Prisoner of the Judoon: Part 1

Sarah Jane Adventures

Review of Sarah Jane Adventures: Prisoner of the Judoon, Part 1

Series Three of the Sarah Jane Adventures debuted on BBC1 and BBC HD this afternoon and it was as good as we’re all used to. Much to the credit of all concerned, they managed to cram an awful lot of material in to a 30-minute episode. The eternally young Lis Sladen began with a little narration over a seemingly innocuous scene where she was investigating a nanotech corporation, which served to (re)introduce the essential elements of the show but it wasn’t long before the strands of the plot began to be woven together. A Judoon captain escorting a prisoner crash landed on Earth and the prisoner, kind of  inevitably, escaped. But this wasn’t any old prisoner, it was a “veil life form” known as Androvax who, much like Cassandra in the Doctor Who episode New Earth, has a capability to inhabit other life forms. It was a bit of a shame that he got such little screen time because the prosthetics of Androvax (pictured above) were really impressive, especially in HD, and there was a really sinister manner to the performance. However, it was when Androvax took over the body of Sarah Jane that elevated the story and gave Elizabeth Sladen the opprtunity to spread her acting wings somewhat, an opportunity she grabbed with relish.

The three young cast members (Tommy Knight as straight man Luke, Daniel Anthony as funny guy Clyde, and Anjli Mohindra as straight talking Rani) also seem quite comfortable in their roles and delivered watchable performances full of energy and with some nice, quotable pop culture references to things like Starsky and Hutch, 24, and ET. Having said that, I can’t really imagine Rani sitting down to enjoy some 70’s cop series featuring David Soul and a Ford Torino. The voice of Alexander Armstrong is also back as the ever puzzling Mr Smith. This is an element of the programme with which I have never really come to terms. It clearly serves as a clever plot device and manages to chivy along the storyline every week but I always find those traditional talking computers that’ve featured in all manner of sci-fi tales over the years to be a little irritating and something of a get-out clause should the writing ever lead itself up a blind alley. The fact that it is a Xylok, as explored in the final episode of the first series and referenced again this evening, gives it an edginess that is supported by Armstrong’s subtely sinister delivery but I guess the fanboy in me would have been much more satisfied if K-9 had been somehow tethered to the attic and we could have done without Mr Smith entirely.

We ended up with another questionable element realted to Mr Smith in the form of the cliffhanger. Despite immediately realising that Sarah Jane had been inhabited by the Veil lifeform, it still seemed powerless to resist Androvax’s suggestions and programmed itself to self-destruct on being re-started by the kids later on. Surely it has some degree of self-awareness enough to refuse or work around such nefarious activities. Tomorrow’s conclusion may provide more answers. Production values were, as expected, second to none. Great use of incidental music to keep the pace together and maintain the tension and some good musical consistency with the parent show. All in all, a brilliant start the new series…. and more tomorrow.

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