School Reunion (Doctor Who)
|170 – "School Reunion"|
|Doctor Who episode|
The characters of Sarah Jane and K-9 return to the show after 23 years
|Script editor||Helen Raynor|
|Executive producer(s)||Russell T Davies
|Incidental music composer||Murray Gold|
|Originally broadcast||29 April 2006|
"School Reunion" is the third episode in the second series of of the British science fiction television series Doctor Who. It first aired on 29 April 2006. The episode's narrative takes place some time after the events of "The Christmas Invasion". In the episode's TARDISODE, Mickey Smith alerts the Doctor and Rose Tyler to a comprehensive school where strange things are happening, such as UFO sightings. At the school, the Doctor encounters his former companion Sarah Jane Smith and the robotic dog, K-9 Mark III, he sent her, who likewise were interested by the current events. Together, they discover the force behind the events, a race known as the Krillitanes, and work to prevent them gaining control of the universe.
The use of the Doctor's previous companions, in particular Sarah Jane and K-9, was first proposed in 2003 to the BBC. After the episode was produced, Elisabeth Sladen was approached by the BBC to star in a spin-off, The Sarah Jane Adventures, which also included K-9 in several stories. The episode was positively reviewed, with an Appreciation Index of 85% ("Excellent").
The episode opens with Mr. Finch, the headmaster of Deffry Vale School, meeting a student outside his office. She tells him that she's an orphan, and he escorts her in and transforms into a winged creature that consumes her. The Doctor is shown working as a substitute teacher at the school, and during a class he meets a boy with knowledge far beyond normal. During lunch the Doctor speaks briefly with Rose, who is working as a lunch lady. Rose and the Doctor note that the school is unusually well behaved, and everyone seems to eat a large amount of the cafeteria's chips. Rose is unhappy with her job, but the Doctor notes that it was Mickey who encouraged them to investigate the school. During service, Rose notices that the other kitchen staff have to wear hazmat suits to handle the chip oil, and one lady that is splashed with it gets horrible burns.
Later on, Mr. Finch introduces the other teachers to Sarah Jane Smith, whom he believes is a reporter doing a cover story on the school. Upon seeing Sarah Jane the Doctor is delighted, and he quickly introduces himself as John Smith. That night, after the school is locked up, the Doctor along with Rose and Mickey break in to investigate further. At the same time, Sarah Jane is also snooping around the school and is shocked to open a door and see the TARDIS. She quickly exits the room and encounters the Doctor, who reveals that he's regenerated six times since he last saw her. They regroup with Mickey and Rose, and Rose quickly begins competing with Sarah Jane for the Doctor's attention. In Mr. Finch's office they discover 13 giant bat creatures sleeping on the ceiling and decide to leave the school. They head to a local diner, where Sarah Jane gives the Doctor her broken K-9 Mark III. The Doctor repairs him and uses his sensors to determine that the chip oil is actually Krillitane oil.
The next day, the Doctor confronts Mr. Finch. He confirms that he and the others are Krillitanes and reveals his plan to use the students in the school to solve the Skasis Paradigm. Doing so will give Finch complete control over reality, which he offers to the Doctor in exchange for the Doctor's help. The Doctor refuses, despite the knowledge that he could restore the Time Lords if he helps Finch. Sarah Jane and Rose break into the school's computers whilst Mickey and K-9 wait in the car. Mickey is alerted by Kenny, the only student who wasn't eating the chips, that the other students are in trouble. They use Sarah Jane's car to crash through the school's doors and unplug the computers, allowing the children to flee. The Doctor leads the Krillitanes to the kitchen, where K-9 is waiting to detonate the chip oil drums. K-9 buys the Doctor time to escape before blowing up the drums, spraying the Krillitanes with oil. They explode and burn, detroying the school. The Doctor consoles Sarah Jane over the loss of K-9.
The Doctor returns with Rose, Mickey, and Sarah Jane to the TARDIS. Sarah Jane declines a second chance at travelling in the TARDIS, but encourages Mickey to go. Sarah Jane tells Rose to travel with the Doctor as long as she can, and offers to help her if she ever needs it. A teary-eyed Sarah Jane says goodbye to the Doctor and watches as the TARDIS dematerializes, leaving behind a new K-9 unit for her.
"School Reunion" is the first appearance of Sarah Jane Smith and K-9 since The Five Doctors. It answers the question of where Sarah was left at the end of The Hand of Fear: Aberdeen. The bragging match between Sarah and Rose also references other stories: Sarah has met the Daleks, "lots of robots", anti-matter monsters, mummies, dinosaurs, and the Loch Ness Monster, whereas Rose has met ghosts, "Slitheen in Downing Street", the Dalek Emperor, gas-masked zombies, and a werewolf. The phrase "Slitheen in Downing Street" was later used in Revenge of the Slitheen by Sarah.
The concept of Sarah-Jane and K-9 returning to Doctor Who was an idea of Russell T Davies from pitching the show in 2003. Such a use would show what would happen after a companion left the Doctor, without dwelling too much on the classic series. It was Davies' full intention for Sarah Jane to be used for this, and while Sladen originally declined a request, thinking her role would not be important, she changed her mind when she realised she would be the focal point of the adventure. After production of the episode was finished, Sladen was approached about a full spin-off series, The Sarah Jane Adventures, which was formally announced on 14 September 2006.
The episode went through several changes in production: working titles included "Old Friends" and "Black Ops", the latter being set in an army base. Davies requested that Whithouse set it in a school instead, mainly for simplicity, but also for a desire for the Doctor to masquerade as a school teacher. Additionally, the Krillitanes were to be named "Krillians" until the BBC found the name was trademarked, and Finch's forename was originally Hector, until the BBC found a real teacher by the same name, and renamed him Lucas. K-9's eye grill was initially filmed flashing in sync with his lines, not unlike the Daleks, until Phil Collinson saw the footage and nixed the practice (which was inconsistent with the robot dog's past appearances). A scene that was cut was of Milo's brain being "shorted out" by the Doctor's rapid-fire questions at the beginning of the episode, which was later alluded to in the episode.
The episode, originally in the second production block, was produced in the first block along with "The Christmas Invasion" and "New Earth". Two high schools in Wales were used for filming: Fitzalan High School in Leckwith was used on 23 August and 24 August 2005, for filming the first conversation between the Doctor and Finch, and for the playground, kitchen, and cafeteria scenes, and Duffryn High School in Newport, which was used between 25 August and 6 September for the remainder of the episode, with filming delayed due to asbestos being discovered in Duffryn High School's structure. The scenes in the schools utilised dozens of children as extras. Pick-up shots were later completed on 7 September and 8 September, with filming of the cafe scene delayed due to drunk and disorderly conduct from members of the public.
Broadcast and reception 
The episode was watched by 8.3 million viewers, the twelfth most-watched programme of the week, with an Appreciation Index score of 85%. Jacob Clifton of Television Without Pity gave the episode an A+ rating, and jokingly stated that he "didn't know why the Doctor was fucking around [during the Physics lesson]: he taught Physics at Coal Hill School way back in '63". Ahsan Haque of IGN gave the episode a 8.7 out of 10 ("Great") and commented that the episode had "fantastic character moments" and "brilliant CGI effects", and that "if you're willing to accept the Scooby-Doo storyline, then the strong nostalgic vibes present in this episode should be enough to carry this episode into a must-see category.", and K-9 and Sarah-Jane alone made the episode worth watching for fans of the classic series. The episode was subsequently nominated for the 2007 Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form, an award that was won by the following episode "The Girl in the Fireplace".
- Sullivan, Shannon. "School Reunion" at Doctor Who: A Brief History Of Time (Travel) Retrieved on 20 January 2008.
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- Writer Russell T. Davies, Director Joe Ahearne, Producer Phil Collinson (2005-06-18). "The Parting of the Ways". Doctor Who. BBC. BBC One.
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- Writer Steven Moffat, Director James Hawes, Producer Phil Collinson (2005-05-28). "The Doctor Dances". Doctor Who. BBC. BBC One.
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- Revenge of the Slitheen. The Sarah Jane Adventures. 2007-09-24–2007-09-24. BBC. BBC1 and CBBC.
- "Invasion of the Bane". A Brief History of Time (Travel). Retrieved 2008-01-20.
- Clifton, Jacob (2006-10-18). "The Other End of the Telescope". Doctor Who TV series. Television Without Pity. Retrieved 2008-02-20.
- See An Unearthly Child, where it was Ian Chesterton who was shown teaching Chemistry and Physics.
- Haque, Ahsan (2006-10-16). "School Reunion Review". IGN TV. IGN. Retrieved 2008-01-20.
- "Nippon 2007 Hugo Nominees". World Science Fiction Society. Retrieved 2007-03-29.
- "2007 Hugo Awards". thehugoawards.org. World Science Fiction Society. 2007-09-01. Retrieved 2007-09-01.
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Tenth Doctor|
- School Reunion on TARDIS Data Core, an external wiki
- TARDISODE 3
- Episode trailer
- Episode commentary by Phil Collinson, Helen Raynor and Eugene Washington (MP3)
- "School Reunion" episode homepage
- "School Reunion" at the BBC Doctor Who homepage
- "School Reunion" at Doctor Who: A Brief History Of Time (Travel)
- "School Reunion" at Outpost Gallifrey
- "School Reunion" at TV.com
- "Doctor Who is reunited with K9"
- BBC Somerset: Interview with Anthony Head
- BBC Norfolk: Interview with Elisabeth Sladen
- Deffry Vale School tie-in website
- The Skasas Paradigm Code (WMV)
- "School Reunion" at the Internet Movie Database