Not even the appearance of Rupert Giles as a bat-monster alien headmaster from hell can distract from the simple and thematic pain of the Doctor's bittersweet reunion with his previous (by like decades) Companion, Sarah Jane Smith. In the years since the Doctor took off and left her to her own devices, Sarah Jane has managed to become nearly a bad-ass, investigating trouble like the aforementioned bat-monster alien headmaster stuff on her own. However, she's also managed to cut herself off from all human contact save her crunk copy of K-9, the irritating -- and in the end, surprisingly touching -- robot dog. The episode is set in a school, which I always like, and at some point the evil bat-monsters offer the Lonely God the option of rewriting the universe and getting Gallifrey back, but our Doctor's too good for that crap, and sends them running. There's a fair amount of running about, some obnoxious but well-handled cattiness/reconciliation between SJS and Rose Tyler as the ex and current -- um...whatever -- and Mickey finally figuring out that of all the people whose respect he deserves, he's at the top of the list. Oh, and then you cry like an IDIOT at the end, when SJS finally gets herself together and decides that even a mmfmrghty-year-old woman deserves her own starring role in her own personal life (not to mention a spinoff) and that it's high time she stops ceding the role to a man she hasn't seen in years. All quite thematic, and Tennyson may just have something to say, but all in all: a very touching, well-wrought story about getting your life back from the boy who only stole your heart. Or maybe it's about being a tin dog surrounded by people who can speak in full sentences, or about having grown up to look weirdly identical to President Roslin, and now on the same night. Whatever happened exactly, it was awesome.
Once there was a little girl named Nina who got a headache in English class. She met Brother Lassa -- now Mr. Lucas Finch (once Rupert Giles), Headmaster of Deffry Vale School -- outside his office, sent by the nurse. "Don't bother me," he protested, "Go home!" But she was an orphan, like little girls in stories, and she lived in Ambrose Hall, the children's home. No parents, Finch realized, meant that nobody would be waiting for her at home. "I see why the nurse sent you. You poor child. Poor thin child. Come inside." He opened the door and followed her in. "It's nearly time for lunch," he said, and then there were horrible screams and noises of devouring. And that's the end of the story about Nina.
Kids crowd around the Deffry Vale school, hurrying to class. In the middle of them stands Kenny, who sits down and is surprised to see a substitute teacher wearing scruffy white Chucks. It's the Doctor, who drops his bag on the desk and asks if we're all "sitting comfortably." I hope we are; this episode rocks. The Doctor grins. Episode by Toby Whithouse, who'll be on staff at Torchwood soon. The writing staff, not the...you know.
The Doctor scrawls the word PHYSICS across the chalkboard, and begins to talk crazy: "So. Physics. Physics. Eh? Physics. Phyyyyyyyysics. Physics! Physics. Physics, physics, physics, physics, physics, physics, physics. I hope one of you is getting all this down." The kids stare at him; I don't know why he's fucking around. He taught Physics at Coal Hill way back in '63. "Two identical strips of nylon are charged with static electricity and hung from a string so they can swing freely. What would happen if they were brought near each other?" A boy named Milo puts his hand up: "They'd repel each other, because they have the same charge." The Doctor says, "Correctamundo," and then immediately regrets it. He asks another: "I coil up a thin piece of micro wire and place it in a glass of water, then I turn on the electricity and measure to see if the water's temperature is affected. ...How do I measure the electrical power going into the coil?" Milo raises his hand, but the Doctor hates swots, even those controlled by alien intelligences who -- SPOILER! -- don't have long to live. Nobody raises his or her hand; Milo answers the question. The other pupils look impressed. The Doctor focuses on Milo now: "True or false: the greater the dampening of the system, the quicker it loses energy to its surroundings." Ask the TARDIS. "False." Equally right for "non-coding DNA" and "65,983 times 5," and the other kids start to get weirded out. The Doctor hits Milo with something he actually cannot know: "How do you travel faster than light?" Milo answers without a second thought: "By opening a quantum tunnel with an FTL factor of 36.7 recurring." The Doctor's jaw drops.
Lunchtime! The Doctor moves along the line with his tray, and Rose, undercover as a lunch lady, slaps his plate with some mashed potatoes and a horrible, hilarious look. He smirks at her and takes his tray to go sit. Rose comes over to wipe down the Doctor's table, hissing, "Two days." Distractedly, loving it, the Doctor points at a bit of gravy on the table with his fork: "No, no...Just there?" She wipes it up, stormclouds on her brow: "Two days we've been here." The Doctor tells her to blame her boyfriend Mickey: "He's the one who put us onto this. And he was right. Boy in class this morning -- got a knowledge way beyond planet Earth." Rose asks to share the Doctor's chips, and he notes that they are weird. "I think they're gorgeous," she says, totally ignoring how the Doctor never says that anything is weird unless it's neo-maxy-weird. Girl likes fries. She sits down; the Doctor squints around the dining hall: "Very well behaved, this place." Rose is uninterested, due to the fries. The Doctor continues to stare: "I thought there'd be happy-slapping hoodies. Happy-slapping hoodies with ASBOs. Happy-slapping hoodies with ASBOs and ringtones." (American TiVos and TiFauxes pause all over the nation as people call their closest British friend or cryptographer. He's talking chavs: "hoodies" and "ringtones" like over here, "happy-slapping" is a brilliant pastime in which you slap strangers while your friends record it on their phones, and "ASBOs" are Anti-Social Behavior Orders, which is like a ticket you get for being a dickwad. I have never met the Doctor, and yet he has described me to a tee. Except I never get caught.) Hit play: Rose is impressed, the Doctor is proud of himself.