April 19, 2011
I'm on my way home from work, eager to sit and write a blog post about...well, whatever I was going to blog about, when I see that pal Chuck from Comic Related messaged me on Facebook, asking me if news of Elisabeth Sladen's death was a "rumor".
Unfortunately, it's not.
It's funny, because in many ways, Sladen was my "first" companion (much like Pertwee was "my" first Doctor) - the curly haired man with the elongated scarf might have left me cold when I began watching Who in earnest (and quite frankly, my adolescent interests converged around the attractive woman in the leather bikini), but Sarah Jane seemed...well, normal. The kind of person who actually acted with a slight sense of wonder, but with a smart, independent spirit.
(Yes, I'm well aware Sladen was initially cast to be a "women's libber". Thankfully, Sarah Jane Smith became slightly more than that due to Sladen's work).
It's also sad because, in many ways, Sladen became the "First Lady" of Doctor Who, participating in fan videos and Big Finish Productions, getting her own spin-off, and even coming back as Sarah Jane in the new series. Granted, it may not seem like much, but in many ways...she never really left the show. (And I'll graciously ignore K9 and Company: A Girl's Best Friend)
In short, Sladen helped the show progress in many ways, not all of them obvious.
As I sit and type this, I think of two key scenes - one where she is consoling the Third Doctor prior to regeneration; the other (if memory serves) where she asks the 11th Doctor if regeneration "hurts". Either way, there are no tears or regrets...but a subtle reminder that where there's life, there's hope.
RIP, Elisabeth Sladen. You'll be missed.