‘Please help my dad.’ A remarkable episode for a children’s TV show, taking time to focus on relationships between parents and children and ending with a scene that shows both Sarah Jane and Clyde at their most vulnerable. Its both Sladen and Anthony’s best performances in the series so far, getting across its point more directly and with less cynicism than either Doctor Who or Torchwood would be able to.
Unlike many Part Twos, this dials down the runaround elements – there is a car chase, but much of this unfolds through dialogue rather than action. This gives space for some lovely character moments – Maria meeting Rani, for this generation of kids, must have been as iconic as Jo Jones meeting Sarah Jane Smith. Importantly, this also gives the audience a glimpse of a dad in a functional one-parent family (and kudos to Lidster for getting Alan Jackson in just-out-of-bed mode).
Paul, admitting his failures as a father, and being sent packing in the kindest way possible by Clyde, who’s managed his resentment in a way his father clearly never has. Sarah Jane, getting a comedy moment chasing a space slug and a great, hero arrival on the quayside at the end. This is sweet, heartfelt and genuinely moving. The show just keeps on getting better.
Next Time: The Temptation of Sarah Jane Smith