Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Well done, Sarah Jane Smith, well done...

I got word last night that Elisabeth Sladen, the British actress best known for her role as Sarah Jane Smith at various points in the Doctor Who series, had passed away yesterday after a bout with cancer. Came as quite a shock as I didn't even know she had been ill.

I had first seen her on the small screen back in the early 80s when the local PBS station (WYES out of New Orleans) ran episodes of Doctor Who late on Saturday nights. I had heard of this science fiction show from Britain via word of mouth from a small but rather vocal fan base springing up in America. So I was directed to the local TV listings of when it would be regularly shown. A little surprised at first; I first laid eyes on this tall, bulgy-eyed guy with a mane of dark, curly hair and a rainbow-colored scarf running though a badly-constructed set whilst being chased by what looked like pepper shakers on wheels (I found out later these were called "Daleks"). I did find one character interesting; this woman who traveled with him, and her name was Sarah Jane. I come to find out that she had a fan following all her own; not hard to see why.

In recent years, she surfaced in a new incarnation of Doctor Who (which hadn't been in production, save a horrid American-produced telefilm in 1996, for 16 years). Fortunately, with the cable channel BBC America, fans in America don't have to wait 5+ years for a new Doctor episode like in the old days with PBS. But I'm digressing a bit here. Anyway, the fans must have wanted more, so a spinoff series, The Sarah Jane Adventures, soon debuted. Obviously aimed at the younger set, it possessed enough of the excitement and spirit of Doctor Who so that older fans also tuned in.

But alas, the adventures of Elisabeth and Sarah Jane come to a somber end. She will truly be missed...

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