The Sarah Jane Adventures episode 36: The Nightmare Man – Part One (11/10/2010)
‘Get ready for the end of the world, Luke. An eternal sleep of nightmares.’ The Scary Jane Adventures launches with its most grownup episode to date. It’s the first one that could pretty much play out as an episode of Torchwood (complete with the presence of Julian Bleach as a sinister, dreamlike figure). Quite what the CBBC audience made of it I don’t know (although I expect by this stage a chunk of viewers had grown up with the show). I love it.
I particularly enjoy the “one year ago’” sequence, which plays like a last hurrah for the old version of the show, of schoolkids battling comedy aliens and getting gunked. The rest of the episode deals with the consequences of Luke’s decision to go to Oxford University a year early, the impact this has on Sarah Jane, Clyde and Rani, and Luke’s uncertainty as he faces a future away from his family. This all feels very real: Sarah Jane, the proud, “what’s best for Luke” mum, offering up her old car (huge fail for not getting the K9 and Company Metro, though); Clyde resentful and sad; Rani upbeat and pragmatic.
There’s so much to enjoy in the details, too. The nightmare of Sarah Jane and K9 having a fireside chat feels like a peek into their pre-School Reunion lives; an e-mail to Maria; Josh coming in as Luke’s replacement a sort of commentary on how TV shows quickly replace actors. The countdown to “The Final Day” is a great touch that creates a sense of urgency. This is a fantastic opener.
Next Time: The Nightmare Man – Part Two