Wednesday, 17 November 2010

A Niche In Time Saves Nine (& 10)

The Sarah Jane Adventures Season 4
Episodes 9 & 10: Lost in Time
Airdate: November 8th and 9th 2010. UK. BBC1

Right... probably a short review this one with plenty of those pesky spoilers I reckon, so if you’re a regular watcher of this show... go look at one of my more questionable articles instead.

This weeks two episodes had a very early to mid-seventies spooky kids show feel... you'll know what I’m talking about if you lived through the seventies as a kid in the UK and were fortunate to have access to a television set. You’d come home from school and by about 4.30pm they’d be showing a kids programme about ghosts and things getting unstuck in time and generally scaring the pants off of the young ‘uns. You don’t really expect to see that on today's sanitised children’s TV... heck you don’t even get to see some of that scary stuff on so called adult TV unless you’re really lucky... so I was kinda pleased about the course of the episode. There were some silly mistakes in it too though... just to counterbalance the rightnes of the atmosphere.

It starts off well enough with Sarah Jane, Rani and Clyde investigating the owner of a curio shop. He gives them no time to procrastinate as he sends them through a time portal to three separate time zones to bring back three fragments of an artefact which is changing earths future and which will cause the earth to be sucked into a time vortex unless the three intrepid heroes can return with the said artefacts before a certain, specific time (when the sands run out). He doesn’t know what the artefacts look like (actually, that bit’s a little important when it comes to story continuity, as you’ll see further down) but the three characters willl be pulled to the right time zones near their three respective objects... Rani ends up with the ten day queen, sweet Lady Jane, on her tenth day before Mary comes and ends her reign and locks her away to await eventual execution. Clyde lands in a British coastal village in 1941 to fight off a group of nazis bent on unleashing a hellish invasion in England. Sarah Jane winds up in a “haunted house” in the 19th century with a would-be ghost hunter. Things go from there...

The episodic nature of the three time-zones stories means you don’t hover for long in any one of them before joining another, so you’re hardly likely to get bored in this one. Rani as a Lady in Waiting with Queen Jane is great and the story of internal treachery and the friendship which develops between the two of them is quite touching. Turns out the knife which was used in an attempted murder on the Queen is the object. Similarly, Sarah Jane’s adventure is quite touching. You won’t be fooled for a minute, however, with the ghost story trappings. This house has echoes of future events and the unique psychic abilities of her companion in this adventure come in handy when she reaches into the future to retrieve the key which is one of the fragments, only to accidentally hold on to it when Sarah Jane is transported back to the future. Clyde’s adventure is a chasing-around-and-not-letting-the-nazis-get-the-upper-hand-for-long kind of skirmish and it turns out that the nazis radar jamming equipment houses the third fragment.

Rani, Clyde and Sarah Jane are all transported back to the shop with moments to spare but Sarah Jane doesn’t have the key... the earth is about to be sucked into a time vortex and do strange things when, in a neat but not unforseen twist, the great grandchild of Sarah’s haunted house companion brings the key on her behalf and world destruction of an unclarified level is averted and the shop keeper myseriously goes off... presumably so he can come back again in a future episode. Which is when the real problem of this particular story raises it’s slovenly head above the eyeline of sloppy narrative continuity...

If the shopkeeper has no idea what the artefacts will look like, how come he has got a case ready made to store them with little indentations of the exact shapes of the artefacts in it... that’s a pretty neat trick isn’t it? Thanks Mr. BBC props department but it looks like they’re expecting what the objects will be... oh it is rather nice though isn’t it... oh, all right then, go on. Nobody’s going to notice... it’s a children’s programme after all, right?

So there you have it. Not a bad little story with a touch of sloppy continuity and a trailer at the end for the series finale episodes which look like they have a good chance of pressing all the right buttons on my personal sonic lipstick... another great triumph of television on our screens. So rare these days.


  1. I like these reviews, think I will need to watch some episodes sometime soon!

  2. Hey there! Thanks very much... you honour me.

    So... who you?