Viewers in the UK were recently treated to the debut episode of ‘The Sarah-Jane Adventures’ – the latest spinoff from the new series of Doctor Who. This hour-long episode acts a taster for the rest of the series (which is due to air later on in the year) and went to air on CBBC – the children’s orientated channel of the BBC.
The show starts with Maria, a girl in a new neighbourhood living with her dad – who is currently going through a seemingly tame or amicable divorce with her mum. She notices this strange lady across the street, Miss Sarah-Jane Smith, and is befriended by her neighbour – the rather annoying Kelsey. With Kelsey, she heads off to the Bubbleshock factory. Bubbleshock is a popular new drink that seems to be taking the world by storm, and Maria is one of the 2% of the population who doesn’t like it – much to Bubbleshock’s chagrin. Meanwhile Sarah-Jane is investigating Bubbleshock’s mysterious owners, and discovers an alien plan for invading and taking over the Earth.
It’s fairly standard stuff, reminiscent of traditional Doctor Who invasion stories. Sarah-Jane is a wonderful character from the Doctor Who universe, lovingly portrayed by Elisabeth Sladen, and it’s good to see her still fighting the good fight. The set up of the show isn’t too dissimilar from Torchwood – aliens are falling to Earth all the time, some of them are lost and some of them want to cause trouble. Sarah-Jane goes around helping and investigating these aliens. With this episode, ‘The Invasion fo the Bane’, she discovers that she can no longer do it alone, so she allows Maria and co. to help her out.
Okay, so it’s a kid’s show, but it’s not a bad one. The girl who plays Maria is a pretty good actress, so it’s a lot better than it could’ve been, and like I said before – Sarah-Jane is great. I applaud the BBC for letting a show of this nature be headed up by an actress of 50-plus years, Elisabeth Sladen still retains a lot of her beauty despite being an old duck and it’s about time a role like this nature went towards a woman for once. The effects are pretty great too, the aliens of this episode – the Bane – look awesome. In fact, I would go as far as to say that they look cooler than any new aliens we’ve seen on the new Doctor Who or Torchwood so far. Also, K9’s absense wasn’t too noticeable and the explanation for his disappearance, whilst a little bizarre, was okay and allows for possible future appearances.
Before I sign off on this, I’d just like to say… it’s great that the Doctor Who universe has exploded out like this. At first I was wary of the Torchwood and Sarah-Jane spinoffs, I thought they would dilute Doctor Who and put people off the show, but I now I realise that it’s good for the series and will help to amplify it’s mythology. Star Trek went through a similar phase in the mid-90s with it’s various spinoffs… now Star Trek is all but dead, and Doctor Who is back and taking over. It’s a Golden Age for science fiction television. Long live Doctor Who!