Category: The Sarah Jane Adventures

The Sarah Jane Adventures episode 47: Goodbye, Sarah Jane Smith – Part Two (16/11/2010)

‘This is where the adventure ends.’ While it still has inadvertently upsetting elements (particularly Sarah Jane’s farewell video), this largely focuses on Ruby executing her plan. Julie Graham is superb, oozing insincerity as she comforts Rani and condemns Clyde to a death in space. It’s the kind of existential crisis that demands the entire team come together – and sure enough, Luke and K9 return to help take down Ruby (Luke now rocking a cool Freshers hairdo and scarf). Even Gita gets a redemptive moment, as she shores up Rani’s belief in Sarah Jane at the crucial moment. If only they’d somehow found a way to crowbar in Kelsey (and I guess Maria), this would be The Sarah Jane Adventures’ own Stolen Earth.

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The Sarah Jane Adventures episode 46: Goodbye, Sarah Jane Smith – Part One (15/11/2010)

‘I’m over, my story is finished. But this planet, it needs someone to protect it. Are you that person?’ Through no fault of the writers, this is a very hard watch indeed. Seeing Sarah Jane being told, ‘You are very ill indeed’ and watching her deteriorate, knowing what’s just around the corner, pushes this beyond the unsettling intent, and makes it upsetting. It’s even worse because Sladen performs a fading Sarah, losing her memories (even K9) and her sense of self, predictably well. Real life has made this all too real.

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The Sarah Jane Adventures episode 45: Lost in Time – Part Two (9/11/2010)

‘The sands of time have run out, Captain. They have failed in their missions, all is lost.’ The only downside of telling three stories in one is that each is necessarily slight on plot – but not on adventure or character. Rani foils the assassination attempt on Jane. Clyde confounds the Nazis. Sarah Jane and Emily work out a way to rescue the doomed children across the centuries. The last-minute complication of a missing piece of chronosteel is resolved by Emily’s granddaughter, and the Earth is saved.

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The Sarah Jane Adventures episode 44: Lost in Time – Part One (8/11/2010)

‘I need your help to save the world. Time itself is under threat.’ This is different: the team scattered through time on their own mini-Key to Time quest. The Key, in this case, is a magic metal chronosteel but to all other intents and purposes, including being disguised as different objects and its power to re-shape destiny, it might as well be the crystal cube Tom and Mary had to put together in 1979. It even has its own version of the White Guardian, dressed like a genial shopkeeper.

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The Sarah Jane Adventures episode 43: The Empty Planet – Part Two (2/11/2010)

‘Score one up for the hangers-on.’ A surprisingly straightforward and sweet story from Roberts, a writer I associate more with witty black comedies than fairy tales. This includes some good word play (‘sun and air’), but the real pleasure is seeing Clyde and Rani work it out without the support of Sarah Jane and the computers (although there’s a great moment where Rani wields the sonic lipstick), and where Gavin, a boy convinced of his own ordinariness, becomes the most important person on the planet.

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The Sarah Jane Adventures episode 42: The Empty Planet – Part One (1/11/2010)

‘Biggest crisis ever and it’s just us. Not the time traveller, not the boy genius, not the supercomputer or the mega-dog. Us.’ At the opposite extreme to Death of the Doctor’s everything-plus-the-sink approach, this strips it all back to just Clyde and Rani wandering a deserted London, facing a baffling alien intervention. It’s a wonderful idea, executed beautifully – you might think with such a small cast it would be the budget one, but all that location filming can’t have come cheap, and the robots, when they finally show up, are tremendous.

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The Sarah Jane Adventures episode 41: Death of the Doctor – Part Two (26/10/2010)

‘Not as daft as they look, for two batty old pensioners and a bunch of ASBO kids.’ This is the kind of thing 1990s fans, indoctrinated against the twin evils of fanwank and Season 24, can barely believe exists: an episode steeped in continuity with the Doctor battling puppet vultures with past companions – broadcast on BBC One. It’s RTD’s final Doctor Who script for 12 years, and plays like it: a kiss goodbye to the show he resurrected using the characters he loved himself as a kid.

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The Sarah Jane Adventures episode 40: Death of the Doctor – Part One (25/10/2010)

‘The Claw Shansheeth of the 15th Funeral Fleet. I’ve been looking for you. Have you been telling people I’m dead?’ Tackling death and bereavement in a CBBC show is a tricky thing. The first half of this takes the notion of the Doctor’s death, a subject RTD previously tackled in Turn Left, but makes it personal. Sladen is magnificent in Sarah Jane’s stubborn denial, with the slightly mad pitch of her voice as she declares she’s fine despite all evidence to the contrary.

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The Sarah Jane Adventures episode 39: The Vault of Secrets – Part Two (19/10/2010)

‘I think we’ve got a few things to talk about when this is all finished, Sarah, my darling.’ For most of its run time I thought this was going to actually tackle the question of whether Sarah Jane or the Men in Black have the right to hide the truth. Rani certainly has conscience pangs, ‘we thought it was funny, pretending we didn’t know anything about aliens. It’s not much of a joke now’, and, to Mr Dread, ‘We didn’t ask you to come and brush all those alien ships under the carpet.’ But come the end it’s all resolved with a comedy mind wipe as Ocean and Minty sadly conclude the aliens always win. At least Sarah Jane looks briefly contrite.

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The Sarah Jane Adventures episode 38: The Vault of Secrets – Part One (18/10/2010)

‘Prepare to be incinerated.’ Probably Phil Ford’s best opening episode so far, managing to balance the CBBC comedy of BURPSS (British UFO Research and Paranormal Studies Society) with some interesting moments of reflection and moral complexity. There are a couple of scenes where Sarah Jane’s self-assumed responsibility for hiding the existence of aliens bumps up against the reality of members of the public who have had their own close encounters. In Gita’s case it’s played for laughs, but Ocean Waters has lived her life haunted by what happened to her in 1972, and Elisabeth Sladen has the savvy to make Sarah squirm in the face of it, having been almost smugly sassy during their first meeting.

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