Roots: The Demon Headmaster and Dark Season. The Doctor Who Magazine strip "Train-Flight" features the seventh Doctor visiting Sarah and the interaction between them is identical to this story. The school kids are reminiscent of Grange Hill, and using Anthony Head in a story set in a school clearly evokes Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The relationship between Rose and Sarah is similar to that between Ace and the Brigadier in Battlefield, whilst the final scene evokes the end of Survival - including the line "we've got work to do". Krillitane oil is very similar to the pills Ace takes in Atom Bomb Blues. The Skasis paradigm is very similar to both the Ragnarok Equation from Bryan Talbot's Luther Arkwright graphic novel and to Quantum Mnemonics as described in Millennial Rites. The only kid with free thought is a fat kid with glasses, possibly a reference to Lord of the Flies. The plug scene is a reference to the 'evil alien invasion machine can be stopped by doing something incredibly simple (i.e. pulling the plug)' convention. Mickey's character development may be influenced by the Tin Man from The Wizard of Oz. The line "Everything has its time, and Everything ends" is similar to a line in The End of the World as well as the Biblical book of Ecclesiastes. The use of the children is similar to the little girl from Remembrance of the Daleks. Jamie's School Dinners. The school may be inspired by New Labour's City Academies.
Goofs: Why can't the girl in the pre-titles sequences be sent home? Surely there are staff in a care home who can deal with that kind of situation. And why does the headmaster think that she is not going to be missed, when the home's staff would surely notice that she had gone missing?
Mickey appears to be using a cybercafé both in the episode and in the Tardisode (when he's alerting the Doctor and Rose to the school). Why isn't he using his computer at home? [In the episode makes sense if the school isn't in London, but not when he's simply tipping them off in the Tardisode. Perhaps it's something to do with cracking into Torchwood and not wanting it to be traced back to him.]
If, as the head says, school dinners are compulsory, why does Kenny have a packed lunch? [Perhaps he has a special diet for some medical condition.]
How can (what appears to be) a state school introduce a new curriculum when all state schools have to follow the national curriculum? [Despite appearances, this is a private school.]
Why don't the dinner ladies just put a proper lid on the oil barrel before moving it?
Why is the TARDIS parked inside the school? And how does it get from a cupboard in a blown-up school to a landscaped garden? [OK, maybe it's in an intact area of the school.]
The Doctor's claim that he's regenerated half a dozen times since he last saw Sarah contradicts Interference and Bullet Time and, technically, The Five Doctors. However, there are reasons he might have forgotten those meetings, or might not want to mention them to Sarah. More problematically, Sarah seems to think that the Doctor has probably died - which doesn't fit with The Hand of Fear, K9 and Company, or any of her post-series meetings with the Doctor.
The Headmaster's office looks very different in terms of the decor and the appearance of the door between the pre-credits sequence and the main story.
Why does Sarah have K9 in her car, given that he's non-functional to the extent that the Doctor takes an hour to repair him enough to switch him on. [Maybe she suspected that this "John Smith" was the Doctor and brought K9 with her as a result.] Also, why was K9 in the car, rather than the boot, the next day when he wasn't even switched on? And how did he then get out of the car?
How many teachers does the school have? Finch replaced half the staff, and yet there are only seven Krillitane teachers. Which means that there are a really low number of teachers for a school of that size.
Why are there "Welcome to Deffry Vale" posters all around the school?
When Mickey cuts the power, the kids suddenly lose their headphones. In addition, the computers all seem to be running off of a single three-pin socket. [Although this was intended as a deliberate joke, it wouldn't be allowed for health and safety reasons. Perhaps the plug simply provided power to a central processor without which all the computers crashed.]
The same kid that's really pleased that break finished early is jumping for joy that the school's blown up mere hours later.
Technobabble: According to Milo, in order to travel faster than light you have to create a quantum tunnel with an ftl factor of 36.7 recurring.
Dialogue Disasters: Finch: "Forget the shooty dog thing."
Dialogue Triumphs: Rose: "Rats in school."
Sarah: "Well obviously they use them in biology lessons. They dissect them. Or maybe you haven't reached that bit yet. How old are you?"
Rose: "Excuse me, no-one dissects rats in school any more. They haven't done that for years. Where are you from? The dark ages?"
Mickey on where he fits with the Doctor: "I'm their man in Havana. I'm the technical support. Oh my God! I'm the tin dog."
Rose: "When you two met, they'd only just got rid of rationing. No wonder all space stuff was a bit too much for you."
Mickey: "That's me talking to a tin dog."
Finch on the Doctor: "You act like such a radical, and yet all you want to do is to preserve the old order."
Finch: "Eat him if you must, but bring me his brains."
Finch: "You bad dog."
Memorable Moments: Sarah and Rose have a game of one-upmanship about the things they've seen whilst travelling with the Doctor, ending with Sarah's "The Loch Ness Monster
Continuity: The Doctor has never used the word "correctomundo" before. He says that he "couldn't" come back for Sarah. His reaction to the idea of being given the powers of a god is in stark contrast to the fourth Doctor's attitude in The Armageddon Factor. His and Sarah's positions on the issue show a reversal on both parts since Genesis of the Daleks.
When Rose was young, she used to think that all the teachers slept in the school. She doesn't take to Sarah at first, and really dislikes the idea of Mickey coming along in the TARDIS.
Sarah thought that the Doctor had died [there are numerous instances in the TV series when she thought that the Doctor had died] and never really got over her time with him. He dropped her off in Aberdeen rather than Croydon. She notes that the Doctor likes to travel with an entourage, sometimes humans, sometimes aliens, sometimes tin dogs, suggesting she knows of at least one non-human companion. She can't work the tenth Doctor's sonic screwdriver. Her car has the registration R74 CGK. She is currently single [so her relationship with Paul Morley seen in Interference broke up].
The Doctor establishes that Sarah's K9 is Mark 3. Sarah hasn't repaired K9 because she can't get parts, and she couldn't risk the damage to history caused by showing him to anybody. He is destroyed, but replaced with a brand new model with added hyperlink facilities.
Krillitanes are a composite race - an amalgam of the races they've conquered - including physical attributes. They call each other "Brother". They invaded Bethsan ten generations ago and took the natives' wings. Finch/Brother Larsa knows about the Time Lords being ancient dusty senators frightened of change and chaos - and knows that they are extinct, though he thought that they were peaceful to the point of indolence. He recognises the Doctor as a Time Lord without being told. Krillitane oil improves human intelligence, but is toxic to the most recent forms of Krillitanes - which look like bats and have highly sensitive hearing (which also applies to the humanoid Finch). Finch/Larsa has a human form, whilst the others use morphic illusions to resemble humans. [The pre-credits sequence suggests that Finch can use a morphic illusion to look like the bat forms.]
The sonic screwdriver can open anything except a deadlock seal.
The Skasis Paradigm, aka the Godmaker or the Universal Theory, if cracked gives you control of the basic building blocks of the universe - time, space, matter are yours to control. It needs imagination to crack it. [This is remarkably similar to the Quantum Mnemonics seen in Millennial Rites. It is, essentially, an enhanced version of the Block Transfer Computation seen in Logopolis and Castrovalva.] Perganon and Assinder are civilisations the Doctor could save by using it.
Links: Sarah left the Doctor in The Hand of Fear and acquired K9 in K9 and Company (her line about finding parts for a mini metro was another reference, as that was what she was driving at the time). K9's decrepit state is probably a result of [DEC]Decalog 3: Moving On[/DEC]. Sarah and Rose exchange notes on things they've seen whilst with the Doctor. These include Mummies (Pyramids of Mars), lots of Robots The Time Warrior, Robot, The Sontaran Experiment, Pyramids of Mars, The Android Invasion), Daleks (Death to the Daleks, Genesis of the Daleks), anti-matter monsters (Planet of Evil), real living dinosaurs (Invasion of the Dinosaurs), the Loch Ness Monster (Terror of the Zygons), Ghosts (The Unquiet Dead), Slitheen in Downing Street (Aliens of London/World War Three), the Dalek Emperor (The Parting of the Ways), Gas-mask zombies (The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances), and real living werewolves (Tooth and Claw). Rose also mentions going to the year five billion (The End of the World). Mickey's screen brings up a "Torchwood Access Denied" website. He mentions that every time he sees Rose an emergency gets in the way. The Doctor mentions that in the year 5000, K9 is cutting edge (The Invisible Enemy). The Doctor and Sarah discuss his and Rose's role in events from the Christmas just gone (The Christmas Invasion). Sarah's speech to the Doctor about Everything Having Its Time, seems to be an echoing of the Doctors words about "death being the price we pay for progress" from The Brain of Morbius.
Extras: This story has an episode of Doctor Who Confidential. The BBC created a one-minute trailer called a "Tardisode" for each episode of series two, which was available to download on your mobile or watch at the BBC website. They also made a commentary track available online. There is also a Deffry Vale School tie-in website (deffreyvaleschool.org.uk), as well as one for the Deffry Vale area (deffryvale.co.uk). None of this material is still online. However, Mickey's Website also has material on this story.
Location: Deffry Vale School and surroundings, England, 2007.
Unrecorded Adventures: Sarah mentions seeing the furthest reaches of the galaxy, supernovas, and intergalactic battles. The Doctor has met the Krillitanes before - when they looked like humans but with long necks.
The Bottom Line: 'May I introduce Sarah Jane Smith.' A well-written character piece, School Reunion shines for the interaction between Rose, Sarah, and the Doctor. Anthony Head's Finch is a brilliant villain, and Mickey works really well. The only downside is that K9 is used as a plot device rather than as a character, and that his return at the end is almost cringe-inducing.