You know, this episode features some evil vulture people, and I kept thinking I had seen them on some Doctor Who-related show before…but then I remembered I was thinking of some bird people from an episode of Farscape. Then again, Farscape got its aliens from the Henson Creature Shop, so they tended to look a hell of a lot better than anything on Doctor Who.
But oh, this episode was rather sweet considering it is set mostly as a funeral.
Yes, it’s a funeral, one for the Doctor. UNIT shows up at Sarah Jane’s place to say the Doctor is dead and some alien undertakers (those vulture people) are conducting a funeral at a UNIT base. Sarah Jane, with Clyde and Rani, are invited to come along. Sarah Jane doesn’t quite believe it. She figures she would have felt it if the Doctor died, but those vulture people have some kind of proof.
Pretty flimsy proof considering it’s a closed casket funeral.
However, what made this one is the very idea of a funeral for the Doctor. There aren’t a lot of people there. Sarah Jane figures there should be other companions coming by, but she’s told the Brigadier is again stuck in Peru while Liz Shaw is in the UNIT moonbase.
On a downer note, I think those two were absent because at least one of those actors was dead by the time this got made, and the other wasn’t around much longer if he was still alive at all.
But just as everyone is asked by the vultures to remember the Doctor, with Clyde, Rani, and Sarah Jane all remembering the Tenth, something odd happens when Sarah Jane remembers her initial adventures with the Third Doctor…in walks Katy Manning’s Jo Grant, still a bumbling but bubbly and well-meaning woman with her grandson Santiago, the Immortal Iron Fist, in tow.
Yeah, same actor as Iron Fist. He does a better job here.
Now, Sarah Jane and Jo never actually met before, but the two take to each other almost immediately. They’d heard of each other, and just as Sarah Jane did a lot of work for good by staying local, Jo became a globetrotting do-gooder, mother to seven, grandmother to 12 or so and counting, and like Sarah Jane, she just knows the Doctor isn’t dead.
You’d think the absence of the TARDIS would be a big clue there…
However, Iron Fist, Rani, and Clyde go off to look into things and discover that those nasty undertakers are determined to take memories from the two older women until they get…something, and the process would probably kill the women. That’s bad, but Clyde seems to be glowing a bit because of that time energy from the last time he met the Doctor.
Meanwhile, Sarah Jane and Jo are swapping Doctor stories in a manner that would make a continuity nerd extremely happy since they’re mostly referencing episodes from the classic era of the show. They even visited some of the same planets after all.
But by then, the women were warned by the teens and they try to make a run for it, only to be cornered by the vultures. However, funny thing…Clyde changes into…the Doctor! The Eleventh one! Sarah Jane realizes who it is first, but Jo doesn’t, which makes sense because Jo never witnessed a regeneration and only ever knew the Third Doctor. Heck, she was hurt that Sarah Jane met the Doctor again a couple times in more recent years.
But the Doctor does recognize everybody, and he’s here to save the day. He just swapped places with Clyde.
Clyde looks really scared on that alien planet.
Oh, and the vultures shoot the Doctor with something. Maybe that is the Death of the Doctor after all…