Back to School

If you had told me a couple of years ago that there would be a new series of 25 minute adventures with Elisabeth Sladen reprising her role as intrepid investigative journalist Sarah Jane Smith then I would have looked at you quizzically and thought that you were totally and utterly mad. It will never happen I thought. How wrong was I?

Sarah Jane Adventures: Revenge of the Slitheen Part One

The main difference between this story and the pilot episode was the length. The pilot was a full hour whereas these stories consist of two 25 minute episodes. After watching the first episode I think that this 25 minute episode format works much better for the series than the hour long single episode format.

the majority of viewers will more than likely be in their 30’s

It wouldn’t work for Doctor Who nowadays but for children’s television it works perfectly well and that is, after all what The Sarah Jane Adventure is, children’s television. Well produced and glossy it may be, but it is still mainly written for and aimed squarely at the children’s market, as the magazine Doctor Who Adventures is. Of course, despite this the majority of viewers will more than likely be in their 30’s (much like the readership of Doctor Who Adventures).

Considering there was only 25 minutes in this episode there was a hell of a lot going on and it seemed to fit it more action and incidence in one episode than in a number of stories from the original run of Doctor Who. It, quite simply, flew by.

the [Slitheen] in Aliens of London were a little more subdued

There are plenty of references for the adults in the audience to appreciate (such as Manimal. I loved Manimal when I was a kid and Street Hawk but I’m digressing) but the rest of it, the pace, the characters etc are aimed squarely at the children in the audience, hence the scenery chewing of the headmaster and the science teacher (the ones in Aliens of London were a little more subdued that they are in this episode).

Elisabeth Sladen was great again as Sarah Jane, as was Yasmin Paige as Maria (who it seems is meant to be the real star of the show – hence her opening narration bit filling in the gaps for those who hadn’t seen Invasion of the Bane – the touchstone with the core audience as it were).

New character Clyde settles in well taking the place of the gobby Kelsey but not being half as annoying. Although how he can stomach cold chip butties, I will never know.

Was it just me or did the Slitheen costumes not look half as menacing as they did in series one of Doctor Who? I wonder if it was something to do with the way they were shot and lit?

The cliffhanger for this episode took its cue from Aliens of London with all of the main characters coming up against a Slitheen revealing their true appearance. I certainly wasn’t expecting a child Slitheen so that was the biggest surprise of the episode for me.

I thoroughly enjoyed Revenge of the Slitheen part one, it wasn’t made for the likes of me, but it is great television and I look forward to the rest of the series.

Originally posted on Sep 26, 2007

Sarah Jane Adventures: Revenge of the Slitheen Part 2

Whilst the first episode was involved in setting up the main threat of the story and setting up the mood and themes, this episode is the one where the plot arrives and everything needs to be neatly tied up in 25 minutes.

There was plenty of running up and down corridors and all of the main characters have a laugh trying to pronounce Raxacoricofallapatorius (which is easier to type then to say – just!) and they manage to come to the same conclusion as the Doctor and Rose did in World War 3 in pretty much the same way as they did, with a little help from Mr Smith, of course, who will, I think, prove a useful tool in the series but could also be relied on a little too much if they aren’t careful, but mainly from Clyde’s cold chip butty (what is it with chips and the new series of Doctor Who? It seems to be an ongoing theme) and the Slitheen’s reaction to it.

The Slitheen looked far more menacing in this episode than they did in the first part especially when roaming around the corridors of a school. If I was a young child watching, I would be looking over my shoulders in the school corridors the next day!

The direction was great again and is quite possible some of the best direction ever seen on children’s television ever (Alice Troughton needs to work on Who, as soon as possible, to complete the set of working on all 3 series) and Gareth Roberts provides another excellent script.

The acting of the adult leads (apart from Liz Sladen and Joseph Milson) was hammier than the ham counter at a supermarket in Hampshire. My girlfriend (soon to be wife – 4 days and counting) thought that the baby Slitheen was cute. I am not too sure that was the reaction they were looking for but that was what they got from one adult viewer anyway.

There was also stuff for the original series fans in the episode such as Liz calling on her friends at U.N.I.T. (this series would be a much better place to have an episode featuring the Brigadier than the parent series I feel) and her description of the Doctor near the end. It was also quite heartwarming to see Sarah Jane Smith finally being able to become a mother, something that does seem to be an issue ever since she appeared in School Reunion.

Revenge of the Slitheen was a good opening gambit for The Sarah Jane Adventures, and judging by the trailer for the next episode it looks like it is only going to get better. It might not be aimed at me but I am sure enjoying it. Why should the children have all the fun?

Originally posted Oct 02, 2007

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s