Have You Met Miss Smith?

SJA e

Back in Action

Way back on Sunday 1st January when we were nursing sore heads (and I was re-launching this website) there was a little show that sneaked onto BBC1 from the team that brought us Doctor Who. It wasn’t the much hyped Torchwood that was rattling towards its conclusion late at night on minority channels but instead it was The Invasion of the Bane, the first installment of the Sarah Jane Adventures. Now, here we are nine months later and that embryonic first outing has matured into a series of its very own. Kelsey, the annoying kid from down the street, has been replaced by the much more likeable Clyde but the other children are the same and that’s no bad thing.  Say what you like about the folk at Upper Boat, BBC Wales, but they really do know how to make good casting decisions. (Insert your own Catherine Tate comments here!).

The Revenge of the Slitheen featured the return of the family Slitheen (like you hadn’t figured that out) as they sought to wreak their revenge (yeah, that too) on planet Earth.  I was really pleased with the scale of the story because, given that SJA is aimed at such a young audience, I thought that they may be tempted to paint their pictures on a smaller canvas.  However, it was big.  Big on fun, big on characters, big on ideas, and all the better for it.  Of course, as a 36-year-old with no offspring around the house, it’s tough to review an after-school programme like this with the complete wide-eyed excitement of the target demographic but it certainly made me hark back to my youth and wish we’d had something similar to this when I was that age.  Equally, the opportunity to flick over to the CBBC Channel and watch episode two straight afterwards demonstrated, once again, that kids have never had it so good.
The script had some lovely dialogue in it including (i) some neat in-jokes for the older fans to enjoy like “The Brig” getting a mention, (ii) a Manimal refence, and (iii) some especially good lines for Clyde.  The adults were a little more caricature than character in places, but generally watchable and not as irritating as they might have been, although Sarah Jane seemed reduced to a secondary role at times.  The plot itself was open to a little criticism but somehow it seems churlish to enter into such debate when the object of the exercise was just to (re)introduce us to this world… a lighter, brighter, more disposable version of the parent show.  Could have been better but could have been so much worse.  I’ll definaitely watch again but then, you knew that didn’t you?

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