It seems every other blag and blog and behind the scenes can explain what was going on in the episode except for the episode itself. It's fascinating how daringly alienating it has become.
Stick to Sarah Jane adverntures, far simpler.
haha yeah , I love Rani and Clyde such good actors, I think they should get a spin off spin off , actually I'd love to see them in the TARDIS
The Sarah Jane Adventures series 5 episode 1 review: Sky Part 1
A bittersweet return for The Sarah Jane Adventures, as Sky gets the final series off to a cracking start...
Published on Oct 3, 2011
This review contains spoilers.
It’s a bittersweet thing to be reviewing series five of The Sarah Jane Adventures. On one hand, it’s great to see the return of arguably the best - certainly the most consistent - of the Doctor Who spin-offs. But it is, of course, the final series, following the tragic passing of Elisabeth Sladen earlier this year. Fortunately, if this opening episode is anything to go by, it’s a show going out at the top of its game.
The series literally returns with a bang, as the pre-credits sequence gives us that classic sci-fi staple of a homeless man witnessing something falling to earth with a reassuringly expensive-looking explosion. Out of the wreckage steps a cross between Batman, the Predator and Night Owl from Watchmen. It’s a wonderfully atmospheric opening, and may go some way to silencing critics who complained of series three and four’s ‘low-budget’ feel.
Meanwhile, in Ealing (or 'leafy and affluent Ealing', as it was rechristened by reporters during the riots), Sarah Jane is awakened by a classic trope of her own, as someone’s gone and left a baby on her doorstep. We’re left wondering for a moment if perhaps Doctor Who’s Craig Owens has had enough of Stormageddon, but when the baby’s crying blows the lights in every house on Bannerman Road, it becomes clear that the child is more Krypton than Colchester.
The scene that follows, as Sarah Jane, Clyde and Rani try to get to grips with their new arrival, is one of the highlights of the episode. The gang have always worked well together, but never more so than here, as we get a sense of real comradeship between the trio. With Luke out of the picture (bar a webcam appearance at the start of the story), this feels less like ‘Sarah Jane, Her Son and His Mates’ and more ‘Sarah Jane and Her Amazing Friends’.
What’s brilliant is that, after four years, the writers still manage to show us new sides of the characters. Elisabeth Sladen is at her comic best here, when Sarah is faced with the prospect of bringing up a baby from scratch, while Daniel Anthony shines as Clyde’s paternal side floats reluctantly to the surface. Anjli Mohindra’s Rani feels a little under-used here, playing second fiddle to Sarah Jane as the pair go off and investigate the meteor (leaving Clyde to try and entertain the baby). It’s a bit of a shame, really, since Rani’s parents arguably get more focus during the episode than she does.
Ah, yes, the Chandras. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, the stuffy headteacher and the flower shop owner are back to crowbar some added levity into the episode, and generally throw up hurdles for our intrepid investigators. Mina Anwar and Ace Bhatti are both accomplished comic actors, and work well together, but in such a busy episode you can’t help but feel that they’re just a bit unnecessary.
There’s a brief trip through the round window to see Floella Benjamin (making her fourth - and presumably final - appearance as the charmingly eccentric Professor Rivers), and then Sarah Jane and Rani are off in search of the metal meanie from the start of the episode, who’s on his way to Bannerman Road.
And that’s where the episode turns delightfully crazy. Former Holby City actress Christine Stephen-Daly shows up as baby Sky’s villainous mother, clearly having great fun playing a cross between Servalan from Blake’s 7 and a footballer's wife, who plans to use her child as a weapon to end her people’s war with the Metalkind (the aforementioned Night Owl/Predator thing). And she’s based inside a nuclear power plant, for some reason.
There’s shades of The Terminator about it all. Most of the Metalkind’s scenes are presented from a green-tinted first person perspective, and the mother’s line “Get in the van if you want the child to live!” was enough to raise a knowing chuckle.
It’s mad, ambitious stuff, and as such makes for a perfect series opener. Phil Ford’s script is fast-paced, with a nice balance of action, gags and character moments, and the episode looks every bit as impressive as anything the show’s older sibling has to offer.
It’s a confident, comfortable return for an often underappreciated series. Though not completely perfect, if you’ve never seen the show before you could do a lot worse than to check this out. And if you have seen the show before, you’re in for a treat.
The Sarah Jane Adventures series 5 episode 2 review: Sky Part 2
The latest episode of The Sarah Jane Adventures keeps the quality high. Here's Pete's take on Sky Part 2...
Published on Oct 4, 2011
This review contains spoilers.
“Boy, does this feel familiar...”
Clyde’s observation in the opening stages of the episode is an astute one, as there’s a definite whiff of deja vu about this installment. Harkening back to the series’ pilot, Invasion Of The Bane, Sarah Jane and her two young friends are faced with protecting a now-adolescent Sky, who has been created by the alien Miss Myers to act as a weapon in the war she’s waging.
The similarity seems to be intentional, as it’s lampshaded on several occasions - Sky even gets to wear Luke’s clothes - and it comes across as a fond callback to the show’s beginnings rather than lazy writing.
In most respects, it’s a vast improvement on that pilot episode. The regulars are a lot more confident (and regular), with Elisabeth Sladen in particular putting in a great performance as she tries to protect the child. And a quick look at the pilot will show you just how far this series has come in terms of tone and direction. It’s not without its flaws, of course: Christine Stephen-Daly falls short of the script’s requirements with her ‘Footballers’ Servalan’ caricature, and it’s hard to feel any sympathy for her plight.
And then there’s Sky... I’ve never been a huge fan of child actors - there’s still a Jake Lloyd dartboard somewhere in the garage - and so my reaction to Sky joining the team is hardly one of uncontrolled joy. New girl Sinead Michael does a fair enough job with what’s written, but it feels quite jarring to suddenly have a ‘cutesy’ child among the now-adult regulars, like the show is trying to return to an earlier point in its development.
That, of course, is almost certainly the point. Had this been planned as the final series of The Sarah Jane Adventures, I have little doubt that we wouldn’t have seen Sky join the team. But with neither Daniel Anthony nor Anjli Mohindra not getting any younger, and with Tommy Knight already having left the show to all intents and purposes, getting in some new blood was an inevitable step in the show’s continued survival. I just wish she was a little less annoying.
There’s likely to be some debate about the idea that the new girl has superpowers. And whilst it does feel a little bit Alex Mack to me, the writers managed to handle Luke’s superior intellect in such a way that it didn’t overpower the stories, or serve as a convenient solution on too many occasions. And I have enough faith in the production team to continue that tradition here.
I complained in my review of Part 1 that Anjli Mohindra didn’t get a lot to do. Thankfully, the addition of Sky to the team gives the character added purpose, as she fits quite nicely into the ‘big sister’ role, wasting no time in breaking out the fashion tips and biology facts for her new protege.
Having spent several years mentoring Luke, Clyde is upgraded to the ‘cool uncle’ role, having made an impression on Sky with his jokes in the previous episode (even if she doesn’t quite understand them). It’s a nice bit of character development for Rani in particular, who at times during the last series was looking like being overpowered by her two co-stars. It’s reassuring to see her brought back into the thick of it.
As well as new roles, this episode goes to some new places, tonally. When Sarah Jane and the gang return to the power plant to face off against Miss Myers, she reveals her plan to lure the Metalkind to Earth and force Sky to commit genocide, killing herself in the process. And Sky, though reluctant, realises her place as a weapon and is about to go through with it, in spite of Sarah Jane’s protestations. It’s only thanks to Rani and Clyde that she doesn’t have to.
Having a weapon in the shape of a child and asking that child to commit suicide/genocide is a dark notion indeed, and kudos to the writers for dangling that carrot in front of us. Given that, it’s perhaps understandable that the gang do nothing to stop Miss Myers being taken off (presumably) to die. It’s not quite The Family Of Blood, but it’s among the darker ideas presented by the series.
Speaking of having carrots dangled in front of us, it was a pleasant surprise to see the Shopkeeper (and the Captain) again at the episode’s close, but also a slightly frustrating one. They were two of the more interesting characters from series four, and it’s great to see them back. But what more do they know? And who are they? I suspect these questions will, sadly, go unanswered.
All things considered, Sky is a solid start to the final series of The Sarah Jane Adventures, The acting is top-notch, the writing sharp, and the effects and design absolutely gorgeous in places. This is a show that’s firing on all cylinders, and that isn’t afraid to try new things. If the remaining stories are up to this standard, then we’re in for a great couple of weeks.
Last edited by J. R.'s Piece; 10-07-2011 at 07:27 PM.