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It's always great to see the main character of a TV show appear in its spinoff; The Sarah Jane Adventures may not have needed the then-current Doctor David Tennant to show up but it is undeniably a cool moment when he does. This year we will most likely have Peter Capaldi in Class to look forward to, so it's undeniable that the Doctor showing up in a spinoff is something people like to see.
There's just something fascinating about seeing certain characters interact with the lead from the main show and The Wedding of Sarah Jane Smith knows exactly how to set up the Doctor's appearance. Many shows would likely just throw the character in from the start of the first episode.
Not this one.
This one takes its time in properly introducing the relationship between Sarah Jane Smith (Elisabeth Sladen) and Peter Dalton(Nigel Havers) and it's all the more stronger for it. It's okay to have a crossover but it's pointless if you sacrifice the narrative for it so kudos to Gareth Roberts for not taking the lazy option. Given that the plot of this episode revolves around Sarah and Peter's wedding plus Peter's deal with the Trickster concerning his life, we need to be able to buy into their feelings for each other. That's something that's obviously hard to do in half an hour when said male character is introduced in the same story, yet Gareth Roberts does it brilliantly and you can't help but feel for poor Peter. Peter was a good guy in the end just trying to survive and any of us in his situation would have done the deal with the Trickster.
As for David Tennant, he comes into the story at just the right moment: in the cliffhanger to part one, where he literally screams 'Stop this wedding, now!'. Granted, it sounds like a soap opera cliche but it's a brilliant cliffhanger to the first of a two part story due to the number of questions it raises about the wedding: why would the Doctor want to ruin his best friend's big day? What's got the Doctor worried? Why has he only just arrived? All of these are of course answered in part two but I won't spoil it here as it would ruin the impact of the cliffhanger for anyone who hasn't seen this SJA story.
A big draw of the Doctor appearing in Sarah Jane Adventures is seeing him confront the spinoff show's most iconic original enemy: the Trickster. It doesn't disappoint. The Doctor's confrontation with the Trickster (Paul Marc Davies) feels so natural that it wouldn't look out of place in the main show. She's still Sarah Jane's main antagonist in the end (The Doctor and the Trickster haven't even met before now) and quite rightly so but the Doctor VS the Tricker is a brilliant moment and one of the most memorable of the show.
Whilst it is odd that it's not the Doctor who defeats the Trickster in the end, it does feel right that it's a character from The Sarah Jane Adventures who stops him. And one of the best characters too - Clyde Langer. Daniel Anthony was always my favourite as Clyde and I hope one day he is made a companion. I could easily watch a whole series of the Doctor and Clyde travelling; the two just work so well together and he seems like natural companion material.
The camera framing is very strong. Camera Operator Martin Stephens has done a brilliant job with framing and composition; a particular highlight is this shot, that to me has a very 'Back to the Future' feel:
The director Joss Agnew has done a good job too; in any other hands, a story like this could feel too much like an episode of Coronation Street. Thankfully, Joss Agnew is wonderfully talented and he manages to make it feel more like a standard episode of The Sarah Jane Adventures rather than another show entirely (not a mean feat when you have a wedding going wrong).
Overall, The Wedding of Sarah Jane Smith is a classic Sarah Jane Adventures story with brilliant pacing and a great confrontation between the Doctor and the Trickster. The camera framing and composition is top notch and director Joss Agnew does a good job keeping that Sarah Jane Adventures feel in spite of the 'wedding going wrong' soap opera cliche.