So Long, Sarah Jane–Elisabeth Sladen Dies Of Cancer

Time Lords might live forever but their companions eventually die. The news came earlier today from the BBC:  “It is with much sadness that we can announce Elisabeth Sladen, the much-loved actress best known for her role as Sarah Jane Smith in Doctor Who and CBBC’s The Sarah Jane Adventures, passed away this morning. She was 63.”

Sladen, pictured above before taking on the Daleks in 1974, played Sarah Jane Smith, companion to the third Doctor, played by Jon Pertwee, and the fourth, played by the legendary Tom Baker. Despite strong competition from more recent actresses such as Billie Piper and Karen Gillan, Elisabeth Sladen is widely considered to be the best actress to  have played the Doctor’s companion.

Sladen was first seen as Sarah Jane Smith in this scene in 1973:

She remained on the show for three of the best years in its history, ultimately leaving the Doctor (who had regenerated since she first met him). Here is Sarah Jane’s last scene  with Tom Baker before leaving as a regular on the show:

While sadly Elisabeth Sladen will not be here for Doctor Who’s fiftieth anniversary in 2013, she did return to appear on the twentieth anniversary show in 1983, The Five Doctors.  She also appeared in a 1993 Children in Need special and in a 1995 independent film.

Sarah Jane returned to Doctor Who in  the 2006 episode, School Reunion. David Tennant greeted her with the simple but memorable,” Hello Sarah Jane.” Here is a report from Doctor Who Confidential which includes clips from the episode:

Elisabeth Sladen appeared opposite David Tennant in three more episodes. She had a major part in the two-part season finale for the fourth season, The Stolen Earth and Journey’s End. She also appeared briefly in David Tennant’s final episode, The End of Time. Sladen  stared in a recent spin-off, The Sarah Jane Adventures where she also had the opportunity to appear with the current Doctor, Matt Smith. This makes seven Doctors who have had at least one appearance with Sarah Jane. Four seasons of The Sarah Jane Adventures have aired and a fifth was in production. There is no word yet as to what will happen with the fifth series.

Digital Spy has some reactions to Sladen’s death:

Steven Moffat, Doctor Who executive producer::
“There are a blessed few who can carry a whole television show on their talent and charisma – but I can’t think of one other who’s done it quite so politely. I once showed my son Joshua an old episode of Doctor Who, in which Lis appeared. “But that’s Sarah Jane,” he said, confused “In old Doctor Who. From years ago. How come she always look exactly the same?” It’s not a comfort today, of course, but children will still be saying that 50 years from now.”

John Barrowman, actor:
“Elisabeth Sladen Matriarch of Dr Who – I loved my time on the Tardis with her. I am proud to have worked with such an icon of the sci fi world. Your Dr Who family are very sad and will miss you and your beautiful smile. RTD (Russell T. Davies) called me this morning when I woke up. She lived in my flat in Cardiff when she was filming SJA. She was a delight. Can’t tell you how sad I am. I wanted to let you know I got the news as a lot of you were concerned. I’m off to chill, I hope you understand. Will tweet this weekend in PS. jb.”

Mark Gatiss, writer:
“‘A tear, Sarah Jane?’ Farewell to the wonderful, irreplaceable Lis Sladen. The best.”

Nicola Bryant, Doctor Who companion Perpugilliam “Peri” Brown:
“I’m so sorry to have to say I’ve just had a call to say Liz Sladen has died. It’s too much to take in, but it’s true. How tragically young.”

Neil Gaiman, writer:
“Lots of reports that Lis Sladen, Sarah Jane Smith, has passed away. It looks like the Lis Sladen news is official. Big sadness. Rest in Peace.”

Alexander Armstrong, actor and comedian, voice of ‘Mr Smith’:
“Just heard news of Elisabeth Sladen’s death. A wonderful actress – devastating news for all Doctor Who and Sarah Jane fans. Sad for Mr Smith too.”

Noel Clarke, actor:
“Not the best news to come home to, But I hope that Elisabeth will RIP. As someone who knew her, I always found her lovely. she’ll be missed. #SARAHJANESMITHLIVES because Elisabeth Sladen made her Great. -Liz, you were awesome and will be missed. (no more to be said tonight) NC.”

Paul Cornell, writer:
“Very sorry to hear about Elisabeth Sladen, a great actor, special to everyone of my generation and a whole new one.”

Tracy-Ann Oberman, actress:
“Oh no! Just on Twitter and saw sad news about Liz Sladen. I knew she was ill, but what happened. Rip Sarah Jane. You were THE assistant. #dw”

Stephen Fry, actor/writer:
“What terribly sad news about Elisabeth Sladen – her Sarah Jane was part of my childhood. Deepest sympathy to her family.”

Jonathan Ross, broadcaster:
“RIP Elisabeth Sladen aka Sarah Jane . Sad news.”

Finn Jones, actor (Santiago Jones in Sarah Jane Adventures):
“Saddened to hear Elisabeth Sladen has passed away. A truly beautiful, talented and wonderful woman – a pleasure and honor to work with.”

SciFi Weekend: Dollhouse, Doctor Who, Lost; Star Trek; Dexter

Getting Closer, this week’s episode of Dollhouse, moved the story of the future forward while filling in major information as to the past. The last few episodes have been as if The X-Files was canceled during the second season and the entire mythology story was told in the final few episodes before it got hopelessly convoluted. (Warning: Major spoilers ahead.)

In The Attic we learned that two partners were behind Rossum, with one taking control and sending Clyde to the Attic.  Caroline knew the identity of the second partner and much of this week’s episode centered around an attempt to restore her memory. There were also many flash backs which filled in more of Caroline and Bennett’s (Summer Glau) back stories. The attempts to restore Caroline’s memory were disrupted by Caroline’s wedge being missing and by a doll who was programmed to kill one of the people who could recover the memory.

In the end viewers saw what Caroline saw three years ago and Clyde’s partner was  revealed to be Boyd. In retrospect it is clear that Boyd was responsible for both of the complications above.

The big question here is whether there is a satisfactory answer for Boyd being behind Rossum or if this is a shocker added at the last minute without good reason. Boyd has  been trying to prevent Caroline from recovering her memory while encouraging Echo’s development. Presumably next week’s episode will reveal exactly why Boyd wanted Echo challenging Rossum, while the series finale will be a follow up to Epitaph One.

The latest issue of Doctor Who Magazine (via Den of Geek) provides information on the writers for the upcoming season of Doctor Who. Steven Moffat reportedly will be writing six of the thirteen episodes including one story with the return of the Weeping Angels from Blink.  River Song (Alex Kingston from Silence In The Library) will also be in an episode. I previously posted a picture of Alex Kingston being filmed in an episode here. There is also information on the other writers:

Joining The Moff on the roster are some familiar Who names and also some new faces to the fold. Returnees include Mark Gatiss (The Unquiet Dead), Gareth Roberts (The Unicorn & The Wasp) and Toby Whithouse (School Reunion) who will take care of one episode each whilst Chris Chibnall (42) will pen a two-parter.

Whilst news that Richard Curtis had written an episode featuring Van Gogh ‘leaked’ some time ago (by Curtis himself), the last name may seem like a surprise to some. Simon Nye, best known for the sitcom Men Behaving Badly, has been brought on board for an installment of the series.

Slice of SciFi has some rumors on villains appearing next season. This includes the Daleks (in an episode with Winston  Churchill–I’ll have to search through his writings to see if their is any mention of this meeting). Others include the Cybermen (those from our own universe, not the ones from the alternative universe of season two), and the Silurians and/or Sea Devils from the Jon Pertwee era).

The White House has decided against a February 2 date for State of Union as the  final season of Lost is scheduled to begin that date: “I don’t foresee a scenario in which millions of people that would hope to finally get some conclusion in ‘Lost’ are preempted by the president,” Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Friday.

Executives at Disney/ABC see Lost as too big a money-maker to give up and are now talking about a sequel to Lost after it finishes its run this year. Didn’t Disney learn their lesson from those dreadful Cinderella sequels? While maybe not the same, I fear that any attempts to continue Lost beyond the story’s conclusion would be a huge mistake.

The Star Trek sequel is tentatively set for release on May 29, 2012. I’m relieved that we have a chance to see it before the world comes to an end (per the Mayan calendar).

What happens after you are killed and go to the after life? If you are Julie Benz you wind up on Wisteria Lane. Dexter’s murdered wife has started filming on Desperate Housewives. Does that make Wisteria Lane Heaven or Hell?

Would Joe Biden Travel In A Tardis?

Poor Joe Biden. He’s been mocked a lot today for his gaffes regarding the swine flu (although as Steve M. points out, what he said is far less ridiculous than some of the comments coming from the right.)

As even Barack Obama has been known to make fun of Joe every now and then, and as this blog deals with both politics and science fiction, I have a question for Joe. If we are advised to stay out of confined spaces such as subways and planes (which might not actually be bad advice should the virus continue to spread), what about other modes of transportation? For example what about the Tardis?

The Tardis is dimensionally transcendental, with the inside and outside existing in different dimensions. For those who don’t understand Timelord science, this means that the Tardis is small on the outside but much larger inside. Here is just a small portion of the inside:


Of course if Joe would travel in a Tardis, he would fit in much better with some of earlier incarnations of The Doctor. In recent years, to attract ta younger audience, they have been using younger and younger actors on Doctor Who. I most see Joe Biden as being like Jon Pertwee, the third Doctor:


SciFi Weekend: Seven Doctors; Star Trek Backs Hope & Change; The Week’s Shows; and Candidates Meet SciFi

All the surviving actors who have played The Doctor are reportedly going to appear together in a Doctor Who will return for a special mini-episode for the Children In Need charity night. Last year Peter Davison appeared with David Tennant in Time Crash (video here). Comic Book Resources has some rumors about Doctor Who, including Tom Baker returning to a role on the show and a possible name for the next Doctor:

My last couple of Doctor Who leaks were fairly solid — Neil Gaiman to write 2010 “Doctor Who” and Tom Baker returning to the series proper in an unnamed role. Both have been bubbling under ever since. The next one is not so tied down. It’s still rather up in the air. But it’s quite a possibility.

The sixth series of “Doctor Who” (2011) will star Paterson Joseph as The Doctor.

Previously playing Roderick in the “Doctor Who” episodes “Bad Wolf”/”Parting Of Ways,” Joseph is known for fine upstanding and terribly-well-spoken-dontcha-know roles as Johnson in “Peep Show,” the Marquis De Carabas in “Neverwhere,” Space Marshall Clarke in “Hyperdrive,” Lyndon in “Green Wing”…

…and more importantly Benjamin in “Jekyll.” Written and produced by upcoming “Doctor” Who showrunner, Steven Moffat.

If true, it’s a great call on Moffat’s part. A damn fine call. Paterson has a very British Authority approach to many of his characters, comparable with Jon Pertwee. It’s not a traditional choice, but then neither was Christopher Eccleston. And, like I say, it’s bloody brilliant.

The upcoming Star Trek movie made the cover of Entertainment Weekly. Considering how far Star Trek has fallen in recent years, the reboot by J. J. Abrams is probably our best shot of reviving the series. Still, I have reservations about how he will go about it. These reservations were increased by this passage:

Plus, at heart, Abrams is still more of a Star Wars guy. ”All my smart friends liked Star Trek,” he says. ”I preferred a more visceral experience.” Which is exactly why he accepted Paramount’s offer in 2005 to develop a new Trek flick; creatively, he was engaged by the possibility of a Star Trek movie ”that grabbed me the way Star Wars did.” That meant a bigger budget and better special effects than any previous Trek film, plus freedom to reinvent the mythos as needed. ”We have worldwide aspirations and we need to broaden [Trek‘s] appeal,” says Weston. ”Doing the half-assed version of this thing wasn’t going to work.”

Star Wars type action would do better at the box office, but that is not what Star Trek is about. If Star Trek is turned into this type of mindless entertainment it is not worth reviving. Still, having a major movie might lead to a revival as a television series. Star Trek has always been at its best as a television series, and a revived series has a far better chance of being true to Gene  Roddenberry’s vision than an individual movie. There is also some hope for the movie as the paragraph after the one quoted above goes on to say:

Abrams says he was also drawn to the project because he believed in — and wanted to evangelize — Trek‘s unabashed idealism. ”I think a movie that shows people of various races working together and surviving hundreds of years from now is not a bad message to put out right now,” says Abrams, whose infectiously upbeat energy and disdain for cynicism are among his most marked attributes.

There are some spoilers regarding the plot of the movie:

Star Trek‘s time-travel plot is set in motion when a Federation starship, the USS Kelvin, is attacked by a vicious Romulan (Eric Bana) desperately seeking one of the film’s heroes. From there, the film then brings Kirk and Spock center stage and tracks the origins of their friendship and how they became officers aboard the Enterprise. In fact, the movie shows how the whole original series crew came together: McCoy (Karl Urban), Uhura (Zoë Saldana), Scotty (Simon Pegg), Sulu (John Cho), and Chekov (Anton Yelchin). The adventure stretches from Earth to Vulcan, and yes, it does find a way to have Nimoy appearing in scenes with at least one of the actors on our cover — and maybe both. The storytelling is newbie-friendly, but it slyly assimilates a wide range of Trek arcana, from doomed Captain Pike (Bruce Greenwood) to Sulu’s swordsmanship to classic lines like, ”I have been, and always shall be, your friend.” More ambitiously, the movie subversively plays with Trek lore — and those who know it. The opening sequence, for example, is an emotionally wrenching passage that culminates with a mythic climax sure to leave zealots howling ”Heresy!” But revisionism anxiety is the point. ”The movie,” Lindelof says, ”is about the act of changing what you know.”

The message of Star Trek is also tied into this year’s presidential election:

Is the world ready again for Trek‘s optimistic vision of the future? Some involved with the film suspect the presidential election may have a dramatic effect on how Star Trek will be perceived. ”This is a franchise that offers hope for unity — and so does Barack Obama,” says Quinto, who has stumped for the Democratic presidential nominee. ”When this movie comes out, and Obama is president, hopefully there will be some parallels.” Perhaps, but the elder Spock knows that moments of unity can be fleeting. ”My only regret is that the movie can’t come out sooner,” Nimoy says. ”I think the world could use it. Don’t you?”

Life on Mars hasn’t been doing too well in the ratings but has been receiving excellent reviews. The second episode, like the first, was based pretty closely on the BBC episode, with the show reportedly going to begin diverging more. The potential science fiction aspects of the show are maintained by having Sam consider the various possibilities as to how he is now living in the past. His theories include the eventual explanation in the BBC version, which I won’t mention to avoid spoiling the series. For those who are aware of the explanation on the original, there have been reports that the American version might wind up with a different explanation. This week’s episode also also included brief connections between past and present, from messages in the clouds to a small robotic character.

We had a major advance on the plot, and a major revelation, on Heroes. It appeared that  Linderman (Malcolm McDowell) hired Daphne (Brea Grant) to steal the formula, except it turned out that Maury Parkman (Alan
Blumenfeld) was responsible for both this appearance of Linderman and Nathan Petrelli’s visions of Linderman. This was orchestrated by Arthur Petrelli (Robert Forster) who is on the opposite side of the battle from Mama Patrelli.

The second half of the season will be entitled Fugitives and will add a new member to the cast–Zeljko Ivanek, who won an Emmy for Damages. He will appear as a character named the Hunter who presumably wind up hunting the other heroes, making them fugitives.

On Fringe, Olivia Dunham has visions of John Scott (Mark Valley). While his appearances turned out to solely be in her mind (perhaps similar to Six in Baltar’s mind on Battlestar Galactica.) While only being in her mind, his messages had too much bearing on current concerns to be written off as mere hallucinations. Walter provides a possible explanation that a previous experiment connecting her to Scott’s mind may have imprinted her with his consciousness, experiences, and thoughts.

Is a few brief news items, nine more episodes of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles have been ordered to complete the season this year. Mad Men has been renewed for a third season. The concluding ten episodes of Battle Star Galactica will begin airing on January 16.

And finally, there are science fiction connections to the candidates this year. Gawker reports that Sarah Palin  appears in Tales From the Crypt (cover above.) We also learned of a science fiction/comic connection for Barack Obama. At the Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner, Obama joked, “Contrary to the rumors you have heard, I was not born in a manger. I was actually born on Krypton and sent here by my father, Jor-El, to save the planet Earth.”