Last night at 8:11pm, according to Terminator: the Sarah Connor Chronicles, Skynet was supposed to become self-aware. Judgement Day is tomorrow.
Instead, yesterday Elisabeth Sladen, who played Sarah Jane Smith on Doctor Who and on The Sarah Jane Adventures, died of cancer. This is not quite as bad as Judgement Day, but since it happened in the real world instead of a fictional one, it’s quite awful.
I’m not an old-school Who fan. Although, in the way of geeks, I certainly knew who Sarah Jane Smith was, the first time I met her was in “School Days”, when David Tennant–who is an old-school Who fan–playing the Tenth Doctor, saw the girl he’d left behind thirty years ago as an adult woman still carrying on saving the world, just as she had when she traveled with the Doctor.
Ten’s expression of delight and poignancy and pride and the sheer power of memory sweeping him just about broke my heart in that moment, which is really some pretty good acting. And it made me love Sarah Jane the way he did, which means that I was actually shocked last night when Lis Sladen’s name started trending on Twitter. I’m terribly sorry for her friends and family, and I’m sorry for all of us Who fans, too. She was awfully young, and it’s a damned shame.
The other thing I noticed, though, is that three of the ten trends on Twitter were Sarah Jane, Elisabeth Sladen, and Skynet. Pure geekery, shaping the popular topics on an international social network with over a billion users. Never doubt that the geeks have won.