Category: The Sarah Jane Adventures

The Sarah Jane Adventures episode 8: Whatever Happened to Sarah Jane – Part One (29/10/2007)

‘Sarah Jane Smith, 13, died after falling from the edge of Westport Pier yesterday in a tragic accident.’ Here’s a thing: a Sarah Jane lite episode, with Maria taking the lead with minimal support from the other regulars. True, Jane Asher is on hand as Sarah Jane’s replacement Andrea Yates (should have called her April Walker), but Andrea is a very different proposition to Sarah Jane, and with even Alan unable to remember a world where Sarah Jane lives at Bannerman Road, Yasmin Paige is front and centre.

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The Sarah Jane Adventures episode 7: Warriors of Kudlak – Part Two (22/10/2007)

‘It’s always the innocents that suffer.’ This feels a bit less toned down than the previous episode, with Sarah Jane darkly hinting at what happens to men like Grantham in prison, and an eleventh-hour twist that reveals the real monster is the military-industrial complex (or something like that). It’s also nice to see the series spread its wings a bit with a trip into Earth’s orbit for the team. The show continues to be engaging and fun kid’s TV.

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The Sarah Jane Adventures episode 6: Warriors of Kudlak – Part One (15/10/2007)

‘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.

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The Sarah Jane Adventures episode 5: Eye of the Gorgon – Part Two (8/10/2007)

‘No one listens to you when you’re old.’ Between this and Revenge of the Slitheen there’s a clear template for the Sarah Jane Adventures: first episodes are the mystery and investigation, second episodes are the action and climax. Which absolutely makes sense, but it does mean – unless there’s a significant twist – that the back end of the stories largely involve lots of breathless running around. Meanwhile, the parent show is reaching for a more sophisticated way of working its multi-part stories by radically changing the setting and tone between episodes (as in Utopia and The Sound of Drums). Doctor Who is going to push further down that route once Moffat takes over.

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The Sarah Jane Adventures episode 4: Eye of the Gorgon – Part One (1/10/2007)

‘Sometimes people have thought I’ve been mad, but I’ve seen things too.’ The focus shifts from the school to another institution, this time for the confinement of the senile rather than juveniles. Amusingly, it’s run by Graham Crowden’s daughter. One of the inmates is Bea Nelson-Stanley, now suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease but in her lucid moments able to remember a life spent travelling, battling Sontarans and Gorgons, and secreting powerful talismans.

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The Sarah Jane Adventures episode 3: Revenge of the Slitheen – Part Two (24/9/2007)

‘I can’t believe you were going to save those Slitheen. They tried to destroy the entire planet. Billions of people. What was the big dilemma?’ Clyde is a brilliant character. Not for him the hand-wringing angst of so many modern Doctor Who characters. Instead, he’s full of Old Testament piss and vinegar. Literally, in the case of the vinegar – a critical element of the fight back against the Slitheen which he smartly works out from a few hints, justifying his position as the fourth member of Sarah Jane’s extended family.

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The Sarah Jane Adventures episode 2: Revenge of the Slitheen – Part One (24/9/2007)

‘Something mysterious inside a school: that would be ridiculous, wouldn’t it?’ The series proper launches with an episode that’s largely a mash-up of Aliens of London and School Reunion. Which underestimates how fresh it feels coming off the back of Series Three, which, with episodes like Human Nature and The Sound of Drums, was clearly pitched at an audience two years older than in 2005. And as Doctor Who “matures” with its viewers, it creates space for this, a show much closer in tone to Eccleston than latterday Tennant.

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The Sarah Jane Adventures episode 1: Invasion of the Bane (1/1/2007)

‘Miss Smith, she seems familiar with the concept of alien life. Far too familiar.’ I’ve never bought the idea that a middle-aged woman is an unlikely lead for a children’s TV series: I grew up with Uncle Jack, T-Bag and Simon and the Witch among others. I like that The Sarah Jane Adventures is never shy about its central character, and I particularly like how she’s introduced as prickly, stand-offish and mysterious – just like the ninth Doctor. Or, looking further back, and acknowledging she ends up as the adoptive parent of an unearthly child, even Hartnellish. In her burgundy velvet coat, she’s even dressed like the third and fourth Doctors as she last saw them.

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