 and becomes Sarah
most of Bullet Time, which takes place in Hong Kong
in 1997, the Seventh Doctor pretends not to be the Doctor
that Sarah knows. This denies her a chance to interact with
her former travelling companion on a familiar basis. In the
closing scene of the novel, it seems as though the Doctor
is apologising to an imaginary Sarah - who, it appears, has
died - for having deceived her. However, author David A McIntee
leaves this open to interpretation, so it is also possible
that Sarah survived and that the Doctor is actually recalling
a real conversation, or is imagining a conversation that he
wished they had had before Sarah left Hong Kong. In light
of Big Finish's recent Sarah Jane Smith audio drama
series and the episode School Reunion, we must accept
that Sarah survived.
Seventh Doctor's deception may explain some of Sarah's initial
coldness towards him in Train Flight. The two make
peace with each other during this story, which, in my view,
probably takes place during mid- to late 1997, not long before
Sarah's marriage (but before Bullet Time as far as
the Doctor is concerned).
fact, the Fourth Doctor himself also apologises to Sarah for
the way they parted company - in the "Brief Encounter" story
"Farewells" by Terrance Dicks (in the Doctor Who Yearbook
1993), in which the pair say a proper goodbye. For Sarah
this story could take place at any point between K-9 and
Company and the short story "Moving On" (from the anthology
Decalog 3: Consequences). I choose to place it later rather
than sooner, for reasons that will become clear...
seems that, by the end of the 20th century, Sarah and the
Doctor have well and truly cleared the air and she has absolutely
no reason to be angry with him any longer. However, her life
then takes a turn for the worse.
K-9 starts to break down in the short story "Moving On" and
is inoperable by the early 21st century. The defunct robot
is clearly the broken machinery that Sarah mentions keeping
in a box in her attic in the audio drama Mirror,
Signal, Manoeuvre - electronic equipment that
is presently beyond repair because suitable replacement parts
have not yet been invented. This tallies with dialogue in
School Reunion (in which K-9 resides in Sarah's car
boot, possibly as a result of his being stolen in Mirror,
Signal, Manoeuvre), though it is slightly at odds with
Interference, which states that the robot's innards
have been augmented by state-of-the-art contemporaneous devices
(perhaps a few crucial components could not be replaced).
appears that Sarah's marriage breaks up shortly prior to Big
Finish's Sarah Jane Smith series (which probably takes
place some time between 2002 and 2006, when the CDs were released).
The break-up is possibly a result of the damaging allegations
that also lead to her being fired from her job at Planet 3
Broadcasting in Comeback.
Sarah reverts to her maiden name, Smith, throughout the Big
Finish series and School Reunion.
renegade existence of running scared and living under false
names during the audio series, all the while with no sign
of the Doctor to miraculously rescue her, probably contributes
to her accusatory tone in School Reunion. Sarah might
have thought the Time Lord had abandoned her to her fate,
which would explain her comments about having waited for the
Doctor to return and believing that he must have died. The
fact that the Tenth Doctor initially pretends not to be the
Doctor she knows (just like the Seventh Doctor did in Bullet
Time) cannot have helped matters.
The Doctor's evident pride in Sarah's achievements ("Good
for you, Sarah Jane Smith!") could be a reference to her having
regained her journalistic status following her recent difficulties.
Sarah's response to the Doctor's question about relationships
("There hasn't been anyone... you know...?") is nicely non-specific
and need not negate her brief marriage to Paul Morley. She
simply admits that the Time Lord was "a tough act to follow".
It could be that the Doctor isn't certain whether or not Sarah's
timeline has been altered by the recent Time War, which is
why he asks the question.
the Doctor is being literally accurate when he claims to have
regenerated "half a dozen times" since he and Sarah last met,
if we assume that their most recent meeting from Sarah's point
of view was in the "Brief Encounter" story "Farewells", when
the Doctor was in his fourth incarnation!
it could be that Sarah's timeline has been changed by the
Time War, and that this now really is her first meeting with
the Doctor since The Hand of Fear, though that theory
isn't much fun, is it?
more fun is the possibility that the events in the Comic
Relief skit The Curse of Fatal Death are canonical,
and that David Tennant's Doctor is in fact his fifteenth incarnation
rather than his tenth, having somehow managed to extend his
regenerative cycle following his Joanna Lumley incarnation.
That would make it just it over half a dozen regenerations
since the Doctor, then in his eighth body, last met Sarah
Jane (from his point of view) in Interference!