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Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Until we meet again, Miss Smith.

Well, here goes. I've watched all episodes I give a damn about, and I have compile a list of the top 5 best and worst stories of Sarah Jane Adventures. Expect tears, laughs and "what the hell moments"... not that such reactions are foreign to my posts... Depending on the reactions through e-mail and comments I get from you guys, I may or may not compile a second list of best moments, but i digress.
TOP FIVE
5 - The Gift
Great fun and probably one of the most intelligent romps in the series. I will fault the moral issues evident in the story, though. Imagine if the Blathreen were human, and Sarah Jane was pointing a gun at them! It would have come off very differently. Given the episode's, and the series as a whole, theme as aliens being just as diverse as humans, not necessarily evil, this felt out of place. That said, the episode is good fun to watch and the moral and ethical implications are generally done quite well. It wasn't until writing this mini-summary that I realised that nitpick.


4 - Lost In Time
I was so surprised that this story didn't come much higher than it did. Aside from the time windows that bring back bad memories of Primeval, this is a cracking story. I'm going to focus the most on Rani, as she's given the meatiest period of history, the night before Lady Jane Greys execution. Anjli Mohindra gives a stunning performance alongside Amber Beattie's Jane Grey, as they talk about her impending death, her murderous servant, and boys. This is all counterbalanced by an exciting mini-adventure with Clyde in a possible Nazi England. The Nazi's are truly despicable foes, as they should be given the allotted time. While it has the features of a fairly standard Nazi time travel storyline, it has plenty of twists and bends that keep it fresh and engaging, such as Clyde's Churchill moments. My only snaphoos lie with the cuts to The Shopkeeper. The Sands of Time aren't a very effective countdown, especially when they prove to be 100% inaccurate. 

3 - The Man Who Never Was
See mini-review in "Goodbye, Sarah Jane Smith". Lovely stuff. A fitting final story.

2 - The Nightmare Man
Joseph Lidster does it again... Another beautifully crafted character piece that plays on psychological fears rather than RAGH! SCARY MONSTERS! Apart from the disturbingly light opening sequence, where another Slitheen bites the dust, this story is extremely dark. The second part spends most of the narrative in nightmares, which do a great job on playing off the characters insecurities, and the result is quite unsettling. Having said that, Rani's segment never had much of an impression on me... The Nightmare Man himself, played by Julian 'Davros' Bleach, is equally unsettling.  I bought this one on iTunes. I'm not kidding.

1 - Goodbye, Sarah Jane Smith
Not commenting on this much just watch it, and you'll know why it's number 1. It was nearly pushed to 2 for that stomach though...

Praise to all performances here, particularly Daniel Anthony's trembling hands in this scene that made me shout with joy repeatedly.



Honourable mention should go to Whatever Happened to Sarah Jane?, The Temptation of Sarah Jane Smith and The Eternity Trap. All three were very serious contenders for this list, but beaten out for various, though similar, reasons. As for other stories that I can watch over and over again, such as Mona Lisa's Revenge, Prisoner of the Judoon and The Day of the Clown... sorry. 

BOTTOM FIVE
Man... I feel dirty doing this...

5 - Secrets of the Stars
REALLY dirty. I actually quite like this story, and I re-watch it every now and then, but it's lacking in so many departments. Perhaps the worst thing about it is that the story is disappointing. The idea of astrology actually working, the concept of the pre-universe; at the very least it should form an interesting adventure... but it's quite average.

4 -Warriors of Kudlak
Again, I don't mind this story. Kudlak is a surprisingly well-thought out villian, especially when compared to many of Season 1's other offering. In ways this feels like it belongs later in the series, what with it's angle of aliens not necessarily being villains, or doing so out of a lack of choice, but it's dragged down by notable "kiddie" attributes, like the hackneyed laser tag kidnappings and the EVIL Mark Grantham.

3 - The Last Sontaran
For the most part, The Last Sontaran is just a heartless romp using characters as devices; you could swap the characters around and reverse their roles quite comfortably, without a resounding effect on the overall plot. That's not good. The second part is more like a run-around to solve the problems presented in part one rather than the second part of the story. There should be tension in the scenes where Kaagh chases people around, but there isn't. Kaagh isn't very menacing at all, thanks to how easily outwitted he is by what he himself calls him "half pints". It's very watchable, but it's by no means outstanding!

2 - The Mark of the Beserker
Boring. That's all I can really say, because that's all there really is. Clyde, Luke and Carla all have some interesting dialogue with each other and theres a little character development, especially concerning Clyde's back story  but even watching it last night I didn't really care about Clyde's dad. The fact Clyde is mind convinced into loving his dad doesn't really help in bringing his character to life either. It was a flat story which I really don't care for.

1 - Revenge of the Slitheen
The only episode on the list that I didn't bother to watch again, and probably the only one I truly dislike. Almost everything about this episode was cringey. 'Threatening' lines like "you really shouldn't be hanging around after home time" leave little impression other than sheer embarrassment. Don't get me started on that damned child Slitheen. This mess very nearly put me off the series until I saw Eye of the Gorgon, which was a massive improvement. The great Clyde Langer deserved a far better introduction!

So there it is. As you can see, I have a preference for the later seasons of the Sarah Jane Adventures. It was truly one of the few series which I felt has only improved with time. By the time the show hit season 4, the writing, the acting and the themes had matured significantly. If it had the opportunity to continue, The Sarah Jane Adventures could have become one of the best shows on TV... Hell it still is!

1 comment:

  1. No trickster episodes? :(
    I would have put Temptation above The Gift. Probably higher than Lost In Time as well. Good list otherwise. :D

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