DVD Extras (box sets only) include:
The plot is not without a few minor holes, and feels a bit rushed at times, but writer Toby Whithouse delivers scene upon scene of excellent content, well-utilizing the excellent elements he is given to work with.
Character introductions are unusual, probably better suited to regular viewers than casual ones. No mysteries about who the bad guy is.... One fully expects such standard teaser fare to lead into the title sequence, but something far more unusual squeezes in first....
The next couple of scenes remain highly entertaining, as the characters and their situational roles are established, and with all the major cards in play, the story can really start rolling.
Doing this entire story all in one 45 minute episode is in many respects an exercise in cramming, and "School Reunion" might well have been able to benefit from being a longer story offering us more of Sarah Jane, K9, and Anthony Head, not to mention allowing Eugene Washington's creepy teacher character and half of the student characters time to display the depth that only gets hinted at in the finished version. It also would have been nice to see David Tennant finally start one of his stories off with a proper materialization for the police box. But, having only 45 minutes to do it in, they were wise to start things off at a quicker pace. It is also refreshing to see the Doctor and all his friends sinking their teeth into these challenges out of their impulses of heroism and curiosity. They've all caught the bug that took so long to develop during the William Hartnell Era. Nicely done.
Not surprisingly, K9 is left waiting until he is needed later in the story. But not to worry, unlike most of his appearances in his final year on Doctor Who (season 18), K9 gets his due later on. John Leeson returns to make K9's voice perfectly as we remember it.
Elizabeth Sladen also gives a magical performance while recapturing her role as Sarah Jane, bringing back all the wonderment and enterprise of the original character, while adding another more modern dimension that hadn't previously been explored. It seems to be a complete reversal of policy now to have all the Doctor's fellow female travellers fall in love with him, and the new team makes this change retroactive with Sarah Jane. Strange policy. But no argument as far as Sarah's concerned. She could replace Rose any day as far as I'm concerned and the show would be better for it - which did help me relish all those wonderful scenes where Rose's insecurity comes out, and Mickey gloats and teases away. Fun stuff.
And Anthony Head is an exquisite choice for guest villain. Here's someone who knows how to turn on the kind of sophisticated, high-class villainy one would want from an arch-rival of, say, the Master's calibre, and Head is an absolute joy to watch on screen. David Tennant gets to square off against him in many scenes, with the swimming pool being my favourite.
Everyone gets a bit of something to do near the end to help wrap things up, although it's easy to feel that the story is a bit rushed, and might work even better as a two-parter.
"I preferred it as it was...."The TARDIS finally gets its due at the end, during the good-byes, superbly showcasing the interior/exterior relationship and offering us a dematerialization. Sarah's apologetic commentary on the interior design is appropriate - it was better before. Of course, we don't know if she's comparing it to the old main white console room, or the dark secondary one. They were both better, of course, but you can't beat the original from 1963, or the one we saw from seasons 15 to 25, both of which convincingly look the same.
As for the 2005 version.... "It'll do" is the best Sarah can offer. She's being too kind.
A lot of good things happen in the final sequence. Perhaps best of all, because of its lasting impact, is the fact that Mickey joins the TARDIS crew. It's about time. I found myself wishing that Mickey would outlast Rose. Then the series would get really good.
This story has become available on DVD.
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Note: The full season sets contain commentaries, behind-the-scenes featurettes, and other extras. The smaller volumes only feature the plain episodes.
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