In my recent dream series ten writers line up post, I said that this episode was Toby Whithouse’s best for the show. It probably is the most entertaining of his stories, but on rewatch, he has written better scripts than this. I do love this episode and it’s very highly regarded amongst fans. However most, if not all of that is due to the nostalgia created by Sarah Jane Smith and K9 returning, and rightly so. The scene where Sarah Jane sees the TARDIS for the first time is very special. Her first altercation with the Doctor when she knows that it’s him is brilliant too, as is the scene in the cafe when they catch up about what Sarah Jane has been doing. K9 was tremendous in this episode too and I really wish he’d return to the show. Anthony Head portrays the school’s headmaster in a spine tingling performance. I think he would make a great incarnation of the Master if he was given the chance. The scene in the swimming pool where he and the Doctor exchange pops at each other’s species is the highlight of the episode. Both actors are at the top of their game and it’s a further small look at the tenth Doctor’s dark side as he gives Mr Finch his one warning. However, aside from the acting and the wonderful characters, this story did have several flaws. I’m not at all convinced that cracking the Skasis Paradigm was a valid motive for the Krillitane. I’m not saying the Paradigm itself was invalid, but if the Krillitane wanted to shape the universe so much then surely they’d use smarter people than young school children to try and work it out. From what I could work out from the dialogue, the Krillitane can travel freely to most places in the universe, so why not get a smarter race to work it out with the help of their oil. Also, if this Skasis Paradigm really did mean you could control “the building blocks of the universe” then surely we would of heard of it before. Surely the Master, the Daleks or the Time Lords would’ve had a go at cracking it before the Krillitane? Another issue I had was the school blowing up. I mean what actually caused the explosion. Didn’t K9 only explode a single barrel of Krillitane oil just to stop them? At no point did I hear anything that would’ve led to the demolition of the entire school. This episode also sees the character of Rose start to decline. She’d had such a strong series one and start to life with the tenth Doctor, but when Sarah Jane comes along, Rose’s jealousy shines through and she becomes quite an unlikable person. Even when she finally warms to Sarah Jane, she still seems annoyed at the Doctor for leaving Sarah Jane behind as she feared this would happen to her one day. I liked the Doctor’s little speech to Rose about how he will out-live her no matter what and that’s “the curse of the Time Lords”. Even when Rose seemed to have moved one, once again her moody and jealous side reared its ugly head as Mickey asked to join the TARDIS team and she seemed less than happy about it. This was completely unfair on Mickey as it was Rose that left him in the first place and he’s always been a reliable help when called upon. Overall this is a thoroughly enjoyable episode but sadly it does have its flaws, mostly with the way it was scripted. 7/10


Steven Moffat’s Doctor Who trademark is “timey-wimey”. He loves writing stories that go from one period of time to another and back again. In recent years, stories like that, such as The Wedding of River Song have taken some criticism for being too difficult to follow. This episode was Moffat’s first attempt at more than one time period in a single story. His next two attempts were Blink and The Big Bang, both highly rated episodes and this one is no different. It’s time travel used to absolute perfection in what is a stunning match of 51st century spaceship and 18th century France. The clockwork robots are designed absolutely beautifully and the Doctor’s first encounter with them is a marvellous scene. When the Doctor realises the clock is broken but there’s still a ticking noise, it’s an exquisitely written and executed scene of great suspense. The episode doesn’t just possess some scary monsters though, there is some great humour thrown in there too. Arthur the horse is a funny little extra character but in the end had an important role to play in riding the Doctor through the seemingly closed hole in time. I do hope he found a good home back in France. When watching the scene where the Doctor pretends to be drunk to fool the clockwork robots, it reminded me a lot of the second Doctor. His greatest asset was his understated appearance and it led to his enemies underestimating him. This was a tactic that it was great to see this incarnation utilise in what was a wonderfully comical scene. The clockwork robots motive of trying to fix their ship was perfect, as they were never out to just kill for fun, they genuinely believed they needed human body parts for their ship to run again. In the end, I did feel a tad sorry for them because they weren’t a truly evil enemy. The only slight fault I could find with the episode is when the Doctor tells Madame De Pompadour to pack a bag. He knows that time goes much faster on her side of the fireplace therefore he knew he was risking her waiting a long time for him to come back what would have been seconds later to him. In the end it cost the Doctor as when he returned years had passed and she had died. Maybe the excitement just got the better of him but he probably shouldn’t have left her on her side of the fireplace by herself. Overall though, apart from that, this a faultless story and I would even describe it as a modern classic. 9/10