More Sarah Jane Smith

Because victoriajanssen said I should post more about Doctor Who. 🙂

So having enjoyed the first Season of the Sarah Jane Adventures way more than I expected, I decided to go back and watch what original Sarah Jane I could find on Netflix. I came into Doctor Who while Romana was his companion (during Adric’s first episode, actually), and while I filled in some of the other gaps later, somehow I’d never seen Sarah Jane with either Pertwee or Baker.

Anyway, there was only one Pertwee/Sarah Jane episode on Netflix, The Time Warriors, which is her first. The short version is, I’m much more impressed with Elisabeth Sladen’s acting than with the writers’ writing.

When interviewed, one of the writers pretty much admitted that, okay, he’d realized they couldn’t get away with the sort of female characters who were strapped screaming to tables and waited to be rescued anymore, even though he was fine with that and even kind of preferred it, so Sarah Jane was their attempt to do something different.

(Brief pause here to wonder what was wrong with the fanboys of earlier generations, that they found helpless screaming women attractive. Seriously.)

Anyway, Sarah Jane, as written, very much reflected a seventies-era not-quite-sympathetic–or realistic–view of feminism as something that involved strident young women refusing to make coffee and shouting indignantly that they won’t be condescended to, and kindly older men putting up with and being amused by them–with sympathy on balance going to the kindly older men.

But Sladen somehow makes Sarah Jane real anyway, and so it’s fun to watch anyway. And at least if Pertwee’s Doctor condescends nearly as much as Sarah Jane says he does, he doesn’t try to stop her from playing an active role, once it’s clear she’s going to anyway.

I also like how one can see–even though writing styles have changed–that this is the same woman who will become the older Sarah Jane of the Sarah Jane Adventures–the same sense of righteous indignation is there, the determination to do something when something needs to be done, and even the tendency to perhaps confront the enemy a little sooner than is strategically wise. I like the way that continuity is there, and the way the acting convinces us of it, in spite of the fact that the writing style has matured as much as Sarah Jane has, through the years.

Next up is the first Baker episode–will be interesting to see if her character has changed any over the first season.

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