‘I don’t see aliens behind every bush you know.’ A show like this carries a slight risk (or benefit, depending on your perspective) of becoming The Avengers In Color – the same plot every week with a different theme (cats, comic books, Hollywood), with a rather narrower range of story options available versus Doctor Who. After aliens hiding in a school and a nunnery, this focuses on a plot to use Laser Quest to kidnap children. And despite Sarah Jane’s sniffiness, yes: they’re aliens. But so far, the makers have cleverly navigated any limitations by jumping between settings that would probably be very familiar to most viewers (school, arcades) and less obvious settings for kids shows, like an old folk’s home.
This works well because the dark, industrial futuristic look of Combat 3000 is a totally different environment than last week’s medieval vaults: without literally travelling in time, the show is creating different feels for each story. That said, this feels a little bit more CBBC than the last two. There’s something a bit Look and Read: Fairground! about it, with Mr Grantham being a typical kid’s TV baddie, and Chrissie Furness playing an amusingly daft cashier. Even Sarah Jane’s in on it, putting together a contrabulous fabtraption that shoots golden glitter into the air, which isn’t quite what I’ve come to expect.
And the lessons, too, are quite on the nose: don’t call people mean names. Still, it’s got a lot of fun moments, particularly Sarah Jane’s last request to apply some lippy. There’s also a more mature scene where Sarah is speaking with the mothers of one of the missing, which gives Sladen some pathos to play. And the Kudlak looks great.
Next Time: Warriors of Kudlak – Part Two