Monday, 29 November 2010

Acid Stomach

The Sarah Jane Adventures Season 4
Episodes 11 & 12: Good Bye, Sarah Jane
Airdate: November 15th and 16th 2010. UK. BBC1

Please note... danger of spoiler ingestion beyond this point.

Another year nearly over, another series of The Sarah Jane Adventures ends. Although not as good as the last few stories I didn’t mind this one so much, especially since those last few have been quite exceptional. This one did have some problems with it though.... not least of which are some loose ends in terms of character exploration which it would have been nice to have had tidied up. I suspect the shows creators might well have ended up with more footage than their alloted time on this one... either that or perhaps they’ve just elected to tug at those particular ends a little more in the next series.

So this one starts off with Sarah Jane starting to “lose it” with symptons which look mightily like accelerated alzheimers while, simultaneously a new “Defender of the Earth” is in town known as Ruby White (played by that brilliant TV actress Julie Graham who seems to be turning up in everything these days... you may remember her from the failed TV show Bonekickers, the remake series of Survivors and, on closer inspection of the IMDB, from one of my favourite TV shows of years gone by, Brond).

The set up fo this episode, backed up by a pretty blatant title, is that the BBC obviously want you to think that Elisabeth Sladen is going to be leaving the show sometime very soon and that this is some kind of handover story. This might well have worked and provided the necessary tension except that the writers kind of overplayed their hand just a little bit on this one. For example Sarah Jane’s mental deterioration was way too quick for the audience to really assume that anything other than some kind of alien, “mental facuties sucking device” was being used. I think the producers may have agreed because instead of using Sarah Jane’s tearful farewell and handing over of all her alien-busting gadgetry to Ruby White as a real cliffhanger to the end of the episode, they kept going and revealed Ruby to be a “soul sucking” evil alien who traps the heavily weakened Sarah Jane in her cellar with only her soul-eating, alien, giant sized acidic-gurgling stomach (it looks ust like The Blob) for company, while she monologues on her plans to... well, you know, destroy the world again.

The second part picks up straight after with Clyde getting marooned in an orbiting prison ship with hardly any air left in it and it’s up to Rani to save the day... which she does by calling in Luke and K-9 to help change the course of events, reverse the polarity of the neutron flow (figure of speech) and all go out for a night on the town at the end of the day... but not before setting up Ruby White as a probable returning super-villain for a future series (I’m guessing we’ll be seeing her next year).

All in all, not the best of stories but, like I said, certainly by no means the worst one to round the series off with. This fourth series has mostly been a real blast and there’s a reason why it’s now the highest rated children’s TV show not just currently... but ever (I’m guessing the Doctor Who ratings must be classed as “family” rather than “children’s” viewing to magic up those figures for this show).

Looking forward to series five next year and, hopefully, by then we will have seen the new series of the other two shows in this particular family, Doctor Who and the US continuation of Torchwood.

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