The Holly Oak

Sarah Jane Adventures: Invasion of the Bane

I sat down to watch The Sarah Jane Adventures wondering what a bloke in his thirties was doing watching a programme aimed squarely at kids. To be honest the only reason I was watching it was because I am a Doctor Who fan, and as you do, I will always watch anything with a Doctor Who connection and this episode had more old series references than the current series of Doctor Who has; for example the scene when Sarah relented and let the kids see into her attic room, where plastered over the wall were publicity photographs of the Brigadier, Harry Sullivan and the famous photograph from K9&Company. I am pretty sure that the Outpost Gallifrey server imploded from the deluge of posts about that scene, saying how much better and more Doctor Who like than Torchwood it was and how this is what a Doctor Who spin off should be like and that sort of stuff. I could be wrong though.

From the moment that I heard about this series and the fact that K9 would not be in it, I wondered what the hell was the point of it. I mean how many other children’s series have a middle-aged woman as the main character nowadays? I can only think of one and that is Come Outside with Lynda Baron as Auntie Mabel, but the star of that show isn’t Auntie Mabel, it’s Pippin her dog. So, I did wonder whether or not it would work. I mean this is the kind of show they should have made instead of K9 & Company and then it might still be running today. Imagine that, we could be celebrating the 25th anniversary of the show right now!

I will say that the titles and the theme music are much better than those of the last spin-off series featuring Elisabeth Sladen, and the logo is quite good as well, I liked the fact that the titles were very similar to those of the new series and even the theme music itself had some sort of similar vibe to the Doctor Who theme was well.

The plot was fairly interesting involving some sort of new soft drink a little bit like the stuff that Pete Tyler was peddling in the alternative universe, and surprise, surprise its bad for you, much like the chips were in School Reunion and luckily the plucky young girl who has moved in opposite to Sarah doesn’t like it, so is not going to be affected by the strange properties in said drink, unlike the majority of other people, including her own father.

Yes, it was quite predictable but the audience who this programme is aimed at are just going to be interested in watching the interplay between the young characters in the series chatting about the sort of things that they are going to be interested in, and that they are going to talk about when they go back to school that week, and also to marvel at the cgi work.

Only us grown up fans, who really shouldn’t be watching it in the first place, are going to think it’s predictable, and a bit childish but it is a children’s programme and what do you expect when you watch a programme aimed primarily at children. Just as in the parent series there were lots of references to modern day culture, I chuckled at the line about Hollyoaks and Jeremy Kyle.

Both Samantha Bond and Elisabeth Sladen were very good in this episode, with Samantha Bond being only slightly hammy in her role as the villainous Mrs Wormwood and Elisabeth Sladen getting so shine once again the in the role of her life. Yasmin Paige was great in the main role of Maria and she is one to watch out for in the future I am sure. I am not sure about the character of Kelsey, if she is meant to be really annoying then the actress playing her has done a good job, if not she would really grate in the series proper. The lad playing, the soon to become, Luke Smith was ok, a bit wooden, but then again he was playing a character who had only been alive for a few hours, so he actually did quite a good job.

There were enough references to the old series to keep the fans who were watching happy and not enough to confuse the hell out of the general audience of kids who had never seen the era of Doctor Who that Sarah Jane Smith was a part of.

One thing I am glad about is that they resisted the temptation to christen Sarah’s adopted son John, because that would have been sad wouldn’t it? I mean Alistair or Harry would have been good, and it would have kept the fans happy that the Brig and Harry got another mention, after seeing their pictures in Sarah’s attic room but calling him John would have been a step to far in my opinion.

Its quite nice isn’t it that Sarah has her own little TARDIS console room in her own house, it even looks a little bit like the alternative console room from series 14 which Sarah would have remembered well.

The K9 cameo was nicely judged and gave a perfectly good explanation why K9 will not be in the series from now on, one of the kids opinion of K9 mirroring Rose’s similar lack of enthusiasm about the faithful robot hound. Is it me or is it bit strange that Sarah has a safe that covers a black hole in their attic, because that is what most people have don’t they?

One thing I want to know is how in the hell did Sarah manage to make herself a sonic lipstick unless the Doctor gave her one (the lipstick before you even say it) after School Reunion, before Rose, Mickey and the Doctor ended up on a spaceship in the 50th century. I guess it makes sense that Sarah would have one of them, because all woman carry lipstick around with them at all times, don’t they? Or at least that’s what I’m told anyway.

Invasion of the Bane was an enjoyable enough piece of television, but I don’t know if I will be watching the series. I might, if I am not doing anything else whilst it is on, and I certainly won’t be buying it on DVD when it comes out, but the show isn’t really for me in the first place. Yes, I enjoyed it; no, I don’t think it is a spin-off too far, but I still prefer Torchwood and that is really the spin-off for me, this would have been if it had been made instead of K9 & Company back in 1981.

Originally posted on Jan 04, 2007

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