‘Today, just for you, Miss Smith, I will chill the blood of a nation. A thousand families will ache with loss.’ A surprisingly contemplative Part Two, with less running around than usual and a correspondingly more significant role for Elisabeth Sladen, who gets to play Sarah Jane’s fear and emotional vulnerability as she recalls her haunted childhood. In one sense this is just setting up a story later in the series, but it comes naturally from the drama here, and leaves this feeling a richer experience than Ford’s previous Sarah Jane Adventures.
If references to Aunt Lavinia aren’t enough for viewers of a certain age, the return of Floella Benjamin as Professor Rivers (undoubtedly another incarnation of that inveterate traveller in time and space, River Song) is highly satisfactory. If there is a disappointment it’s that Walsh doesn’t get more to do – Clyde’s bad stand-up show goes on too long while he stands there fuming. But it’s surrounded by some strong scenes of schoolchildren marching to the Pied Piper’s tune (giving me flashbacks to the march of the scarecrows in The Family of Blood), playing on every parent’s worst nightmare. In the end, I suspect this is a Sarah Jane Adventure that will creep out different segments of its audience in different ways, which feels totally Doctor Who.
Next Time: Secrets of the Stars