Due to the sudden loss of Elisabeth Sladen, the final volume of DWM’s Sarah Jane Companion only has three televised stories to talk about, so it turns most of its pages over to what might have been, as well as the general interest of unmade episodes.
So for GMs looking for Whoniverse adventures that were almost made, what could we turn into adventures to dedicate to Ms Sladen?
The three two-parters that were ready to shoot get the most coverage:
Meet Mr. Smith has an alien contact Sarah Jane’s alien AI supercomputer, needing his help - and turning him into a human temporarily to get it. The human (played by Alexander Armstrong naturally) is a dashing, dapper charmer who falls for Clyde’s mother, and would rather stay human when the alien’s task is completed. Yes, it’s rather like The Doctor’s Wife, personifying the mind that lives in the set, but his interests as a human make it different enough to stand comparison.
The Thirteenth Floor has Rani and Clyde investigating disappearances in a tower block, which has no Thirteenth Floor... or does it? How this plays out I don’t know yet, because Russell T Davies is using the story in his new CBBC series Wizards Vs Aliens. So sometime this autumn, we’ll see. In the meantime, it’s a classic hook.
The Battle Of Bannerman Road is the season and possibly series finale we almost had. A last confrontation with the Trickster - for Sky’s soul, as she was created as a vessel for him. Jo Jones finding an Omen-style mural of her reading “she will damn us all” in an ancient tomb, an unknowingly possessed Sky trapping Professor Rivers in a monitor as she tries to examine her, and Sarah Jane appealing to her better nature - and having a backup plan to short her electrical powers out if that doesn’t work. It’s an example of tying multiple elements together, a final battle with a Big Bad and a way to finish things on an up or up-ish note, depending on preference.
Other nearly-there episodes get a fair bit of coverage too:
A live Hallowe’en special was mooted, with six possible plots:
a haunted house,
a railway station haunted by trapped disembodied aliens - looking for non-humans like Luke and Sky to take their place,
a ghost train,
a found-footage-style camping trip gone wrong,
a Carrionite trying to escape by pretending to be Sky during a Hallowe’en party,
the kids waking to find themselves in A Dark Room.
As well as the Carrionite and the ghostly aliens, other perpetrators suggested include aliens who use fear to gain power and have to be shown that Hallowe’en isn’t scary any more.
Night Of The Spectre, an animated Hallowe’en special was also suggested, visiting Maria in the US for her father’s wedding to an American in Salem - when every classic Hallowe’en thing starts happening. Laughing jack-o’-lanterns, giant spiders, zombies - all caused by a malevolent entity called the Spectre who wants Sarah Jane’s soul.
Trinity Wells Investigates - the American reporter from all sorts of breaking news in Doctor Who goes to compare notes with Britain’s leading expert on UFOs, Sarah Jane Smith... who doesn’t really want all this going public.
Rani’s parents report one UFO sighting too many, and are kidnapped by the Russian equivalent of Torchwood!
Mrs Wormwood returns, makes a scan of Sarah Jane in her image translator and uses it to rob a bank and get our hero arrested.
Rani and Clyde are on a school trip when they find an alien in distress, and have to hide it from their teacher and class.
A group of archaeologists find Sarah Jane’s car... under a Roman ruin.
An immortal Aztec high priestess, watcher of a gate to an alien world and looking for a way to open it, now working undercover as a teacher in Clyde and Rani’s school.
Sarah Jane’s father appears - alive, the age he was when he died - in front of her, in a flash of light. How? Why?
Sarah Jane goes undercover as a scientist at a private research facility where an alien is being held against its will and tapped for resources.
The Children Of Blackmere Rise concerns a mind-controlling alien using local children to look for his brother, imprisoned here millennia ago.
Servant Of The Spiders reveals that the spiders of Metebilis III reconnect with Sarah Jane, seek to control her and take over the world. Does she have the will to stop them?!
Miracle On Bannerman Road, an alternate introduction for Sky, had a mysterious old man show Sarah Jane her past as an orphan, Sky needing her now and a ruined future without her. Yes, it’s A Christmas Carol.
Don’t Sit Too Close To The Screen has electrical aliens (The Wire?) controlling kinds through a show in the vein of Teletubbies or In The Night Garden. DWM comic strip The Golden Ones does something similar, although with more shiftiness by product placement than the show itself.
Wallpaper - what if the “faces” we see in wallpaper patterns and swirls of wood aren’t just how the mind works, but actual things trying to make their way into our world?
Underground has something burrowing from below, the old “step on a crack” rhyme made true...
An alien running a supermarket, using the tannoy to direct its victims.
A long-imprisoned alien who wants revenge on the primitive humans and needs to be shown how much we’ve learned since.
Trial by Judoon on (mostly) jumped-up charges.
The characters’ base attacked as it’s home of the most advanced technology on earth, by aliens who have decided we’re a danger and need to be knocked back to the Stone Age.