It had everything going for it: Sarah Jane (my all time favorite companion), K9, Tony Head, bats and... it just didn't work. The story was perfunctory, minimized, and uninteresting. The 'shipping' of Sarah/Doctor was rushed and overdone. Tony Head was vamping and underused. Rose was bitchy and for the first time uninteresting. K9 was blown up. Aww. Then brought back. Again. Yawn. And the idea that Sarah Jane felt romantically for her Doctor? Jo - yes.
The editing of the episode was choppy as heck and very noticeable. The directing was distracting and poor. But worst of all sins: the writing just sucked. I mean big time. Worse than anything I ever complained about RTD. It was on the nose, over the top shippy and completely emotionally unsatisfying as it smacked you over the head in every scene - it was all tell and no show. And it was only the incredible talent of the actors that kept me from hiding my head in pain. So disappointing.
One positive of this episode: Liz Sladen was completely, utterly and magnificently brilliant at every turn and I loved every minute of her onscreen. And it was just for her, that the final goodbye had me absolutely sobbing. SHE felt the Doctor's acknowledgement and farewell, so I felt it. David was nice in this bit too "MY Sarah Jane".
But overall, I'm left simply frustrated. Sarah was THE companion I most wanted back and I feel cheated that the episode didn't rise to her return. I'd give anything for another writer to have tackled this story. Especially Paul Cornell who could have made this an emotionally gut-wrenching equivalent of 'Father's Day'. But I'd settle for even RTD. This script simply didn't work. Even if Liz did.
I need a break before I watch the next one.