‘She is no child. She is a weapon.’ The Sarah Jane Adventures return for a final, curtailed season that was broadcast after the death of Elisabeth Sladen. This casts a shadow across these episodes, although none of that’s evident either in the script, which sets this up as a fresh start for the team, or in Sladen’s performance, which is as energetic as ever. She’s joined again by Rani and Clyde, and Mr Smith.
The starting point is a baby being abandoned on Sarah Jane’s doorstep – a baby that’s obviously alien, with an ability to cause power surges that blow all the lights on Bannerman Road. The baby is being pursued by two factions, the Mrs Wormwood-ish Miss Myers, who claims to be its mother, and a Batman robot called ‘the Metalkind’. These two sides seem locked in war, and the baby is a weapon for Myers’ flesh allies to defeat their Metalkind enemies. Hence its rapid growth at the end of the episode.
This is all fine, though a lot of it feels like a replay of Luke’s origin story – another unearthly child with accelerated ageing; another uptight alien mother figure; another factory setting. I suppose the point is to return to business as usual as quickly as possible with a Luke substitute who’s much younger than the rest of the Bannerman gang, but it’s hard not to see it as a step back after the progress of the last two years. I guess the thinking was to retain an appeal to a younger audience as Rani and Clyde grow up and start heading away to university.
This is a great episode for Clyde – as he defies the stereotypes to be much better with a baby than either of the women (although Mr Smith lives down to them by hiding from the crying baby). Sarah and Rani get most of the investigative legwork. Gita and Haresh consolidate their position as the comic relief. It throws truly awesome shade at Doctor Who as Sarah emphatically rejects the idea he’d ever abandon a baby. What a shame she didn’t call the baby Delta though – I could have got behind an episode called ‘Delta and the Bannerman’.
Next Time: Sky – Part Two